35 best things to do in Southwold, Suffolk
- This post is a collaboration with Trespass who have gifted items featured.
It’s been a hot minute since I wrote a blog post but I thought it was time to bring back the blog, and how better than by sharing the 35 best things to do in Southwold? As we navigate the stresses and worries of Lockdown 2.0, I’m sure a little light escapism to the seaside is just what the doctor orderer. My last day of freedom before Lockdown 2.0 was spent on a day trip down to the Suffolk coast and it was the best day out I could have asked for.
We had been hoping to score a day out down there since last summer but alas, life got in the way. But in spite of this, I actually think it worked out for the better. While in summer Southwold can be very busy, it was so peaceful on a sunny autumnal day and meant we could really enjoy it. It seems that staycations and UK trips are going to be a big thing for 2021. So understandably, you might be looking for a little inspiration for future travels. Don’t forget to check out my posts on Norfolk:
- Why Norfolk holidays should be on your UK bucket list
- 8 of the best Norfolk stately homes to explore
- The 13 best Norfolk nature reserves & parks
After growing up on the Norfolk coast, it’s been a real pleasure to create content for you guys to really showcase what the area has to offer. Now I’m happy to be extending that further to the Suffolk coast and hope to explore more in 2021. I know the future of travel is uncertain right now, but it’s important to take this time to explore what is right on our doorstep and supporting local businesses. Travel doesn’t have to mean far-flung destinations. It can mean travelling an hour down the road to explore a place we’ve never been before. Read on for all the inspiration for a cute little seaside escape for post-lockdown.
35 best things to do in Southwold
The top 10 for your first visit:
Take a walk along the pier
Stroll along the boardwalk to watch the fishermen at the end of the pier, check out the view of the lighthouse and beach huts that Southwold is famous for. Read the many plaques in memory of loved ones and marvel at the memories the pier holds for so many. Check out the crazy mirrors on your way back for a giggle or pick up some gifts in the craft shops.
Enjoy the George Orwell mural
The author of 1984 and Animal Farm spent time in Southwold in his youth and some amazing artwork has popped up in tribute. Literary buffs can check out the mural and plaque at the pier for quotes and references to his work.
Visit the lighthouse
Southwold Lighthouse is rather unusually located in the centre of lots of old cottages and a pub instead of perched on the edge of a cliff. Guiding boats since 1887, you can still visit this working lighthouse and climb up it on selected summer days.
Rent a beach hut
Southwold is well known for the super cute beach huts that line the beaches. Take a wander along and try to guess which ones sell for £250,000. Often beach hut owners will rent out their huts for the day to tourists. It’s a great way to add a bit of old fashioned seaside charm to your experience. Suffolk Secrets have lots of gorgeous beach huts to choose from starting from £40.
Stroll along the beach
No day at the seaside is complete without sandy toes, so don’t forget to pack your bucket and spade. A beautiful and long beach, it’s perfect for dog walks, lazy afternoons or watching the sunset. There’s also lots of space in the sand dunes if you prefer somewhere sheltered to sit. Check out The Denes Beach and Walberswick beach.
Sip a local brew & visit the brewery
You can’t visit Southwold without trying a local bevvy. Order a pint of Adnams Mosaic or a Copper House G&T for a taste of Suffolk’s finest. Brewing in Southwold since 1872, you can head to The Swan to take tours of the Adnams brewery and distillery. One of the best things to do in Southwold, gin-lovers can even make their own juniper blend on-site!
Enjoy the local pubs
If you love an old English pub as much as I do, you’ll love exploring the locals in Southwold. One of the best things to do in Southwold – head for a pub lunch. There’s some great places to eat including The Sail Loft – it’s right by the beach and has a lovely garden overlooking the marshes, and floor to ceiling windows. Plus the food is amazing and with great deals – highly rate the fish & chips and the beetroot burger with goats cheese!
Top pubs to visit in Southwold:
Shop vintage & retro in Southwold
If you’ve got a love for all things retro, vintage and second-hand – don’t miss Wow Vintage Southwold. It’s full of clothing, interiors, accessories, crafts and all the knick-knacks you could ever want. They also have a great selection of vinyl.
