Deriving its name from two Saxon words (Waldbert, the name of a Saxon, and wyc, meaning shelter or harbour), Walberswick has been a settlement on the Suffolk coast since the early Middle Ages.
Now a tourist hotspot for crabbing, birdwatchers and those who enjoy a serene seaside holiday, the village is one of Suffolk’s gems, scattered with pastel-coloured cottages, picture-postcard landscapes and welcoming pubs.
Keep scrolling to read our handy guide to the top things to do in Walberswick or tap the button below to find your holiday home-away-from-home.
About the village
Walberswick is an English seaside dream, a beautiful spot on the unspoilt Suffolk coast full of traditional fun and excitement. Couples looking for a romantic break away, families with young children, and groups of friends will all find something pleasing in this coastal village that’s quieter than neighbouring Southwold.
Find some time to walk through the grassy dunes down to the sand and shingle beach and marvel at the marsh and heathland all around you. Much of this makes up a nature reserve comprising 1,000 acres that’s home to otters, deer and a whole host of birds.
Artists have historically fallen in love with the stunning landscape here with Philip Wilson Steer and Charles Rennie Mackintosh amongst the most notable visitors. Today, celebrities still take up residence in the village, including Libby Purves and Richard Curtis.
Pubs and restaurants in Walberswick
You’ll not have trouble getting a bite to eat or a decent drink when visiting. From delightful tea rooms and delis to dog-friendly pubs and some of the best fish and chips you’re likely to find, Walberswick’s restaurants and taverns have it all.
The Bell Inn
The good thing about Walberswick (well, one of them) is that due to its size, you’ll be close to everything you need. The Bell Inn sits on the village green yet it’s only moments from the rolling sand dunes too.
The inside of this 600-year-old pub is cosy and traditional, meaning you can find an alcove or a little nook to enjoy a quiet moment. However, if you’re feeling sociable and the weather’s fine, the beer garden is a lovely option at this Walberswick pub.
- Open: Monday to Sunday from 11am
- Dog friendly: Yes
- Why not try: The Bell’s classic fish pie, topped with cheesy mash and served with seasonal greens
- Stay nearby: Ferry Knoll | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog
When a pub is taken over by owners who previously received the accolade of running the best pub in Britain for two years running, you know they're going to do things right. The Anchor in Walberswick, an Arts and Crafts building, is an award-winning pub sitting in an acre of garden that overlooks the dunes and beach huts.
Making sure that they invest in quality local produce (including West Mersea oysters, smoked fish from Lowestoft, Blythburgh pork, beef from Westleton, and vegetables from their own allotment), the proprietors of The Anchor pride themselves on running a village local that cares. In fact, they often offer up their 18th-century barn (which has a 30-person cinema, no less) for charity fundraisers and art exhibitions.
- Open: Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm
- Dog friendly: Yes, there’s a hose to wash muddy paws, and dogs are welcome in the bar, family room and the outdoor terrace
- Why not try: West Mersea rock oysters, sherry and shallot vinegar
- Stay nearby: Lane End | Sleeps 4
Photo credits: Instagram Mrs T's
There are a couple of caveats with this foodie entry that you need to be aware of. Firstly, it’s technically in Southwold across the river (more on that in a moment). Secondly and more importantly, Mrs T’s suffered a devastating fire recently rendering it inoperational for the time being. However, so good are the fish and chips here that we simply had to include it.
It’s said that you cannot visit Walberswick without having fish and chips from Mrs T’s. Founded in 1895, this is among the best fish and chips establishments in the country. Technically on the Southwold side of the River Blyth, you could walk over the bridge across the river to get there and then get the ferry back over when you’re too stuffed to walk.
- Open: Currently closed for refurbishment, contribute to the GoFundMe page here
- Dog friendly: Yes, all the tables are outdoors
- Why not try: Cod and chips
- Stay nearby: Wobbly Wick | Sleeps 8 + 2 dogs
The Black Dog Deli
Photo credits: The Black Dog Deli
The Black Dog Deli is more than a deli; it’s four delis located in Walberswick, Halesworth, Wrentham and Yoxford, it’s a wholesaler, it’s an artisan bakery and it’s a pizza company. This award-winning Suffolk producer is another establishment that measures true success by providing its clientele with locally sourced and homemade food and drink. They even produce their own range of frozen meals if you want to pick something up for later on.
Pick up an organic Fairtrade coffee while you browse the fresh bakes in the Filo & Twine Sourdough Club. When you’ve selected your salads, tarts, soups and cakes, settle down in the garden to enjoy everything you’ve purchased … before heading back inside for seconds!
- Open: Tuesday to Friday 8.30am – 3pm; Saturday 8.30am – 4pm; Sunday 9am – 3pm
- Dog friendly: Yes, dogs are welcome in the shop and the garden
- Why not try: A smorgasbord of treats: sourdough bread with local pickles and chutneys, Greek olives, and homemade sausage rolls
- Stay nearby: The Dairy | Sleeps 4
The Parish Lantern Tea Room
Set beside the village green, the Parish Lantern Tea Room is in a great spot if you have kids and dogs. Let them burn off some energy in the wide-open space, with the kids making the most of the play equipment too, before retiring to the tearoom for some homemade cakes, cream teas and pizzas. There’s even award-winning Suffolk ice cream available if you (or the kids) have room!
Operating as a shop before and after the Second World War, the retail side of things is still going strong and is now run by the McLean family. Browse the jewellery, crafts, books and toys before taking your purchases through to the pretty courtyard garden where the staff will serve you with a smile. The prices here are extremely reasonable too.
