Staycation: mini-guide to a green weekend in Norwich, Norfolk

By Hanna Pumfrey

road sign in Cley Norfolk

It’s all about the staycation. And it’s all about Norwich. Rated Britain’s most eco-friendly place to live and at just under two hours from London by train, with access to rolling hills and a beautiful coastline, I couldn’t think of a better weekend bolthole.

This Easter, we joined the crowds leaving London to go and fill our lungs with fresh air in the wilds of Norfolk. We weren’t disappointed, with micro-breweries, a plethora of delicious veggie and vegan restaurants, amazing architecture and culture in abundance Norwich is a gem of a city.

Here’s my mini-guide to a weekend in Norwich.

 Where to stay

I recommend Airbnb for the most eco- friendly lodgings in Norwich.

Smokehouse in Cley

 Where to eat

Farmyard: serving a daily changing a la carte menu all week using produce sourced from some of Norfolks most passionate producers as well as a set price, Farmyard is seasonal and sustainable fine dining at its best.

 Kinda Café: Dedicated to kindness as per its namesake, this café is 100% vegetarian and dedicated to its work in the community.

Tofurei: using local grown soya beans this ‘micro soya dairy’ and deli is 100% vegan. Offering everything from coffees to tofu burgers and ‘soysages’ this place is a perfect lunchtime pitstop.

Woolf and Social:  Inspired by the traditional idea of a social club, l this chic restaurant offer seasonal small plates in a social setting.

Wild Thyme: Located in the beautiful old fire station station stables courtyard this upmarket veggie restaurant is perfect for those wanting a hearty meal.

Birdcage bar Norwich

Where to drink coffee

The Little Red Roaster: with three shops in the city, this coffee house you won’t be short of a coffee pit stop. Little Red Roaster has huge variety of speciality, artisan coffees, all hand roasted.

Strangers Coffee Shop: this coffee shop is a hipsters dream, with rough hewn wooden counters and Instagram perfect décor it’s a must visit. The coffee is delicious too! All hand roasted in Norwich.

Rabbit (formerly known as Roots): Set in a beautifully restored Grade II-listed building, Rabbit offers some of the freshest ingredients in Norfolk. With a farm shop, bistro and coffee house on site, local produce packs the menu.

Ancestors Coffee: If Buddha bowls and scandi style are your thing don’t miss this coffee house. 

 

Where to drink a stronger beverage or two

 The Birdcage: an eclectic bar with live music.

Franks Bar : laid back bar with great cocktails

The Tipsy Vegan: amazing vegan cocktails. They do great vegan sharing boards as well if you’re feeling peckish.

The Plough: Stocking all the local brews, if you’re an ale lover this is a stop not to be missed.

The bicycle shop: Filled with unique art, plants and upcycled furniture this former bicycle repair shop is great for cosy drinks and dinner. 

What to do

1.     Visit the Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral is an architectural wonder and with entrance to the site free you have no excuse not to explore it. Complete with a labyrinth that forms a continuous path to represent the Christian idea of a spiritual journey you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight onto the set of Hogwarts.

Norwich lanes

2.     Wander around the Norwich Lanes

For me there is nothing better than getting lost in a new city to really discover it. Filled with boutique stores and independent coffee shops (and fully pedestrianised!) the striking medieval Norwich lanes are perfect for an afternoon wandering.

Shops I recommend checking out are:

  • The Book Hive: An independent bookshop with a wonderfully curated selection where if you’re anything like me when it comes to books you can lose yourself for hours. They also sell coffee from local roasters Little Red Roaster so that you can sip and browse. What’s not to love!
  •  Good Earth Clothing Company: a great family-run shop which sells clothing for men and women all made from natural fabrics.
  • Lulu’s Vintage clothing: For cute vintage finds.
  • Norfolk Yarn: For all things knitting, crochet and crafting (They do courses as well if you’re staying a little longer).
  • Tickety Boo: For locally made, traditional children’s toys.
  • Stuberhocker: If you’re an interiors geek then Stubenhocker’s is not to be missed. This charming boutique features a wide range of reupholstered mid-century furniture, lighting and other accessories that will add a unique touch to your abode.

3.     Shop in a converted church

Churches are a common feature in Norwich; there are 31 of them within the historic city walls! One particularly unique Church though is St Gregory’, which has been converted into an antique shop filled with an eclectic mix of clothing, jewellery, lamps, silverware, records and much more. If you have a penchant for the random, wander through the colourful alleyways filled with trinkets.

4.     Take a walk on the riverside

Get off the beaten track with one of the many quiet riverside walks that follow the Wensum and show a different side to Norwich’s architecture and history. Get routes here.

Norwich Plantation Garden

5.     Visit Norwich Plantation Garden

The passion project of Henry Trevor, a 19th century upholsterer and cabinet maker, this garden is a little tourist destination. Once a lifeless quarry, Trevor spent forty years overhauling the industrial site to bring it back to life. He meticulously planted a lush paradise filled with exotic plants, orchards, statues, and a unique gothic fountain. It now resembles small-scale version of an aristocratic Victorian country estate.

 

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