East Anglia

We’ve compiled the best of the best in East Anglia - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Aldeburgh Beach Lookout

    This tiny, disused lookout tower is in the middle of the main beachfront in Aldeburgh and has been converted into a bijou space for contemporary art and performances. Artists take up weekly residences here, welcoming the public each Saturday to observe what they've created during the week. This isn't just a space for local talent, however; some big names in the British arts world have taken part in recent years, including the poet Michael Horovitz and painter Eileen Cooper, the first female head of the Royal Academy. They also sometimes show art films projected on the side of the building—an arresting sight against a backdrop of dark seas lapping on the nighttime shore.

    31 Crag Path, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, IP15 5BS, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sun.–Fri. Sometimes closed in winter.
  • 2. Blickling Estate

    Behind the wrought-iron entrance gate to Blickling Estate, two mighty yew hedges form a magnificent frame for this perfectly symmetrical Jacobean masterpiece. The redbrick mansion, 15 miles north of Norwich, has towers and chimneys, baroque Dutch gables, and, in the center, a three-story timber clock tower. The grounds include a formal flower garden and parkland with woods that conceal a temple, an orangery, and a pyramid. Blickling belonged to a succession of historic figures, including Sir John Fastolf, the model for Shakespeare's Falstaff; Anne Boleyn's family; and finally, Lord Lothian, ambassador to United States at the outbreak of the World War II. The Long Gallery (127 feet) has an intricate plasterwork ceiling with Jacobean emblems.

    B1354, Blickling, Norfolk, NR11 6NF, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £15.40
  • 3. Burghley House

    Considered one of the grandest houses of the Elizabethan age, this architectural masterpiece is celebrated for its rooftops bristling with pepper-pot chimneys and slate-roof towers. It was built between 1565 and 1587 to the design of William Cecil, when he was Elizabeth I's high treasurer, and his descendants still occupy the house. The interior was remodeled in the late 17th century with treasures from Europe. On view are 18 sumptuous rooms, with carvings by Grinling Gibbons and ceiling paintings by Antonio Verrio (including the Heaven Room and the Hell Staircase—just as dramatic as they sound), as well as innumerable paintings and priceless porcelain. Capability Brown landscaped the grounds in the 18th century; herds of deer roam free, and open-air concerts are staged in summer. Brown also added the Gothic-revival orangery, where today you can take tea or lunch. More contemporary additions come in the form of the aptly named Garden of Surprise and the adjacent Sculpture Garden, filled with imaginative creations, water jets, and a mirrored maze. Burghley is a mile southeast of Stamford. The house often hosts private events on weekends, so it's worth checking that it's open before visiting.

    Off A1, Stamford, Lincolnshire, PE9 3JY, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: House and gardens £20; gardens only £13.50, Closed Nov.–mid-Mar., Fri. in mid-Mar.–Oct., and wk of the international Burghley Horse Trials (late Aug. or early Sept.)
  • 4. Ely Cathedral

    Known affectionately as the Ship of the Fens, Ely Cathedral can be seen for miles, towering above the flat landscape on one of the few ridges in the fens. In 1083, the Normans began work on the cathedral, which stands on the site of a Benedictine monastery founded by the Anglo-Saxon princess Etheldreda in 673. In the center of the cathedral you see a marvel of medieval construction—the unique octagonal Lantern Tower, a sort of stained-glass skylight of colossal proportions, built to replace the central tower that collapsed in 1322. The cathedral's West Tower is even taller; the view from the top (if you can manage the 288 steps) is spectacular. Tours of both towers run daily. The cathedral is also notable for its 248-foot-long nave, with its simple Norman arches and Victorian painted ceiling. Much of the decorative carving of the 14th-century Lady Chapel was defaced during the Reformation (mostly by knocking off the heads of the statuary), but enough traces remain to show its original beauty. The cathedral also houses the wonderful Stained Glass Museum. Exhibits trace the history of stained glass from medieval to modern times, including some stunning contemporary pieces. Ely Cathedral is a popular filming location; it doubled for Westminster Abbey in The King's Speech (2010) and The Crown (2015). There are guided tours of the cathedral from Monday to Saturday (and Sunday in summer). Generally, they start at 11:30 and 2, with extra tours in the summer, but times vary so it's a good idea to call ahead.

