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The Muddy insider guide to Norwich

Headed to Norwich for a holiday, or a local going "up the city"? Either way, you'll want to check out our brand new insider guide to this irresistible city.

Norwich aerial shot
@norwich_cathedral

It’s time to get under the skin of Norwich – a city with more stunning medieval architecture than you can shake a (really old) stick at, but with an ultra-progressive vibe.

Creative, friendly and fiercely independent, it’s a Unesco City of Literature to boot. Spend just a little time here, and it’s easy to see why Norwich was voted as the best place to live in Nofolk by Muddy readers this year!

Whether you want to find a cool bar or the best indie shops, here’s the Muddy Insider Guide to the most unmissable bits of the city.

Eat out

The Norwich foodie scene is fantastic, whatever the state of your wallet.

In search of a cheap eat? Look no further than Norwich Market. The focal point of the city, there’s been a market here for over 900 years. Nowadays there are around 200 permanent stalls under its jaunty coloured roofs, with many offering fab on-the-go food options.

@norwichmarket_life

Grab a tasty slice from Brick Pizza, or a wicked “brookie” (that’s a brownie crossed with a cookie, to you and me) from AndEatIt – the Biscoff flavour is immense.

Junkyard Market also offers awesome streetfood from a rotating array of vendors, with a great atmosphre and occasional DJs.

@junkyardmarketnorwich

If you’re up for more of a splurge, Norwich has multiple Michelin-approved restaurants. Head to Farmyard for cool, laid-back “bistronomy”, Muddy Award-winning Benedicts for top British cusine or Roger Hickman’s for seriously fine dining.

Special mention must go to inventive Italian Benoli, a new addition to the Michelin guide which has also just received a rave review in the Guardian.

farmyard
@farmyardrestaurant

We also love the Turkish-inspired food and cracking cocktails at Haggle, or the delectable French dishes at  L’Hexagone. And just don’t even try to resist the stunning sweet treats at dessert restaurant Figbar.

Norwich is also one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the UK, offering everything from tasty small plates at The Tipsy Vegan to the epic “Plant-based Norfolk” tasting menu at The Gatherers.

@benoli

Stay

For historical bragging rights look no further than the Maids Head Hotel, the oldest hotel in the UK and dating back over 800 years. (After all, if it was good enough for Queen Liz…the first one, we mean!) Set in the evocatively named Tombland, right next to the Cathedral, it’s looking slick after a huge revamp – especially the Insta-friendly new spring courtyard.

At The Assembly House, meanwhile, you can sleep in a massive Georgian mansion right in the city centre. With bright and funky interiors by design superstar Annabel Grey, it mixes period luxury with contemporary cool – we especially have our eye on “The Pink One”, with its hot pink four poster. Plus, the food here is ace – don’t miss their themed afternoon teas.

Walk

Central Norwich is petite enough that you can easily explore most of its big ticket sites on foot, in a day- although the real joy, perhaps, lies in just getting lost inside the city’s winding lanes.

We recommend starting off at ancient Fye Bridge, a major photo opp for weeping willow-fringed views down the River Wensum. Take the cobbled path down the colourful quayside and follow it along to the super pretty and peaceful Cathedral Quarter, going past picturesque Cow Tower and Pull’s Ferry.

Norwich

Make a stop for the stunning Cathedral, then cross the road and nip up Elm Hill, a narrow Tudor Street which has been used as a location for many a film and TV show. From there it’s just a five minute stroll to Norwich Castle, which is a great place to go for sweeping views across the city.

Norwich

After a bit of country air? There are multiple traffic-free walking trails and cycle routes out of the city – including The Marriott’s Way, which can take you the 24.6 miles to Aylsham if you’re feeling strong!

Drink

@Gonzostearoom

Honestly, where do we even start?! Norwich is absolutely packed with tempting joints for a drink. For killer cocktails, eclectic decor and a banging night out with a laid-back, mixed-age crowd we thoroughly recommend Norwich institution Gonzos Tea Room. Plus, they also do great food and have an awesome roof terrace.

Alternatively,  The Playhouse Bar (with its famous, Insta-friendly ceiling) is a friendly spot with live music, good vibes and a lovely riverside terrace.

