Have you ever heard of Norwich? I remember visiting as a child as my great-grandparents lived there, but I had no idea what was there now. Actually, it’s a really nice city for a day trip – fusing the modern with the historic. Norwich is about a 2.5 hour drive from London, and whilst I don’t think it’s as pretty as places like Cambridge or Oxford, it’s still well worth a visit if you’re in the UK and looking for a day out.
Norwich’s history starts in the Anglo Saxon times, and is home to a Castle, big Cathedral and lots of old buildings. It’s also famous for it’s pubs – at one point there were over 850 just in the centre alone! Norwich was England’s second biggest city for more than 700 years, and Norfolk (the county in which Norwich sits), was England’s most populous and prosperous due to its wool trade. This is because in the 1500s many weavers came to Norwich fleeing religious persecution in the Netherlands and Belgium. They brought their canaries with them, and by the 18th century Norwich was famous for its canaries and today Norwich football team is nicknamed the Canaries. Interestingly (or not!), Norwich was also the first place in the UK to use postcodes. Who knew?!
I enjoyed a day exploring Norwich, and here are 5 great things to do with 12 hours in the city.
1. Norwich Castle
This castle goes right back to the start. William the Conqueror himself asked for this castle to be built following the Norman conquest of England. It’s therefore Medieval, built originally in around 1060…..that’s super, super old. It was originally a fortification, it then became a prison in the 1200s and turned in to a museum in the late 1800s, which it’s been ever since. You can now walk around inside the main castle, learning about its history, as well as that of Norwich as a city. There is also an exhibit on the the Anglo-Saxons and an art exhibition inside. I also did a tour of the dungeons and battlements, which gave lovely views out over Norwich. In total, I spent the whole morning here, totalling around 3 hours.
2. Norwich Cathedral & Cathedral Close
After spending all morning in the Castle, I headed down to the Cathedral. This is one of the most complete Norman cathedrals in England and is another world heritage site. What I liked most about the Cathedral is that it sits in a place called Cathedral Close. This is where my great grandparents used to live, and it’s full of pretty, quintessentially English houses. To get in to Cathedral Close, I recommend entering by St Ethelbert;s Gate, which dates all the way back to around 1310!! I loved imagining all the people who had walked through the gate before me, including my family that I never had the chance to meet. I always find it weird when all that separates you from someone else, is time.
3. City centre shopping
After visiting the Cathedral, I headed for a late lunch in the city centre, followed by shopping and some drinks. There are a lot of good shops in Norwich and it was nice to see the high street so busy. I particularly loved that there were so many bookshops and I easily spent around an hour browsing in the city centre.
4. Historical Escape Rooms
In the afternoon, I chose to do an Escape Room with a company called History Mystery. I really recommend Norwich’s escape room scene – they have some great ones. These were particularly cool. I chose to play in a room which is actually tunnels under the Castle and tells the story of its excavation. Be prepared to be in hard hats and high vis jackets – but it was a fun story, in an historic location, very well done. History Mystery have sites all over Norwich, so just pick the one that appeals to you most.
5. Food. Michelin level, amazing food.
After a busy day, we chose to eat at the absolutely AMAZING Benedicts. I can’t even tell you how good it was. The trifle for dessert is quite possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had (and I don’t even like trifle that much!) I went with my Mum and it was a really special occasion to have a 7 course, incredible meal, with lots of wine together. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, which was more than just food, and that I would recommend to anyone. It was expensive (but not the normal Michelin starred eye watering expensive) at around £60 each. What a way to finish off a lovely day in Norwich.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you found this post interesting and useful if you’re planning a visit to Norwich. Stay safe and happy travelling!