Our recent trip to Aldeburgh reconfirmed just how lucky we are to have so many coastline hotspots and charming seaside towns on our doorstep. Here in Norfolk, a trip to the coast always feels like we’ve managed to ‘get away from it all’, very quickly.
Although we’re loyal friends to neighbouring Aldeburgh, there are certain things we still haven’t explored. Even if Aldeburgh isn’t on your doorstep, it’s worth the journey for a day trip or even longer. It feels like somewhere beautifully foreign, even to us locals!
Like most things in Norfolk and Suffolk, there are a plethora of independent shops and eateries in our neck of the woods. There isn’t a motorway connecting our part of the world to the UK and as a result most of the chains forget about us. Halleluiah.
This list is primarily geared up to those who like quirky things with a vintage edge and for lovers of local produce! (In other words, things (I think are) good for the soul.)
Here are a few of my favourite things to do and eat in Aldeburgh:
1.Best Vintage Shop – Vintage Angels Clothes and The Stable.Co: For some lovely trinkets and craft items, head to The Stable Co and for an impressive range and standard of vintage clothing, pop next door to the treasure trove that is known as Vintage Angels Clothes (open 11am-4pm Wednesday to Saturdays).
2. Best Second-hand bookshop: One of my favourite second-hand bookshops, only second to the one in Tombland in Norwich. I’m ashamed to say that despite making many purchases here in the past, I have no idea what the shop is actually called and I totally forgot to consider this fact upon the taking of this photo! Google didn’t reveal its identity either. So here’s a picture of it. It’s not called ‘Zorn’ as the faded canapé may suggest. It’s at the beginning of the high street on the right hand side. One of the first shops you’ll see! Almost opposite from Delphine’s.
3. Best Lunch-on-the-go – Munchies: Great for a morning pastry or sandwich on-the-go, all the locals love Munchies.
4. Best for Beach Hut Picnics and Take-Home Local Produce – Slate Deli: For your daily caffeine hit, head here for a take-away Monmouth Coffee and stock up on some of the best deli items including cheese, you’re likely to find anywhere.
Perfect for picnics on the beach! For my recommendations of what to buy, see my post about Slate Deli.
5. Best High-Street Restaurant – Market Aldeburgh: This el fresco café on the main high street comes into its own in the warmer months. For a light lunch try the fish soup served with saffron rouille, Gruyère cheese and homemade herby croutons, with a glass of white wine, wearing shades and a smug grin.
6. Best Ice Cream – Ives Ice Cream Parlour: For a small yet gorgeous seaside spot, this parlour serves up an impressive selection of ice creams and cone options. You’ll be spoilt for choice. I always go for the salted caramel. Or try the parlour’s Belgium waffle with a freshly made milkshake. They even stock vegan ice cream, albeit soya-based!
7. Best Retro Lunch – Delphine’s: I’ve always loved this small and quirky diner situated on the high street. It perfectly captures the American vibe of the 50s and 60s with its cherry red booths, chequerboard tiled floor and friendly service.
8. Best Way to Soak Up Aldeburgh – A Cycle along the Coast Road: My all-time favourite thing to do in Aldeburgh is to take our two bikes and pedal from Aldeburgh’s coast road up to nearby Thorpeness. It’s such a beautiful ride, and hardly a car on the road!
9. Best Public Art – The Scallop Sculpture: Soak up the seascape and marvel at this beautiful sculpture. I don’t remember this being on the beach when I was younger, it’s only been here for ten years or more. It’s a striking tribute to Benjamin Britten – one of the twentieth-century’s most important composers who spent much of his life in Aldeburgh and nearby Snape.
10. Best Activity – Boating on the Meare: Also located in Thorpeness, just a mile outside of town, you can hire a row boat, paddle boat, kayak (and more) and cruise around the Meare. We had the 70-acre lake to ourselves when we went. It was a tranquil way to spend a warm morning. We stopped at the fort, a secluded spot in the middle of the ambling lake, for our Lawson’s Deli picnic. One hour costs £16 and in that time you’ll be able to reach half way up the lake, through the small winding channels, stopping at a few interesting spots (Peter Man’s House, Peggy’s House) and back again.
11. Best House Spotting: Aldeburgh is certainly a great location for house spotting. It boasts a seriously diverse set of properties, each one is very individual in style. The drive up from Aldeburgh along the coast road to Thorpeness sees the type of homes you’d expect to see on Grand Designs. One of my favourite houses is actually in Thorpeness – the House in the Clouds. You can access the property via the drive up to the Thorpeness Golf & Country Club. You can walk or cycle to the entrance, adjacent to the Water Mill.
12. Best Pub – DP’s Bar: Some of the best landlords you’re ever likely to meet, lovely folks. They also often serve the most incredible Thai food from 6-9pm most evenings. Inside the pub boasts a selection of quirky and cosy seating booths, they have a beautiful resident cat (the cutest and cuddliest ginger mog!) and a good selection of art on the walls with papers and magazines aplenty in the rack.
13. Best Fish Supper – Brudnell’s: There are two pretty good fish and chip shops in Aldeburgh (although nothing quite beats the chippies in North Norfolk – sorry Suffolk!) but if you’d prefer to try a wide-range of local fish and seafood, Brudnell’s is the BEST in town for a romantic fish supper on the seafront.
14. Best Self-Catering Stay – The Vintage House: Staying somewhere like The Vintage House feels a much richer and imaginative way “to do” self-catering. It’s location is perfect. Just a short cycle or walk into the main town yet situated on a pretty road, you’ve very much part of the community and feel nothing like a tourist.
15. Best Festival – Aldeburgh Poetry Festival: I went along to this last autumn and had a wonderful time. I was seriously impressed by the quality of events, workshops and speakers. The line-up was better than or equal to many of the big UK poetry festivals. So if poetry is your thing, make sure you time your visit to coincide with this year’s event.