- For other places with the same name, see Suffolk (disambiguation).
Suffolk is a picturesque county in England within East Anglia. One of the largest counties in the country, it shares its borders with Norfolk to the north, Essex to the south, Cambridgeshire to the west and the North Sea to the east. Suffolk encompasses one of the most ancient parts of England and has maintained its largely agricultural roots. Consequently it is proving a growing favourite with tourists who want to experience incredible beaches, traditional country living, and pastoral beauty all in the same place.
- 1 Ipswich – county town of Suffolk. Also has a rich history despite often being overlooked for its strong links with London and more commercial nature. Nonetheless, the town is very much a thriving part of Suffolk, with Christchurch Mansion presenting a superb art collection including paintings by Constable and Gainsborough of the local area.
- 2 Aldeburgh
- 3 Beccles – a market town on the River Waveney.
- 4 Brandon
- 5 Bungay – a market town on the River Waveney.
- 6 Bury St Edmunds – a medieval market town known for its medieval ruins made up of a monastery destroyed by Henry VIII. It also is home to the awe-inspiring 16th-century Cathedral of St.Edmundsbury, a well-preserved cathedral worthy of study. The market still runs today and sells local produce from the fens in keeping with the county's authentic traditionalism.
- 7 Clare
- 8 Eye
- 9 Felixstowe – known as the 'Garden Resort of the East Coast' due to its exquisite seafront garden areas. The gardens are in many respects, a national treasure and they are recognised on the English Heritage Register.
- 10 Framlingham
- 11 Hadleigh
- 12 Halesworth
- 13 Haverhill
- 14 Kesgrave
- 15 Leiston
- 16 Lowestoft
- 17 Mildenhall
- 18 Needham Market
- 19 Newmarket – is a world unto itself. This ancient market town, has remained faithful to its regal roots, as the town that Charles II once set up home upon. Building his royal palace here, he established the first horse racecourse in Britain, a tradition that has remained in Newmarket today. Now devoted entirely to horse-racing, the area has two racecourses, the July Course and the Rowley Mile- named after Charles II favourite horse 'Old Rowley'.
- 20 Saxmundham
- 21 Southwold
- 22 Stowmarket
- 23 Sudbury
- 24 Woodbridge
- 25 Debenham
- 26 Lavenham – perhaps the most picturesque of all the villages. Suffolk as a whole is known for its beautiful village houses of pink walls and black thatch, and Lavenham is the epitome of this. Especially popular with painters, Lavenham has over 200 listed buildings, most of them authentic medieval buildings, whilst being home to one of Britain's World War II airfields. Now deserted with the natural landscape typical of Suffolk, it remains a thought-provoking and beautiful sight.
- 27 Orford – is home to Orford Castle, a well-preserved medieval fortress built in the 12th century.
- 1 Sealand – A sea fort which claims to be world's smallest independent 'country' off the coast of Suffolk near Felixstowe
Suffolk's biggest appeal is its untouched essence. Ignored by many tourists, it is perfect for those adventurous enough to get off the beaten track and explore the county.
Full of unspoilt countryside and exquisite beaches, Suffolk is home to a variety of small towns and villages. The county town is Ipswich, one of England's oldest towns as testament to Suffolk's antiquity. This rural county has about 757,000 residents (2016). Despite having ample shops and services, it remains the perfect antidote to urban life. Moreover its geographical positioning means it is able to offer visitors a seaside trip at beautiful beaches, a rural retreat to the Norfolk Broads, and a historical haven in the Victorian town of Felixstowe. The coastal area that includes Lowestoft and Southwold is known at the Sunrise Coast.
Whilst Suffolk is by no means densely populated, it enjoys a strong community feel due to its small pockets of close-knit villages and hamlets in the county. In such an environment, meeting people and indulging in the company of others is certainly a fixture despite the lack of bars and clubs outside of Ipswich. Moreover, the busy market towns and the fashionable beaches often draw large crowds, particularly on festival/racing days of which there are many.
Suffolk has many transport available to those visiting the county. Situated just two hours from London, Suffolk is accessible by car, bus and train.
As a large county, Suffolk is accessible from many directions and despite its idyllic isolation, is well connected to the UK motorway system. If you are coming from the North of England or the Midlands the A14 runs from the M6/M1 junction crossing the A1 near Huntingdon, then running near to Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds, and Ipswich before ending at the port of Felixstowe. Just east of Newmarket the A11 heads north past Thetford to Norwich.
If you are entering the county from London, there are a number of main motorways that can be used. The A12 runs through Essex to Ipswich and Lowestoft whilst the M11 coming off the M25 runs close to the West of Suffolk through Cambridgeshire.
Formerly run by One Railways, most services in the Suffolk area are operated by Greater Anglia. Trains from London to Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds or Felixstowe run between every 15 minutes to every hour, and are normally around an hour and a half. Prices vary depending on age, time of year, and operator, and usually include a sharp spike in price if tickets are bought on the day of travel.
Most bus routes will be to and from London, and most of the major towns and points of interest are serviced. There are occasional direct routes from Birmingham and Northern major cities. Prices vary between operators and time of year.
Suffolk is served by the London airports, in particular, Stansted. 1 London Stansted Airport (STN IATA) is close to the M11 and is served by rail from London (Liverpool Street) and Cambridge, Peterborough and Ely. Stansted is the third largest London airport and has direct scheduled flights from Europe and other parts of the UK. There is also a regional airport, 2 Norwich Airport (NWI IATA) in neighbouring county Norfolk.
