There are so many incredible cities to visit in the UK, bursting with culture, creativity and more. But if you’re looking for a truly unique place to visit, Norwich should be top of your list.
Norwich is an exciting fusion of modern and historic influences, with an indie spirit that permeates its cobbled streets. Food and drink lovers will rejoice at the huge choice of quality restaurants, cafes and bars, and the ever-bustling Norwich Market. While shopaholics will revel in the range of independent and high-street chain shops. And at the end of a day of exploration, there’s plenty of quiet green spaces to relax in.
Norwich truly has something for everyone, which is why it makes for such a unique UK city break. Read on for our recommendations of what to do in Norwich, and why the City of Stories should be top of your UK travel bucket-list.
St Andrew’s Brewhouse
Norwich is one of only a handful of UK cities to be able to boast not one, but two cathedrals! Norwich Cathedral is set in 44 acres of grounds and is one of the finest complete Romanesque cathedrals in Europe, with the second tallest spire and largest monastic cloisters in England.
Meanwhile, the Cathedral of St John the Baptist is a stunning example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, with beautiful stained glass and stonework features. Both cathedrals are free to visit and have their own cafes.
Norwich Cathedral Interior
Towering above the city, you can’t miss Norwich Castle. Built by the Normans as a Royal Palace 900 years ago, it is now a museum and art gallery home to outstanding collections of fine art, archaeology and natural history, and a regularly changing roster of exhibitions. Currently, the Castle is also undergoing an exciting redevelopment of the Keep, taking it back to its original medieval form. Admission from £2.50 (Twilight ticket, 1 hour before closing).
There’s nothing quite as romantic as wandering down a cobbled lane, taking in beautiful, historic buildings. Which is exactly what you’ll experience at Elm Hill in Norwich (which is often used as part of film sets!). The most complete medieval street in the city, one of the street’s most well-known buildings is The Britons Arms – the only place to have survived a major fire in 1507. Now, The Britons Arms is a quaint café and restaurant, and is the perfect place to stop off for some tea and cake or a delicious lunch.
The Britons Arms on Elm Hill
Food & Drink Experiences
There’s nothing better than visiting a new city and happening upon a hidden café or restaurant that serves up the most delicious food and makes you feel as though you’ve experienced the city like a true local! And the food and drink scene in Norwich is certainly one to write home about. Norwich restaurants frequently receive positive reviews in the likes of The Guardian and recognition in the Michelin Guide.
For a spot of fine dining, we recommend Benedicts, which was awarded a Michelin Plate in the Michelin Guide 2022. Run by Chef owner Richard Bainbridge (BBC1 Saturday Kitchen, BBC2 Great British Menu), the restaurant offers seasonal menus which range from a great value for money set lunch to a luxurious 7-course tasting menu.
Another fantastic independent to check out is Brix and Bones, an intimate restaurant that specialises in cooking over fire. Prepare yourself for eclectic flavours inspired by world travels with dishes such as pork chop with izakaya spring cabbage and smoked goat with ember beetroot horseradish. The experience is completed with carefully chosen wines and cocktails to accompany your food.
Brix and Bones Norwich
If you’re on a budget, then never fear. Some of Norwich’s best food can be found at Norwich Market, one of the country’s largest permanent markets with nearly 200 stalls. A short stroll through the colourful stalls will leave you wanting more as you inhale the delicious aromas in the air. Here, you can pick up a spicy Thai curry, some classic British fish and chips, a freshly cooked Italian pizza, a Turkish halloumi wrap and more. With many dishes under £10, you don’t have to spend a lot to truly indulge. And that’s all before we get to dessert – there’s cakes, pastries and ice cream too.
Shopping centres, high-street chains, vintage emporiums and independent boutiques can all be found across the city. So, whether you like to spend a little or a lot, there’s plenty of choice.
Magdalen Street is home to antique and vintage wonderlands, and the Norwich Lanes are full to the brim with independent shops selling everything from board games to jewellery. And you won’t want to miss The Royal Arcade – this Victorian shopping arcade is decked out with art nouveau architectural features, and inside there’s plenty to discover. Sonkai is home to exquisite handmade jewellery, and you can browse a huge collection of spirits at Gyre & Gimble.
The Norwich Lanes
Famed independent department store Jarrold is a must-visit too, with several floors of high-end fashion, homeware, books and more. Not to mention its deli and food hall with numerous provisions available. For the real shopaholics, head to Chantry Place shopping centre, John Lewis, or Castle Quarter – all of which house several floors of brilliant shops, bargains and cafes and restaurants to fuel up.
Jarrold Department Store
One of the things that makes Norwich truly unique, is that it’s the only English city within a National Country Park. The Broads are made up of 30 lakes across Norfolk, connected by rivers and dykes that create 200 miles of tranquil waterways. In Norwich, you can easily walk to Whitlingham Country Park, part of the Broads, and enjoy a peaceful stroll or cycle. You can even hire a boat!
Whitlingham Country Park, part of The Broads
Want to visit Norwich’s best kept secret? The Plantation Garden is a hidden oasis just past the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Originally a chalk quarry, the Grade II listed garden includes a gothic fountain, flower beds, lawns, woodland walkways and an Italianate terrace. It’s the ideal place for a picnic, romantic stroll or just some relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle from the city centre.
The Plantation Garden
There are plenty of other lovely parks and green spaces to relax in across the city. Check out Chapelfield Gardens, Castle Green, The Cathedral Close, Mousehold Heath and the Riverside Walk.
Another reason why Norwich is so unique, is that it’s a city a stone’s throw away from beautiful countryside and coastline.
Head to the charming town of Wroxham or idyllic village of Coltishall to experience more of The Broads National Park. In Wroxham, you can hire out a boat with Broads Tours and head out on the water, perhaps carrying out a little wildlife spotting or stopping for a pub lunch. Or in Coltishall, enjoy a drink or two in a riverside pub, or perhaps give stand-up paddleboarding a try!
The Norfolk Broads
If the beach is more your thing, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There are so many beautiful seaside towns and coastal gems in Norfolk. Head to Horsey Gap or Blakeney to catch sight of a seal colony or go to Holkham beach for stunning views that stretch for miles. Cromer is also a classic seaside town that offers delicious fish and chips, mini-golf, leisure arcades and more.
There’s so much to discover in Norwich and Norfolk, so don’t delay – plan your trip today!