The best National Trust places to visit in the East of England

Days out, Destinations

Posted by Ruth King on 14th June 2022

National Trust East of England

From historic stately homes straight out of a period film to huge expanses of wild space under giant skies, the National Trust has plenty of places to explore in the East of England.

In fact, there are over 40 places to discover – whether you choose The Fens of Cambridgeshire or the ancient coast of Suffolk, the golden sands of North Norfolk or Constable Country on the Essex border, the National Trust in East Anglia has something to suit every taste.

We’ve picked out some of our favourite National Trust places in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to give you some inspiration for days out on your next East of England holiday – plus a few recommendations of some great self-catering holiday cottages nearby. For more information on other stunning National Trust properties around the UK, why not read our useful blog? 

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The best family-friendly National Trust places to visit in the East of England

Elizabethan House Museum

Elizabethan House Museum, Norfolk

The fascinating Elizabethan House Museum, close to Great Yarmouth’s historic quayside, is a treasure trove of Tudor history which is sure to delight visitors of all ages. The former merchant’s building dates back to the 16th-century and is now full of interactive exhibitions where you can learn about the lives of the people who lived here right up until the Victorian era.

Elizabethan House Museum

Inside, you’ll find antiques and furniture from the 1500s plus a full programme of events running throughout the year. Famous for its connections with Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians, you can stand inside the room where it’s alleged that the fate of Charles I was decided. And for kids, there are plenty of hands-on activities including toys from the past and costumes from the period. We think the Elizabethan House Museum is one of the most fascinating National Trust properties in East Anglia.

  • Don’t miss: Dress up in the Tudor-themed costumes for a truly interactive experience!
  • Best conditions: A great indoor activity for rainy days
  • Facilities: Pay and display parking behind the museum or in the town centre. Pushchairs welcome. Level entrance but stairs to other floors; virtual tour available.
  • Stay nearby: Tidal Sands | sleeps 6

Photo credits: @robynsbestfriend (top) and @ffrankos (bottom)


Blickling Hall, Norfolk

With a Jacobean mansion, a formal garden and a 4,600-acre estate all waiting to be explored, Blickling Hall offers a day out the whole family will enjoy. Inside, Blickling Hall has a fascinating variety of things to discover, brought to life through living history performances.

Blickling Estate

Outside, you can explore the formal garden on a guided walk or explore under your own steam on foot or by bike. Kids will love the wide programme of events including fun activities at Easter and open-air performances in the summer. 

  • Don’t miss: Visit the Great Wood in spring for a bluebell display that will take your breath away
  • Best conditions: Come rain or shine, this is a great place to visit
  • Facilities: Parking close by, three cafes, second-hand bookshop, stamp shop, plant shop, gallery, permit fishing, cycle hire. Dogs welcome in the park and outside the Farmyard Café.
  • Stay nearby: Half Moon Inn | sleeps 6

Photo credit: @norfolkhawk (bottom)


Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

Situated close to the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border, Oxburgh Hall has stood for 500 years and today offers a brilliant day out for everyone. Still occupied by the Bedingfeld family, you can learn about their fascinating story of endurance over the centuries. Join an introductory talk to learn more.

Oxburgh Hall

However, it’s the outside that will really delight kids, where they can build dens in the woods, spot otters along the River Gadder, follow the children’s trail, play garden games on the terrace and take part in a full programme of activities throughout the year. There are also acres of woodland, streams and parkland to roam, alongside a very impressive moat! Oxburgh Hall is one of the finest stately homes that is open to the public owned by the National Trust in the East of England.

  • Don’t miss: See if you can find the priest hole in the main house
  • Best conditions: Great in all weathers
  • Facilities: On-site parking, tearoom, shop, second-hand bookshop, plants for sale. Baby-changing facilities available and slings for loan. Dogs welcome on leads in the garden, estate, cafe and shop.
  • Stay nearby: Thorpland House | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

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Photo credits: @noratheshihpoo


The best dog-friendly National Trust places to visit in the East of England


Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

One of the most unique National Trust places in the UK, let alone Suffolk, Sutton Hoo is the burial site of an Anglo-Saxon king’s ship and all his treasures. It lay undiscovered until 1939 when it was unearthed by archaeologists. Today, you can see exhibitions on the lives of Anglo-Saxons in Suffolk and see some original items.

Sutton Hoo

Dogs will go mutts for the variety of walks on the atmospheric estate, with two new routes to discover. They are also welcome on leads in the reception, shop and café. Kids are well catered for too, with children’s trails, a play area and Easter egg hunts in spring too. Sutton Hoo is one of the most popular and best known National Trust properties in the East of England.

  • Don’t miss: Climb the 17-metre viewing tower for incredible views over the River Deben
  • Best conditions: Dry days are best for visiting
  • Facilities: Parking, café, gift shop, cycle racks and free pannier lockers, second-hand bookshop. Baby changing and feeding facilities. Mobility parking, accessible ground floor, accessible toilets. PMVs available to hire, booking essential.
  • Stay nearby: Friston’s Holly Cottage | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Photo credits: @thespencerstraveltheworld (bottom)



Dunwich Heath

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

A peaceful, natural habitat on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Beach is a great place to visit with your dog. Explore a wide range of different habitats together on waymarked walks, including through heather-speckled heath, open grassland, woodland and shingle beach. You could even walk to see what’s left of the nearby village of Dunwich – a once thriving Anglo-Saxon town which is slowly succumbing to the sea.

