Summer is here and people from across the East of England can enjoy the many attractions that we have on our doorstep, as long as we follow UK Government advice and enjoy summer safely. There are plenty of places to go and things to do to suit every budget. Here is our guide to the numerous great days out.
Anyone keen to explore East Anglia this summer is spoilt for choice. The area is home to an abundance of pretty towns and villages, the Norfolk Broads, a stunning coastline, a host of cultural attractions and of course the historical and beautiful cities of Cambridge and Norwich.
Head to North Norfolk to enjoy some of the country’s most gorgeous and wildlife-rich coastlines. Much of the area between the seaside towns of Hunstanton and Sheringham has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Enjoy a landscape of tidal marshes, creeks, and sweeping golden beaches, including Holkham beach, which featured in the 1998 hit film Shakespeare in Love and was recently voted Best Beach in Britain.
Animal lovers should visit Blakeney Point and take a boat trip to see the nearby colony of seals, while bird enthusiasts won’t struggle to find great spots for watching our feathered friends. During the summer keep an eye out for spotted redshanks, and wood, green and common sandpipers
Further south you’ll find Norfolk’s famous Broads. A national park, the Norfolk Broads are made up of 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways, set in beautiful countryside and peppered with charming towns and villages. The best way to explore the river is by boat, so why not hire one for a few hours, or make a mini break out of the experience and get a motor cruiser you can stay overnight on?
The Broads run through Norfolk’s capital, Norwich, a medieval city that successfully fuses the historic and modern. It has a flourishing arts, music and cultural scene, great independent and high street shopping, and lots of wonderful pubs and restaurants. A visit to the cathedral and Norwich Castle are both a must.
East Anglia’s other city highlight is of course Cambridge. The beautiful university destination features 31 architecturally stunning colleges, among them King’s College, with its distinctive gothic chapel and a roll call of famous past students. After wandering around the colleges, you can lazily punt down the River Cam or take a relaxing wall through Cambridge University Botanic Garden.
Over in Suffolk is the county’s jewel, Southwold, with its pier and colourful beach huts, sitting ever prettily on its glorious sandy beaches. Make sure you check out the pier’s Retro Room, which features a collection of retro arcade games you can try out, including Pacman and Space Invaders. Southwold also has great pubs and restaurants and even a brewery.
Across the border in Essex is the picturesque medieval market town of Saffron Walden. Wander the streets and take in the many historic buildings, including St Mary’s Church, the largest parish church in Essex. To learn more about the town’s history visit the Saffron Walden Museum, whose collection is housed in one of the oldest purpose-built museum buildings in the country, having been built in 1835.
Food and drink
The East of England offers a delectable selection of food and drink to sample.
Superb seafood can be found along the region’s many miles of coastline. In Essex, oysters have been cultivated in the creeks around Mersea Island since Roman Times, while crabs are synonymous with Cromer in north Norfolk. The latter are particularly succulent as they feed on the world’s largest chalk reef. Meanwhile, fishing boats bring in fresh fish and seafood at Aldeburgh, Southwold and Lowestoft in Suffolk. Kent is so famous for seafood, a whole species is named after its main port, Dover. Dover sole is popular for its exquisite and delicate taste.
Kent is also well known for its orchards, abundant with pears, cherries and apples. The hamlet of Brogdale is home to the National Fruit Collection, which has one of the largest fruit tree and plant collections in the world. It offers guided tours of the orchards and sells locally sourced meats, fresh veg and cheese.
With one of the best climates in the country, together with gentle slopes and chalky soil, the East of England is great for growing grapes. The area’s vineyards have built up a reputation for making high-quality wines that have won a number of awards. Many of the vineyards offer tours.
Take time to ensure that you are in the know before you go
Summer is here and our colourful countryside, breathtaking beaches and glorious gardens beckon.
Many attractions are reopening, but have restricted visitor numbers and prebooked time slots, so the UK Government recommends looking at the official websites for attractions and organisations you plan to visit before you travel, so that you’re in the know before you go.
To make your days out as enjoyable as possible, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and to check all of the important facilities and attractions, while looking after our great outdoors.
To ensure we’re all doing our bit to travel responsibly, here are a few simple steps to help make planning easy.
When planning your trip, check that important facilities – like toilets and car parks – are open before you travel so you’re not caught short. If you have an attraction in mind, please check online to see if you need to pre-book a time slot.
Some places may be extremely popular, so get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem that you can brag to friends about. Keep two metres apart from anyone outside your household where you can. This applies to walking, running, cycling, sitting and sunbathing too. Wear a face covering at all times when on public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs.
Make sure you have a bank card because many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments and you don’t want to miss out on that ice cream.
And take hand sanitiser with you – you don’t know where will be open for you to wash your hands.
Leave the car behind where possible and visit attractions by walking or cycling. Please remember that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different guidelines, advice and timescales for re-opening tourism.
To help you enjoy summer safely, please check the respective official sources for information prior to travelling by using the website visitbritain.com/gb/en/know-before-you-go
The mark that shows visitors we are good to go in England
With many attractions now beginning to reopen their doors, VisitEngland has come up with a way for people to check whether they are “good to go”.
VisitEngland has launched the We’re Good To Go initiative in partnership with the national tourist organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark will provide a “ring of confidence” for visitors as the tourism sector works towards reopening.
The We’re Good To Go mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place, ensuring they can welcome visitors back with confidence.
The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry. Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I want to encourage the public to experience a great holiday this summer and be confident that they can do so safely.
“This new industry standard will show people that tourism businesses, destinations and attractions are adhering to the guidance. It puts safety first and is an important move in getting this industry back up and running.”
VisitEngland director Patricia Yates said: “With millions of jobs and local economies across the country reliant on tourism it is essential that businesses can get up and running as soon as the respective Government advice allows to capture the peak British summer season.
“We want visitors to be able to enjoy their holidays and to support businesses to be confident they have the correct procedures in place. Our priority is to make sure tourism rebounds to once again become one of the most successful sectors of the UK economy and this ring of confidence is a crucial step on the industry’s road to rebuilding.”
To obtain the mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform goodtogo.visitbritain.com including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the We’re Good To Go mark for display in their premises and online.
Businesses across the UK are assessed according to their respective national guidance including the social distancing and cleanliness protocols that must be in place.
The industry standard complements the Know Before You Go initiative.
For more information on staying safe, please go to visitbritain.com/gb/en/know-before-you-go