Free and low cost things to do in Norwich

The Sainsbury Centre and the Sculpture Park

Pay if and what you can
30 minute walk or 2 mile bus ride No. 25

The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most important public university art galleries in Britain. It was founded in 1973 at the University of East Anglia (UEA) with the support of one of the nation’s great philanthropic families, Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury. They donated their extraordinary art collection which includes works dating from prehistory to the late twentieth century from across the globe. A radical new building by Norman Foster was designed to house the collection and was his first public work.

The Sainsbury Centre holds one of the most impressive art collections outside of the national institutions. It includes a significant number of works by modern masters of European art such as Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Jacob Epstein, Jean Arp, Chaïm Soutine and Amedeo Modigliani. Alongside these permanent collections, it hosts a range of exhibitions in the largest suite of temporary exhibitions galleries in Eastern England.

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Eaton Park


Eaton Park has plenty to do and see, and is ideal for families looking for an affordable day out. Take a stroll through the beautifully-scented and picturesque circular rose garden at Eaton Park where you’ll find gorgeous herbaceous borders surrounded by a yew hedge. Have a seat and relax as you listen to the refreshing sprinkle of the nearby fountain.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the boating pond. Not only is it beautiful, but it is often host to the local model boat club. Perhaps you’ll be fortunate enough to encounter a regatta display, where there will be miniature Thames sailing barges, cross-channel ferries and submarines to spot!

The park never closes and is well-equipped with lighting in popular areas. There is also a café which is open Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 4pm.

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Country & Eastern and the South East Asia Collection

FREE – Shop & Museum 

The South Asia Collection Museum and Shop or as many might know it as Country and Eastern is owned and run by Philip Millward and his wife Jeannie. Country & Eastern was established over 40 years ago and by 1994 the business comprised of 3 shops, 2 in Norwich and 1 in Kensington plus a wholesale and decorator’s business. At that time the shop specialised in imports from India, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma and China. Philip and Jeannie’s philosophy from the early days was that they thought shopping should be more than just buying items and should be an uplifting experience.  They felt that customers should be aware of the skills and traditions behind items sold.  This led to us them building up the collection based on each country they did business with and in turn to the museum and their research activities.

They bought the Old Skating Rink in 1993 and restored it. Located on Bethel Street, next to the old Fire Station it is about 100 yards from Norwich Market. The fact that they have an architectural gem of a building (Victorian), which in itself has a fascinating history from 1876 to present, and because it is spacious, and part of the city centre, it gave them opportunity to put this philosophy into practice.  The result is a unique shopping and cultural experience which brings people to Norwich from all over the UK and overseas.

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Wandering Words, City-wide audio trail


Discover the past, present and future of the City of Stories through newly commissioned poems by five wonderful authors with ties to Norwich. All you need is your mobile phone! Listen to an immersive audio recording of a poem as well as sounds of the people and places that inspired the writers by following the walking trail and scanning the QR code at each marked location. The National Centre for Writing asked local writers to come up with creative responses to a specific location in Norwich, or an event in the city’s past. The variety of new writing that is taking place in, around, and inspired by the city can be seen in these new works. This literary walk was put together to mark ten years (2022) since Norwich became the first UNESCO City of Literature in England.

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Norwich Cathedral

FREE 1hr tour (donations welcome) 

The cathedral was built over 900 years ago, as the Cathedral church of a Benedictine Monastery, built to inspire by its sheer size and magnificence. Norwich’s magnificent Romanesque Cathedral is open to visitors of all faiths and none. Set in 44 acres of beautiful grounds (known locally as the ‘village within the city’) it’s an awe-inspiring, welcoming building with spectacular architecture, magnificent art and a fascinating history. One of the finest complete Romanesque cathedrals in Europe, with the second tallest spire and largest monastic cloisters in England, the cathedral houses more than a thousand beautiful medieval roof boss sculptures. Take time to look up and explore them.

But the cathedral also has its secrets.

Look out for medieval graffiti which was uncovered in 2013 during a Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey. Some of the graffiti etched into stone depicts ships and ‘daisywheels’ however the messages found upside down could be a form of curse wishing bad-fortune on unlucky individuals.