- Open: Friday to Wednesday 10am – 4pm
- Dog friendly: Yes, in the pretty courtyard garden
- Why not try: The stonebaked pizza (with vegan and gluten-free options available)
- Stay nearby: Vine Cottage | Sleeps 10 + 2 dogs
A special mention should go to Adnams Brewery in Southwold. If you want to create a delightful picnic for a day out, no doubt you’ll be able to find plenty of Adnams options in the shops in Walberswick, or you could hop over the river and take a tour of the brewery itself. In fact, for all things regarding the other side of the River Blyth, read our handy guide to the best things to do in Southwold.
After crossing the harbour bridge and walking through the grassy dunes, you’ll realise that Walberswick Beach is a wilder affair than some other traditional seaside sands that you may have visited in Suffolk.
This stone and sand beach has the Walberswick Nature Reserve to the north and is a vast windswept stretch that proves popular with dog walkers, swimmers, surfers, kite surfers and canoeists. Please note, if you’re going to go swimming, be careful of very strong currents near the river mouth.
Despite this rugged outlook, there is plenty of parking a short distance away, either on the street or in car parks, one of which has an ice cream van.
- Dog friendly: Yes, there are no restrictions in place
- Lifeguards: Unfortunately, there is no lifeguard cover
- Facilities: The nearest toilets are on the village green; ice cream van in Walberswick Common Car Park; cafes, pubs and shops nearby
Southwold to Walberswick Ferry
If you’re struggling to think of things to do in Walberswick, what better way is there to clear your mind and get focussed than getting out on the water? True, the crossing may be short and the ferry is, in fact, a row boat carrying a maximum of 12 passengers, but still, it’s nice to be out in the harbour by the lapping waves.
The ferry across the River Blyth is run by a fifth-generation rower who will take you over to Southwold or Walberswick whenever you turn up – no need to book! The service generally runs from April to the end of October 10am – 5pm (depending on weather conditions and tides) and will save you a walk around the river and over the bridge.
- Price: Adults £2, children £1, under 5s free – prices are for a single crossing and only cash is accepted
- Dog friendly: Yes, dogs are welcome
- Other useful info: Buggies and pushchairs are welcome
Crabbing in Walberswick is such a big deal that up until a few years ago, the British Crabbing Championships were held in the village. This hugely popular event ran from 1981 to 2010 and even though the official competition stays submerged, the activity itself remains as common as it ever was and is still one of the best things to do in Suffolk.
Watch as scores of people, both young and old, line the harbour wall to take part in this perfect summer pursuit. If the harbour is a little busy, there are plenty of bridges and creeks to find in Walberswick where you can dangle your line. You could even take the ferry over to Southwold and try your luck there. Be warned though, the locals of the two towns can become very competitive crustacean chasers, so make sure you don’t get caught in the middle of a crab cold war!
Crabbing is a fairly inexpensive activity that the kids will love, just be aware of the following titbits of advice:
- Use a plastic bucket as metal ones can become too hot for the crabs
- Fill the bucket with seawater, seaweed and some pebbles to imitate the crab’s habitat
- Don’t keep any marine life in your bucket for too long, and return them to the sea where you found them
The offering of shops in Walberswick isn’t likely to be the kind of place that would please Rachel in the early seasons of Friends or Carrie Bradshaw and her chums, but the quaint offering of shops that are scattered along the idyllic high street is enough to while away an afternoon.
We say high street, but in reality, it’s little more than a pleasant track that includes a gift shop, a deli, an ice cream shop and a gallery.
Head to Seaview Gallery Walberswick to browse and buy pieces by local artists. This summer pop-up shop showcases paintings, prints, sculptures and pottery. The Parish Lantern shop has been mentioned further up and you can stop by here to pick up all kinds of quality crafts and gifts. The East of England Co-op Foodstore is perfect for picking up those last-minute essentials before heading back to your holiday home (larger supermarkets can be found in Southwold, Beccles and Lowestoft).
For traditional gifts and seaside trinkets, visit The Little Wooden Hut, a seasonal gift shop by the beach, selling everything you’ll need for a day of sandcastle building and crabbing.
There are a number of walks to try in and around Walberswick, taking in views over to Southwold to the north, or the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB to the south. Due to the popularity of Southwold and the beauty of the AONB, we have chosen to focus on just two walks that make the most of these two hotspots.
This 3-mile-long, relatively easy walk will take you along flat paths and tracks, but it also involves a little bit of public highway walking so we’d advise wearing some high-vis clothing if possible. You’ll start on the village green and walk across the common, heading down towards the river and Southwold.
Follow the route of the former Southwold Light Railway and you’ll see the abandoned windmill across the reedbed – look out for otters around here too. Cross the Bailey Bridge over the river and walk back along the banks of the Blyth passing the boat yards and fisherman’s sheds on the way.
Approach the harbour and use the ferry to get back over the river and make your way back to the village centre of Walberswick.
Marshes, coast and forest
If you’re in need of a longer, more exciting stroll, choose this 7-mile ramble which follows paths and tracks that can get muddy and waterlogged. Again, start on the village green and make your way south towards the Suffolk Coast Path. Follow the path alongside the River Dunwich which will be on your left and traverse the marshes, spotting the neglected windpump as you go.
The AONB covers roughly 155 square miles of wetlands, heathland and beach, and it’s at these marshes that you might spot a bittern creeping through the water. Continue to the edge of Dunwich Forest and follow the track with the forest on your right and Dingle Marshes on your left.
From Dunwich, you can cross onto the beach and walk back along to Walberswick.
Did you know?
Dunwich, the lost city of England, used to be the capital of the Kingdom of the Eastern Angles.
Self-catering cottages in Walberswick
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