Beautifully situated on the banks of the River Waveney at the southern point of the Suffolk and Norfolk Broads, the picturesque Georgian market town of Beccles is fast becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations in East Anglia. Wander its labyrinth of winding streets to discover quaint market squares, unique independent shops and superb restaurants, cafes and bars. Once a flourishing Saxon river port, the town boasts its own quay, providing the perfect setting to pick up a day launch or canoe and get out on the water.
Its location in the Waveney Valley means that the town is not only surrounded by the picture-postcard scenery of the Southern Broads, but it is also within easy reach of the coast, with its award-winning beaches, nature reserves and theme parks. For families, there is an outdoor swimming pool, various play areas and attractions, and many walks and cycle routes to explore.
Whether you visit Beccles for a day out, a weekend away or a longer break, this bustling little Suffolk town offers a wealth of things to do. We’ve created a guide to Beccles to help you plan your stay. Booking accommodation in Beccles could not be easier, just click the button below.
Things to do in Beccles
Admire the views from the top of Beccles Bell Tower
One of the town’s most historic landmarks is the colossal Grade I-listed Beccles Bell Tower which stands detached from the main body of St Michael’s Church. During the summer months and for a small charge, you can climb 122 steps to the top of the 97-foot-high tower and admire spectacular views across the Waveney Valley. St Michael’s Church has been at the centre of the lives of the town’s residents since its foundation in 1369 and in the mid-1700s, Lord Horatio Nelson's parents were married here.
- Opening times: All are welcome to come and visit the building during the week, or to attend Sunday worship. The church is open from 9am-3pm daily
Enjoy a summer swim at Beccles Lido
One of the best things to do in Beccles during the summer months is to take the whole family to Beccles Lido. Sitting alongside the river at Puddingmoor, this outdoor heated swimming pool is great for all ages, featuring a springboard, a slide and separate toddler and splash pools. The Lido also runs Aquacise sessions. After a fun-packed morning in the water, catch some rays on one of the sun loungers, before enjoying an ice cream at the cafe.
Take to the track – or the skies!
If you’re a self-proclaimed speed demon, then Ellough Park Raceway is sure to tick all the boxes for a great day out. Here, you’ll find East Anglia’s largest karting circuit at just over 1,000 metres long. For those who are happier spectating, there are viewing spots where you can cheer your team on.
If that isn’t exciting enough and you have a head for heights, then UK Parachuting provides a unique way to see the sights of Beccles, from a much higher perspective. Offering the adrenalin rush of a lifetime, you can jump out of an aircraft at 13,000 feet and plunge down to earth on a tandem skydive at speeds of over 120mph. You can also work towards a solo skydive on an Accelerated Freefall Course.
Places to eat and drink in Beccles
You'll be spoilt for choice of where to eat thanks to the wonderful array of Beccles restaurants, cafes and pubs.
The Cafe at Urban Jungle
The Beccles Cafe at Urban Jungle is an intriguing and sociable place to catch up with friends over brunch or lunch, or grab a coffee and slice of cake. Exotic plants provide a vibrant backdrop to the comfortable seating, so take five and relax in this welcoming haven.
- Opening times: 10am-4pm daily
Do you have a passion for pizza and love lasagne? Then Ristorante Piatto is the restaurant to get those tastebuds tingling. Expect fine Italian food (with plenty of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options available) and exceptional service.
- Opening times: Tuesday-Thursday 6pm-11pm; Friday-Saturday 6pm-12am, Sunday 6pm-10pm
Oakfired at the Royal Oak
Another Italian option in Beccles is Oakfired at the Royal Oak. In 2018, the restaurant became the third in the UK to be licensed to make True Neapolitan Pizza. Cooked in a wood-fired oven, these pizzas have to meet the exacting standards of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Grab a taste of Naples without needing your passport.
- Opening times: Sunday and Monday – closed; Tuesday-Thursday 5pm-9pm (last service 8pm); Friday and Saturday 12pm-2pm, 5-10pm (last service 9pm)
For a feast of international flavours, head to Graze at The White Horse. From gourmet burgers to mouthwatering Mexican dishes, there’s something to appeal to all palates. The courtyard kitchen is a particular highlight, as that’s where the delicious Turkish pides (a sensational form of flat bread) are created.
- Opening times: Monday closed; Tuesday-Friday 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm; Saturday 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm-11pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
- Food served: Monday closed; Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-2pm, 6pm-8.45pm; Sunday 12pm-3pm
Beccles Wine Vaults is a treat in the centre of town, set across three floors – the cellars, ground-floor bar and first floor. Outside seating makes it one of the most dog-friendly pubs in Beccles. This welcoming establishment prides itself on using the finest local produce and ingredients. An extensive range of real ales, cocktails and wine makes it the perfect spot to while away a convivial evening.
