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If you’re looking for a more chilled-out city break that still offers plenty to do, Norwich in Norfolk might just fit the bill. The city has lots to enjoy from historic sites to shows and shopping, plus lively nightlife. It also offers a gateway to the lovely east of England and the tranquil Norfolk Broads.
Norwich is well-connected by rail to the rest of the country, with direct trains from such cities as Manchester, London and nearby Cambridge, and connections via many other UK stations, including Peterborough.
In this guide, we take a look at some of the best things to do in Norwich and highlight a few super spas and hotels in the area
Located on a hilltop in the heart of the city, the 900-year-old castle is an imposing presence. While, as of April 2022, the castle itself is closed for redevelopment, the Norman site still offers plenty to enjoy. For example, you can take a look at the collections of archaeology, fine art, and natural history held in the gallery complex, which was a former Victorian prison. Find out more:
Enjoy some retail therapy at Norwich’s indoor malls, such as the Castle Quarter shopping centre, which features a wide selection of stores, as well as eateries and entertainment. Also, be sure to visit the independent retailers at The Royal Arcade, a stunning Art Nouveau-inspired covered shopping street. For even more, Chantry Place is another city centre shopping mall with lots of high street favourites, while Norwich Lanes and Upper St. Giles Street offer something a little different. Find out more:
There are some restful open spaces in Norwich city centre, including The Plantation Garden, a lovely traditional English garden, and Chapelfield Gardens. A little further afield, but well worth a visit, Whitlingham Country Park is a 38-acre nature reserve that is home to a diverse selection of flora and fauna. The park encompasses the Whitlingham Great Broad and has the River Yare flowing through it, so expect to see waterfowl and maybe even otters. Meanwhile, Earlham Park is a vast forested park, garden and nature reserve located next to the University of East Anglia (UEA), a few miles from the city centre. Find out more:
There are several well-regarded theatres in the city, each of which stages a range of dramas and musicals throughout the year. Take a look at what’s on at the Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Theatre Playhouse, or for more innovative productions, try the Slow Theatre Company. For the latest movie releases, you can find the Odeon and Vue chains here, as well as Cinema City, which features arthouse and mainstream films. Find out more:
Dating from 1096, the magnificent Norwich Cathedral is a must-see attraction. You can explore the grounds and marvel at the wonderful Romanesque architecture, take one of the guided tours to find out more about the cathedral’s history, or enjoy some refreshments at Jarrold at the Refectory Café. If you’re here during the summer, you might be lucky enough to see the pair of (wild) breeding peregrine falcons that nests in the cathedral spire. The cathedral also hosts exhibitions and daily services, as well as an annual Shakespeare Festival. Find out more:
Norwich offers a wide range of bars and eateries. For example, the Cosy Club is a classy bar and restaurant on London Street, while the Gyre & Gimble Bar on Charing Cross is a popular independent cocktail bar with an impressive drinks menu. For a fun night out, try Bowling House on Dereham Road, which has a cocktail bar, karaoke, a restaurant, and a ten-pin bowling alley. Norwich is known for its pub scene, so you’re never too far from a watering hole. Popular spots include The Wildman on Bedford Street. For daytime refreshments, don’t miss Cafe Gelato on Opie Street for Italian ice cream or Tofurei, a charming vegan café on St. Gregory’s Alley. Find out more:
Home to several universities, Norwich has a lively nightlife. For live music and clubbing, check out The Adrian Flux Waterfront on King Street; it’s linked to the UEA, so expect lots of students. Another popular venue is Mantra Club & Lounge on Prince of Wales Road. For classical music, take a look at the current programme of concerts by the Norwich Philharmonic, while the Norwich Arts Centre on St. Benedict’s Street features music across the genres. For big-name shows and events, check out Earlham Park. Find out more:
Extend your time in Norwich with a day out at one of England’s most popular seaside resorts, Great Yarmouth. Explore the attractions on the lively promenade and enjoy a walk (or even sunbathe) on the lovely sandy beach. The town also offers access to The Broads National Park, an extensive network of waterways and countryside that extends across Norfolk and Suffolk. The town of Great Yarmouth is about 40 minutes by road from Norwich, with regular Coastlink buses. You can also catch the train, which takes about 30 minutes. Find out more:
Make sure your list of things to do in Norwich includes some well-deserved spa downtime at one of our superb venues close to the city:
Dunston Hall, Norwich: Combine your time in the city with a laid-back country escape at this fine spa hotel, which is just a 15-minute drive south of central Norwich. You can enjoy the 150 acres of lovely grounds, while golfers can play a round on the USPGA-rated course. Spa and leisure facilities include a swimming pool, sauna and a fully-equipped gym. Book now.
Bannatyne Norwich: Treat yourself to a relaxing spa day at this well-equipped venue, part of the popular family of Bannatyne health clubs. Located around 15 minutes east of Norwich, the spa is also well located for Whitlingham Country Park. Facilities include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna. There is also a state-of-the-art gym and racquet courts. Book now.
Sprowston Manor Hotel Spa, Norwich: Escape to the Norfolk countryside at this elegant 16th-century manor house hotel, which is just a 15-minute drive from all the attractions of Norwich city centre. The facilities include a tropical heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and steam rooms. There is also a gym and an on-site golf course. Book now.
Imagine Spa at The Old Hall, Great Yarmouth: If you’re planning to combine your Norwich trip with some time at the seaside, be sure to enjoy a few hours at this coastal spa hotel. It’s just a short stroll from lovely Caister-On-Sea beach and about 40 minutes by road from Norwich. Facilities include a swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool and steam room. Book now.