Delve into Southwold’s rich history
If you have a love of all things nautical, you can pay a visit to the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum. This fascinating little museum is steeped in history, even the building has a tale to tell. Explore Southwold Museum for a peek into the local and natural history of the area. Or visit the Southwold Sailors Reading Room on the seafront for a peek into the fishing and maritime history.
The top 10 most unique experiences:
A night at the movies
For a rather bouji movie experience, head to the The Electric Picture Palace which hosts just 70 seats and an organ! The award-winning building shows a wide range of films and you can also become a member.
Get racing and join the regatta
The town is home to Southwold Model Yacht Club which hosts a range of events throughout the year. Visitors can join in with some including the Southwold Model Yacht Regatta.
Spot the Jack
Did you know that you can find doppelgangers of a wooden soldier hidden around the town? St Edmund’s Church is home to the original 15th century woodwork soldier fondly named Jack. But keep an eye out for his replicas as you walk around the town.
Go Alpaca Trekking
Suffolk is actually home to a lot of alpacas – would you believe it? There is an alpaca farm in Southwold where you can buy alpacas or go alpaca trekking if you’re looking for a unique experience. Nearby Lings Meadow campsite also offers alpaca walks.
Be a-maized by Southwold
Why not take the family to explore Southwold Maize Maze? This 8 acre site is a mass of puzzling pathways that will keep you entertained for hours. It has a new theme each year and is open June to September.
Rent a cottage – or go off-grid
Why stop at a day trip when you could stay for a weekend? There are lots of gorgeous old cottages to rent in Southwold. Or you could go off-grid and choose a more unusual and quirky accommodation such as the following:
- Bell tents, hot tubs and luxury glamping – Little Wren Glamping
- Luxury glamping safari tents – Boundary Farm
- Luxury, secluded clifftop sanctuaries – The Watch Room
- Romantic, electricity-free cottage lit by candlelight – Hex Cottage
- Quaint and cosy shepherd’s huts – Woodland Retreat Shepherd’s Hut
- Compare prices of holiday rentals, airbnb and hotels on cozycozy.com
Support the independent stores
Visit Southwold Books to pick up your latest read – it’s a literary lover’s dream! Or discover the treasure trove of homeware at Max Southwold. Wander the high street to explore the boutiques and pick up some unique gifts.
Pick up fish & chips for dinner
No trip to the seaside is complete without fish & chips. Head to Mrs T’s Fish & Chips for the locals’ favourite traditional fish & chips freshly cooked to order, or pop over to The Little Fish & Chip Shop for seafront views and a stroll along the prom. And look no further than the SoleBay Fish Company for a family-run fishmongers and restaurant by the harbour. They have the traditional favourites but also a choice of mixed seafood platters, oysters and lobsters.
Chase an adrenaline rush
The sleepy town of Southwold might not seem like the best place to find excitement, but it’s here that you will find the Coastal Voyager. An exhilarating high speed boat ride, it’s perfect for thrill-seekers and there are event options for boat trips to visit the local seals and wind farm.
Take the kids on a treasure trail
Get the whole family involved and explore while joining in Southwold Murder Mystery Treasure Trail. It’s a self-guided murder mystery walking trail that’s perfect for kids aged six and above. The two mile loop trail takes around two hours to complete and if you solve the mystery, you can be entered into a prize draw of £100.
9 more things to do in Southwold, Suffolk
Play a few holes
Whether you fancy yourself as the next Tiger Woods, or can barely hit the ball. Golf fans of all abilities are catered for in Southwold. From mini-golf for the family, to Southwold Golf Club.
Indulge your sweet tooth
Summer days at the beach are the perfect time for an ice cream – head to Beaches and Cream on the seafront. A perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth with ice creams, milkshakes, sweets and snacks.
Learn about the history of amber
Southwold is home to The Amber Shop, the only museum in the UK which tells the history and the story of amber. The oldest and largest specialist in Great Britain, you can find a selection of second-hand and antique amber, as well as modern amber. You can pick up souvenirs to take home with you.
Listen to live music
Pop over to Southwold Arts Centre for regular shows and live music. Or head back to The Sail Loft, a modern and popular bar by the beach and harbour where they host live music nights. The Red Lion Pub also has live music on a Sunday afternoon.