As a coastal county, Suffolk has its own port at Felixstowe. Whilst it has not operated commercially for some time, nearby ports at Harwich, Essex are, and it is still possible to travel by boat from the port to Europe. Stenaline runs regular services from the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.
- National Cycle Route (NCR) 1 to the N runs from Norwich and beyond (and on to Shetland), in Suffolk running through Beccles, Halesworth, Framlingham, Woodbridge and Ipswich then to the S to Colchester and beyond (finishing in Dover).
- National Cycle Route (NCR) 13 to the N runs from Fakenham, Norfolk where it links to NCR 1, in Suffolk running through Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and to the S to Colchester where it connects with NCR 1.
- National Cycle Route (NCR) 51 to the W runs to Cambridge (and beyond to Oxfordshire), running across the county through Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Felixstowe, Harwich and to the S on to Colchester where it connects to NCR1.
With some of the most beautiful natural scenes in the country, getting about on foot is a must. Getting muddy on some of the many designated footpaths, or taking a walk along the long coastline, such as at Southwold are popular favourites. Due to the large size of the county, getting to neighbouring towns on foot is virtually impossible. However, towns can be thoroughly explored by foot and most towns are pedestrian friendly. Moreover, larger towns such as Ipswich and ancient market town Newmarket, cater for pedestrians and shoppers.
Buses are operated by First Group Coach Services who run a regular service between towns. Prices vary depending on area and distance travelled, and late services are limited and are only for the large towns. Ipswich also offer a park and ride service to maintain the peacefulness of even its largest town.
There are many train routes running within Suffolk and to neighbouring counties, and most are operated by Greater Anglia, with tickets available from the operator or from National Rail. However, such services do not come cheap, with Suffolk train fares are one of the highest in the country- unusual considering the small population of the county and consequently lower demand.
With the sheer breadth of the county, getting around by car is probably most convenient. Moreover with most towns connected by country lanes, and the rising price of fares, travelling by car is not only more convenient, but potentially cheaper.
The Sunrise Coast is the name given to the East Anglian Coast of North Suffolk. It includes within this title, beaches, the Norfolk Broads National Park and some of the market towns. Lowestoft is home to two of the award-winning beaches in the area, whilst trendy beach Southwold offers a more classical beach holiday.
For budding historians, there is nothing much more historical than Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge. This national trust site served as a burial ground for Anglo-Saxon kings, and today there are various tours around the site.
Despite Suffolk's relaxed environment, with its royal history and devotion to heart-warming countryside tradition it is a treasure trove of activity begging to be discovered.
Attending Newmarket on race day is an essential part of a trip to Suffolk. Take a 'flutter' and place a bet on some of the best horses racing in the country. The town is also a thriving shopping centre, with a wealth of eateries, shops and even overnight accommodation.
Suffolk is the festival hotspot of the country. Suffolk offers a number of cultural, traditional and family-oriented festivals. The most famous of these is Latitude festival, a popular music, arts and comedy festival held at Henham Park . Other festivals include Aldeburgh Festival- a festival of classical music set up by Benjamin Britten in the trendy/affluent area of Aldeburgh- and the two Southwold and Laversham Literature festivals.
For sports fans, going to see a match can be thrilling. Ipswich Town Football Club play at Portman Road Stadium. Competing in the Football League Championship Ipswich have a very respectable record of wins and are sure to get pulses racing. For cricket lovers, Suffolk County Cricket Club compete in the Minor Counties Championship, and also have a successful track record of three championship.
Visitors often take advantage of the beautiful River Ore boat trips- a favourite with the residents is the Orford quay to Richardson's Smokehouse trip, an excursion where patrons can sample freshly smoked fish and meat from a local family who have run the company for three generations.
In Felixstowe, the Spa Pavilion Theatre caters for spectators all year round, with a variety of shows from pantomime to ballet. At Felixstowe Ferry, travellers can take a trip across the estuary to Bawdsey, and find out about the place where radar began.
Suffolk has a very wide selection of restaurants, many well-known serving a range of cuisines. It is particularly noted for its gastropubs, establishments which often offer locally-sourced menus drawing on Suffolk's rich culinary heritage based on its farming and fishing.
If you are looking for a drink, check out one of Suffolk’s renowned traditional pubs. You will be spoilt for choice in Suffolk with these establishments, serving drinks the way all pubs should.
Southwold is home to Adnams brewery, a local brewer making beer and wine. This established and acclaimed brewer have attracted fame for their dedication to traditional brewing and high standards of drink. The products of the Adnams brewery rarely leaves the borders of Suffolk due to deterioration in taste, so find out how these drinks are made with the brewery guided tour in Southwold.
As a large county, areas vary in different ways in terms of safety. As with most commercial towns, Ipswich has been known to become rowdy on Friday on Saturdays, particularly around pub/nightclub closing time. Nonetheless, with frequent taxis available, visitors can feel secure provided they plan ahead. On the county's rural roads and lanes, stay safe against the elements; take extra care on frosty days, or days with poor visibility.
London is just an hour and a half away from Ipswich by train if you crave the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke. Trains normally run well into the evening so you can enjoy the capital at your own pace.
Sealand occupies an unusual position both geographically and politically and is well worth a visit. It claims to be a kingdom in its own right, and has its own currency and flag. This tiny 'island' is the coast's most enthralling secret.