20 Things To Do In Norwich

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Norwich is a beautiful and historical city and one of England’s oldest cities. Much of Norwich’s ancient architecture dates from Norman times, with its cathedral and castle both built in this style. The city has more than 1500 historical buildings, and its narrow cobbled streets are perfect to wander around.

Norwich was the first city in England to be declared a UNESCO City of Literature, a reflection and recognition of its 900-year literary history. Norwich has independent shops, exciting galleries, cosy pubs and great nightlife. It’s also minutes away from the sprawling Norfolk countryside, making it the ideal city to spend some time in nature.

If you are spending the night in Norwich, book a room at The Maids Head Hotel, or at least call in for a drink or dinner. This hotel is one of the oldest hotels in England and is rumoured to be where Elizabeth I stayed whenever she visited the city. Keen to go? Here are the best things to do in Norwich.

Norwich, England

Top Tour

The best way to explore this UNESCO City of Literature is on the City Sightseeing Norwich Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, which will get you to nine stops and pass by many others. Book a ticket on the bus here

20 Things To Do In Norwich

1- Admire The Detail In Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral
Visiting Norwich Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Norwich today.

Norwich Cathedral has more than 900 years of history within its Norman walls and is well worth a visit when in the city.

The cathedral is one of England’s best examples of Norman architecture and one of the country’s most complete Norman Cathedrals.

Combined with traditional Norman features are a range of Romanesque architectural touches that can be seen inside and out.

The Cloister is an extensive monastic vaulted walkway that connects the church to the library and refectory.

Its vaulted ceiling is magnificent and features many hidden details, including the “Green Man” decorative motif representing a face or a head surrounded by foliage or leaves.

It is associated with nature, fertility and the cycle of life.

There are various Green Man carvings throughout the building in the misericords (hinged seats in the choir stalls) and corbels (stone supports) exhibiting expressions that range from serene to grotesque.

Norwich Cathedral is at 65 The Close, Norwich, NR1 4DH.

Get a ticket on the City Sightseeing Norwich Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour to get to the cathedral and other places. 

2- Relax In Bishop’s House Gardens

norwich aerial view of cathedral, buildings and greens
Looking for things to do in Norwich? Check out our top 20 list.

Bishop’s House Gardens is hidden in the city centre and is one of Norwich’s best-kept secrets.

The gardens cover four acres of beautiful and historical landscaped gardens, woodland and herbaceous borders.

Enjoy the fragrant smells from the herb garden, meander through the jungle walk and marvel at the springtime wildflower labyrinth.

In 1840 a gardener from Bishop’s House Gardens took a sprig of Hebe from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet and planted it in the garden, with the unusual plant still thriving today.

After exploring the gardens and learning about new species of plants, call into the garden’s plant shop to choose something unique to plant at home.

Bishop’s House Gardens is at Bishop’s House, Norwich, NR3 1SB.

Download the Norwich City Scavenger Hunt Excursion by Operation City Quest for a fun way to explore Norwich. 

3- Wander Down Elm Hill

Elm Hill is one of Norwich’s most iconic streets for its layout and historical nature.

The street is a popular destination for photography, so arrive early to get the best shots of this ancient street at its quietest.

The street is the most complete medieval street in the city, with buildings dating to the 1510s.

The cobbled street is lined with thatched roofs and merchant houses now transformed into cosy cafes and independent shops.

Call into the Bear Shop for a cuddly souvenir at this specialist bear and collectible toy shop, or savour a drink or meal at The Britons Arms, the only building to survive a devastating fire in 1507 that destroyed most of the street.

4- Eat And Drink At The Assembly House

The Assembly House is the perfect destination for lunch, traditional afternoon tea or a luxurious private dining experience.

First opened in 1754, The Assembly House oozes luxury; from its glistening chandeliers and hardwood flooring to individually and colourfully designed rooms for private dining.

