Spend 48 Hours in… Suffolk
From cultural urban treats to rural delights, the county of Suffolk in eastern England is the perfect place to venture for a weekend. Here are some ideas for a short break in the Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich areas.
DAY ONE: BURY ST EDMUNDS
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The Angel Hotel is a boutique property in the heart of Bury St Edmunds with lovely suites full of relaxed charm and luxury touches. A former Georgian coaching inn, The Angel was said to have been frequented by Charles Dickens on his trips to Bury St Edmunds.
10:00 A CAFFEINE PIT STOP
Start the morning at the popular Paddy & Scott’s Café, a branch of the Suffolk coffee house chain, where passionate baristas fuel customers with signature coffees or even vegan hot chocolate, along with pastries for a sweet kick.
11:00 UNLOCK THE TOWN’S SECRETS AND SCANDALS
The Official Bury St Edmunds Tour is a 90-minute trip back in time. It uncovers the legend of St Edmund and the wolf, as well as the town’s connection to the Magna Carta. Covering over a thousand years of history, the tour takes in the Abbey and main market area.
13:00 AN ATTRACTION IN A NUTSHELL
For something quirky, stop by The Nutshell Pub. It is the smallest pub in Britain at just 15ft by 7ft, perfect for a cosy drink while marvelling at curios decorating the walls.
14:00 DISCOVER THE REAL SPIRIT OF BURY
With gin very much on trend in Britain, make for a gin-making experience at craft distillery Adnam’s. An Adnam’s Gin Maker will show you everything from choosing botanicals to how to distill the spirit and name it — with a bottle to take home. They also offer brewery and distillery tours.
17:00 LIGHT BITES
The Giggling Squid rustles up Thai tapas dishes featuring rustic yet simple light bites made for sharing, from satay to dumplings, with squid thrown in too of course. The restaurant’s conservatory provides an elegant backdrop completing the scene.
18:30 GOING DEEPER UNDERGROUND
Enjoy decadently curious pre-theatre drinks at The Angel Hotel(link is external). The Wingspan Bar is located in the 12th-century vault under the hotel, which was fashioned out of the secret tunnels that run under much of the town. Order a cocktail and look out for the bar created from half an aircraft engine, among other aviation-themed furnishings.
19:30 A NIGHT AT THE THEATRE
The Theatre Royal is the only remaining example of a Regency theatre in the UK, and the Grade I-listed building has been fully restored to its Georgian grandeur. Visitors can book a tour to revel in its history and elegance or book tickets to a show to experience its opulent surroundings.
DAY TWO: IPSWICH
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In Ipswich, make a reservation at the Salthouse Harbour Hotel on the waterfront offering eclectic and richly decorated rooms with floor to ceiling windows affording fabulous views of the harbour. Make a reservation for dinner to savour the award-winning selection of food and drink, with a twist of something deliciously different.
09:00: ON THE RURAL ARTS’ TRAIL
Eighteenth-century artist John Constable was born in Suffolk and many of his works are based on scenes in Flatford, just 20 minutes from Ipswich. One of the best known is The Hay Wain, a landscape that remains virtually unchanged today. Take a National Trust walking tour and step into his world around Flatford and Dedham Vale. Then view a special exhibition of his works at Bridge Cottage by Flatford Bridge, which appears in two of his paintings.
13:00 TIME TO GO LOCAL
Known as #TheFoodieCounty, Suffolk doesn’t disappoint the tastebuds. Food lovers should head to Suffolk Food Hall, a huge farm shop selling local produce, from savoury to sweet treats, from its delicatessen, cheesemonger, and chocolatier. With a cooking school and Cookhouse Restaurant, it takes epicurean experiences seriously.
15:00 HUNT FOR SOUVENIRS
For a shopping treat, enjoy the one-off finds along The Saints streets, made up of St Peters and St Nicholas streets. You’ll find an appealing mix of high-street names and independent boutiques, such as Cake & Catwalk with striking, handpicked fashion accessories.
16:00 FINDING FAMOUS FACES
To delve into some of the local history, take a Blue Plaques Tour to discover British icons who lived in or regularly visited the city, such as author Charles Dickens, painter Thomas Gainsborough, and Britain’s first female pilot, Edith Maud Cook.
18:00 TAKE A WALK ON THE WATERSIDE
See in the evening with a stroll along Ipswich waterfront with a lively stretch of restaurants and cafés beside a picturesque dock and harbour, perfect for a relaxed evening before heading back to London.
- If you plan on hiring a car, you can visit the coast or a scenic lake.
- Shotley Peninsula is a coastal area near Ipswich, perfect for picturesque walks. Stop by the Butt and Oyster pub for lunch.
- Thorpeness Meare is the enchanting lakeside area where wealthy Scottish barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie was inspired to build by the tales of Peter Pan, penned by his close friend author JM Barrie. Explore its tiny coves, creeks and islands to reveal key places from Neverland.
HOW TO GET HERE:
Suffolk is a county in the east of England. Its principal town, Ipswich, is one hour 18 minutes from London Liverpool Street by direct train. The market town of Bury St Edmunds is approximately two hours by train from London’s King Cross and Liverpool Street stations.