Suffolk is a beautiful and historic county, steeped in quintessentially English countryside, picturesque villages and sleepy coastal towns. It is only natural to want to see the whole thing but at nearly 4000km2, exploring it can be a slightly daunting prospect. If you are planning on getting around by car then thankfully there is a road that cuts through the heart of this county, passing some of its most loved landmarks and letting you drink it all in via a whole host of ancient paths, medieval churches and award winning restaurants: the A1120.
This route is often referred to as the ‘tourist trail’. It starts in historic Stowmarket, a small market town centred around the River Gipping. For a slice of Suffolk history head to the Museum of East Anglian Life, situated in the country manor of Abbots Hall. It specialises in presenting past agricultural traditions of East Anglia through a mixture of exhibits and living history demonstrations.
If you are staying in the area for the evening and fancy some entertainment then the John Peel Centre is a fantastic performing arts venue. Built to honour the late BBC presenter and music enthusiast who resided near Stowmarket, this centre puts of some world class events that really punch above the weight of this small Suffolk town: expect rock, folk, poetry and everything in between.
Continue down the A1120 and you will reach Stonham Aspal and the wonderful Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, which “operates a comprehensive facility for the care & rehabilitation of owls from the region, and the promotion of owl conservation throughout the UK and beyond”. Get up close and personal with 80 different owls (there is even the opportunity to get your photo taken holding one); a great place to spend the afternoon learning about one of Suffolk’s best loved birds. Anyone planning to spend time nearby should make a reservation at Woodfarm Barns. They offer six Suffolk barns that all sleep two and a gorgeous 500 year-old thatched Farmhouse that sleeps 7. After a long day enjoying some splendid walking with a four legged friend it is good to know that it is totally dog friendly; a great place to put up your weary feet (and paws!).
After passing further along the tourist trail through the quaint villages of Pettaugh, Earl Soham, Saxtead and Dennington you will reach Badingham. We recommend stopping here for a pint or a meal at the gorgeous White Horse. This 15th century coaching inn boasts cosy open fires, great ale selection and-home cooked food; it’s a welcome little resting point for any traveller. As you continue on through Peasenhall watch out for the peacocks that roam the village in full plume throughout the year: it is a startling and eccentrically Suffolk sight. If you still need a little pick me up then Weavers Tea Room in the centre of the village offers everything from breakfast to afternoon tea. The coffee is great, the cake is excellent and it is worth a visit just to immerse yourself in the beautiful 15th century building. The trail ends in historic Yoxford, nestled between the postcard beauty of seaside towns Southwold and Aldeburgh. Check out one of the villages many antique shops before heading on to explore the rest of Suffolk and beyond.
A great Suffolk adventure needs a great Suffolk base. Woodfarm Barns and Woodfarm Barges offer just that. This collection of beautiful barns, farmhouse and barges offer romantic breaks and the perfect place for families or friends in the farmhouse or large barge. And best of all they are totally dog friendly. You can find Woodfarm Barns just a few minutes from the A1120 tourist trail, and the barges at the end!
Key attractions to enjoy along the Suffolk Tourist Trail:
- The Sutton Hoo Burial Site
Undoubtedly one of the most significant archeological finds of recent centuries, the Anglo-Saxon burial site at Sutton Hoo has become something of a national tourist attraction. As you might expect, there is a dedicated museum that contains the rich assortment of artefacts which were discovered back in 1939. A must-visit for history buffs and casual historians alike, this site is assuredly one of the crowning gems of the Suffolk Tourist Trail.
As a website focussed on things to see and do in Suffolk, it will come as no surprise that we’re keen to promote the fantastic towns that line the coast of our county. One of the very best of these towns is Aldeburgh. With a striking beach, a fantastic collection of independent boutiques and cafes, this destination really does have something for every kind of visitor.
It turns out that we weren’t satisfied with just one coastal Suffolk town for this list. No, we had to sneak another one in immediately after shouting about the excellence of Aldeburgh. Every bit as great as Aldeburgh, Southwold has a distinctly traditional feel to it. More specifically, its penny arcade and carousel conjure up images of a classic seaside town. The charm, however, is wholly owed to the range of bars and restaurants that serve up some delectable refreshments for those journeying along the Suffolk Tourist Trail.
- The Countryside
As a rural county, it’s no small wonder that the Suffolk Tourist Trail contains a fair amount of countryside for visitors to explore along their way. Perhaps some of the more popular walks are to be found in Thetford Forest. With close to 19,000 hectares to explore by foot or by bike, it’s well worth setting aside an entire day or afternoon to discover everything that the forest has to offer. There’s also treetop adventures, cycle and segway hire available to make it easy to explore in the way you enjoy most.
- Framlingham Castle
Making it possible to visit the “castle on the hill” as part of a bigger adventure, the Suffolk Tourist Trail features Framlingham Castle in addition to the many towns and villages that constitute its route. Dating all the way back to the 12th century, Framlingham Castle now presents a range of exhibitions and displays to make it easier than ever for visitors to understand this fascinating aspect of Suffolk history.
- Bury St Edmunds
When it comes to winding down a day of adventuring along the Suffolk Tourist Trail, there are few places more attractive to retreat to than Bury St Edmunds. Brimming with quaint wine bars, a variety of specialist restaurants and independent shops, the leading reputation of this historic brewery town is well-earned. Well worth visiting no matter what time of the year you’re staying at our Barns and Barges for rent, Bury St Edmunds does have an impressive Christmas market that runs throughout December as well as an assortment of stalls that appear in its town square during summer.
Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by Ollie Pearson