10 of the best places to stay in Suffolk

Days out, Activity

Posted by Kate A on 7th December 2020

Lavenham in SuffolkExplore the beautiful village of Lavenham during a break in Suffolk


A beautiful patchwork of golden beaches, sparkling rivers and colourful meadows, Suffolk is a county bursting with natural beauty. From the verdant countryside of Constable Country to the shingle shores of its coastline, there is a wonderful scattering of places to stay in Suffolk unlike anywhere else in the UK.

Discover historic wool towns untouched by time, traditional seaside villages serving the freshest seafood, and hidden hamlets on the fringes of nature reserves. With so many places to stay in Suffolk by the sea and in the countryside, we have picked out a few of the best which offer lots to do during your break.

Or, if you would rather jump right into browsing exciting staycations, take a look through our cosy holiday cottages in Suffolk by clicking the button below.

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Framlingham Castle

Framlingham: best for walking

One of the most charming Suffolk market towns is Framlingham, nestled in the heart of the countryside. This historic place to stay is famous for its olde-worlde beauty and is dominated by the imposing 12th-century Framlingham Castle, fondly known as the 'Castle On The Hill' thanks to local singer Ed Sheeran. Surrounding this magnificent fortress is The Mere, a 30-acre lake and natural haven for wildlife in the care of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust – here you can wander amongst nearly 300 species of plants and 80 species of birds.

Framlingham has been a market town since 1285, and still holds a twice-weekly market on Tuesdays and Saturdays where you can pick up delicious local produce together with trinkets and collectables. There are excellent shops, pubs, and restaurants too and surrounding the town are an abundance of walking trails when you need to burn off those calories, through some of the most picturesque countryside in East Suffolk. A must is the 11-mile Brownsord Way circular walk which boasts panoramic views of the town.

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Helmingham Hall Gardens

Stowmarket: best for history buffs

Another of our favourite Suffolk towns is Stowmarket which sits along the River Gipping. This bustling town is home to a vast range of shops, delightful tearooms and welcoming restaurants, as well as a market on Thursdays and Saturdays. Centred around the Church of St Peter and St Mary, a building classified as being of ‘exceptional interest’ by the Department of National Heritage (one of 132 in the town), this is one of the best places to stay in Suffolk if you appreciate history and architecture.

Some of the most popular historic attractions to visit are Helmingham Hall Gardens, Haughley Park, and the Museum of East Anglian Life where you can uncover the history and natural world of East Anglia, learn about fascinating East Anglian crafts and traditional Gypsy culture, and check out some powerful steam engines. The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts is another highlight of the town, a creative arts hub founded in honour of the ground-breaking DJ who lived in the area for many years.

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Woodbridge: best for families

If you’re planning a family holiday and wondering where to stay in Suffolk, then the riverside town of Woodbridge is a great choice. Enjoying a serene spot on the River Deben, there is an enticing array of walks and views to appreciate – many love to enjoy coffee and cake on the Quayside before strolling along the water’s edge to the iconic working Tide Mill which houses a ‘living museum’ and is thought to be one of the earliest examples of a tide mill in the UK. As well as walks, there are also lots of opportunities for fun on the water, from relaxing cruises to fun-filled rafting, kayaking and canoeing.

Across the river is National Trust’s Sutton Hoo, home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. Here you can walk around ancient burial mounds and discover the incredible story of the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon warrior king. Kids are sure to be wowed by the exhibition of his possessions, including gold and bronze treasure.

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Lowestoft: best for groups of friends

A traditional British seaside resort with not one, but two piers, Lowestoft is one of the top Suffolk coastal towns. Swathes of golden sands and an abundance of attractions make this a great spot for group getaways – its claim to fame is that it is the most easterly town in Britain and therefore the first place in the country to glimpse the sunrise. Lowestoft Beach, lined with its brightly painted beach huts, is a favourite amongst families and is said to have been the inspiration for composer Benjamin Britten's first masterpiece. Spend sunny days building sandcastles, eating fish and chips on the promenade, or enjoying a picnic in the Victorian seafront gardens.

At the Suffolk-Norfolk border, the town is right on the Broads National Park and there are lots of boat trips and water sports available at Oulton Broad which lies at the gateway to the national park. More fun-filled attractions on offer include the Lowestoft Maritime Museum, Somerleyton Hall and Gardens, Pleasurewood Hills, Africa Alive! and the Marina Theatre which is home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. And if you want to get a sense of just how far east you are, take a trip out to the most easterly place in Britain, Ness Point, which has the most easterly lighthouse in Britain, Lowestoft Lighthouse.

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Felixstowe: best for couples

Experience the glorious Suffolk seaside with a stay in Felixstowe. This vibrant Edwardian seaside town is nestled between the rivers Orwell and Deben and promises lots of interesting things to do. Stroll along the promenade and admire the colourful Edwardian gardens, enjoy a spot of shopping in the speciality boutiques and independent shops of the bustling town centre, and dine at one of the many welcoming restaurants.

