Enjoying a beautiful location beside the glistening River Orwell, Ipswich ticks all the boxes for a holiday or a day out in Suffolk. One of the oldest Anglo-Saxon towns in England, Ipswich has an incredibly rich culture and heritage. Just one hour by train from London and surrounded by the picturesque Suffolk countryside and coastline, this county town is the perfect place to stay for a rejuvenating break.
The elegant Waterfront is a great spot for a leisurely lunch, watching the yachts come and go, while the historic town centre in Ipswich offers a myriad of shops, museums, theatres and galleries to explore.
With our great range of Ipswich cottages to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to rest your head after a fun-filled day. Make a date in your diary to visit Ipswich and use our complete guide to plan your stay.
Things to do in Ipswich
No visit to Ipswich is complete without a stroll along its iconic Waterfront where cafés, bars and restaurants sit alongside boutiques, galleries and museums, all housed in eye-catching converted dock buildings. Watch the luxury yachts sail in and out of the marina as you sip a cocktail and listen to some live music at one of the waterside bistros.
Another spot not to be missed in Ipswich is Christchurch Park, perfect for a visit any time of the year. Sit on a bench and watch the fountain and the world go by, let the kids loose in the play park, explore the nature trail or pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the summer sun.
Things to do in Ipswich with kids
For families, there is an abundance of things to do in Ipswich, indoors and outdoors. Combine the top Ipswich tourist attractions with a run-around in one of its parks and beautiful green spaces, and you can’t go wrong for a fun family day out.
Jimmy's Farm and Wildlife Park
Jimmy's Farm, which first appeared on our TV screens over ten years ago, is one of the best places to visit in Ipswich with children. Alongside a myriad of animals such as zebras and meerkats, there’s a petting farm, butterfly house, adventure playground and nature trail, as well as an award-winning restaurant and farm shop.
- Address: Pannington Hall Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk (IP9 2AR)
- Opening Hours: Daily 10am-4pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
- Facilities: Free parking, mobility scooters available upon request, wheelchair-accessible WCs and baby-changing facilities
Suffolk Leisure Park
This fun-filled activity venue has something for everyone. Hit the (dry) slopes and try your hand at skiing or snowboarding; lessons and courses are available. If you don’t fancy your chances of staying upright, there’s also the option of tobogganing (4+) or ringos (8+). Those with a head for heights can take on Suffolk Leisure Park’s climbing wall and high ropes course. Or for a more sedate day out, it’s also the home of the Ipswich Driving Range where there is a mini golf course for the whole family to enjoy.
- Address: Bourne Hill, Wherstead, Ipswich (IP2 8NG)
- Opening Hours: Varies depending on the activity and season, please check the website
- Facilities: Restaurant, golf and ski shop on site
Things to do in Ipswich when it rains
Christchurch Mansion is a stunning Tudor mansion boasting over 500 years of history. Walk through and discover the Tudor kitchen, a Georgian saloon, a selection of Victorian toys and games, and the biggest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London.
You’ll find over 100 major transport and engineering objects which were made or used in the Ipswich area at the Ipswich Transport Museum. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of transport, from wheelchairs, prams and bicycles to fire engines, mobile cranes, vintage buses and trams.
Things to do in Ipswich for sporting fans
If you're a football fan, or just fancy trying something different on your holiday, why not take a trip to Portman Road to watch Ipswich Town? They currently play in the Sky Bet League One and tickets are available for matches throughout the season at very reasonable prices.
If faster thrills are more your thing, then a visit to the Foxhall Stadium to watch the Ipswich Witches Speedway team is an absolute must! Events run on various evenings from March to August and you'll see some top-class biking action.
Ipswich pubs and restaurants
From fine dining restaurants to traditional country pubs, Ipswich offers an endless list of eateries to suit all tastes and budgets. Indulge in afternoon tea in one of the waterside cafes or make a night of it and dine at one of the award-winning establishments in the town centre, before heading to one of the many theatres, clubs and entertainment venues.