Their extensive lunch menu includes comfort food dishes such as roasted tomato and red pepper soup, which can be turned into a hearty meal with sides of chips and finger sandwiches.

Private dining menus are traditionally three-course and offer delicious dishes such as locally-smoked salmon mousse to start, rosemary-roasted chicken breast as a main, and desserts celebrating locally sourced fruits such as the spiced Norfolk apple sticky toffee pudding to complete your meal.

The Assembly House is at Theatre Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1RQ.

The Normans built Norwich Castle during the 11th century as a royal palace, however, it was never used as such.

The castle instead was used as a military fort and jail before being transformed into a museum and art gallery.

Inside the castle are various changing exhibitions focusing on history and art.

See the exhibition dedicated to the Gloucester, a royal ship from the 1680s that was shipwrecked off the Norfolk Coast.

This exhibition includes various items gathered from the wreckage, including pottery, musical instruments and personal items from the crew.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery is at Castle Street, Norwich, NR1 3JU.

6- Watch A Show At Norwich Puppet Theatre

For an unusual yet captivating thing to do in Norwich, watch a show at Norwich Puppet Theatre.

The theatre is inside one of Norwich’s medieval theatres, giving it a unique and atmospheric surrounding.

The theatre regularly hosts puppetry workshops for children and adults, craft classes, and puppet theatre performances.

Puppet adaptations of classics such as Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and traditional fairytales, including ‘The Princess and the Pea’ are currently running at the theatre.

Norwich Puppet Theatre is at St James Ct, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN.

7- Shop, Eat And Visit The Library At The Forum

Norwich Forum central lobby
Wandering around the Forum is one of the relaxing things to do in Norwich.

The Forum is one of the largest public venues in Norwich and is considered a key landmark in the city.

It opened in 2001 as an entertainment, arts venue, library and cultural hub.

This unique space hosts regular festivals, including the Norwich Science Festival and Norfolk Makers Festival and is a centre for many markets and pop-up fairs.

Inside The Forum are many units filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and the library.

The Norfolk and Norwich Millenium Library is a large public library and one of the most popular in the country, with dedicated services for local heritage.

The Forum is at Millenium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF.

8- Enjoy The Collections At Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

To spend time outdoors within moments of spectacular art spaces, look no further than the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

The centre has a vast 350-acre sculpture park featuring sculptures from creative greats Henry Moore, Antony Gormley and Elizabeth Frink.

From the sculpture park, wander down to the banks of the Broad and Yare river valley, or meander through the uniquely landscaped grounds designed by Norman Foster and Rick Mather.

Inside the centre are many exhibition spaces dedicated to a range of arts.

Take a guided tour of The Living Area, a collection from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, the centre’s founders, or visit one of the changing exhibitions, including Empowering Art, dedicated to encouraging creativity and activism in North American Indigenous peoples.

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts is at Norfolk Road, Norwich, NR4 7TJ.

9- Enjoy A Performance At Theatre Royal

Norwich’s Theatre Royal was first built during the early 1800s and underwent significant refurbishments to preserve its art-deco features with more modern twists at the hands of renowned architecture firm Tim Foster Architects.

The theatre is a fantastic creative venue and one of the oldest in England.

Theatre Royal hosts regular theatrical performances, including performances of West End shows, comedians and dance shows.

The theatre also has community at the heart of what they do, with activities and classes for children and a creative cafe for the over 65s.

Theatre Royal is at Theatre Street, Norwich, NR2 1RL.

10- Go On The Norwich Mystery Treasure Trail

colourful houses along a canal
A city with cute colourful houses and historic buildings, there are lots of interesting things to do in Norwich if you are into history.

When visiting Norwich, exploring on foot is an excellent way to explore the area, scope out the best places to eat and add to your destination ‘to-do’ list.

The treasure trail is available to join at several destinations across the city and a great way to learn about Norwich at your own pace and be in with the chance of winning a prize if you solve the mystery.

The tour covers approximately 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometres) as a loop and covers many of Norwich’s most historical sites.