- Opening times: Monday-Friday 11am-11pm; Saturday 11am-midnight; Sunday 10am-midnight
- Food served: Monday-Friday 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-9pm; Saturday 12pm-9pm; Sunday 10am-8pm
The Bear and Bells
Traditional and charming, The Bear and Bells offers an authentic English pub experience. Dating back to 1620, the pub offers the best of all worlds – including a cosy wood burner for winter evenings, a beer garden and a large terrace where you can enjoy al fresco drinking and dining on lazy summer days. Fine food and a well-stocked bar await when you visit.
- Opening times: Monday-Saturday 11am-11pm; Sunday 11am-10pm
- Food served: Monday-Saturday 12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-8.30pm; Sunday 12pm-7pm
The great outdoors in Beccles
The Beccles Marsh Trail is the perfect way to explore Beccles on foot or by bike. Pick up a map from the Town Hall and or library, and choose one of three different trails, each varying in length and character. This popular series of walks explores an area of grazing marsh on the outskirts of Beccles, managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. These grazing marshes are a typical feature of the traditional Broads landscape with a network of draining ditches, otherwise known as dykes. Essentially the dykes are miniature nature reserves teeming with a variety of water plants, insects and birds. Don’t forget your binoculars!
One of the best ways to explore the beauty of the River Waveney in Beccles is by renting your own boat for the day and heading off on an adventure. Hire a canoe, kayak, or day boat and explore on your own, or climb aboard a skippered boat and take a guided tour along the river, keeping your eyes peeled for kingfishers as well as a variety of other fascinating wildlife. Hippersons has a fleet of boats and can advise on routes along the Broads, rivers and waterways. Similarly, the Big Dog Ferry and Waveney River Tours offer leisurely boat journeys from Beccles Lido pontoon to Geldeston Locks with plenty of wildlife on view along the way.
An alternative way to see Beccles from the water is to hire a canoe. That’s where TheCanoeMan Beccles comes in, allowing you access to the most beautiful and peaceful sections of the River Waveney via canoe, kayak or paddleboard. You might be lucky enough to glimpse an otter or kingfisher on this stretch of the river. The recommended route takes you upstream towards The Locks Inn – the perfect pitstop during your water-based adventure. Run in conjunction with Beccles Lido, TheCanoeMan gives you the chance to combine two of Beccles’ premier attractions – the river and the lido!
There are plenty of dog-friendly places to visit in Beccles, which are great for keeping the furry members of your group entertained. Set on the edge of Beccles Common, Paws for Tea Tearooms is the perfect spot for you and your canine companion to enjoy a treat after a bracing walk. Dog-friendly ice cream is a particular hit with the four-legged patrons and customers have praised the friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere. The Bear and Bells (mentioned above) is also a fabulous pet-friendly place to eat and drink.
For paw-approved walks, you can’t beat the common or quay, or perhaps head 5 miles out of Beccles to Run Free – Redisham, an enclosed dog-walking field, where you can book a slot and let your pampered pooch scamper to their heart’s content. Other routes guaranteed to get tails wagging are the Beccles South Loop and the 7-mile route between Beccles and Geldeston. This starts in Beccles and follows the River Waveney to Geldeston, taking in the Angles Way on the return to Beccles.
Beccles is renowned for its impressive collection of unique and appealing shops and boutiques, many of which are independent retailers. From designer fashions to delicatessens and local crafts to one-of-a-kind homewares, the shops in Beccles are perfect for picking up gifts and souvenirs.
For local Suffolk produce, head to Beccles Farmers’ Market held on the first and third Saturday of the month. Everything from homemade soaps and ethical gifts to jams and jellies, jewellery and gin, is available at this haven for all the senses.
Just as varied is the array of items available at the department store, Roys of Beccles. Founded in 1895, the family-run business has branches across Suffolk and Norfolk. It champions local suppliers and supports local charities, offering a one-stop shop at the heart of the community.
Events and festivals in Beccles
There is no shortage of events to keep you entertained during your stay in Beccles. Whether you’re a foodie keen to try out the best in local produce and drink, or a live music fan who loves a festival atmosphere, there is something for everyone. Here are three of our favourites.
Beccles Food and Drink Festival, May
The annual Beccles Food and Drink Festival proudly showcases food and drink from the local area and wider East Anglia region. The day-long event is a treat for all ages and, even better, is free to attend! Browse the stalls, try some delicious street food and attend the festival’s cookery theatre. Music and children’s entertainment are also on the menu at this treat of an occasion. Check out the festival website for details of the main event and of other fringe events happening in the build-up to the big day.
Latitude Festival, July
The glorious Henham Park is the location for this fantastic festival. Offering a packed programme of music, dance, comedy, theatre and much more, this is the ultimate, family-friendly event.
Beccles Carnival, August
Late summer sees Beccles show off its true carnival spirit! Expect all the usual carnival fun, including a procession, music and entertainment. This fabulous, family-friendly event is free to attend.
Where to stay in Beccles
Now you’ve got a flavour of everything Beccles has to offer, why not experience it for yourself by booking one of our holiday cottages in Beccles? Our guide to Suffolk also has plenty of information and holiday inspiration.
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.