Top things to do in Southwold holiday cottages

Top things to do in Southwold

Ed Roberts 11 January 2024

Come to Southwold on the Suffolk coast. With its lovely beach and beautiful situation on the River Blyth, sitting opposite its pretty neighbour Walberswick, Southwold is a superb choice for a holiday escape. Whilst it can get busy during the summer, it still retains a feeling of being off the beaten track.

Southwold’s attractions include its great beach, a historic pier, a lively arts venue, and miles and miles of walking trails that weave their way around this handsome part of the East of England. We’ve compiled a concise guide to our favourite places to go and things to do in and around Southwold. Why not read our guide to Walberswick to discover even more about Southwold's close neighbour? We hope you enjoy your stay in our fabulous Walberswick cottages if you decide to visit.

Our range of self-catering holiday cottages in Southwold come in all shapes and sizes for everybody from solo travellers to large groups of friends and family. You can also bring along your dog to a high percentage of your holiday accommodation in Southwold. Click on the button below to discover your ideal places to stay in Southwold.

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Best for family fun | Southwold Beach

Southwold Beach looking northwards over beach hut roofs to Southwold Pier

Southwold Beach is a wonderful spot to unwind or play on a sunny day. It runs north from the mouth of the River Blyth, past the grand pier. A long stretch of the beach is backed by wild dunes, whereas the north end has a promenade lined with colourful beach huts, some with strange names like Jabba The Hut! If you are holidaying in Southwold at the end of December, there is a Christmas Day dip for the more intrepid (also insane). The beach is a popular destination for swimming too, so bring your trunks.

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Beach? Southwold Beach, Southwold IP18 6PT
  • Is there a lifeguard service at Southwold Beach? Yes. Lifeguards are at Southwold Beach between 1 July and 3 September (these dates may vary year on year)
  • Is Southwold Beach dog friendly? Yes. Whilst some areas of the beach north of Southwold Pier welcome dogs all year round, the main beach has a seasonal dog-exclusion zone put in place between 1 April and 30 September. Check on-site maps for clarification
  • What facilities does Southwold Beach have? WCs, disabled WCs, first aid point, lost child centre, beach hut hire, jet ski and windsurf hire
  • Stay nearby: Eastway Cottage | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Best for children | Southwold Pier

Wrought metal signpost above the boardwalk entrance to Southwold Pier

A day by the seaside in England can often centre around a visit to the pier, and Southwold’s is a beauty. With its cavalcade of arcade machines and modern computer games, there are hours of fun to discover in the aisles of the pavilion. There is also a cafe, restaurant and takeaways galore selling everything from fish and chips to deep-fried doughnuts. Down below the boardwalk is the Under the Pier Show where you can find a bewitching collection of interactive machines and inventions, most of which were created by the eccentric genius Tim Hunkin. Don’t miss the half-hour pee shows at Hunkin’s Water Clock where various automatons relieve themselves to fun effect. It’s one of the area’s quirkiest landmarks!

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Pier? North Parade, Southwold, IP18 6BN
  • Is Southwold Pier dog friendly? Dogs on leads are welcome on Southwold Pier
  • When is Southwold Pier open? Southwold Pier is open every day from 9.30 except Christmas Day – times vary 
  • Is Southwold Pier free entry? Yes
  • What facilities does Southwold Pier have? WCs, disabled WCs, cafe, takeaways
  • Stay nearby: 6 East Green | sleeps 4 + 1 dog  

Best for walking | Southwold’s best walks

Lone walker heads to Southwold along unsealed lane through wetlands fringed by reeds

Southwold to Walberswick 

A relaxing 3-mile walk to Walberswick is a must if you are spending holiday time in Southwold. Heading south towards the River Blyth, you will encounter tall dunes and a level path. Eventually, you can cross a bridge into neighbouring Walberswick, which is home to some lovely pubs and shops. You can read the full guide to Walberswick and its surrounding area for even more inspiration. The walk to Walberswick is lovely for wildlife lovers and those who like seeing a variety of boats and other rivercraft.

Good to know

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Stay nearby: Pebbles Cottage | sleeps 2 + 1 dog 

Southwold to Covehithe 

Another walk loved by visitors and locals alike is the Southwold to Covehithe trail, across unspoiled Suffolk countryside. Covehithe is losing a decade-long battle against sea erosion; you will also encounter the eerie ruins of St Andrew’s Church.  

Good to know

  • Distance: 11 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Stay nearby: The Cannons | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Best for boat lovers | Walberswick Ferry

Walberwick Ferry next to its haulout in Southwold

One of the most easy-going things to do in Southwold is a trip by rowboat ferry across the River Blyth. It’s a gentle pastime and a good way to see Walberswick if you are too hot or tired to complete the 3-mile circular walk. Perhaps you could walk along the river to the Harbour Inn (on the Southwold side) after you’ve returned from Walberswick. The boat service has been managed by five generations of the same family, and the vessel can transport a maximum of 12 wayfarers per crossing.

Good to know

  • How much does it cost to catch the Walberswick Ferry? Single crossing – adults £2, children £1, under 5s free (cash only)
  • Is the Walberwick Ferry dog friendly? Yes, dogs are welcome aboard the Walberswick Ferry
  • How often does the Walberswick Ferry row? The ferry operates between 10am and 5pm from 1 April until the end of October
  • Stay nearby: The Pier | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Best for sports fans | Southwold Golf Course

White golf buggy laden with golf bags driven by a male golfer

Southwold Golf Club is located in coastal heathland and is a short drive from the centre of the town. It is a nine-hole course with 18 tees and is open to the public as well as its club members. Regarded as one of the best golf courses in East Anglia, it’s an attractive course fringed by gorse banks with lots of bunkers to challenge players of all abilities. 