Begin at St Andrew’s Hall, where your first clue will be revealed, before following your map and text message clues.

If you get stuck, to trek across the city trying to solve the mystery of a stolen statue from Norwich Cathedral.

This is a fun option to spend a few hours with family or friends, all while learning about the city.

Norwich Mystery Treasure Trail begins at St Andrew’s Hall, Princes Street, Norwich, NR3 1AU. Download the Norfolk Tour App, Hidden Gems Game and Big Britain Quiz (7-Day Pass) UK.

11- Visit Plantation Garden

Step back in time and explore the pristinely designed and restored Victorian gardens at Plantation Garden.

The garden is located inside a former chalk quarry and is Grade II listed.

Despite its tranquil nature, the garden is a mere 600 yards from the city centre, yet inside, it feels a world away.

Inside the gardens are gothic fountains, Italian terraces, perfectly manicured lawns, plenty of colourful flowerbeds and a beautiful Victorian greenhouse.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife amongst the heavily wooded areas, or spend your afternoon on a guided tour of the gardens taking in its unique and rare plants.

Plantation Garden is at 4 Earlham Road, Norwich, NR2 3DB.

12- Explore Whitlingham Country Park

Take a short drive or bus ride out of the city and spend the day surrounded by nature at Whitlingham Country Park, a 15.5-acre nature reserve.

The park has pleasant and shady woodland and plenty of wide open spaces, meadows and a waterside.

The park is a nature reserve dedicated to preserving the local wildlife found in Norfolk and along the banks of the River Yare.

Visitors may spy a wealth of birds, including herons, kingfishers and cormorants, or those heading out on a guided evening walk may see nocturnal creatures like bats and foxes.

Whitlingham Country Park is at Whittingham Lane, Norwich, NR14 8TR.

13- See The Aircraft At City of Norwich Aviation Museum

The City of Norwich Aviation Museum is the perfect destination for families and aviation enthusiasts visiting Norwich.

The museum has indoor and outdoor collections and features 30 aircraft, a dedicated exhibition space and a tea room.

Aircraft displayed at the museum include a Vulcan, Mystere and Harrier T.4N jets.

The museum’s indoor displays include aircraft and cockpits, cars, engines, models, maps and aviation equipment.

The museum hosts various aviation-themed events throughout the year, including a festival of 1940s aircraft and vehicles.

The City of Norwich Aviation Museum is at Old Norwich Road, Horsham St Faith, Norwich, NR10 3JF.

14- Admire The Architecture At Blickling Hall

The Famous Blickling Hall In England
Exploring Blickling Hall is one of the fun things to do in Norwich.

Blickling Hall is one of the best examples of Jacobean architecture in England.

This spectacular Tudor home was the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives, and served as a family home throughout its history.

Robert Lyminge built the hall in 1619 in red brick and modelled Jacobean features, including a tall clock tower, turrets at the corners of the building and large windows.

The Domesday Book mentions the home surrounded by ancient yew trees.

Visitors to this spectacular hall can explore many of its rooms, all displayed like it was when it was built.

Many impressive works of art hang throughout the hall, including a collection of family portraits and landscape paintings.

Outside, the grounds are equally impressive and feature ornately shaped hedges, pristine lawns and delicately coloured flowerbeds.

Since taking over, the National Trust maintains the house and has added a tea room, shop and a host of yearly events.

Blickling Hall is at Blickling, Norwich, NR11 6NF.

15- Investigate Dinosaur Adventure Park

Enjoy a prehistoric afternoon filled with fun and adventure at dinosaur adventure park ROARR.

ROARR is nestled inside 85 acres (34 ha) of park and woodland and has entertained locals and tourists since the 1800s.

Cornelius Weston-Smythe, a Norfolk explorer, began investigating a patch of land in rural Norfolk.

This led to him discovering many fossils and skeletal remains of the dinosaurs who once thrived in the area.

