If you are traveling in Suffolk County of England in East Anglia, I recommend you visit these three towns: Snape, Aldeburgh, and Thorpeness.
On our visit, we were pet-sitting in Ipswich, the county seat (like the capital city) in Suffolk County. Looking for places to spend the day sightseeing, these three towns turned out to be excellent options.
With its long stretch of coastline and sandy beaches, you will find plenty of fun summer activities. Although much of the county is low-lying terrain, some areas can be hilly.
Here are some of my favorite villages to visit in Suffolk County:
This small village on the Alde River is known for an ancient, buried ship and other artifacts discovered here dating back to Anglo-Saxon times. This town has been inhabited for more than 2,000 years. Later, the Romans established a large settlement here, centered on salt production.
During the summer, the Snape Maltings host various musical artists called the Aldeburgh Festival. While visiting the Snape Malting, explore the art galleries and shops. You will also find different eateries where you could enjoy delicious wood-fired pizza.
Benjamin Britten, one of history’s most celebrated British composers, calls Snape Malting his home. He brought the music world to this part of Suffolk County, making it a pilgrimage destination for those who love music.
The buildings were initially used for the brewing of local beer. However, centuries before the Maltings were built, the Saxons occupied Snape. Here, they discovered a 17-meter-long Saxon ship burial from 1862 filled with spearheads, a cloak, fragments of jasper, and other significant artifacts.
On the first Saturday of the month, Snape Maltings Farmers Market is held near the concert hall, offering the finest produce in Suffolk. Adjacent to the Concert Hall, on the Henry Moore lawn, you can visit with artisan makers and producers around the area. The event is free to enter.
If you want to explore more beautiful nature and rich flora while birdwatching, jump on a river trip. If you go to Salt Malting Quay, you can cruise down the river for 45 minutes which winds through one of the most stunning areas of Suffolk.
- Hours: Check with the website for hours
- Admission: Adults £12.00
Snape is a lovely place to spend a day shopping, river exploring, or an afternoon of great music.
Aldeburgh is a quaint seaside town in Suffolk. Here you will find the perfect place for a beach vacation full of activities.
Aldeburgh has been a seaside escape since the Victorian area and is known for the famous composer Benjamin Britten, who attracted people from around the world to visit here.
This simple little town doesn’t have resorts, piers, or arcades but miles of white sandy beaches with colorful cottages and charming village streets to wander about for shopping.
Here are some of the must-see and do in Aldeburgh:
Visit Aldeburgh beach. It is one of the best beaches in Suffolk and among the best in the UK. The backdrop to the beach is colorful Victorian houses that align with the shore.
This beautiful city was once a thriving fishing community. Although the fishing industry has long gone, it is still a working beach with six boats going out daily for their fresh catch.
The Red House, once the home of Benjamin Britten, is now home to the Britten Pears Foundation. The home and gardens are well preserved to his legacy and give you an insight into his life.
The Martello Tower lies along the narrow stretch of beach backed by the Alde River, which looks like a giant sandcastle.
The Tower was built in the early 19th century and is one of several buildings along the east coast of England used to help defend against the attack of Napoleon.
Scallop on Aldeburgh Beach
If you want an Instagram shot, visit the Scallop on the beach. It is 4 meters high steel sculpture by Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling.
Aldeburgh Museum Moot Hall
As you arrive at the beachfront from the city center, you will see an old-looking building called Moot Hall. Inside Moot Hall is the Aldeburgh Museum. Moot Hall was built in the 16th century, and the museum showcases the town’s history since the Anglo-Saxons.
- Hours: Closed in January: February and March – Weekends only 13:00 – 16:00: April- October – Every day from 13:00 – 16:00
- Admission: Adults £3.50
St Peter and St Paul Church
The stunning St. Peter and St. Paul Church face out to the sea with magnificent stained glass in memory of Benjamin Britten.
The church was mentioned in Domesday Book, but the current building is primarily an early 16th-century building with an earlier 14th-century tower. Inside the church is a written font dating back to 1320, and carved panels have been defaced.
The church holds a copy of the original King James I “Black Letter Bible” and several interesting memorial brasses, a well-preserved oak parish chest, a church key dated prior to 1638, and a beautifully carved wineglass pulpit.
Another interesting fact is the first woman doctor and first female mayor of Britain, Elizabeth Garret Anderson, worshipped in this parish.
Stroll Beachfront Houses
We enjoyed walking the streets of Aldeburgh and admiring the colorful houses. The cottages face the sea along the beachfront road or in neighborhoods nearby.
If you are in town for a couple of days, visit one of the oldest cinemas in the UK, Aldeburgh Cinema which was built in 1919. The art deco interior makes you feel like you have gone back in time. Check out the website for what is showing during your visit.
The shops in Aldeburgh are made up of artisan bakeries, ice cream parlors, and delicatessens. Even the clothing stores blend in well with the likes of Joules and Jack Wills as they are keeping with the traditional storefront.
Even if you do not want to purchase anything, walk about the stores and do a little window shopping!
As we were visiting Aldeburgh, we decided to drive along the coastline to the neighboring village of Thorpeness. Thorpeness has a lovely beachfront for those wanting to enjoy a swim or soak up the sun. This holiday village is adorable with wooden holiday homes.
Originally a small fishing hamlet, it was developed into a holiday destination over 100 years ago.
In 1920, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, a Scottish barrister whose father had made a fortune building railways around the world, increased the family’s local estates to cover the entire area of Thorpeness. Ogilvie developed Thorpeness into an elite private fantasy holiday village, to which he invited his friends during the summer months.
When you visit Thorpeness, you do feel the holiday vibes!
Things to do in Thorpeness:
Check Thorpeness boating lake on a sunny day and take a boat out on Thorpeness Meare, visiting Peter Pan themed islands as you go.
While boating, you can glimpse the famous House in the Clouds, one of the most unique accommodations to stay in Thorpeness.
The Meare is one of the main attractions in Thorpeness, which opened in 1913, covers over 60 acres of land and over 40 acres of water, and is no more than three feet deep.
The Meare is also home to various wildlife – ducks, swans, herons, grebes, geese, coots, Moore hens, kingfishers, and frogs.
- Hours: 8:30 – 17:30 (closed in the winter months)
The Thorpeness Windmill was built in 1803 at Aldringham and moved to Thorpeness in 1923. It was initially built as a corn mill and later converted into a water-pumping mill. The windmill was once used to supply water to the House in the Clouds, which stands across the street.
The House in the Clouds
High in the sky above Thorpeness is a unique holiday accommodation housed on top of the former water tower, The House in the Clouds.
Many felt the water tower was considered an eyesore, so Mrs. Malcolm Mason, a children’s book author, decided to make the fairy tale structure into an art piece dubbed the House in the Clouds.
Today it is a fully operational holiday home peeping over the horizon at 70 feet high. The spacious accommodations offer 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a dining room and a room at the top, giving magnificent views of Suffolk.
You cannot access the property, but a drive-by is welcome.
Thorpeness Golf Club
The Thorpeness Golf Club is a classic 18-hole, par 70 golf course just a stone’s throw away from the beach.
For children, there is also a 9-hole miniature golf course situated on the banks of the Meare.
If you want to spend your day at the golf course, this is the place!
Thorpeness offers outdoor activities, golfing, an antique emporium, pubs, and village boutique shops. The town is full of follies and unusual architecture, arms houses, and other beautiful arts & crafts period properties.
Traveling to Suffolk County is worth the visit. Make sure to add these small towns to your itinerary, as you won’t be disappointed.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.