- The Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant offers a unique dining experience with breakfasts, a la carte lunches, sunset suppers or candlelit dinner cruises along the calm waters of the River Orwell.
- The Briarbank Bar & Brewery is not only one of the best pubs in Ipswich with its own microbrewery, but it serves some delicious meals to go alongside its refreshing drinks too.
Dog-friendly places to eat in Ipswich
Ipswich is a fantastic place to holiday with your four-legged friends. After a great night's sleep at one of our dog-friendly properties, you can enjoy walks around the waterfront and strolls around the lovely parks, and even a trip to Jimmy's Farm and Wildlife Park, as previously mentioned. And after all that activity, visit one of Ipswich's lovely dog-friendly pubs and restaurants.
- The Woolpack, one of Ipswich's most ancient inns, is a lovely dog-friendly pub for the whole family. Cask ales and ciders are on tap and delicious homemade food is available 7 days a week.
- Whether you want breakfast and coffee or dinner and cocktails, Isaacs on the Quay is a wonderful waterfront restaurant that offers locally produced, innovative food in a wonderful dog-friendly environment.
The great outdoors
One of the best things about holidays in Suffolk is the chance to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh country air. From town strolls to countryside walks there are plenty of ways to explore Ipswich and the surrounding area on foot. Or hop aboard a river cruise to see the sights from the water.
A great walk for those who want to explore, but don't fancy putting on their hiking boots is the Ipswich Blue Plaque Trail. Follow the map and you'll see the city and learn about some of Ipswich's most famous sons and daughters.
For a waterside Ipswich walk, you can't beat the Alton Water Circular Trail. An easy and mostly flat 7.9-mile route around the reservoir, it takes just shy of 3 hours to complete on average and there's plenty of wildlife to see as you make your way around.
Top Tip: Treat yourself to lunch after your walk at The White Horse.
Ipswich boat trips
One of the best ways to experience Ipswich and its surrounding areas is to hop aboard a boat and take in the scenery from the water. There are plenty of companies providing a variety of trips.
- The Orwell Lady offers 1, 2.5 and 3.5-hour-long trips, as well as Afternoon Tea and Sunday Lunch trips.
- Sailing Barge Victor also offers a choice of sailings aboard their traditionally rigged 19th-century vessel.
When you’re in the mood for a spot of shopping, Ipswich offers a great mix of big-name brands on the main high street, and independent boutiques tucked away down the surrounding streets. You’ll find everything from locally sourced produce to hand-crafted gifts, antiques and one-off pieces.
Find the perfect 'handmade in Suffolk' holiday souvenir at the Town Hall Galleries in the centre of town. The Suffolk Craft Society sells a wide range of beautifully made products including ceramics, jewellery, glassware, art, knitwear and more.
- The Suffolk Food Hall offers a smorgasbord of tasty foodie treats to fill your larder, with a delicatessen, cheesemonger and chocolatier, as well as a home and garden centre, a café and Cookhouse restaurant. It also hosts workshops and cookery courses throughout the year.
- Ipswich Market operates every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and is a long-standing tradition in town. With over 30 stalls, you can fill your bags with all manner of local fruit, veg, clothing, plants and flowers.
Ipswich events and festivals
From Viking ship battle re-enactments and stock car racing to beer and cider festivals, and jazz shows in a 15th-century church, there is an abundance of Ipswich events throughout the year to enjoy during your stay.
- Delight in three days of gigs from local, national and international jazz performers along with workshops, courses, family shows, art, film and more at the annual Ipswich Jazz Festival.
- You'll find plenty on offer at the Ipswich Regent and Corn Exchange throughout the year. From family plays to big-name bands, there's something to entertain everyone.
Where to stay in Ipswich
With so many exciting things to do and places to visit in Ipswich, you’ll be needing somewhere warm and cosy to put your feet up and relax after a fun-filled day. Whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family, a large group of friends, or bringing the dog, we have holiday cottages in Ipswich to create a memorable break in Suffolk for everyone.
Take a look at our full collection and book an Ipswich cottage 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.