There are 4 miles of lovely beaches to explore here as well as a great selection of attractions to suit all interests. Head to the Landguard Peninsula to uncover a wealth of history at its 18th-century fort, one of England's best-preserved coastal defences, browse the fascinating collections of the Felixstowe Museum, and bring your binoculars to the Landguard Nature Reserve where you can spot a variety of birds as well as watch the giant ships arriving and departing at Britain's busiest freight port.

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Orford: best for nature

Arguably one of the most beautiful Suffolk villages on the coast, Orford has something to offer everyone, from walkers, sailors and cyclists to those interested in wildlife, history and food. It lies within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the River Alde. Soaring over this sleepy village are the Grade I-listed Parish Church of St Bartholomew, and the majestic fortress of Orford Castle which are both wonderfully preserved and stunning sights to behold.

Nature lovers can hop aboard a boat trip from Orford Quay to Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, a 10-mile shingle spit (the longest in Europe) owned by the National Trust. Once the site of a top-secret military research centre, you can explore this eerily beautiful landscape and marvel at the abundance of wildlife, or catch a boat to Havergate Island, an RSPB nature reserve which is home to large numbers of birds throughout the year.

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EyeEye credit: Instagram @newts_shoots_photography 

Eye: best for photographers

It might be one of the smallest towns in the county, but Eye is a superb choice for those looking for nice places to stay in Suffolk. Dominated by elegant Victorian architecture and ancient buildings, the town is a delight to visit, especially if you enjoy history. Eye even has its own Italianate Town Hall which was built in 1857 and features a clock tower once used for locking up local criminals! Its curious name derives from the Anglo-Saxon term for ‘island’, as it was formerly surrounded by the waters of the River Dove and its tributaries.

To appreciate the town’s most beautiful sights, follow the town trail where you will discover the 11th-century ruins of Eye Castle, the 14th-century church of St Peter and St Paul – thought by many to be one of the finest churches in Suffolk - and the 19th-century Red House. Be sure to catch the town’s weekly country market too where local goodies are available, from delectable cakes to unique crafts.


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Ipswich: best for arts and crafts

With its eclectic art scene, Ipswich is one of the best towns in Suffolk to visit if you enjoy galleries, theatres and festivals. Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich Museum, Ipswich Art Gallery, and the Ipswich Regent theatre are just a small selection of the places where you can enjoy some local culture. And if you time your trip just right you can catch one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year, such as the Ipswich Arts Festival, Ipswich Jazz Festival and the Ipswich Maritime Festival.

When you’ve had your fill of exciting local attractions, the Ipswich Waterfront is the place to be with its array of shops, bars and restaurants. Find yourself a cosy spot in a chic bistro and spend the afternoon watching white-sailed yachts gliding in and out of the marina. There’s often live music here during the evenings too.

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Lavenham: best for taking a step back in time

With its Tudor houses, crooked half-timbered cottages and 15th-century wool church, it’s easy to see why Lavenham is one of the prettiest Suffolk villages. Considered to be Britain’s best-preserved medieval village and one of Suffolk’s most important wool towns, Lavenham is simply bursting with a rich history to discover. Over 300 buildings are listed as being of architectural and historic interest (many of which are protected by English Heritage), including The Guildhall, De Vere House, the stately church of St Peter and St Paul, and Little Hall which is home to the Gayer-Anderson collection of fascinating pictures and artefacts, to name but a few.

Thanks to the famous Lavenham Blue broadcloth, this was one of the richest towns in Tudor England at the heart of the booming wool trade. Wander its narrow, cobbled streets to take in its magnificent buildings and get a sense of what life used to be like - many of the properties now house galleries, independent shops, antique emporiums and tearooms. A legacy of the town’s wool trade is the number of unique craft shops specialising in handmade knitted clothes.

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Debenham: best for peace and quiet

A haven of peace and tranquillity in the very heart of the county, Debenham is one of the best villages in Suffolk to stay in if you’re looking for a quiet break in the countryside. This traditional, well-kept village’s name is derived from Old English and means ‘the village in a deep valley’. The River Deben, which gently meanders through the Suffolk countryside rises at Debenham, making this an idyllic place for a riverside ramble.

Within the village there is a selection of shops, pubs and cafes housed in pastel-painted cottages, giving Debenham a picture-postcard charm. Make the most of harmonious village life, soaking up the beauty of the surrounding countryside. With the coast just a short distance away too, this is an unrivalled spot for a relaxing holiday in Suffolk.

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The best places to stay in Suffolk on a map

Need more inspiration?

We know Suffolk inside out and we've got the best advice on where to go and what to do, whether you're a family (with or without a canine companion), a group of friends or a couple seeking a romantic escape. Check out these guides for even more Suffolk holiday ideas:

A holiday in one of our self-catering cottages is a perfect way to enjoy the prettiest towns in Suffolk. Find a place to stay from our collection of Suffolk cottages by clicking the button below.

Retreat to Suffolk

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.