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5 SUFFOLK HOLIDAYS ON A SHOESTRING

Holidays can be expensive, but guess what? They don’t have to be. If you’re saving for something special, or just tightening the purse strings, you can still treat yourself to an amazing holiday on a shoestring in Suffolk.
St Edmund and St Edmundsbury Cathedral (c) Martin PettittExplore Suffolk’s only cathedral for free in Bury St Edmunds
Photo (c) Martin Pettitt

BE BUSY IN BURY ST EDMUNDS

Bury St Edmunds is a historic jewel in the west of Suffolk, with architecture that transports you back to Georgian England, the Victorian era, Tudor times and even the Middle Ages. With so much to see and do, and so much of it free, Bury St Edmunds is a perfect place for a Suffolk holiday on a shoestring.

FREE THINGS TO DO IN BURY ST EDMUNDS

  1. Explore Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens and the ruins of its Benedictine monastery, built as a shrine to St Edmund and this year, 2020, celebrates its 1000yr anniversary.
  2. Visit St Edmundsbury, Suffolk’s majestic and singular cathedral. Guided tours are available depending on the time of year.
  3. Go wildlife watching at Lackford Lakes, where you can spot dazzling kingfishers, dragonflies, ducks and booming bitterns.
  4. Wander round Bury St Edmunds’ Market, held every Wednesday and Saturday. Dating back to the days of William the Conqueror, it’s one of the oldest and most successful markets in the country.
  5. Discover the stories behind Bury St Edmunds’ most famous sights with our guide to the Secrets of Bury St Edmunds, Part One and Part Two,

CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN BURY ST EDMUNDS

  1. Have a pint at the Nutshell, one of the smallest pubs in Britain.
  2. Take a tour of the famous Greene King Brewery.
  3. Visit the only surviving Royal Observer Corps Centre in the country in the Guildhall that still resonates with the buzz and tension of that dramatic era.
  4. Take a guided walking tour of Bury St Edmunds and learn about the town’s fascinating history, including its part in the Magna Carta story.
  5. Explore the Italianate gardens at Ickworth House, just outside Bury St Edmunds.
The Brecks in Suffolk (c) Nic McPheeGo underground at Grimes Graves in the Brecks
Photo (c) Nic McPhee

GO WILD IN THE BRECKS

The Brecks is a mysterious place. In its towns you’ll find traces of strange myths, living memories of Anglo Saxons, and even some of the greatest racehorses in the world. In its landscapes you’ll find eerie twisted pines, earth dimpled by Neolithic flint mines, the echoes of long-ago sandstorms, and wildlife thriving in thick forests. In a place this strange and beautiful, you can have more than a holiday on a shoestring – you can have an adventure.

FREE THINGS TO DO IN THE BRECKS

  1. Explore the unique landscape of the Brecks on foot or by bike at Brandon Country Park, where the walking and cycling trails take you past natural wonders such as East Anglia’s tallest tree.
  2. Delve deep into Thetford Forest, keeping your eyes open for rare species and soaring birds of prey.
  3. Watch jockeys and racehorses train on the gallops at dawn on a misty morning in Newmarket.
  4. Go wild swimming at Knettishall Heath.
  5. See the exquisitely carved roof of Mildenhall St Mary, and visit the other stunning churches of West Suffolk on an Angels and Pinnacles trail.
  6. Walk around Woolpit, a village with a very strange story of Green children to tell.
  7. Wander round the Elveden Estate, where deer roam and farmers grow delicious Suffolk produce.
  8. Watch aeroplanes come and go from the viewing area at RAF Lakenheath.

CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN WEST SUFFOLK

  1. Go underground at Grimes Graves and see inside a Neolithic flint mine (the only one in Britain that’s open to visitors).
  2. Explore the wetland wonderland of RSPB Lakenheath Fen, home to hobby falcons, barn owls, butterflies and booming bitterns.
  3. Spend a day at High Lodge Thetford Forest following the way-marked cycling and walking trails, having a picnic in the forest, and playing in the wild play area.
  4. Discover the history of the sport of kings at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket.
  5. Live like an Anglo-Saxon for a day at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village.
Willy Lott's Cottage in Suffolk (c) Alastair RaeRoam the rural landscape that inspired John Constable
Photo (c) Alastair Rae

GO BACK IN TIME IN CONSTABLE COUNTRY

There are few places in England more picturesque than the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley in the south of Suffolk. It was through this lush, river-carved landscape that the painter John Constable roamed as a young man, painting masterpieces such as The Hay Wain and Willy Lott’s Cottage, and eventually lending the area his name. With so much beauty all around, a holiday in Constable Country can be magical even on the smallest budget.

FREE THINGS TO DO IN CONSTABLE COUNTRY

  1. Go back in time at Willy Lott’s Cottage and Flatford Mill on the River Stour, views that haven’t changed in almost 200 years since Constable first captured them on canvas.
  2. Visit Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, which has the largest collection of Constable paintings outside London.
  3. Learn about Constable’s life through the permanent exhibition at Flatford Bridge Cottage.
  4. See an exhibition of contemporary art at the Boat House Gallery.
  5. Learn about gardening in the beautiful RSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden, made up of flower borders, a wildflower meadow, a woodland garden and an orchard.
  6. Explore the Bellflower Nursery in the secret walled garden at Langham, open on Thursdays and Fridays.
  7. Walk along the River Stour and through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, from Flatford to Nayland, Wissington and Bures.
  8. Pay a visit to Polstead and discover the dark story of the Red Barn Murder.
  9. Take a pew at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in East Bergholt, built on a site where congregations have been worshipping for over 1,000 years.

CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN CONSTABLE COUNTRY

  1. Rent a boat in Flatford and row up the River Stour, or take a River Stour Trust waterbus and relax as the sights sail past.
  2. Have tea in the riverside tearoom at Flatford.
Sunrise over Southwold Pier (c) Martin Pettitt

Stunning sunrises are free of charge on the Suffolk coast
Photo (c) Martin Pettitt

FEEL FREE ON THE SUFFOLK COAST

Enjoy the Suffolk coast.  Suffolk’s 50-mile coastline is swathed in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A patchwork of beaches, marshes, heathland, forests, rivers, lagoons and islands, it’s a landscape that has inspired artists, writers and musicians for centuries, and its towns offer a style of life long forgotten in other parts of the country. And as you might expect, the best things in that life are free.

FREE THINGS TO DO ON THE SUFFOLK COAST

  1. Roam through blooms of heather on Dunwich Heath, spotting nightjars, ant-lions, Dartford warblers, water scorpions and the resident herd of red deer.
  2. Explore ancient churches along the coast on foot or by bike with an Angels & Pinnacles trail.
  3. See the restoration and preservation of the Alfred Corry lifeboat, she was the Southwolds No 1 lifeboat from 1893 to 1918 and during her 25 years of Royal National Lifeboat Institutions (RNLI) service was launched 41 times and she and her crew are credited with saving 47 lives.
  4. Visit the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum at Bungay, home to 66 aircraft and thousands of articles from aviation history.
  5. Walk through the tranquil watery landscape of Snape Marshes and along the River Alde to Iken.
  6. Explore the Amber Museum at Southwold, the only museum in Britain dedicated to the 50-million-year-old story of amber.
  7. Spend a sunny afternoon in Felixstowe’s Seafront Gardens.

CHEAP THINGS TO DO ON THE SUFFOLK COAST

  1. Immerse yourself in Suffolk’s sea-faring history at the Lowestoft Maritime Museum.
  2. Walk the battlements of Landguard Fort in Felixstowe.
  3. Buy a bucket, bacon and string and go crabbing at Walberswick.
  4. Play ‘Whack a Banker,’ ‘Gene Forecaster’ and other weird and wonderful arcade games at Southwold Pier’s Under the Pier Show, created by inventor Tim Hunkin.
  5. Ride vintage trams, taxis, trains and trolley buses at the East Anglia Transport Museum in Lowestoft.
  6. Explore Orford Castle, unique in shape and with an eerie story to tell.
  7. Take a tour of the Adnams Brewery in Southwold, including a tutored beer tasting and a bottle of beer to take home.

JUMP INTO THE BUZZ OF IPSWICH

Ipswich is the county town of Suffolk and one of England’s oldest towns. A vibrant town with a busy town centre of Tudor streets and a regenerated waterfront with marina-side bars and cafes.
With a strong community of theatres and dance-houses, you can easily enjoy the buzz of Ipswich’s arts, food and nightlife and never be to far away from the beautiful Suffolk countryside and coastline.
Ipswich waterfrontRelax with a cocktail on Ipswich Waterfront

FREE THINGS TO DO IN IPSWICH

1. Get cultural and wander a contemporary art exhibition at Ipswich Art Gallery.
2. Visit Christchurch Mansion and explore the historic Tudor rooms, corridors and collections of art, ceramics and fashion plus regularly changing exhibitions all with free entry.
3. Go for a wind-swept walk along the waterfront; taking in the beautiful views over the marinas and admiring the mix of contemporary and historic port architecture.
4. Explore the Anglo Saxon, ancient Egyptian and natural history exhibitions at Ipswich Museum; a unique Victorian museum.
5. Follow the Blue Plaque trail in Ipswich discover some of the town’s surprising and unusual stories.
6. If your visiting in the Summer months, enjoy the town’s many free festivals including Ipswich Music Day (the UK’s biggest free one-day music festival) and the colourful Global Rhythm and Indian Summer Mela multicultural festivals.
7. Take some time-out and go for a relaxing stroll through one of Ipswich’s stunning parks: Christchurch Park or Holywells Park.

CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN IPSWICH

1. See a show at one of Ipswich’s theatres; with DanceEast, Red Rose Chain, New Wolsey Theatre and Ipswich Regent Theatre all putting on nationally-acclaimed shows without the London price tag.
2. Relax with a cocktail along the waterfront and take in the glamorous views of yachts on calm waters. Isaacs and Cult Café are too firm favourites that won’t break the bank.
3. Visit the Shotley Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding National Beauty just a 10min drive from Ipswich. Explore the rolling hills, cosy pubs and picture-perfect fishing villages.
4. Hop on a river cruise down the River Orwell and under the River bridge, with some offering affordable 1hour boat trips.
5. Join an Afternoon Tea Walk and go for a guided walk around the town followed by afternoon tea at an independent café.

Where to Stay

There's a wide choice of places to stay in Suffolk. Make your money go further and choose camping, glamping, bed and breakfast, self-catering or hotel, there's accommodation for all party sizes and budgets.

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