Dunwich

You can spot an abundance of wildlife here, including many rare birds like warblers and nightjars alongside herds of red deer. And kids will love this place too and can take part in trails, bug-hunting, den-building and geocaching.

  • Don’t miss: Visit in the summer for a spectacular walk amongst the heather in full bloom
  • Best conditions: Dry, sunny days are best for making the most of this spectacular landscape
  • Facilities: Parking, clifftop tearoom, gift shop.
  • Stay nearby: Friston's Forge Cottage | sleeps 3 + 1 dog

Photo credits: @foxjenart (top) and @busterj376 (bottom)



Felbrigg Estate

Felbrigg Estate, Norfolk

While dogs aren’t allowed in the 400-year-old Felbrigg Hall and Estate, they are free to roam the 520 acres of woodland, parkland and lakeside paths under the giant Norfolk sky, making this a brilliant National Trust place to visit with your dog.

Felbrigg Estate

There are walks to suit all levels of activity. For example, the Norfolk Mountain walk creates an incline to the notoriously flat landscape amounting to 1140ft – if you add all the hills up along the way! Or take a gentle stroll around the lake to spot an array of wildlife in this tranquil setting.

  • Don’t miss: Embark on the church and ice house walk to take in the estate’s historic sites.
  • Best conditions: If visiting with your dog, pick a dry day as the woods get a bit muddy!
  • Facilities: Parking with electric vehicle charging point, café and refreshment kiosk, shop and second-hand bookshop. Baby changing facilities and buggy-friendly surfaces. Accessible toilet.
  • Stay nearby: Northrepps Manor Farm The Stable | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Photo credits: @_davidbyrne (top) and @mwrighton (bottom)

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The best National Trust nature reserves in the East of England

Blakeney Point

Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Surrounded by the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blakeney Nature Reserve is one of the most spectacular coastal settings you could hope to visit. If you’re a nature lover, this should be top of your list as it’s a haven for wildlife including terns and seals.

Blakeney Point

The Norfolk Coast Path runs right along the nature reserve and is the best place for epic, windswept walks taking in the beautiful coastal views. Plus, there are plenty of lovely pubs locally where you can refuel after walks along the 4-mile-long shingle spit – we’d recommend the gastropub on Blakeney high street.

  • Don’t miss: The famous Blakeney seals – take a boat trip from the harbour to see them for yourself
  • Best conditions: A dry day is perfect for a visit – particularly when it’s clear to make the most of the giant Norfolk skies
  • Facilities: Parking at Morston Quay, Blakeney Quay and Green Way Stiffkey Saltmarshes. Toilets at Morston Quay and Blakeney Quay. Snacks and drinks to take away from Morston Quay.
  • Stay nearby: Honkers | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Orford Ness

Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk

Both a tranquil nature reserve and a former military testing area, Orford Ness National Nature Reserve has to be experienced to be understood. A visit to this remote shingle spit is made even more special by the fact it can only be accessed by boat – a limited number of tickets are available each day so make sure you arrive early or you’ll miss out. 

Orford Ness

Once on the nature reserve, you can follow trails through marshland and shingle beaches along the coast, explore sites where weapons, including atomic bombs, were once tested and also spy some of the country’s rarest wildlife – it truly is a place like no other.

  • Don’t miss: Take a trip to one of the local smokehouses for a traditional coastal treat.
  • Best conditions: Dry and still, there aren't too many places to shelter or get warm.
  • Facilities: Parking at Riverside car park (not National Trust) and charge for ferry. Toilets opposite the Rangers’ office. Shops, cafes and pubs in Orford, but nothing on the island so bring water and a picnic. Only assistance dogs welcome.
  • Stay nearby: Daisy’s By The Sea | sleeps 2

Photo credits: @orfordnessnt (bottom)


Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire

Explore the unique fenland landscape at the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve – Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve. The huge expanse of sedge, reedbeds and wetland is home to over 9,000 species, including birds, dragonflies and plants. It’s a tranquil haven where you can roam the boardwalk through meadows and reedbeds and spot wildlife below the water and high in the sky.

Wicken Fen

If you want to get even close to nature, seek out one of the viewing platforms or bird hides where you can admire the wildlife in its natural habitat – a great activity for both adults and kids! And why not finish off a great day out in the great outdoors with a picnic by the waterside?

  • Don’t miss: Spot Highland cattle and Konik ponies – the newest additions to the fen
  • Best conditions: Best visited on a dry day
  • Facilities: Parking, visitor centre, café, picnic areas, bike hire, seasonal boat trips. Baby-changing facilities. Mobility car park, adapted toilets, level route from car park to Burwell Lode. Dogs welcome on leads.
  • Stay nearby: Wheelwrights | sleeps 4

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Photo credits: @space_1999 (bottom)


Map of National Trust properties in the East of England

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Stay with us in the East of England

If you’re feeling inspired to explore the history and heritage of the East of England, take a look at our full collection of cottages. From former fishermen’s houses close to the coast to grand country homes surrounded by sweeping East Anglian fields, we have some of the best self-catering cottages in the area. Or take a look at our full guide to National Trust places in the UK and celebrate the charity’s 125th birthday.

All East of England cottages

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.