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.
Start your day with sausage, beans and everything in between at this family-run café on the Unthank Road – an area predominantly populated by students from the University of East Anglia. Order from a menu of traditional full English breakfasts (with vegan alternatives), poached-egg favourites and sweet and smoky American pancakes, and tuck in from a table on their front decking or in the courtyard.
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?
Located on 320 acres of rolling parkland, the University of East Anglia is home to a fascinating collection of 1960s brutalist and modernist architecture, including the distinctive Ziggurats, which house some of its 15,000 students. For more natural beauty, join the throng of dog walkers and take a stroll around the UEA Broad – a tranquil lake tucked away at the southern end of the campus – making sure to look out for the resident rabbits that happily hop along the grass.
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.
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’ tiered garden created by prosperous Victorian upholsterer, Henry Trevor. Full of typical Victorian trinkets (including a Gothic fountain; a tropical Palm House; and a maze of serpentine paths and terraces), this former chalk quarry is a magical escape from the buzz of modern life. Take some time to switch off and admire the abundance of flowers and nature in an unsuspecting corner of a bustling city.
Satisfy your sweet tooth in a modern meeting place that puts puddings on a pedestal – Figbar. Ran by renowned pastry chef, Jaime Garbutt, and his wife Stephanie, this decadent dessert shop is famous for its sweets. Their mouth-watering menu includes the likes of Rocher (a milk chocolate and hazelnut ganache with crème fraiche and lime panna cotta), gianduja chocolate brownies, and an ever-changing selection of pies and pastries. What better way to fix your post-lunch dip?
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.
Treat yourself to a fine-dining experience at Roger Hickman’s Restaurant on Upper St Giles Street. Serving up modern British food in a low-key yet elegant setting, it’s sure to tantalise your taste buds. The restaurant is named after the head chef himself, who earned his culinary stripes in the exact same location, when it was home to local legend Adlards. Fast forward to today and Roger Hickman’s is the only Norwich eatery to hold the prestigious AAA Rosette Award – no surprise when it churns out delicious dishes like crispy cod cheeks with parmesan risotto, and Victoria plum, pistachio and vanilla cheesecake!
This burger joint turned trendy cocktail bar is the place to go for an evening tipple. Named after the lovable Canadian pug who casually patrols the Tea Room most afternoons (yes, an actual dog!), the bar is full of mismatched novelty decorations and shakes up an array of eccentric drinks like Hibiskiss Da Girl and Swashbuckler. If you pop in during the summer, there’s a rooftop terrace to chill out on, but if you’re more of a night owl, then stick around until the early hours where you can bust some moves along to the grooves of the resident DJ.
This award-winning hotel is said to be the oldest hotel in the UK, dating back over 800 years. Exuding charm, character and splendour, the Maid’s Head is known for its excellent customer service, top-notch food and cosy comfort. Its 84 bedrooms – some with period touches, others with a more contemporary elegance – are stylish and spacious, while the snug Jacobean bar is ideal for an after-dinner drink. Located in Tombland, the hotel is only minutes away from an array of upmarket restaurants, bars and boutique shops, making it a perfect base for exploring the city.