The English county of Suffolk, lying in the east of England, has a 50 mile coastline. It’s consistently voted as one of the most beautiful areas of the country, and is the perfect location for a mini break.
There is an abundance of wildlife rich wetlands, ancient heaths, beautiful beaches and stunning towns and villages along the coast, and taking the time to explore them is well worth it. There is also a lot more to do in Suffolk if you want to stay for longer; my other Suffolk posts may give you inspiration:
- Bury St Edmunds and Lavenham
- Long Melford (post coming soon)
- Woodbridge and Framlingham (post coming soon)
But for now, back to the coast – and how to make the most of 2 days in this beautiful part of England.
Day 1 – Orford, Aldeburgh and Thorpeness
A. Orford Castle
Start your day off in Orford, an absolute gem of a village on the Suffolk coast. Its crowning glory is the wonderful Orford castle, built between 1165 and 1173 by Henry III to consolidate royal power in the region and contain the threat of the Bigod family at Framlingham castle only a few miles away. The well-preserved keep is a unique design and was probably based on Byzantine architecture. The castle is really well preserved; booking a tour to go inside is so worth it and the views from the top of the castle are incredible.
B. Orford village
Orford village is absolutely stunning; there’s a wonderful market square, lots of picturesque cottages and a nice church too. Have a little stroll around and take it all in – it’s particularly beautiful in the spring and summer with the wisteria and roses out and blooming.
C. Orford Ness
Orford Ness is a national nature reserve accessed via the National Trust ferry Octavia and contains the ruined remnants of a disturbed past. Ranked among the most important shingle features in the world, the Ness combines rare and fragile wildlife with a difficult history as it’s where weapons, including atomic bombs, were tested and perfected.
After a trip to Orford Ness, it’s time for lunch and then to drive on to the next stop of the day.
Aldeburgh is a lovely seaside town, with lots of independent shops and a shingle beach nice for walking along. I think one of the nicest walks to do along the Suffolk coast is the stretch from Aldeburgh to Thorpeness following the route HERE, which then loops back to Aldeburgh inland along the old railway line. Overall it’s a 10km walk so allow 3 hours to complete it.
On the walk you will come to the beautiful village of Thorpeness, home to a picturesque windmill and the quirky House in the Clouds. It’s also got some nice dining options and a little lake where you can partake in watersports.
After all that exploring and fresh air, you’ll be ready for a nice dinner and early night, before hitting day 2 of the itinerary.
Day 2 – Southwold, Walberswick and Dunwich
A. Southwold Beach and Pier
Start the day as you mean to go on by arriving early at Southwold beach – the most sandy of the Suffolk coast beaches. It can get busy so my advice is to start early – enjoy a morning coffee while watching the light glisten on the water and the waves lap the shore. Take a walk up to the Pier, which is home to shops, arcades and traditional amusements. Then just take an hour to relax on the beach, soak up some sun and enjoy the peace.
B. Southwold Lighthouse and town
Southwold lighthouse was built in 1889 to guide ships entering the river Blyth, and it remains a working lighthouse today. It is open to visitors to tour and go to the top, but not on the day I visited unfortunately. Next door to the lighthouse is Sole Bay Inn, which is named after the Battle of Sole Bay; fought off the coast at Southwold against the Netherlands in 1672.
Southwold town is also beautiful, full of gorgeous houses. The town was destroyed by fire in the 1600s, and it’s said that the numerous greens in the town were created to act as fire breaks. Southwold is also home to the Adnams Brewery which you can tour, and the Southwold Museum if you want to learn more about the town.
Walberswick is a beautiful little fishing village just down the coast from Southwold. You could choose to walk there from Southwold (though I was saving my legs for a longer walk starting at Walberswick) which would include taking the passenger ferry between the two places.
The main attraction in Walberswick is its stunning church which is surrounded by a bigger ruin, evidence of a far grander building which fell in to decline over the years with the fall in trade. Also in Walberswick is another beautiful beach (though shingle this time), which is accessed across the marshes. The marshes are an important habitat for birds and also act as flood defence banks.
D. Dunwich Heath
After a nice lunch in Walberswick, it’s time to burn off some calories with a nice long walk between Walberswick and Dunwich Heath, taking in more of the scenic Suffolk coastal path. In total the route is 7 miles walking inland, before returning along the coast, taking around 3 hours. As you can see, the sun came out for this walk for me, which made it all the more beautiful!
Dunwich Heath is a rare survival of coastal lowland heath; the Suffolk Sandlings used to form a lot of the Suffolk coast, but have mostly been developed for agriculture or built upon. The heath is mostly covered with heather, and is home to a wide variety of birds, animals and reptiles. The Heath is stunningly beautiful, and drops down on to another beach below which is another lovely area to explore. It was even the spot where the Spanish Armada was first seen, and played a pivotal role in planning the D-Day Landings.
After 3 beaches in one day, and a long walk, it’s time to sit and enjoy an icecream at the shop and then head home.
Thank you so much for reading. What do you think of the Suffolk coast? I’m really enjoying exploring more of England at the moment, and hope you’re enjoying following along too! Stay safe and happy travelling everyone.