Shu Lin's budget-friendly guide to Norwich

Who said a cheap break can't include a four-poster bed?

Undoubtedly one of England's finest hidden gems, Norwich is a compact city crammed with history, independent shops, exhibitions and food from all corners of the world. Here, food and travel content creator Shu gives us the lowdown on affordable hotels, cheap eats and free things to do with her tried-and-tested guide.


Budget restaurants in Norwich

Grosvenor Fish Bar

Dare I say some of the best fish and chips I've ever tasted were from Grosvenor Fish Bar? It's a controversial statement, given the fact that I grew up on the South Coast! This long-standing chippy has been serving Norwich locals and visitors alike for over 95 years, and if the snaking queue around the block is anything to go by, it won't be stopping anytime soon.

Known for its eclectic menu, you'll find chip shop classics alongside a few quirky additions. I opted for the hot and crispy Krusty Krab (£9.50), a stunning soft-shell crab in a roll with coleslaw and po' boy sauce), the Loony Toony with chips (£10.30), a soft battered tuna steak in a roll with lettuce and wasabi mayo and a melt-in-your-mouth flaky sea bass fillet (£7.50) with hand cut beef-dripping chips and deliciously thick gravy (£4.40). Grosvenor Fish Bar seats up to 70 people in their cosy downstairs grotto, so pull up a pew and get eating.

More cheap eats in Norwich.      

You'll find six independent kitchens and three bars across two floors at YALM, with food starting at £4 but upon hearing about Cocina Mia, I made a beeline for Norwich Market to try Chilean food for the first time and I loved it. Handmade and prepared on-site, you'll find an array of dishes cooked from locally-sourced produce.

But what did you order, Shu? A piping hot chicken and chorizo empanada, of course! As part of a lunchtime deal, it comes with a towering selection of fresh salads or fries. My boyfriend tried a Barros Luco, a made-to-order chimichurri-rubbed steak sandwich with Edam cheese and avocado. He devoured it before I had a chance to grab a third bite. Expect big portions, bold, zingy flavours and cravings for just £8 per meal.

If you're hankering for a big slice of cake with a good cup of tea, I can't recommend Britons Arms enough. Not only is this tearoom a historical institution (it's been around since the 1300s and was one of five merchant buildings to survive the fire of Norwich in 1507), but it serves up home comforts at ease. Choose from the likes of homemade slabs of cake and fish finger sandwiches as well as plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

Find more places to eat in Norwich

Free and cheap things to do Norwich

The Forum

Stretch those legs and take in the city's cultural landmarks on a walking tour with Paul Dickson. Having worked in the Norfolk tourism industry for over 35 years, Paul is friendly and warm and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Norwich, from its medieval history to the latest food openings.

At just £8 a ticket, you'll be treated to an immersive 1 hour 45 minute guided walking tour covering The Forum, Elm Hill, Cinema City, The Royal Arcade and the riverside before finishing up at Norwich Cathedral. It's a fantastic introduction to Norwich and a great way to work up an appetite for your next meal.

More things to see and do in Norwich

Home to tearooms, merchant houses and speciality boutiques, set your heart aflutter with a scenic stroll along the cobbled streets of Elm Hill

With over 200 independent retailers, Norwich Market is a must-visit for international street food stalls, homemade crafts and even vintage clothing! 

Norwich Lanes mixes old and new, housing artisan coffee shops and cinemas within 14th-century buildings. Norwich Cathedral has over 900 years of history with free 60-minute guided tours available, or book a comprehensive 90-minute one for just £3.

Other options include a stroll through independent shops at The Royal Arcade (where Victorian architecture meets Art Nouveau fixtures) or a lavish picnic after a visit to the boating pond at Eaton Park.

Find more things to do in Norwich

Cheap and budget hotels in Norwich

The Assembly House

Indulge in luxury accommodation at budget-friendly prices at The Assembly House. This elegant red-brick hotel is nestled in an exquisite Grade I-listed Georgian townhouse and has 16 rooms to choose from, all uniquely decorated. 

Running an exclusive offer throughout March, you can stay in one of their luxury rooms with a bottle of bubbles, cooked breakfast for two, free parking and an award-winning Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea from £179. The attention to detail in each patisserie nearly stopped me from taking a bite - but I'm pleased to say it tastes even better than it looks. 

The staff are friendly, the afternoon tea is delectable and sinking into the four-poster bed was a treat after a busy day exploring Norwich.

More cheap places to stay

Gothic House is a Grade-II listed Regency House in the heart of the Creative Quarter. It offers comfort and a home-cooked breakfast for just £110 per night.

The award-winning Maids Heads Hotel is a great shout for a dog-friendly stay. If you're driving and fancy a countryside escape, rooms at Park Farm Hotel start from £70. Travelling with a group? Why not upgrade to a Scandi-style lodge set against a striking 200-acre backdrop? 

Find more places to stay in Norwich

Free and cheap attractions in Norwich

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

Great for all ages, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is an award-winning museum featuring a world-class permanent art collection (including abstract, contemporary and nouveau works by Picasso and Francis Bacon) and an impressive 350-acre outdoor sculpture park.

It's also the UK's first museum to introduce a Universal Tickets policy, meaning tickets will run on a "Pay If and What You Can" scheme. You're given an all-access pass across the entire collection (including the temporary exhibitions). You can pick the price, ranging from free to full membership.

And if that wasn't enough, movie buffs might recognise the iconic Sainsbury Centre from a few Hollywood blockbusters! Used as the New York Avengers base, this modernist building has featured in many Marvel films, including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: End Game. Pretty neat, right?

More attractions in Norwich

Get a strike at retro 10-pin bowling alley Bowling House. Prices start at £19 for 30 minutes for up to six people, just over £3 per person. There's also karaoke, cocktails and a diner for an all-around, top-notch evening.

If there's a group of you, a membership costs £40 and includes a complimentary session of bowling and karaoke, as well as discounts across their food and drink throughout the year. 

Find more attractions in Norwich

Cheap drinks and nights out in Norwich

Gyre & Gimble

I love creativity when it comes to cocktails and Gyre & Gimble does precisely that. The bar takes a zero-waste approach to mixology, and its theatrical presentation and innovative flavours are a feast for the senses.

A few standouts are Smoke (mezcal, tobacco, lapsang souchong, smoked oak bitters and smoked rock salt) and Tomato (Gyre & Gimble's sea salted vodka, Amaro Montenegro, clarified tomato, Worcester sauce, jalapeno, pink pepper, black pepper and chipotle).

Cocktails are £9 across the board but swing by before 9pm and they're on offer for £6.

It's rare to find artisanal bars that curate such an impactful experience at a reasonable price, but Gyre & Gimble champions curiosity at its heart and delivers with flair.

More affordable nightlife in Norwich

Rumour has it Norwich is home to 365 pubs, with 10 bars and pubs per square mile. Sir Toby's Beers has a stellar selection of craft beers and ales and boasts the smallest bar in Norwich. Or, grab a drink at Maids Head Hotel, one of the UK's oldest hotels, with over 800 years of history. 

Experience the magic of puppetry at Norwich Puppet Theatre with tickets starting from £8, or see the rising comedy stars with a stand-up show at Norwich Theatre Playhouse.

Find more nightlife in Norwich

Check out Shu's tasty new video for more inspiration...


15 Mar 2023(last updated)

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    Grosvenor Fish Bar

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    The Forum

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    The Assembly House

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    Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

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    Gyre & Gimble

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