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Golf Course? The Common, Southwold, IP18 6TB
  • What facilities does Southwold Golf Course have? Hire shop, shop, WCs, parking, bar and restaurant
  • How much are the green fees at Southwold Golf Course? Prices vary depending on timings and how many holes you intend to play (9 or 18) 
  • Stay nearby: Summerville Moon | sleeps 7

Best for performance art fans | Southwold Arts Centre

Ornamental performance masks used in a recent production at Southwold Arts Centre

From films to stand-up comedy, pantomime and nature talks, Southwold Arts Centre is a hub of activity and entertainment at the heart of the town. There is a full and varied programme of live and recorded events all year round. Located inside St Edmunds Hall, close to the seafront, it’s an easy place to find with plenty of parking.

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Arts Centre? St Edmunds Hall, Cumberland Road, Southwold, IP18 6LP
  • Can I book seats in advance? All events can be booked over the phone or via the website (prices vary) 
  • When is the Southwold Arts Centre open? Southwold Arts Centre is open all year round. Events generally take place in the evenings
  • Stay nearby: Ivy Cottage | sleeps 7 + 1 dog

Large painting of a beachscape awaiting hanging on the gallery wall

Visit Southwold Gallery to see some fine exhibitions of paintings and abstract art from local and national artists. This is where you can buy some art for yourself or as a gift. There are also lots of ceramics to view at Southwold Gallery. Keep an eye on their programme of exhibitions throughout the year; there is always something interesting on display. 

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Gallery? 64a High Street, Southwold, IP18 6DN
  • How much does it cost to enter Southwold Gallery? It’s free entry
  • When is Southwold Gallery open? Every day from 10am to 5pm
  • Stay nearby: Doubledays | sleeps 4

Best for drinkers | Adnams Brewery and Distillery Tour

Brewery operative inspects a sample of ale

A fun thing to do in Southwold is a tour of the Adnams Brewery and/or Distillery. Gin, whisky, and vodka are produced in the copper stills. Visitors get to witness the whole process from ‘grain to bottle’ on the spirits tour and can see how Adnams' various ales are brewed. At the end of the tour, there is a tasting session, and you can visit the Adnams gift shop to stock up. You can also take a course to craft your own gin

Good to know

  • Where is Adnams? Tours depart from The Swan Courtyard, Market Place, Southwold, IP18 6EG
  • How much does it cost to tour Adnams Brewery and Distillery? It costs £25 per person, per tour  
  • Where do I book my Adnams tours? Adnams tours can be booked via their website 
  • How long do the Adnams Brewery and Distillery tours last? Each tour lasts for 1.5 hours
  • Stay nearby: Rest Cottage | sleeps 2 + 1 dog

Best for lighthouse baggers | Southwold Lighthouse tour

Southwold Lighthouse stands high above a residential Southwold street

Take a tour of Southwold Lighthouse, which stands 31 metres tall by Southwold Harbour. Still in operation, the lighthouse is a well-loved and iconic landmark for this area of Suffolk. The tour is run by Adnams and the experience gives visitors a historical insight into the lighthouse’s past and role. If you are fit enough for the climb, the views are, understandably, very beautiful.

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Lighthouse? The tour departs from The Swan Courtyard, Market Place, Southwold, IP18 6EG
  • How much does it cost to tour Southwold Lighthouse? The Southwold Lighthouse tour costs £15.50 per person. Book a place on the Adnams website 
  • How long do tours of Southwold Lighthouse last? Each tour lasts for 50 minutes
  • Is Southwold Lighthouse dog friendly? Dogs aren’t permitted on the Southwold Lighthouse tour
  • Stay nearby: Turnstones | sleeps 4

Best for historians | Southwold’s museums

Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum

A lifesaver as seen at the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum in Southwold

Southwold is home to two very interesting museums, the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum and the Southwold Museum. The former centres around the preserved 19th-century lifeboat, the Alfred Corry. The museum is full of artefacts pertaining to the boat’s fascinating history, including its 41 rescues and the lives its crew saved during its 25-year service.  

Good to know

  • Where is the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum? Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6NB
  • When is the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum open? Times vary throughout the year. Please check the website before you visit. For instance, the museum is only open at the weekend during the winter
  • How much does it cost to visit the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum? Entry to the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum is free, but donations are welcomed
  • Stay nearby: Astondene | sleeps 8 + 1 dog

Southwold Museum

Two females interact with a museum display

Southwold Museum is a tiny place packed to the rafters with paintings, photographs, models and wildlife exhibits. Artefacts dating back to prehistoric times, the Viking occupation, and various wars are included, as well as a wealth of material about local industry, the old railway, and the fortunes of the local fishing fleet. It’s a worthwhile place to visit if you want to get to know Southwold a bit better during your holiday cottage break.

Good to know

  • Where is Southwold Museum? 9–11 Victoria Street, Southwold, IP18 6HZ
  • When is Southwold Museum open?The Southwold Museum staff intend to keep the museum open daily between 2pm and 4pm. However, the website notes that the museum is reliant on volunteers and it’s not always possible to open. Call ahead on 01502 725600 to find out if they are open 
  • How much does it cost to visit Southwold Museum? Entry to Southwold Museum is free but a donation of £3 per person is encouraged
  • Stay nearby: Flat 1 – Eversley Cottage | sleeps 2

Stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in Southwold

Visit captivating Southwold; we have a large collection of self-catering holiday cottages for you to pick from. Spend the day touring this lovely area of Suffolk and then retire to your home-from-home to relax and rejuvenate for another day of exploration. View our range of Southwold cottages and properties all across the East of England today.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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