Have you heard of Norwich? I'm guessing if you live outside the UK then the answer's "no" and I want to know why! Norwich has so much to offer as a holiday destination, so I'm going to use this article to try to convince you why you should consider a trip here.
We're close to London
A train from Norwich to London Liverpool Street takes only 1.5 hours so this is perfect for a day trip if you are staying in London and want to see another English city. The station is very near the city centre.
Norwich has two shopping malls - the Castle Mall and the newer Chapelfield Mall. These have a very side selection of shops, with Chapelfield especially good for clothing, boasting Superdry, Hollister and H&M. Norwich is also famous for its market. The city has had a market since medieval times and, although it has changed, it is still an integral part of the community. As well as this, the Norwich Lanes have several independent boutiques and little cafes so are perfect for somewhere to explore and find something unique.
A great symbol of Norwich is the Norman castle. It stands on a hill above the city and looks amazing when lit up at night. Inside the castle is a museum, with exhibitions on Norfolk in the past and present, as well as several art galleries displaying work by famous Norfolk artists and a rather impressive collection of teapots. Children also love the gallery of stuffed animals and ancient Egyptian collection.
Walking around the city you can see several Medieval buildings and Elm Hill has been used for many films, including the recent Stardust. Many buildings are open to visit, including Dragon Hall and Stranger's Hall.
If you're interested in the military, visit the Regimental Museum. Right in the heart of the city centre, it's a really interesting way to spend an afternoon.
Norwich is also famous for its cathedral. A former Benedictine Monastery, the cloisters remain and you can walk around the cathedral as you please. Make sure you take a look at the ceiling, which is covered in small pieces of artwork called bosses, Each tells its own story.
The blue badge guides offer walks around the city centre on various themes, changing throughout the year. This means you get to see the sights but also get a unique perspective from an experienced guide, many of whom have their own memories and stories of how the city has changed.
If you want something a bit different, try a ghost walk. These are held in the evenings and follow a route taking in many of the city's historical areas, telling you stories of the spirits said to haunt them. I'll warn you to expect a few surprises along the way!
Norwich is very close to the famous Norfolk Broads. These waterways are man-made and the remains of the peat industry. You can take a boat trip or even hire your own boat and be captain for the day! If you prefer to stay on dry land, there are many places to take a walk or bike ride.
We're also close to the coast. Whether you want a quiet beach where you can explore rock pools (West Runton, Wells-next-the-Sea) or a traditional British seafront with a fun fair and penny arcades (Great Yarmouth) there's something for everyone. Yarmouth also has its own rich history with several museums, notably the Time and Tide Museum and Lord Nelson Museum.
So how do I get there?
Norwich can be reached by train from London Liverpool Street, with trains run by National Express East Anglia and running approximately every half hour. I really recommend you book as far in advance as possible as it's so much more expensive to book on the day. Norwich also has its own airport, with regular flights by the KLM city hopper service to Amsterdam Schipol, from which you can fly to pretty much any other European hub airport. Be aware the airport is outside the city centre (to the North) so you will need to arrange some sort of transport to get you to your hotel. If you are arriving by ferry, Norwich is about 4 hours by car from Dover and 1.5 hours from Harwich.
I hope I've convinced you that Norwich is an up-and-coming holiday destination. It's got a perfect mix of bustling city life, arts, history and heritage.