Said to be the most complete medieval metropolis in the UK – with cobbled streets and skew-whiff buildings – this UNESCO City of Literature is under two hours from London by train. Planning a trip to Norwich? Here are our top picks of things to do in this fine city.
Enter: Norwich Castle
Perched atop Castle Hill, this former royal palace has been operating as a museum since 1894. Explore the medieval keep, battlements and dungeons; learn about the celtic Iceni tribe (led by the fearless Queen Boudica); and unearth other interesting facts about The Egyptians, natural history and the Vikings all within the castle’s four stone walls. What will you discover within these stone walls?
Or pay a visit to the world-famous Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (or Avengers headquarters, if you’re a Marvel fan) to see artworks by the likes of Bacon and Picasso, as well as a range of abstract, constructivist and art nouveau wonders in one of the many permanent and temporary exhibitions. Outside, in the grounds of the University of East Anglia, you can explore the Sainsbury Centre's Sculpture Park, dotted with important works by Henry Moore, Antony Gormley and internationally acclaimed sculptor, Cristina Iglesias.
Serving much-loved chip shop fare for over 90 years, the popular Grosvenor Fish Bar is steeped in history. You won’t miss it either, as it’s usually got a huge queue snaking out of its doors. You can get your hands on classics like battered cod, fishcakes and beef dripping-cooked chips, or Grosvenor-exclusive options like ‘Six-quid Squid’, ‘Loony Toony’ (battered tuna), and a ‘Krusty Krab Po’Boy’ (soft-shell crab in a roll). There’s even a downstairs seating grotto, if you don’t fancy taking your meal away.
Hidden behind St John’s Cathedral is a ‘secret’ garden created by prosperous Victorian upholsterer, Henry Trevor. Built in a former chalk quarry, the garden offers a magical escape from the buzz of modern lift, with its 'medieval' wall, Italianiate terrace, Gothic fountain and maze of woodland walks.
Skipped lunch? We've got just the thing. Munch your way through delectable afternoon teas at the luxurious Georgian Assembly House (any Bridgerton fans out there?). Tuck into lashings of tea, dainty finger sandwiches and unlimited cakes, and add a glass or two of Champagne for an extra treat. During the summer months, you can even opt to take your tea on the House's lawn. Splendid!
Browse the wonderful array of stalls in one of the largest permanent undercover markets in Europe. Found in the heart of the city, Norwich Market – best known for its colourfully striped canopy – is home to resident retailers selling everything from clothes and toys, to household goods and fresh meats. If you are also looking for boutiques and brand names, then check out the neighbouring Castle Mall or Intu Chapelfield.
Crowned with 3AA Rosettes, Benedicts, which opened back in 2015, is a firm favourite with local foodies. Heading up the kitchen is Richard Bainbridge (who previously served at not one, but two Michelin-starred restaurants - Morston Hall in North Norfolk and the Waterside Inn in Bray), who is a champion for Norfolk produce and local producers. Devour the Alpine Cheese Soup with pickled cucumber, before tucking into quality sirloin and pillowy mashed potato. Is your mouth watering yet?
As its name suggests, this after-dark venue is known for its retro bowling alley - but in reality, it's so much more. Chow down on sharing platters with your mates and sample the concoction of cocktails on offer while singing your heart out in a private karaoke booth (your vocal chords will thank you in the morning!). Bowling House has been a regular haunt since it opened, and is often putting on lively special events, from bingo and comedy to live music and theatre.
This award-winning hotel is said to be the oldest hotel in the UK, and has seen many exciting guests walk through its dos - from the likes of Catherine of Aragon and Queen Elizabeth I to Admiral Lord Nelson. Exuding charm, character and splendour, the Maid’s Head Hotel is known for its excellent customer service, top-notch food and cosy, contemporary bedrooms. It's even got two rare Bentleys you can hire, and its own riverboat that hosts tours and afternoon tea sailings on the River Wensum. Located in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, the hotel is only minutes away from an array of upmarket restaurants, boutique shops and the iconic Norwich Cathedral, making it a perfect base for exploring the city.