    The Gallery, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4DL, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From £8.50
  • 5. Holkham Hall

    One of the most splendid mansions in Britain, Holkham Hall is the seat of the Coke family, the earls of Leicester. In the late 18th century, Thomas Coke went on a grand tour of the Continent, returning with art treasures and determined to build a house according to the new Italian ideas. Centered by a grand staircase and modeled after the Baths of Diocletian, the 60-foot-tall Marble Hall (mostly alabaster, in fact), may well be the most spectacular room in Britain. Beyond are salons filled with works from Coke's collection of masterpieces, including paintings by Gainsborough, van Dyck, Rubens, and Raphael. Surrounding the house is a park landscaped by Capability Brown in 1762. A large coffee shop and restaurant can be found in what used to be the stable blocks. The grounds are huge and populated by herds of deer, curious enough not to run away unless you get too close—in fact, there are so many that you'd be hard-pressed to walk through without spotting several. A good way to see the grounds is a half-hour-long lake cruise. The original walled kitchen gardens have been restored and once again provide produce for the estate. The gardens include an adventure playground for children.

    Off A149, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1AB, England
    01328-713111-for tickets

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Hall, museum, and gardens £23; gardens only £5.50; park free; parking £5, No vehicle access to park Nov.–Mar. Hall closed Nov.–Mar. and Tues., Wed., Fri., and Sat. in Apr.–Oct.
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  • 6. Houghton Hall

    Built in the 1720s by the first British prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, this extraordinary Palladian pile has been carefully restored by its current owner, the seventh marquess of Cholmondeley (pronounced "Chumley"). The double-height Stone Hall and the sumptuous private quarters reveal designer William Kent's preference for gilt, stucco, plush fabrics, and elaborate carvings. Don't leave the grounds without viewing the beautiful medieval simplicity of St. Martin's Church. Candlelight tours, light shows, and other special events are sometimes held on weekends; check the website for the schedule. Houghton Hall is 14 miles southwest of Wells-next-the-Sea.

    Off A148, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 6UE, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £20; park and grounds only £10, Closed Oct.–Mar., Mon. (except bank holidays), Tues., Fri., and Sat.
  • 7. Kettle's Yard

    Originally a private house owned by a former curator of London's Tate galleries, Kettle's Yard contains a fine collection of 20th-century art, sculpture, furniture, and decorative arts, including works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Alfred Wallis. The museum reopened in 2018 after a two-year renovation project. A separate gallery shows changing exhibitions of modern art and crafts, and weekly concerts and lectures attract an eclectic mix of enthusiasts. Ring the bell for admission.

    Castle St., Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB3 0AQ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon. except bank holidays
  • 8. King's College Chapel

    Based on Sainte-Chapelle, the 13th-century royal chapel in Paris, this house of worship is perhaps the most glorious flowering of Perpendicular Gothic in Britain. Henry VI, the king after whom the college is named, oversaw the work. From the outside, the most prominent features are the massive flying buttresses and the fingerlike spires that line the length of the building. Inside, the most obvious impression is of great space—the chapel was once described as "the noblest barn in Europe"—and of light flooding in from its huge windows. The brilliantly colored bosses (carved panels at the intersections of the roof ribs) are particularly intense, although hard to see without binoculars. An exhibition in the chantries, or side chapels, explains more about the chapel's construction. Behind the altar is The Adoration of the Magi, an enormous painting by Peter Paul Rubens. The chapel, unlike the rest of King's College, stays open during exam periods. Every Christmas Eve, a festival of carols is sung by the chapel's famous choir. It's broadcast on national television and considered a quintessential part of the traditional English Christmas.

