Travel as far east as you can on the British mainland and you will hit the Suffolk coast. This coastline has seen a lot of action over hundreds of years of conflict; it sat on the frontline during the Second World War, the Napoleonic Wars and other historical flashpoints.
Nowadays, the Suffolk coast is a lot more peaceful – its miles of unspoilt beaches and small fishing villages characterise the area and draw in many holidaymakers each year - Lowestoft is England’s most easterly town, jutting out into the English Channel. There are traditional seaside resorts with promenades and piers, as well as some of the country's most distinctive nature reserves and wild stretches of beach. Suffolk is popular with archaeologists too as some famous treasure hordes have been uncovered here, like at Sutton Hoo.
Our guide features some of the best places to stay and visit along the Suffolk coast. Read on to discover why you should choose a self-catering holiday cottage on this beautiful stretch of coastline in the East of England coast, or click the button below to start searching for a holiday cottage break.
Felixstowe is associated with its deep-water docks, yet while you can see the town's distinctive cranes for miles around, there’s much more to this seaside resort than just industry. There’s an uncanny beauty to the docks at sunset. The majority of the town is located on the clifftop and is home to an interesting array of independent shops and high street favourites. There is also a large choice of places to eat and drink, alongside a cinema and a few pubs to try out. Felixstowe is directly connected to the city of Ipswich, 12 miles away, by the road and rail network.
The resort part of the town is about 1 mile to the north. A restored pier, opened in 2017, shows a renewed vigour that makes Felixstowe a desirable spot for a day trip or holiday. Also popular are the amusement arcades along the front strand, like Manning’s and Ocean Boulevard. You could also go sailing at Felixstowe Ferry, a village at the northern end of the beach.
- View Point Cafe - get a real sense of the scale of the ships that ferry cargo across the oceans while enjoying a coffee at this perfectly placed cafe
- Landguard Fort - step inside this English Heritage-managed fort that's surrounded by a nature reserve and beach
- Martello Towers - see these magnificent defences built in the 1800s, during the Napoleonic Wars, that history enthusiasts will love
Found amidst thousands of acres of coast, heath and marshland, you’ll find one of Suffolk’s most picturesque coastal villages, Walberswick. Sat prettily on the south bank of the River Blyth, the village is at the centre of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). What was once a thriving fishing port is now a sleepy village which charms and beguiles visitors with its lovely beach and rural appeal.
Walberswick has always attracted artists and you can see the village, the marshes and the beach in the works of the impressionist Philip Wilson Steer (seek out the 1992 film ‘The Bridge’ which was filmed here), and the Scottish architect and symbolist Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The neighbouring town of Southwold is within 1.5 miles from the village for even more beaches, places to dine and handy amenities.
- St Andrews Church - investigate this beautiful church that's inspired countless artists as it is built within the ruins of its former incarnation
- Walberswick Circular Walk - set out on this four-hour trail which passes through reedbeds, forests and along the coastline too
- Walberswick Beach - this long sand and shingle beach is backed by dunes and is usually a peaceful place for spending time by the sea
Southwold is close to Walberswick, across the marshes to the north along the coast. It’s larger than its neighbour and it serves as a local centre for amenities and entertainment. Southwold is home to a distinctive and lovely pier, a lighthouse and colourful beach huts.
Walk along the seashore and relax and play on the beach, or take the 7-mile circuitous walk to Walberswick and enjoy a pint in the 300-year-old Bell Inn with its low beamed ceiling and roaring fire. Southwold is home to some great places to eat in the area, like Cleone’s Italian and the Singtong Neeyom Thai Restaurant. Enjoy a river trip around the River Blyth and the estuary in a motorboat or go bird spotting.
- Southwold Pier - stroll along this enchanting Victorian-era pier where you can enjoy entertainment and food overlooking the sea
- Electric Picture Palace - catch a film at this bijou auditorium complete with an organ
- Halesworth Golf Club - tee off at this nine-hole course that's a delight for golf lovers in the undulating countryside
The village of Orford is worth a visit if you love unusual nature reserves. Orford Ness dominates the area – it’s a dramatic shingle peninsula now managed by the National Trust and can be reached via ferry from Orford Dock. There’s a very pleasant cafe at the dock but if you are planning a day trip across to Orford Ness, take a picnic lunch and lots of drinking water as there are no facilities beyond some WCs on the reserve.
A former military base, many curious buildings still stand in ruins across the expanse. Many groundbreaking radar and weapons tests were undertaken at Orford Ness, but thanks to the classified nature of the trials, the place evokes a strong sense of intrigue. Orford Ness is also home to a lighthouse and a visitor centre with exhibits and displays outlining the history of the place. If you are planning a day to the coast with a difference, then a trip to Orford Ness is an unforgettable experience.
- Orford Ness National Nature Reserve - get out and about in this unique landscape with a lighthouse, quay and old military buildings
- RSPB Havergate Island - go birdwatching on this River Ore island where you might get to see avocets, terns and spoonbills
- Snape Maltings - take in a performance at this wonderful arts centre or stop by just for the shops, galleries and eateries on the site
Aldeburgh is a lovely town which upholds all the fine traditions of your typical English seaside resort. Aldeburgh will forever be associated with the famous composer Benjamin Britten who was also the founder of the Aldeburgh Festival. This event runs every June and is a great cultural celebration.
Aldeburgh is also a beautiful place to stay because of its pebble beach, long promenade and the former home of Benjamin Britten, The Red House. The town centre is full of interesting shops and quality cafes and restaurants where you can have a relaxing lunch. You can also see an intact example of a Martello Tower which was constructed as a bombastic coastal defence during the Napoleonic Wars.
- The Scallop - get a photo down on the promenade of this iconic 4m-tall sculpture, which is a homage to Benjamin Britten
- The Red House - visit the former home of Benjamin Britten where you'll find a gallery, museum shop and cafe
- Aldeburgh Cinema - see a film at this old, independent theatre which has been continuously operational since it opened in 1919
Suffolk coast cottages
We have some lovely holiday cottages on the Suffolk coast, whether you are travelling as a couple or are looking for a larger property for a family break. Choose the East of England for your next self-catering cottage break and browse our collection of Suffolk coast cottages to find your perfect holiday.
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.