East Anglia in England’s far eastern corner is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, where you will find low lying landscapes including broadland waterways, forest parks and heritage coastlines in Norfolk and Suffolk. The magical Fens sweep north of Cambridge towards The Wash and the region features ancient cities and towns including the cathedral city of Norwich, the historic university city of Cambridge with its 31 colleges and market town Bury St Edmunds with abbey ruins surrounded by magnificent gardens.
Eastern England is a land of waterways and quintessentially gentle English countryside dotted with famous medieval villages like Lavenham. Several celebrated names from the arts herald from the region including the artist John Constable who painted his beloved landscapes of the Stour river valley in the south of the region.
Lesser known location gems include large Suffolk town Ipswich with its stunning heritage waterfront and Peterborough with one of England’s finest cathedrals which often features in the UK’s top 10 landmarks. East Anglia is also where you will find the centre for UK horse racing at Newmarket and a wealth of historic market towns rich in local produce, old churches and fine old real ale inns.
Great swathes of the East Anglia coastline are either a heritage coast or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty flanked by footpaths and nature reserves. The North Norfolk heritage coast has its own National Trail pushing up from Hunstanton round towards Victorian seaside resort Cromer. This low lying coast is a precious landscape mix of saltmarsh, sand dunes, soft cliffs and mudflats. Award-winning beaches, pretty harbour villages and hotspots for sailing around the Burnhams all feature on the North Norfolk Coast.
Classic seaside resorts are plentiful in this region, with family favourites including Hunstanton, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Felixstowe. Colourful coastal resorts offering more peaceful seaside bases include beautiful Southwold with its award-winning beach and pier, Aldeburgh with its pretty shingle beach and nearby Snape Maltings concert venue, Victorian Cromer with its magnificent pier and Sheringham, home to the North Norfolk steam railway.
Countryside, River Valleys, Fens, Forests & Broads
The East Anglia interior contains a wealth of outdoor playgrounds, broadland waterways and the magical landscape of the Fens in the north of the region. The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are one of Britain’s National Parks and have long been a favourite for boating holidays. The Norfolk Broads with main bustling centre at Wrexham are a favourite with families, or for a more peaceful Broadland cruise choose the Suffolk Broads and pretty waterfront bases like Beccles and Bungay.
Huge forest areas and parks can also be found in the region like Thetford Forest Park and the forests around Fakenham, both in Norfolk. Ancient maritime ports sit alongside rivers like the old Hanseatic port of King’s Lynn flanking The Wash. The town has a stunning waterfront along the Ouse and a host of medieval maritime architecture.
Visit the Fenlands of Cambridgeshire and you will return again and again. This truly magical flat landscape of wetlands and waterways features ancient sites of Bronze Age settlement like Flag Fen near Peterborough. Don’t miss a tour of the National Trust’s beautiful Wicken Fen or a visit to Ely with its magnificent cathedral nick-named the great ‘ship of the Fens’.
Spectacular river valleys in the region including the Stour river valley south of Ipswich. This is John Constable Country, and the landscape has changed little here since Constable’s day.
Cities & Towns
The cities and towns of East Anglia are rich in heritage. Stay in a Suffolk or Norfolk market town like Diss or Downham Market and experience a taste of East Anglia at some of England’s best local produce markets. Historic character, literary connections and a wealth of heritage buildings feature across East Anglia towns and cities. Stay in Oliver Cromwell’s birthplace – Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire or stop awhile in Sudbury in Suffolk, birthplace of the artist Gainsborough. These are ancient holiday destinations all with fascinating museums and stories to tell.
Larger towns and cities in the region including Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich are all perfect for that arts, culture and heritage packed weekend break. Many museums are free to enter and in all these centres you will find a wide choice of first class theatres, cinemas, year round festivals and boat or punt cruise.
As you might expect in one of the UK’s most popular holiday regions, there are a choice of airports in the area including London Stansted just off the M11, serving as a gateway into the region from the south west. Other options include Norwich Airport just 4 miles north of Norwich city centre and Cambridge Airport, just 3 miles outside of Cambridge city centre.
Rail and bus links are good in the region, with main centres like Norwich, Cambridge and Ipswich all boasting fast rail links to London. The extensive Greater Anglia rail network also weaves across the region. You will find that rail services do not extend to heritage coastlines, however you can pick up hop on/ hop off coastal bus services in these areas. East Anglia is easily accessed by road off the M11 and A1 motorway links running along the western edge.
Where to stay
Choose from hundreds of character cottages dotted across the coast, countryside and Broadlands of East Anglia. Think of your perfect cottage and you will find it in this eastern part of England. The counties of Norfolk and Suffolk particularly are famed for their superb choice of charming cottage retreats with everything from timber-framed barn conversions to seaside bungalows and riverside hideaway gems available.
If your preference is for serviced accommodation, choose from hundreds of bed & breakfast options including luxury boutique guest houses and numerous award-winning B&Bs situated in idyllic broadside, riverside, rural or coastal locations. East Anglia offers miles and miles of coast and country trails, and pet friendly holiday cottages making it perfect for walking holidays with dogs.