Weston-Smythe bought the area and set up the park to preserve the land and educate people about these majestic extinct creatures.

Since then, ROARR has aimed to entertain and educate visitors about the land once filled with long-lost plants and creatures with a dinosaur statue trail, themed snack bars, adventure play areas and a splash park.

Dinosaur Adventure Park is at Lenwade, Norwich NR9 5JE.

16- Shop At Norwich Market

Norwich Market, UK. Colorful Canopies
Shopping in Norwich Market is one of the fun things to do in Norwich.

Founded in the 11th century, Norwich Market is one of the oldest outdoor markets in England, with trading throughout the week.

There are 189 stalls selling food, drinks, crafts, plants, fabrics and other items. 

This vast market is perfect for searching for souvenirs, window shopping, or calling for a bite to eat at one of its 29 street food stalls.

Indulge in classic fish and chips at Lucy’s Chips, bite into a classic sausage sandwich smothered in homemade ketchup, or excite your tastebuds with juicy jerk chicken or Jamaican patties at Coral Bay.

Norwich Market is at 1 Market Place, Norwich, NR2 1ND.

17- Step Back Into The Past At Kings Street Quarter

Kings Street Quarter is a must-visit destination in Norwich to step back in time and experience Norwich’s rich history.

The streets are lined with historic houses, including the Music House, dating from the 12th Century and the Dragon Hall, a 14th-century merchant’s hall.

Both of those impressive timber structures can be explored on guided tours, which will open your eyes to the building’s history and its impact on its surroundings.

The street was also once lined with pubs, totalling 58 during its heyday.

Today only one of these original Saxon pubs remains, and it is still open for a cold pint in pleasant surroundings.

King Street Quarter is an area of Norwich City Centre.

The City Sightseeing Norwich Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour will get you to King Street. 

18- Go Winetasting At Chet Valley Vineyard

Chet Valley Vineyard is not far from the city is centre.

It’s a beautiful and sheltered family-run vineyard that prides itself in growing various grapes, including champagne varieties.

The wines produced by the vineyard have won many awards, and the vineyard itself has been named one of the best in the UK.

Enjoy the vineyard and its produce on a wine-tasting experience and tour, which takes in the vines and winemaking process before a range of four wines is sampled, with lunch as an optional extra.

Extend your stay at the vineyard by booking into The Vine House, the vineyard’s excellent on-site cottage, which is perfect for an overnight or longer getaway.

Chet Valley Vineyard is at Loddon Road, Norwich, NR15 1BT.

19- Explore Pull’s Ferry

Pull’s Ferry is another of Norwich’s beautiful historical buildings worth visiting.

Pull’s Ferry is a medieval watergate running alongside the river and is instantly recognisable thanks to its wide stone archway and tower.

John Pull lived in the house and served as ferryman and publican of the attached inn.

Following 45 years of service, the home was named after him.

Many visitors to Norwich use Pull’s Ferry as a starting point for exploring the city on foot, as it is a short walk from the railway station and is close to other significant sites in Norwich, including the Cathedral and Mousehold Heath.

Pulls Ferry is at 29 Ferry Lane, Norwich, NR1 4DZ.

20- Discover The Secrets Of Cow Tower

The Medieval Cow Tower At Norwich
Learning about Cow Tower is one of the best things to do in Norwich to brush up on Medieval history.

Owned and cared for by English Heritage, Cow Tower is another of Norwich’s important historical buildings and one certainly worth a visit.

The tower was built in the late 1300s to serve as an artillery blockhouse in Norwich’s wider city defence structures.

The tower gets its unusual name due to its location; a meadow near a bend in the River Wensum known as Cowholme.

While the interior of the tower is not accessible, the exterior of the tower is great to see, and it is surrounded by green parkland that is perfect for a stroll and a picnic.

Cow Tower is at Cotman Fields, Norwich, NR1 4AA. 

The City Sightseeing Norwich Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour stops at Cow Tower.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.