Dine or play at the Pier
Southwold Pier has so much more to offer than just a boardwalk. It’s home to two restaurants, two cafes, shops, an “under the Pier show” which includes video games and arcades, and the famous water clock. There’s lots to see and do, so why not stop for a bit longer?
Enjoy internationally-renowned musicians
Founded in 2008 following the success of a series of one-off concerts, Southwold Concert Series welcomes internationally-renowned artists each year. Hosted at St Edmund’s Church, the event also welcomes several rising stars to the stage.
Come for festival season
The summer brings festival season with Southwold Arts Festival taking place each June. Boasting an eclectic mix of events from poetry and visual arts, to music, talks, theatre and much more. Not your scene? Why not head back to Suffolk for popular music festival – Latitude Festival which takes place in nearby Henham Park each July?
Take the ferry to Walberswick
Take in the view of Southwold from the sea as you catch the ferry to Walberswick where there is another lovely beach to explore.
Book tickets for the theatre
During the summer, Southwold Summer Theatre plays a different show every fortnight. Book tickets before you go to avoid disappointment.
6 fun activities near Southwold
Walk the Suffolk Coast Path
Stretch your legs and take in those sea breezes with a walk along the Suffolk Coast Path. Starting down in Felixstowe and running all the way up to Lowestoft, there’s plenty of miles available, or you can just wander a short stint.
Go walking in the nature reserves
Just south of Southwold, you will find the National Trust’s Dunwich Heath and Beach. An area of coastal lowland, it sits right next to the RSPB site and both provide a perfect place for a walk.
Go birdwatching at RSPB Minsmere
A 1,000 hectare site that is home to many breeds of bird including the bittern, stone-curlew, marsh harrier, nightjar and nightingale. It’s a also a great place to spot other wildlife including deer, lizards and many more.
Visit a 13th century friary
Delve into history on the Suffolk coast by visiting nearby Dunwich Greyfriars. One of the most important ancient monuments in the county, it’s also home to the ruins of a monastery and picturesque woods.
Explore Framlingham Castle
Here you’ll find a beautiful lake and huge parklands surrounding the castle where Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England. Take the spectacular wall walk and enjoy breathtaking views from Framlingham Castle.
Take a day trip to Orford
Nearby Orford is home to English Heritage site, Orford Castle which is a unique polygonal tower that sits right next to the town. There is also a port which was developed by King Henry II. One of the prettiest villages in the county, you’ll also find Orford Ness National Nature Reserve nearby.
What to pack for the seaside in Southwold, Suffolk
It’s always important to be prepared for all weathers in the UK, even just an hour down the road the weather can change dramatically and there’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain without your brolly. If visiting in the summer, it’s worth packing the sunscreen, shorts and even your bikini. Yes, it does get hot enough in the UK for my non-UK readers! I never go on a day trip to the seaside without my trusty sarong and Kindle – I love to sit and listen the waves while I read my book. If you’re visiting in autumn/winter, make sure to wear a warm jacket. I recommend either trying an insulated or waterproof style that will help to block the wind. It’s great for blowing away the cobwebs, but you don’t want to get cold when you go for a walk on the beach.
Don’t forget a waterproof jacket in the winter!
Trespass has a great range of weatherproof clothing including the amazing yellow raincoat I’m wearing in the photos in this post! They gifted me the waterproof jacket to try out and I’m so impressed with the quality. I sized up so I can fit a jumper underneath if needed, as you can see in the photos, and it was so cosy. We were lucky and there was barely any wind the day we visited Southwold, but it’s always good to be prepared. I’ve got a lot of coats and jackets, but this is the only one I own that actually has a hood – so I’m looking forward to trying it out in the rain.
Paired with my trusty wellies, the Shoreline Women’s Lightweight Waterproof Jacket with Hood will be necessary over the winter months if I’m to continue my country walks. I also love the bright sunny yellow, not only does it stand out in a crowd, but it brings a little sunshine to even the dark and rainy days. Particularly in 2020, I think any way we can bring sunshine to our day is a win! If you want to purchase the jacket, you can find it here: https://www.trespass.com/women/jackets/waterproof-jackets
Have you visited Southwold or the Suffolk Coast? Would you like to visit?