There’s plenty to see and do in Suffolk, and here we’ve highlighted the top 10 places to go and places to visit in Suffolk. There are lots more, but for the sake of clarity and brevity, here are some of the highlights. At the bottom of this article, you can find other links for related features such as Days Out and Things to do in Suffolk, but for ‘Places to Go’ this is the ‘place to be’!
Places to Go and Places to Visit in Suffolk
1) The National Trust has several properties in Suffolk including Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds. This impressive-looking neoclassical mansion with its famous ‘Rotunda’ is now a Hotel and wedding venue as well as an art gallery. The attractive, landscaped gardens, which were England’s earliest Italianate gardens and over 4 sq miles of 18C landscaped parklands with ancient oak trees, are also a key attraction.
On display at Ickworth House are fine old masters including those from Suffolk’s famous son, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Reynolds, Titian, Velasquez and Zoffany. Ickworth also houses the second largest collection of silverware in the National Trust. The Italianate Gardens include box avenues, the Temple Garden, the Spring Garden with snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells plus the stumpery – a magical secret garden with the ferns and woodland plants for children to explore and enjoy.
There is also a children’s adventure playground, woodland trim trail and family cycle routes, trails, crafts and events, plus several cafes and a large car park with trolleys for physically impaired visitors. Find out more about this spectacular building here – Ickworth House, National Trust, Suffolk.
2) Staying in the Bury St Edmunds area (pictured above), another unique Place to Visit in Suffolk is the Theatre Royal which was built in 1819 and is the oldest Regency playhouse in Britain.
Make a day out of it and perhaps have a look at Greene King Brewery Tour or the Pakenham Water Mill too?
Pakenham Water Mill is an 18th-century watermill located in Suffolk and the only one still in operation. Since the Domesday survey, millers have ground local wheat into stone-ground wholemeal flour using only water power. The Suffolk Building Preservation Trust maintains the tradition with a team of volunteers. Windmills are also present in the village, so anyone interested in mills should visit Pakenham.
3) Moving to the beautiful village of Long Melford, one of the most attractive in Suffolk, you must visit. Melford Hall
The turrets of Melford Hall have dominated the view for over 500 years. The Hall is the home of the Hyde Parker family but it is now leased to the National Trust so that visitors can tour the building and explore family life at Melford. Beatrix Potter was a relative of the owners and a regular visitor, so you can follow in her footsteps and discover what inspired her here.
The magnificent church and almshouses in Long Melford are also well worth a look while you’re in the area. Find out more about the village & what’s on at Visit Long Melford
4) Near Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo is an archaeological site that is a must-see. It is thought of as ‘the first page of English history’ as a result of its unique presence. In 1938, an Anglo-Saxon warrior king was buried at Sutton Hoo under a burial mound. The famous warrior’s shield, helmet, silver, and gold treasures were all discovered at Sutton Hoo, and in addition to an exhibit about our ancestors, the Anglo-Saxon warriors, their treasures are on display. There is also a 1300-year-old treasure and a burial chamber that has been recreated in its entirety.
The large estate is a popular site for bird watching and includes walks with estuary views, Suffolk Sandlings heathland and woodland trails.
5) Suffolk is well known for its huge skies and magnificent light which have inspired artists through the generations, from Constable to Maggi Hambling. Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury and his house is a museum with several of his paintings and etchings on display. They also run art classes at Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, so find out what is on by clicking on the link above.
6) Framlingham Castle – the view from 12thC Framlingham Castle must be one of the most impressive sights in Suffolk (and there are many!). The Castle is a must-see for visitors to Suffolk. It has a curtain wall, towers, ramparts and several internal buildings from different periods in English history! So the 12thC frame houses several other buildings which are historical pieces in their own right. Take one of the audio tours on offer from English Heritage and get a full sense of this incredible battlement, scene of Mary Tudor’s rally cry to supporters in 1553! There are a variety of themed games and interactives for younger family members too.
7) Lavenham Guildhall of Corpus Christi A visit to the enchanting village of Lavenham is a must for any visitor to Suffolk, as it is the best preserved Medieval village in the UK & you can easily imagine yourself back in Tudor England! Lavenham Guildhall, an immense and extremely well-preserved early sixteenth-century timber-framed building in the centre of the village’s main square, is managed by the National Trust. You’ll find a historical museum and exhibitions about the cloth manufacturing industry, which was Lavenham’s key economy and the source of Suffolk’s wealth. There is also a landscaped garden with plants used for dyeing since the Middle Ages and play boxes for children, in addition to regular events, walks, talks, and exhibitions year-round. Find out more here – Lavenham Guildhall
8) Helmingham Hall Gardens – open from the beginning of May until the middle of September, Hemingham Hall is a Tudor Hall surrounded by a wide moat with a drawbridge. However, the attraction is not the Hall but the gardens, especially the walled garden which contains beds of vegetables, herbaceous borders and ancient fruit trees. Additionally, there is a hen and knot garden, and also a magnificent rose garden. Cream teas & snacks are served in the Coach House tearoom, and the grounds often host events during the year – classic car meetings, Suffolk Dog Day etc so keep an eye on What’s on Suffolk for details of those.
This is THE place to be in the Spring! Find out more here – Helmingham Hall Gardens
9) The Suffolk Punch Trust is the place to be to see a living, working part of Suffolk’s history. Enjoy a visit to Hollesley to visit this rare breed of working horses, have a look around the stud and the museum or have a ride in a horse-drawn wagon. Check out Suffolk Punch Trust
10) Other great Places to Go –
The House in the Clouds, Thorpeness, is occasionally open for viewing during the Suffolk Open Days
Not many countries can offer you a Nuclear Power Station tour! Sizewell B Visitor Centre has opened recently and you can now take a guided tour of the Station and find out how nuclear power is generated. Find out more here – Sizewell B Visitor Centre, Leiston
Southwold Lighthouse is a fully functioning Lighthouse situated in the middle of the attractive Coastal town of Southwold. It was built in 1887, first lit in 1889, and is 31m high. There are occasional tours of the Lighthouse where you can admire the amazing stone spiral staircase that winds its way up the inside of the building (no handrails though so not for the faint-hearted! Believe me, I’ve done it! Below is a picture of me coming down the outside
Orford Ness is an important nature reserve as the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe in its own right, but it also has an amazing military history as you can see from the old air shelter pictured above. You have to take a short boat ride out from Orford Quay to this wild and remote shingle spit which adds to the appeal of this ‘secret’ and uninhabited island. You can see a variety of habitats as well as shingle flora and wildlife, including a large number of nationally rare species. Orford Ness was a secret military test site from 1913 until the mid-1980s, and visitors can still walk among its bizarre and interesting experiment sites and structures.
RSPB Suffolk – the RSPB has several large reserves in Suffolk, including the world-famous Minsmere, so get your binoculars out!
Ipswich Marina has recently been developed and is a buzzy, thriving area which is the base for UCS, Dance East as well as several great restaurants and cafes, so visit today!
Suffolk is famous for its racing history with Newmarket Races, Tattersalls Auctions, The Jockey Club and The National Stud, Newmarket is the only commercial stud farm in the UK that allows individuals to tour behind the scenes of a working thoroughbred stud farm. So find out all about this fascinating industry and maybe you’ll be the first to meet a future Frankel!
English Heritage sites in Suffolk
National Trust properties in Suffolk