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Located in Suffolk on the east coast of England, Southwold is a beautiful seaside town where time seems to have stopped. It’s perfect for a romantic getaway, a family holiday or even a solo trip to sit on the beach with a good book and a glass of wine! There are loads of things to do in Southwold to help you have a relaxing weekend away: from Southwold Pier, to the beach, to the Lighthouse, to the many pubs in Southwold serving perfectly poured pints of Adnams.
Southwold holds many happy memories for me: as a kid I’d spend almost every October half term there on bike rides and in the arcade, and as a teenager weekends there would revolve around chasing boys and wangling invites to beach parties. Now, as an adult (sort of!), I don’t visit very often, but when I do I’m reminded of what a happy and wonderful place it is.
Things to Do in Southwold: A Walk Along Southwold Beach
A trip to the seaside has to begin with a walk along the beach! Southwold beach is blessed with white sand, covered with a sprinkling of shingle as you approach the water’s edge. A promenade runs between the beach and the town, featuring a rainbow of colourful beach huts. The beach is in fantastic condition, with regular blue flag awards proving both its cleanliness and high level of amenities.
I love the feeling of sand between my toes and sun on my face in summer, but for me, Southwold beach is at it’s best in the autumn and even the winter, when the waves crash ferociously, the wind almost knocks you off your feet and the beach is deserted other than a few likeminded souls and their dogs.
Things to Do in Southwold: Have Some Fun on Southwold Pier
Southwold Pier is an absolute must when it comes to things to do in Southwold, and something that I’ll never tire of. Take a stroll to the end of the pier for a fabulous view back to the town, browse quaint shops for a souvenir or two, stop for brunch or afternoon tea at The Boardwalk Restaurant and, best of all, experience the Under the Pier Show!
It’s hard to explain exactly what the Under the Pier Show is, but think of it as an eccentric arcade where you can experience the world through the eyes of a fly, take a tropical holiday from the comfort of an armchair or practice your zimmer frame skills.
Things to Do in Southwold: Head Down to Southwold Harbour
At the opposite end of Southwold beach from the pier is Southwold harbour. You can walk to Southwold Habour along the beach, or you can cross through the golf club and a couple of fields depending on your preference. Once you arrive, admire the boats floating on the water and snoozing in the boat yards before enjoying a pint of Adnams in the Harbour Inn.
Southwold Harbour is one of the best places to enjoy fish and chips in Southwold. For fish and chips the proper way (i.e. eaten with a wooden fork, sat on a bench outside whilst watching the world go by) then you just can’t beat Mrs T’s. Not only is the taste, quality and freshness unbeatable, but the portion sizes are HUGE!
The only downside is that you will have to queue in high season – over a bank holiday weekend we joined the queue only to hear people discussing the fact that they’d been waiting over an hour. We didn’t have the time to spare on that occasion, but I promise it’s worth the wait.
If you want good quality fish and chips enjoyed alongside a crisp, cold glass of white wine in a less hectic environment, pop into The Sole Bay Fish Company. The fish comes in a beautifully golden batter, the chips are cooked in beef dripping, and there’s a cute courtyard to sit in when the weather is nice.
As well as fish and chips, they serve a selection of seafood platters including lobster, crab and oyster platters. Order alongside a bottle (or two) of wine and some freshly baked bread (served warm and with all the butter you could ask for) for ultimate lunch time indulgence.
Things to Do in Southwold: Take the Ferry to Walberswick
Whilst you’re down at Southwold Harbour, make sure to take the ferry across to Walberswick. For just £1 each way, you can hop onto a small rowing boat along with up to ten other people (including dogs if you’re lucky), and enjoy the short journey across to Walberswick.
Here you’ll find more pubs, another sandy beach, a small green and plenty of opportunities for crabbing – Walberswick was formerly the home of the British Crabbing Championship!
If the Walberswick ferry has given you a taste of being on the water, you can step it up a notch with Coastal Voyager. They offer a range of trips from the Sea Blast (an exhilarating high speed boat ride) to the more relaxing Blyth River Cruise or Seal and Wind Farm Trip.
Things to Do in Southwold: Climb Southwold Lighthouse
For the best views of Southwold, you can’t beat those from the top of Southwold Lighthouse. You have to join a tour to climb the lighthouse, but during the summer these run every half an hour. Make sure you check in advance if it’s not peak season – there’s a handy calendar on the website.
Things to Do in Southwold: Take a Brewery Tour
Adnams have been brewing beer in Southwold for over 670 years and are therefore a key part of the town’s history, so it would be extremely rude not to visit the brewery whilst you’re there! Tour the brewery whilst learning about the history and Adnams’ brewing process, before tasting a few beers at the end of the tour.
You can also book onto a distillery tour, or even treat yourself to a gin making day. Adnams Copper House gin is one of my all-time favourite gins, and their limited edition Orange and Sea Buckthorne gin is even better.
Once you’ve finished your tour/experience (or just anyway because its great) stock up on booze at their shop. They always have some tasters on, and great offers on wine (we always leave with a case). You can also buy online *here to save having to carry home your hoard. My tops picks:
- Red: This *Beaujolais is lovely and fresh tasting, and it’s really good chilled so great if you fancy a red but are feeling summery
- White: This *White Burgundy Mâcon-Chardonnay is unbelievably crisp and delicious!
- Rosé: This *Provence Rosé is one of the best Rosé’s I’ve ever tried, it’s so dry and actually drinks more like a white! Oh and it comes in as a magnum… even better!
Things to Do in Southwold: Have a Posh Picnic on South Green
A British holiday isn’t complete without a picnic! Half way down Southwold high street is the Black Olive Delicatessen, a place which I often feel was specifically designed with my particular picnic needs in mind.
Grab some artisan bread, charcuterie, local cheese, olives, Ginger Pig sausage rolls, pancetta & parmesan twists, and potato salad from Black Olive before setting up your picnic on South Green. There are plenty of places for a picnic in Southwold, by South Green is picnic perfect for a few reasons:
- It’s right next to an Adnams off-license, which sells wonderfully cold bottles of white wine, including the Burgundy that I’ve mentioned above
- The Red Lion pub is also next to you for perfect pints of Adnams (and toilets)
- You can enjoy a sea view without getting sand in your sandwiches
Final Tip: Breakfast on the Beach
When sadly leaving Southwold, we usually set off fairly early as it’s long drive back to Leeds. However, if the weather is nice I never leave without enjoying breakfast on the beach. Buy a bacon and sausage from Mills & Sons butchers on Southwold high street, walk a few meters down the road and enjoy it on the beach whilst looking out to sea. Obviously you don’t want a sandy sausage, so best enjoyed sat on the promenade with dangling legs!
The guys at Mills & Sons are seriously generous with their sandwich fillings (honestly there’s pretty much a whole pig worth of bacon and sausage in there) and they have some great condiments… my personal preference is the chilli jam.
So, are you sold on Southwold? For a classic British seaside break, you really can’t go wrong! If you’re looking for more UK travel inspiration, here are a few posts that you might enjoy:
- Things to Do in Helmsley, North Yorkshire
- A Night in Dalby Forest and Things to Do Nearby
- 67 things to do in Leeds city centre
- A Day Trip to Liverpool With National Express
- A slow weekend in Devon