    King's Parade, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 1ST, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £10, includes college and grounds, Sometimes closed for events; check ahead to confirm
  • 9. Lincoln Castle

    Facing the cathedral across Exchequer Gate, this castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, incorporating the remains of Roman walls. The castle was used as a debtor's prison from 1787 to 1878. In the chapel you can see cagelike stalls where convicts heard sermons; they were designed this way so inmates couldn't tell who their fellow prisoners were, thus supposedly preserving a modicum of dignity. The castle's star exhibit is an original copy of Magna Carta, signed by King John in 1215. This is one of only four surviving copies of the original document, and one of few ever to have left the country—it was secretly moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping during World War II. A major renovation in 2015 opened up the wall walk for the first time, allowing visitors to make a complete circuit of the battlements (totaling more than ¼ mile). In addition, a 3-D cinema shows a high-tech film about the history of Magna Carta.

    Castle Hill, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN1 3AA, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: All attractions £15; Medieval Wall Walk £10.50
  • 10. Lincoln Cathedral

    Lincoln's crowning glory (properly known as the Cathedral of St. Mary, although nobody calls it that), this was, for centuries, the tallest building in Europe. The Norman Bishop Remigius began work in 1072. The Romanesque church he built was irremediably damaged, first by fire, then by earthquake. Today, its most striking feature is the west front's strikingly tall towers, best viewed from the 14th-century Exchequer Gate in front of the cathedral or from the castle battlements beyond. Inside, a breathtaking impression of space and unity belies the many centuries of building and rebuilding. The stained-glass window at the north end of the transept (known as the Dean's Eye) dates from the 13th century. Look for the Lincoln Imp on the pillar nearest St. Hugh's shrine; according to legend, an angel turned this creature into stone. Through a door on the north side is the chapterhouse, a 10-sided building with one of the oldest vaulted ceilings in the world. It sometimes housed the medieval Parliament of England during the reigns of Edward I and Edward II. The cathedral library, designed by Christopher Wren (1632–1723), was built onto the north side of the cloisters after the original library collapsed. Guided tours of the ground floor are included in the price. You can also book tours of the roof and tower (£7.50); these can be booked in advance with the visitor services team. For safety reasons, children under 14 are not allowed on those tours.

    Minster Yard, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN2 1PX, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Nave free; rest of cathedral £9
  • 11. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

    Cambridge University maintains some fine museums in its research halls on Downing Street—the wonder is that they're not better known to visitors. At the recently renovated Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, highlights include an array of objects brought back from Captain Cook's pioneering voyages to the Pacific; Roman and medieval-era British artifacts; and the oldest human-made tools ever discovered, from the African expeditions of British archaeologist Louis Leakey (1903–72).

    Downing St., Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 3DZ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.
  • 12. Norwich Cathedral

    The grandest example of Norman architecture in Norwich has a towering 315-foot spire and the second-largest monastic cloisters in Britain (only Salisbury's are bigger). The cathedral was begun in 1096 by Herbert de Losinga, who had come from Normandy in 1091 to be its first bishop; his splendid tomb is by the high altar. The remarkable length of the nave is immediately impressive; the similarly striking height of the vaulted ceiling makes it a strain to study the delightful colored bosses, which illustrate Bible stories with great vigor and detail (binoculars are handy). The grave of Norfolk-born nurse Edith Cavell, a British World War I heroine shot by the Germans in 1915, is at the eastern end. There's also a medieval-style herb garden, a Japanese garden, a restaurant, and a coffee shop. Guided tours are run Monday to Saturday at 10, 11, noon, 1, 2, and 3. The Cathedral Close is one of the most idyllic places in Norwich. Keep an eye out for peregrine falcons; they nest in the spire. Past the mixture of medieval and Georgian houses, a path leads down to the ancient water gate, Pulls Ferry.

    62 The Close, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 4DH, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 13. Polar Museum

    Beautifully designed, this museum at Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute chronicles the history of polar exploration. There's a particular emphasis on the British expeditions of the 20th century, including the ill-fated attempt by Robert Falcon Scott to be the first to reach the South Pole in 1912. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached the pole first; Scott and his men perished on the return journey, but their story became legendary. There are also collections devoted to the science of modern polar exploration; the indigenous people of northern Canada, Greenland, and Alaska; and frequently changing art installations.

