East Anglia is so English its ridiculous. Farms, market towns, tea and pockets of posh people is all you will find in this region of the UK.
East Anglia truly is the heartland of England. But it’s all too often chucked off the list in favour of beautiful places in the North like York and the Lake District, cool places in the South like Brighton and then London. Because who doesn’t adore London?? (In all seriousness, if you choose to go to East Anglia over London everyone will think you are crazy).
Well I am here to tell ya all to go check out East Anglia. You’ll find this gorgeous region in the South East of the UK or the butt-shaped part… And it really has something for everyone:
For the Beach Babes: Wells-Next-The-Sea
I ADORE this beach. It is honestly one of my favourite places in the whole of the UK. Why? Because it’s a dog beach.
So grab your furry friend or dog spotting book and take a stroll by the multi-coloured beach huts, lining the wide-open bay. Even on crowded days, you’ll be sure to find a quiet spot nestled in the sand dunes, away from the sandcastle builders and insane people who go swimming in the freezing English Channel.
But it’s not just the beach that should have you rushing over to this gorgeous part of the coast. Before you even reach the beach, you’ll have to take a mini trek through the woods, avoiding siblings and family members continually throwing pinecones at you. And if you can drag yourself away from the beach, grab some Fish and Chips from one of the many chippys (chip shops) in the town and perch yourself on the docks. It’s the perfect place to relax and try your hand at the popular British seaside tradition of crabbing (catching crabs with a net and bacon).
For the Nature Lovers: Thetford Forest
I usually pass through Thetford Forest on my way to Wells-Next-the-Sea. And the drive through the tunnel of trees is reason enough to drive out there. However, the forest is scattered with endless walking and biking trails for the nature lovers amongst you. So grab some wellies (rain boots) or rent a bike and spend an afternoon like mountain men as you explore the 100-year-old forest. OR, if you’re feeling like unleashing your inner Tarzan, why not tackle the Go Ape, treetops high ropes course?? There’s nothing like screaming your head off in the usually tranquil forest.
For the City Dwellers: Cambridge
It’s not a huge city… Honestly, it’s more of a large town. But that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most wonderful places to visit in East Anglia. You can relax in the parks, grab a coffee and cake from one of the many, many, many independent cafes, catch a play or wander through the museums. While you’re there don’t forget to soak up some of the intelligence seeping out of its ancient streets as you explore the world-famous, historic colleges of Cambridge University.
For the Downton Abbey obsessed - Audley End
Downton Abbey has been absent from our screens for too long. I loved the film but it heartlessly dangled this dramatic, gossipy period drama before our eyes and stole it away yet again.
So if you’re looking to reminisce and pretend you too are living a life of luxury in the 1920s, take a trip out to Audley End while visiting East Anglia.
The house and grounds of Audley End are stunning. (See below). And it definitely captures a similar sense of history, beauty and wealth seen in Downton Abbey.
It’s one of the many stately homes in East Anglia and it’s definitely one of my favourites. You can stroll through the house yourself, or take a guided tour. Then perhaps have a spot of tea or enjoy a full afternoon tea in the gardens before walking around its extensive grounds.
While there you could even hop over the road to see the Audley End miniature railway, perfect for entertaining kids (and adults…). There’s nothing more English than a detailed model train set.
For Ed Sheeran fans/ People who like a good castle - Framlingham Castle
If you like Ed Sheeran, you have to visit Framlingham Castle… It is literally “The Castle on the Hill”. So turn up the radio, roll the windows down and cruise through those winding British roads (aka death traps), and pretend you’re a young Ed, hanging out with the lads on your way to Nandos, singing to “Tiny Dancer”. Because what else do young people do in the East Anglian countryside??
But, if you don’t care for its musical significance, go for the history – a castle of some form has stood upon that hill since the 11th Century. And its weathered some key events in British history including a revolt against Henry II, the War of the Roses and the plague of the 1600s. So its seen a lot. And the town of Framlingham can be found close by so wander over there for a classic example of British market town. Once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.
For the Foodies: Peacock's Tea Room, Ely
If you are looking for a quintessentially British Afternoon Tea experience, you need to go to Peacocks Tearoom in the beautiful market town of Ely.
Ely is mostly famous for the STUNNING cathedral, but if you can drag your eyes away from the detailed architecture and amazing ceilings, let your stomach led to you Peacocks.
Within the quaint little tea room, you will find shelves and shelves covered in endless boxes of tea and endless mismatched vintage teacups. It’s basically a shrine to tea.
There’s a tea flavour for every person on the planet – The tea menu is bigger than the food menu. So drink tea and be merry… and stuff your face with cake, cute sandwiches, and scones while you’re there too.
For the History Buffs - The Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Duxford Imperial War Museum is the best place in East Anglia to take the plane nerds or history enthusiasts in your life. (Bonus points if they are plane and history lovers like my husband…)
The museum itself is found on the old RAF base which was in use from the First World War to the 60s and was instrumental during the Battle of Britain. Within the historic hangers, you will find nearly 200 aircraft including Concorde, Spitfires, a Sea Vixen, Harriers and more.
If this means nothing to you, try to avoid this trip/trap. Or go during one of their air shows held in the summer – even if you aren’t into planes the displays are very impressive and there’s usually a brilliant array of delicious food vans…
But that's not all East Anglia has to offer...
While these are my highlights, there is SO MUCH MORE on offer in this overlooked area of the world. So go and do some exploring of your own in East Anglia! And if you have any experiences in the area or suggestions, please share them in the comments below – I need some ideas for the next time I visit!