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Plantation Garden

£2 entry into an honesty box

Plantation Garden is one of Norwich’s great treasures, a 3-acre Grade II English Heritage registered garden, situated right next door to The Cathedral of St John the Baptist. This secluded spot (people miss it all the time) is a hidden gem with its Gothic style fountain, flower beds, lawns, Italianate terrace, ‘Medieval’ terrace wall, 10 metre long Victorian-style greenhouse and rustic bridge. The garden is heavily wooded and provides a habitat for wildlife, making it a haven of peace and tranquillity and a glimpse into a bygone age. Looked after lovingly by a band of volunteers the garden is beautiful to visit throughout the seasons and perfect for quiet picnics. You would never believe you’re in the centre of a busy city.

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Marble Hall


Walking down St Stephen’s Street, you’d never know that Marble Hall existed. Away from the crowds off the busy main road, take a right into Surrey Street to find Surrey House – working home of Aviva.

Surrey House is home to Marble Hall a stunning piece of architecture designed by local architect George Skipper commissioned by The Norwich Union Life Insurance Society’s directors. Today the building is home to Aviva (formally Norwich Union). The Palladian exterior is impressive, but the interior is WOW with 15 varieties of marble used to make 40 columns. Originally the marble was destined for Westminster Cathedral however due to logistical difficulties the marble had to be sold on; hence it came to be in Norwich.

See classically inspired frescos and a glass atrium, it also contains an ‘air fountain’- an early form of air conditioning, a 12-pointed floor medallion and a chiming skeleton clock made for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Whilst this is a working building, it is open to members of the public free of charge during office hours Monday to Friday.

Paid tours (£15) are new for 2023 and can be booked with Shoebox Experiences.

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Norwich Market

FREE to browse

Norwich Market won Best Large Outdoor Market at the 2019 National Association of British Market Authorities. And has a large amount of great food stalls for fresh coffee and drinks for breakfast and lunch plus loads of stalls selling delicious cake. There is fabulous street food offer from around the world as well as Sir Toby’s Beers – Norwich’s smallest bar! In the heart of the city sits Norwich Market, open 6 days a week and dating back 900 years. Overlooked by statuesque medieval Norwich Castle the market thrives on its ancient site flanked on one side by the art-deco City Hall and the other by The Guildhall (15thC). Norwich Market is where shoppers and visitors congregate to source local produce such as cheese, fish and meat but where patrons can also shop for vintage paraphernalia, Norfolk artefacts, haberdashery and more.

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Elm Hill


Without doubt Elm Hill is the most famous street in Norwich. It is also the most complete medieval street in the city. A major fire destroyed almost everything in 1507 but the properties were rebuilt and now we can enjoy a beautiful, cobbled street with merchant’s houses, thatching, individual homes, speciality shops and small cafes. Elm Hill is a photographer’s dream; whatever the season it retains its character and beauty. In summer, wander around browsing shops such as The Bear Shop, a quaint little place specialising in bears and collectables. In autumn, wonder at the rich colours of the falling leaves. In winter it is Christmassy and charming, and in Spring, new life starts to form making Elm Hill bright and vibrant. Explore craft shops, antiques and galleries, visit tea shops, coffee houses and delis

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Whitlingham Country Park

(30/40 minute walk from the city centre)

Enjoy over 280-acres of fantastic circular walks surrounded by nature, wildlife and water just outside of Norwich city centre at Whitlingham Country Park gateway to the Norfolk Broads. There’s plenty of great space to take a seat, go for a walk, cycle or run plus you can watch the swans and possibly any rowers out on the water too. Don’t forget to check out the remains of the old Chalk works! There’s also a great café.

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Cathedral of St John the Baptist


The Cathedral of St John The Baptist is Norwich’s second cathedral. A Catholic cathedral which is one of the finest examples of great Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in the UK. The beautiful stained glass and stonework make it one of the most impressive architectural buildings in Norfolk.

Experience a stunning view of Norwich on a Tower Tour.  Climb 280 steps up a spiral staircase to the top of the tower and find yourself surrounded by a 360-degree view of the historic and beautiful city. Spot iconic local landmarks on the skyline. On your way up the tower stop off to catch your breath at the crossing balcony and view the transept and nave from great heights.

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