@Compendia_

For something a bit different, sleek self-service wine bar Wallow is super fun, or head to Sir Toby’s Beers in Norwich Market (which packs a ginormous beer menu into a teeny spot). St Benedict’s Street, The Unthank Road and NR3 are all good locations for a pub crawl/wine wander.

If you’re hunting for a morning coffee the choice is – potentially – even more endless. Various branches of funky Koffra are dotted throughout the city, or head to one of two Strangers locations for cool monochrome decor a brew worthy of the choosiest coffee snob.

@strangerscoffee

Shop

Norwich is chock-a-block with cool indie stores. Have a wander around groovy Norwich Lanes, a mostly-pedestrianised warren of unique shops.

Try Lisa Angel for chic clobber and jewellery,  Atwin Store for hip local makers or St Giles Pantry for artisan deli goodies.

Norwich lanes
@norwichlanes

You don’t want to miss Jarrold, either. The independent department store manages to mix heritage clout (over 250 years in business experience and seven generations of family ownership) with on-the-nose trendiness – no easy task! We especially love the curated Store Folk section, showcasing eclectic artisan makers from across the local region.

@jarroldnorwich

Tourist

Fancy taking a tourist-friendly tour? It’s time to hit the water! Check out Norfolk Paddle Boards for some SUP exploring, or Pub and Paddle for a canoe voyage ending in a well-deserved beverage.

@norfolkpaddleboards

For a real hidden gem, make your way to The Plantation Garden. This secluded, exotic garden – peppered with gothic architecture – was created inside an abandoned chalk quarry in Victorian times.

@theplantationgardennorwich

Kids

Bring your little ones to specialist kids bookshop Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, where they can catch a guided craft activity or a bounce and rhyme session. You’re in the “City of Stories,” after all!

@bookbugsdragontales

Or head to Norwich Puppet Theatre for a unique performance in a converted medieval church.

Have you got a Harry Potter megafan on your hands? They’ll love The Norwich Cauldron, a brand-new shop proferring all manner of wizarding goods.

@norwichcauldron

Quirky

Norwich has its very own Diagon Alley (sorry, HP on the brain) – a network of secret passageways and abandoned houses under the city streets. Check out The Shoebox Community Hub to book your Hidden Street Tour – deliciously spooky stuff!

@theshoeboxhub

Culture

writers centre
@writerscentre

Norwich is an absolute haven for culture vultures. As England’s first Unesco City of Literature it’s home to the National Centre for Writing, which opens its medieval doors for regular wordy events.

The city is also home to four fab independent theatres, showcasing a a mixture of national touring productions and local drama.

@sainsburycentre

Art lovers should head a little bit west out of the city for The Sainsbury Centre, which houses an eclectic permanent collection as well as regular exhibitions by the likes of Grayson Perry and Picasso. We particularly love the dramatic sculpture garden, which offers amazing views over the UEA‘s brutalist campus and the UEA broad.

@norwichartscentre

Catch a gig at The UEA or Norwich Arts Centre, a seriously cool contemporary arts venue in a 14th century flint church.

Hipsters

bowling house
@thebowlinghouse

Feeling hip? (Er, always!) Take a stroll down trendy St Benedict’s Street, stopping off at Little Shop of Vegans to pick up plant-based treats and hitting up hipster haven The Plough for a pint. Carry on to Bowling House, a retro-fabulous venue for bowling, cocktails and karaoke.

@venusvinyl

Alternatively head to NR3 in the North of the city, where cool businesses seem to be popping up almost by the day. Browse for mid-century home beauties at Norfolk Retro, or hit up Venus Vinyl at the top end of Magdalen Street for the ultimate hipster combo – records, craft beer and bespoke furniture.

On the move?

Check out the brand new Insider Guides to cities and towns from the other Muddy Stilettos editors…

ISLE OF WIGHT THE COTSWOLDS ST IVES EXETER BATH BRIGHTON WINDSOR BURY ST EDUNDS ST ALBANS SALISBURY NORTHAMPTON GUILFORD CANTERBURY LEICESTER LEAMINGTON SPA

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