Spanning hundreds of years and providing a variety of entertainment (and – dare we say it – educational information), visiting some of Norwich’s favourite attractions provide the perfect day out for a range of ages. If you have a few days to spend in Norwich you can easily fill them with visits to these attractions, so we’ve put together some suggestions – do them all, or take your pick!
Don’t forget… City Sightseeing Bus Tours run hop on, hop off tours (10.30am – 3.30pm every day from 1st April – 28 October) around 9 stops in the city, and covers all the main attractions as well as the railway and bus stations. There’s on-board commentary to enjoy, and your ticket lasts 24 hours so you can really make the most of this great service! Find out more here.
Image: the Cathedral of St John the Baptist
SUGGESTION ONE – THE CASTLE AND THE LANES
Image: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
…spend it wisely! We’d suggest paying a trip to Norwich Castle, the city’s 900-year-old museum and art gallery which was originally built as a palace for the Normans and today houses some fantastic examples of fine art, architecture, natural history and much more. Take around 2 – 3 hours – maybe more if you really take your time, it’s a big structure and you can add on battlements tours or the dungeons. They’re currently hosting the Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House exhibition which features some amazing examples of Dolls' Houses (including mansions, villas and council house estates to name but a few) which in turn tell us so much about the day to day life over the years.
Once finished at the Castle, head into The Norwich Lanes via The Royal Arcade and Gentleman’s Walk and Norwich Market. Stop for a light lunch at the many independent cafes or drop into Jarrolds for 4 floors of quality (and some exclusive) brands. Have a bite to eat in one of their restaurants, browse their amazing book department and pop over to The Granary, across the road, for gorgeous homewares and gifts.
Image: Strangers' Hall garden
Strangers’ Hall, just down the road on Charring Cross, is hosting a complementary programme of events as part of the Small Stories exhibition, which is quite fitting as Strangers’ Hall itself is often thought of as a sort of living dolls house! The museum is housed in an old merchant’s house which dates right back to 1320; walk around and marvel at the amazing décor, panelled Walnut room and beautiful garden. Open on selected days, please check our website.
If there’s still time, indulge in some shopping or stop for a coffee. Walk up to St Benedicts Street for an array of places to eat and drink, or wander through Bridewell Alley into Pottergate.
Staying for dinner? Norwich’s compact street pattern means that, wherever you are, you’ll only be a short walk away from plenty of lovely restaurants including The Iron House, East Twenty Six, Thai Kitti, Côte Brasserie, Café Britannia, The Library Restaurant Bar & Grill, and plenty more – browse all the Eat & Drink listings on our website here.
SUGGESTION TWO – CATHEDRALS, GARDENS and SHOPPING
Image: Norwich Cathedral's cloisters
Start in Norwich’s historic Cathedral Quarter, and marvel at Norwich Cathedral. Built over 900 years ago, this Romanesque Cathedral is a sight to behold, with incredible architecture and the largest monastic cloisters in England (plus the second-tallest spire in England). There’s no entry fee (but donations are welcomed) and you can take a tour of the Cathedral with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide – these take place on the hour, every hour between 11am and 3pm, Monday to Saturday (again free). The Cathedral Close is also a beautiful setting for a walk.
There’s a great cafe at the cathedral or walk across Tombland to Norwich’s most complete medieval street the beautiful, cobbled Elm Hill. Here you will find plenty of artisan small shops; antiques, crafts, teddy bears, books and jewellery. Stop for coffee and a sausage roll or a huge slice of homemade cake at the Britons Arms; a thatched 15th century merchant’s house.
Image: Britons Arms
Once back on your feet, walk through the Lanes to Upper St Giles, a handsome street of Georgian architecture, finding more lovely shops on your way!
Take the foot bridge over Grapes Hill and head over to the Plantation Garden. This is often known as Norwich’s ‘secret garden’; located by the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, just outside of the city centre, it’s a beautifully restored Victorian garden which covers 3 acres and includes an amazing Gothic fountain, beautiful shrubbery and plants, an Italianate terrace and a striking Victorian greenhouse, amongst other sights! Pop £2 per person in their honesty box for entry and you’re good to go.
Image: The Cathedral of St John the Baptist
And if you still want more... and we strongly suggest you do this... head next door to the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. This is a very different Cathedral in its style and time period, offering one of the finest examples of Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in the UK. The Cathedral also has a truly gorgeous landscaped garden, and the produce grown in here supplies the Garden café. If you’re feeling brave, take a tower tour up to the highest point of the Cathedral – expect amazing, 360° views out over Norwich!
SUGGESTION THREE – THE STORY OF NORWICH AND QUIRKY PLACES TO VISIT
Image: The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell
The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell is packed with incredible pieces showcasing Norwich’s history, from Norwich’s shoe, textile and chocolate production and archive films to enjoy, through to board games from the 1950’s and an incredible, real-life Victorian pharmacy which was donated by a local pharmacist – it’s amazing and definitely worth a visit!
The Forum, Norwich’s glass-fronted millennium building, is always worth a trip because it has such a wide range of exhibitions and events taking place within its atrium and gallery space, and outside the front of the building – most of which are free to enter or participate in! There’s also a fab Pizza Express set high, overlooking the amphitheatre and St Peter Mancroft church.
Image: The Old Skating Rink, home to The South Asia Collection
Over the road in Bethel Street don’t forget to visit The South Asia Collection, which features a unique array of South Asian art, crafts, textiles, furnishings and gifts. The items themselves are bound to impress (and they offer tours and talks to tie in with objects) but so is the building itself - the collection is housed in a restored Victorian skating rink which is all free to enter!
Other places of interest include; Marble Hall, Afternoon Tea at The Assembly House, intu Chapelfield plus regional large flagship stores from Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams.
COMING TO VISIT?
Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.