Norwich is one of the best-preserved cities in Britain. Being one of the five largest cities in Norman England, Norwich used to be a vast hinterland of East Anglian cloth producers. Before the Industrial Revolution Norwich was the second-richest city in the country after London. The famous mustard company, Colman’s originates in Norwich.
To explore everything this city has to offer at a relaxed pace it’s best to go there for a weekend, but you can see most of the main attractions in just a day trip. I spent 4 or 5 hours there which was enough to cover the main sites. When I got to the modern part of the city I quickly realized I could have spent more time there than I had left.
Located just about 100 miles away from London, you can get there in 2 hours from London Liverpool by a train departing every half an hour. A return trip will cost you about £24 if you book in advance on Nationalrail.co.uk.
If you are a frequent train traveler I highly recommend getting a National Railcard. You pay £30 a year and save about ⅓ off the ticket price. Check out the details here.
Traveling by bus will be a bit slower and more expensive – 3 hours journey for approximately £30.
When you arrive at the train station, there is a 15-20 min walk to either the old and historic part of the city or the modern part. You can start by exploring the oldest part and then walk toward the newest.
Despite what it may sound like, the name Tombland has nothing to do with tombs but is an old Scandinavian word meaning open space. Space here was used as the site of the Anglo-Saxon market place and as the administrative centre before the Normans arrived and changed this area of Norwich.
Behind this cute bookshop, you can find a secret passage – Tombland Alley. This pedestrian footpath links Tombland and Princes Street, and for most of its length follows the line of a Roman road which ran east to west across here and probably crossed another running north to south close by, several centuries before the area was first settled by the Saxons.
2. Norwich Cathedral
This impressive building was founded in the 11th century and its thin spire is the second tallest in England after Salisbury. Two beautiful gates are leading into the cathedral grounds, both on Tombland. The territory around the cathedral is worth exploring especially if you like taking photos of cute houses and flowers 🙂
3. Elm Hill
Elm Hill is a historic cobbled lane with many buildings dating back to the Tudor period. It is a famous Norwich landmark and features the Briton’s Arms coffee house, The Stranger’s Club, The Tea House (in Wrights Court) and the Dormouse Bookshop.
The Bear Shop, how cute is that! They have one of the largest selections of Teddy Bears anywhere in Britain!
At the bottom of Elm Hill, you will find the river Wensum that goes through the city. If you have time, go for a walk there. Actually, you can get back to the train station if you walk alongside Wensum. And there is one picturesque gatehouse on the way!
5. Market Place
The city’s Market Place is the site of one of the country’s largest open-air markets, with stalls selling everything from bargain clothes to plants (of course I couldn’t leave the market without a new plant… What can I do if prices were so much lower than in London!). Four distinctive buildings oversee the market: the fifteenth-century Guildhall, the City Hall, the Forum and the finest of all four – St Peter Mancroft, which is a church.
6. The Norwich Lanes
The Norwich Lanes are a series of alleyways, courtyards and open spaces set just around the corner from the Market Place. Mainly pedestrianized, the Lanes are enjoyable to explore with its independent shops, coffee places, and restaurants.
7. Royal Arcade
The Royal Arcade is one of the most beautiful covered shopping streets in the country. It was built on the site of an old coaching inn and was unveiled on the 25th of May 1899. Arcade shopping was very much in vogue and brought the fashionable, exotic and
continental architecture of Art Nouveau for the first time.
8. Pretty Houses
There are some iconic and Instagramable gems in Norwich, and one of them is this pretty Georgian townhouse (corner of Pottergate street and Cow Hill). As of February 2018, it was on the market for £900.000. Fancy moving in?
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