Out & About
The City of Stories is bookended by a cathedral and a castle, with plenty to see and do in between
This easy-going and, as the signs rightly proclaim, fine city is the main hub of shopping, culture, food and attractions within Norfolk. As the most complete Medieval city in the country, it’s just as interesting to walk round as it is inside the many quirky shops and bars. Once one of the most affluent cities, it has always been a popular place to visit, and an excellent base for Norfolk’s Broads and beaches. Today you’ll find plenty of historical buildings, winding cobbled lanes filled with independent shops, one of the largest and oldest outdoor markets in Britain and a myriad of places to enjoy a bite to eat or a cheeky drink.
What to see and do
If it’s a dose of history you’re after, you’ll find it here. Boasting 33 medieval churches, a complete Tudor cobbled street at Elm Hill, and of course the soaring spire of the Norman cathedral – complete with the largest cloisters in England – there’s something to interest everyone. A tour of Norwich Castle’s eclectic exhibits is also a must – be sure to head to the battlements for unrivalled views over the city.
If you’re here to shop ‘til you drop, first head to Jarrold, the family-run independent department store. For independent shops you can’t beat the Norwich Lanes – in fact, almost half of the city’s shops are independent, so you’re sure to find something unique.
Of course, you can’t come to Norwich without having a browse of the famed market place, where another rite of passage is to enjoy the sights with a portion of delicious market chips.
Norwich is a city made for foodies. For a slap up meal, try the Farmyard, a Michelin-listed restaurant where you’ll find a relaxed bistro/gastronomy set-up offering dishes featuring the finest local ingredients.
If you still fancy dining al fresco, the cosy (and heated) Mysabar tent is back throughout autumn and winter, offering tasty food from a rotating line-up of local traders and some of the best craft beers, wines and cocktails.
One of the newest additions to Norwich’s cocktail bar scene, Gyre & Gimble claims to have the largest range of spirits on offer in the city, so there’ll be a tipple for every tastebud. They also serve their own homemade gin.
Stay the night
The Maids Head Hotel
Complete your trip with a stay at the oldest hotel in the UK. The Maids Head has a history that dates back over 800 years, and is conveniently situated in the heart of the city, so the sights are all on your doorstep. All the bedrooms have recently been refurbished, with many including charming period features. Ranging from standard through to suites with stunning views of Norwich Cathedral, all rooms have en suites, tea and coffee facilities, Freeview television and an in-room iPad guest services directory. The hotel also boasts an award-winning fine dining restaurant and an inn on-site, where you can enjoy sumpuous evening meals and afternoon teas, or simply a nightcap in the bar.
Here is a selection of some of the fabulous independent shops in Norwich, offering everything from vintage clothes and jewellery to food, homeware and collectibles.
The Bear Shop
Opened in 1990 on pretty Elm Hill, The Bear Shop offers one of the largest selections of teddy bears anywhere in Britain. A whimsical place to browse whether you’re a collector, hunting for a little one or simply need a dose of cuddly bears in your day.
Macarons & More
Masterchef contestant Tim Kinnaird left his job as a consultant paediatrician in 2010 to follow his passion creating patisseries. The Macarons & More shop in Norwich’s Royal Arcade is the culmination of Tim’s efforts. Filled with a vast array of tempting treats including cakes, pastries and, of course, multi-hued macarons, this is the place to satisfy your loved one’s sweet tooth.
The Book Hive
Situated in the lanes, The Book Hive celebrates the beauty of printed material and is everything you’d want from an independent bookshop. Instead of traditional sections, there are mixes of the booksellers’ picks, meaning you’ll have a truly unique browsing experience and come across books you may not otherwise have found. Bookworms beware: you may want to spend all day here!
Imelda’s Shoe Boutique
Set in the iconic lanes, Imelda’s is a trendy boutique teeming with quirky shoes and accessories. Whether you’re after some Irregular Choice heels, Ugg boots, Dr. Martens, Havanas, Hush Puppies or Shellies, shoe-lovers will be spoilt for choice. There is also jewellery from Big Metal and a selection of bags, sunglasses and tights.
Established in 2017, Elm is an independent lifestyle store nestled on Lower Goat Lane, where owner Paige Mitchell works in-house as a ceramicist. You’ll find thoughtful, design-led homewares and gifts, which often can’t be found elsewhere. Whether you’re looking for plant pots, stationary, cushions, prints or gift wrap, you’ll bag something unique to gift here.
Founded by its namesake in 2004, Lisa Angel designs and sources unique and bespoke jewellery, accessories and homeware. With a wide range of items that can be personalised, including jewellery, scarves, bags, BabyGrows, glassware, notebooks and bookmarks this is the perfect place to come if you’re after a one-of-a-kind gift for someone special.
Lady B Loves
For a sprinkling of vintage glamour head to the Lady B Loves boutique in the Royal Arcade, where you’ll find vintage inspired clothing and accessories to add some colour and fun to your wardrobe. Lady B Loves believes that women should be able to wear whatever they want without compromising their comfort, in clothes that help them “feel fabulous and look gorgeous” – we can’t argue with that!
The T Junction
If you’re after a gift for the tea lover or coffee connoisseur in your life, head to the T Junction in the Castle Quarter. With over 60 sugar and calorie-free gourmet flavoured whole bean or ground coffees, more than 40 traditional and speciality coffee blends, and over one hundred varieties of tea from around the world – plus all manner of brewing and drinking receptacles – you’re sure to find the perfect brew.
Opening in 1883, this famous toy store is one of the city’s longest-running retailers. Filled with an impressive array of toys, games and models, Langleys not only carries traditional lines such as Lego, Playmobil and Hornby but also sources products that would be hard to find anywhere else. The additional Models and Hobby Games department means Langleys is a must-visit for children, modellers and hobby gamers (and those gift-hunting for them!).