    Lensfield Rd., Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 1ER, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon. and Tues. except bank holidays
  • 14. Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts

    Designed by Norman Foster, this hangarlike building on the campus of the University of East Anglia holds the collection of the Sainsbury family (British supermarket billionaires). It includes a remarkable quantity of 20th-century works, including pieces by Picasso, Degas, Giacometti, Bacon, and Modigliani. Rotating exhibitions include big-name photography and art shows. If this museum were in London, it would be wall-to-wall crowded, every day. Buses 22, 25A, and X25 run from downtown Norwich.

    Earlham Rd., Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free; special exhibitions from £9, Closed Mon.
  • 15. Sandringham House

    Not far from the old-fashioned seaside resort of Hunstanton, Sandringham House is where the Royal Family traditionally spends Christmas. The redbrick Victorian mansion was clearly designed for enormous country-house parties, with a ballroom, billiard room, and bowling alley, as well as a shooting lodge on the grounds. The house and gardens close when the royals are in residence, but the woodlands, nature trails, and museum of royal memorabilia in the old stables remain open, as does the church, which is medieval but in heavy Victorian disguise. Tours give you access to most rooms, but steer clear of those occupied by current royals. The house is 20 miles southwest of Wells-next-the-Sea.

    Off B1440, Sandringham, Norfolk, PE35 6EN, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: House, gardens, and museum £23; gardens and museum only £13, Closed mid-Oct.–early Apr.
  • 16. St. Mary-the-Virgin

    One of the most remarkable churches in the region, St. Mary-the-Virgin was started just before the Reformation. The doors underneath the ruined archways outside (remnants of a much older church) contain a series of mysterious symbols—actually a coded message left by Catholic sympathizers of the time. The striking interior contains a mini-museum of treasures, including an ancient wall painting of the Virgin Mary in one of the rear chapels, a 14th-century chest, and an extraordinary series of florid memorial stones on the nave wall opposite the main entrance. A unique feature of the church is that its bells are rung from a cage in the graveyard; this was erected as a temporary measure, pending the construction of a tower in 1531 that was never completed.

    Flatford Rd., East Bergholt, Suffolk, CO7 6TG, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 17. Sutton Hoo

    The visitor center at Sutton Hoo tells the story of one of Britain's most significant Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites. In 1938, a local archaeologist excavated a series of earth mounds and discovered a 7th-century burial ship, probably that of King Raedwald of East Anglia. A complete replica of the 90-foot-long ship stands in the visitor center, which has artifacts and displays about Anglo-Saxon society. Nothing can quite make up for the fact that the best finds have been moved to the British Museum in London, but it is, nonetheless, all quite fascinating. Trails around the 245-acre site explore the area along the River Deben.

    Off B1083, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 3DJ, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: £16.50
  • 18. The Fitzwilliam Museum

    In a classical-revival building renowned for its grand Corinthian portico, "The Fitz," founded by the seventh viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion in 1816, has one of Britain's most outstanding collections of art and antiquities. Highlights include two large Titians, an extensive collection of French impressionist paintings, and many works by Matisse and Picasso. The opulent interior displays these treasures to marvelous effect, from Egyptian pieces like inch-high figurines and painted coffins to sculptures from the Chinese Han dynasty of the 3rd century BC. Other collections of note here include a fine collection of flower paintings, an assortment of medieval illuminated manuscripts, and a fascinating room full of armor and muskets.

    Trumpington St., Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 1RB, England

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon. except bank holidays
  • 19. Angel Hill

    A walk here is a journey through the history of Bury St. Edmunds. Along one side, the Abbey Gate, Norman Gate Tower, and St. Mary's Church make up a continuous display of medieval architecture. Elegant Georgian houses line Angel Hill on the side opposite St. Mary's Church; these include the Athenaeum, an 18th-century social and cultural meeting place that has a fine Adam-style ballroom.

    Angel Hill, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England
  • 20. Angel Hotel

    This splendid, ivy-clad hotel was the location for Sam Weller's meeting with Job Trotter in Dickens's The Pickwick Papers. Dickens himself stayed here while he was giving readings at the nearby Athenaeum Hall. Now it's a great place to stop for lunch or afternoon tea.

    3 Angel Hill, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1LT, England

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