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Living Like a Local: Finding the Best Hidden Gems in Southwold

A Brief Introduction to Southwold 

Welcome to Southwold, a charming coastal town in Suffolk that offers a delightful getaway to creating long-lasting memories, regardless of whether you’re visiting alone or with close friends and family. While Southwold can lean a bit more on the pricey end for tourists who don’t know their way around, we’re here to help you uncover the town’s best-hidden gems that can help you feel more like a local. 

Southwold Beach 

One of the main attractions we recommend you visit in Southwold is its beautiful beach. Its warm, golden sands and crisp, sparkling blue waters make it the perfect spot for a relaxing day by the sea. Whether you want to soak up some warm sunshine, take a refreshing dip in the sea, or simply enjoy a peaceful stroll along the shoreline with a spectacular backdrop of the sunset, Southwold Beach is the place to be if you’re looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Under The Pier Show 

Tucked away at the end of Southwold’s pier, there’s a hidden gem that shouldn’t be missed – the Under The Pier Show. This unique attraction houses an eccentric collection of interactive arcade machines and games like ‘Whack-a-Banker’, Flydrive, ‘My Nuke’ and so much more to delight visitors of all ages. So, bring the entire family for a day of quirky fun and entertainment – the Under The Pier Show is a one-of-a-kind experience in Southwold that will bring out your sense of wonder and playfulness. 

Albert Corry Lifeboat Museum 

If you’re interested in Southwold’s maritime history, visiting the Albert Corry Lifeboat Museum is necessary. Dive in and learn about the town’s strong maritime heritage and discover the stories of the brave individuals who risked their lives to save others at sea. The museum houses the 29-year-old Alfred Corry lifeboat, which operated between 1893 and 1918, launching 41 times and rescuing 47 sailors. This museum offers a fascinating insight into the town’s heroic past and its important role in maritime rescue. You can take a piece of this great history when visiting the merch shop. There, you’ll find exciting, branded Alfred Corry jugs and stationery. The best part is that proceeds help maintain this exciting spot!

Southwold’s Boutique Shops 

For those who love to indulge in a little retail therapy, Southwold won’t disappoint. The town has over a hundred small businesses and boutiques, offering a unique shopping experience. From independent clothing shops to gift shops to art galleries and bookstores, you’ll find many treasures waiting to be discovered. Stroll along the charming high street and explore the hidden gems in every corner. Whether you’re looking for handmade crafts, stylish clothing, or local souvenirs, Southwold’s boutique shops have something for everyone. 

Local Cuisine and Dining 

Southwold is not just a picturesque town; it also boasts a vibrant culinary scene that will satisfy any food lover’s palate. From quaint cafes serving freshly baked pastries to seafood shacks offering the catch of the day, there’s a wide variety of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. In this British seaside town, you can find a range of restaurants such as Sutherland House, Ninedeli and even The Boardwalk Restaurant, which offers vegetarian and gluten-free options for those with special dietary requirements while enjoying a breathtaking view of the pier. Be sure to also sample the local delicacies, including the classic freshly caught fish and chips, crab sandwiches, and Adnams beer, a local brewery producing delicious brews since 1872. Whatever you fancy, Southwold local dining options offer various cuisines to suit your budget and your buds! 

Exploring the Surrounding Nature 

While Southwold has plenty to offer, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the stunning natural beauty surrounding the town. Take a peaceful walk along the marshes while enjoying the tranquil atmosphere and immerse yourself in the unique flora and fauna. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent a bike and explore the rolling landscapes of the English countryside. If you’re intrigued by the vast species of rare birds, head to the nearby RSPB Minsmere, a nature reserve renowned for its diverse bird population – a true paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. 

Festivals and Events 

Fun, food, and entertainment – Southwold is a town that knows how to celebrate. Whether it’s food, arts, beach parties or electrifying music festivals, Southwold always has a range of events throughout the year. If you’re visiting, catch the Southwold Arts Festival, featuring performances by incredibly talented local and international artists. Suppose you have a love for theatre and drama. In that case, your next stop should be the Southwold Summer Theatre, which showcases a variety of theatrical productions in a beautifully captivating outdoor setting. No matter what your interests are, there’s always something fun and exciting happening in Southwold to keep you entertained. 

Visit Southwold’s Famous Lighthouse 

For a truly iconic Southwold experience, set aside time to visit the town’s famous lighthouse. Standing tall since its commission in 1890 and electrified in 1938, this stunning landmark is a beacon that can be seen from all corners of the town. The Southwold lighthouse, a Grade II listed building, offers a unique opportunity to explore its historic interior. Ascend the spiral staircase that boasts over 100 steps, leading you to the top, where breathtaking panoramic coast views await. Guided visits allow you to delve into the lighthouse’s fascinating past while taking in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Whether you’re captivated by history, architecture, or simply breathtaking views, visiting Southwold’s famous lighthouse is an absolute must. 

Southwold Maize Maze 

If you want a fun and exciting outdoor activity for the entire family, visit the Southwold Maize Maze. It’s an incredible summer attraction for kids and adults, featuring a large maze built from an actual cornfield. Once you’re signed up and ready to go, your challenge is to navigate through the maze and find your way to the other end. The most exciting and challenging part of this experience is that the maze changes yearly to keep returning visitors on their toes! You can find other fun activities, such as educational exhibits and games, and on-site refreshment stands to help you cool down and recharge. This is a great way to challenge yourself and your little ones to a fun, brain-teasing, puzzle-solving challenge. 

Admire the Rich History of Southwold 

Delve into the rich history of Southwold by exploring its fascinating heritage buildings and landmarks. This coastal town boasts a picturesque collection of architecture and natural beauty. 

One of the best places to visit is St Edmund’s Church. Constructed in the heart of the 15th century, this magnificent church is a testament to centuries of craftsmanship and devotion. Revered as one of the finest churches in Suffolk, it showcases exquisite architectural features. Immerse yourself in the charm of the town’s Georgian houses, with their understated elegance adding to the atmosphere of a bygone era. Stroll along the cliff-top promenade overlooking the sandy beach and marvel at the brightly coloured beach huts that have become an iconic symbol of Southwold. As you explore Southwold’s historical treasures, you will be transported back and gain a deeper appreciation for the town’s enduring legacy. 

If there’s anywhere you should visit when you come to Suffolk

It should be Southwold at the top of your list. This quintessentially British seaside town holds many hidden gems waiting to be explored. By venturing beyond the usual tourist hotspots, you can truly experience the essence of this charming coastal destination. From the picturesque Southwold Beach to the exciting and whimsical wonders of the Under The Pier Show, the rich and fascinating history showcased at the Albert Corry Lifeboat Museum to the unique shopping experience in Southwold’s vast number of boutique shops, there’s always an exciting adventure and something delightful to experience around every corner of Southwold that will make you feel like a true local. 

So dive in, whether alone or with family and friends, and embrace all Southwold offers. Discover the town’s hidden treasures, dig into the wide variety of local mouthwatering cuisine, explore the serene and breathtaking surrounding nature of one of Britain’s most breathtaking tourist spots, join in the exhilarating festivals and events, and find the perfect accommodation to live like a true Southwold insider during your visit. 


Fancy exploring this beautiful region of Suffolk? Then secure one of these Southwold holiday cottages in Suffolk and base yourself right in the heart of Southwold! 

For more inspiration on how to spend your time in our marvelous region why not give our guide on the best places for afternoon tea in Suffolk a read?