The 6 Best Suffolk Beaches to Visit During Your Suffolk Holidays
Suffolk is one of the most unspoiled parts of the country and the Suffolk beaches are no exception. With 50 miles of heritage coastline in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there is plenty of space to get away from it all in this beautiful part of the world.
Whilst you’ll mainly find shingle beaches, there are some sandy beaches in Suffolk. If you’re looking for sandy beaches in particular, you might want to also check out some of the beaches in neighbouring Norfolk where you’ll find long stretches of golden sand as far as the eye can see (and also the chance to see seals). But we’re here to talk about Suffolk and its rugged coastline.
Compared to the likes of Devon and Cornwall, the beaches in Suffolk are relatively undiscovered. Visiting the Suffolk coast is like taking a step back in time. Some of the small Suffolk villages haven’t changed much at all in the last few decades and it’s a fabulous area for a family staycation in the UK.
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I grew up in Framlingham near Framlingham Castle (definitely worth a visit) and we have always had a caravan at the beach in Dunwich. Although we don’t live there now, we go back as often as we can to enjoy the slow pace of life. We spend most of that time at the beach and as all of the best Suffolk beaches are quite close together, we make sure to visit all of them. Each beach has something special about it.
If you’re thinking about visiting the Suffolk coast for your holidays, there are lots of fabulous things to do in Suffolk. It’s been dubbed the foodie county so make sure to check out some of its amazing restaurants as well as its lovely family-friendly pubs serving locally sourced food.
These are the 6 best Suffolk beaches. All of them are located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Aldeburgh is perhaps the most famous of all of the Suffolk beaches. It is a beautiful Victorian seaside town with a seafront backed by colourful Victorian houses. There are lots of things going on in Aldeburgh during the summer months. Asides from whiling away some time on Aldeburgh beach eating some of the best fish and chips in the country, you might want to check out the cultural scene.
Suffolk has a great association with artists and composers. Benjamin Britten spent a lot of his life in Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings, just a few miles from Aldeburgh, always has lots going on.
Aldeburgh is one of the best beaches in Suffolk to base yourself during your Suffolk seaside holidays with its large range of accommodation and restaurants.
Things to do in Aldeburgh
Aldeburgh Carnival – If you’re there during the 2nd or 3rd weekend in August, make sure to check out the carnival for lots of family fun
Aldeburgh Cinema – If it happens to be a rainy day, it’s a great excuse to check out one of the oldest cinemas in the country.
The Scallop – Take a walk along the beach to the Scallop – the iconic art installation by local artist Maggi Hambling.
The Moot Hall – This museum about Aldeburgh covers the history of the town from early Anglo-Saxon times
Snape Maltings – Just down the road from Aldeburgh is the fabulous Snape Maltings where you can experience some of the finest artistic performances in the country. Make sure to check out what’s on during their fabulous Aldeburgh Festival in June and the Snape Proms during the month of August.
Southwold is a small Victorian seaside town with a mixture of sand and shingle beach. It is best known for its colourful beach huts, its 190m long pier, its working lighthouse and the Adnams Brewery. Southwold Pier beach is the only blue flag beach in Suffolk, making it a great spot for families.
Things to do in Southwold
There are loads of great things to do in Southwold:
Take an Adnams Brewery tour (no children under 18) or just a tasting session at the Adnams Southwold shop.
Talk a walk along the Southwold Pier and check out the water-powered clock, the crazy mirrors and the eccentric Under the Pier Show.
Southwold Maize Maze – every year from mid-July a local farmer designs the most intricate (and tricky) maize maze. It’s a fun day out for the kids with go-karts, playgrounds and large bouncing cushions.
Climb up the Southwold Lighthouse. Tours available during the summer on selected days
Rent a Southwold Beach Hut for a day
Thorpeness is a lovely place to spend a quiet family holiday. This purpose-built holiday village was created by a wealthy lawyer in 1912 who took inspiration from family-friend J.M. Barrie when he built his famous Peter Pan themed Thorpeness Meare.
Nothing much has changed here in over 100 years and it’s one of the loveliest places to visit in Suffolk for families. What child wouldn’t enjoy exploring Peter Pan’s Neverland by boat?
There’s a cute little village store selling ice creams and beach essentials. The Thorpeness Meare Tea Room sells an even larger selection of ice creams and the best selection of children’s sweets you’ve possibly ever seen.
There are lots of lovely (and much sought after) holiday homes to rent along the long stretch of shingle beach but if you’re looking for something completely unique, check out the House in the Clouds (see below).
It started out as a water tower but was disguised to look like a house so that it would blend in with the surroundings. It’s one of Suffolk most iconic sights these days.
Things to do in Thorpeness
Boating on Thorpeness Meare
Dunwich beach is one of the quietest and most unspoiled beaches in Suffolk. There are actually two beaches here; Dunwich Beach and Dunwich Heath Beach. As with most Suffolk beaches, Dunwich is an almost entirely shingle beach.
Leaving Dunwich Beach and heading towards Dunwich Heath Beach, the sandy cliffs start to increase in height. There is a lot of coastal erosion here and it’s best to keep away from the foot of the cliffs.
For such an unassuming place, Dunwich has an incredible history. In the 12th century, it was the largest and most important town in England after London.
There used to be 7 churches but a succession of storms in the 13th century wiped the town out and with subsequent coastal erosion, there is only a tiny village left with one church. There’s a myth that on a still night you can hear the church bells of the lost churches ringing.
It’s a lovely place to head to for a quiet family day on the beach or if you are feeling energetic, there are lots of beautiful walks in Dunwich. Make sure to grab some fish and chips from the Flora Tea room. There’s a huge free car park at Dunwich beach and plenty of parking at Dunwich Heath Beach (although there is a charge as this is a National Trust car park).
Dunwich beach is one of the main Suffolk dog friendly beaches as there are no dog restrictions. If you’re visiting the heath, you should check on the National Trust website for guidelines on walking with dogs.
Things to do in Dunwich
Visit Dunwich Heath, a National Trust property, for a walk in the heath
Take a walk in Dunwich Forest
Visit RSPB Minsmere for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife and some family-friendly activities
Take a walk to Walberwick through some of the most scenic landscape in Suffolk
Walberswick is one of the best places in the country to go crabbing and for many years was home to the British Open Crabbing Competition. There’s a huge car park and while the little river area can get very busy in the summer with people crabbing, the beach is hardly ever busy.
From the car park, you walk through some low sand dunes and onto the beach where you’ll find a mixture of shingle and sand. The further you walk from Walberswick to Dunwich, the less sand there is but also the quieter it gets.
There are no dog restrictions at Walberswick which makes it one of the most dog-friendly beaches in Suffolk.
The beach is backed by a Nature Reserve, making it completely unspoiled.
Things to do in Walberswick
Walberswick crabbing is one of the top things to do in Suffolk with kids. If you don’t have any crabbing gear, you can buy what you need there either from the little local shop or from the ice cream van.
If you’re super organised, take your own bacon as the local shop has been known to run out during peak season! Remember to be gentle with the crabs and pop them back afterwards.
Take the Walberswick ferry over to Southwold.
Take a walk to Southwold along the Suffolk Coastal Path. It’s an easy 3-mile circular walk through marshland or take a longer circular walk.
Covehithe is the least well known of the Suffolk beaches, but this is what makes it one of our favourites. There is not much parking (no official car park, just a few spaces outside Covehithe church).
It is at the end of the road (literally – the road fell away into the sea) and there is about a 1 km walk to get to the beach. These factors combine to mean that it is one of the least busy of the Suffolk beaches.
But once you have navigated the path to the beach (we have seen people with prams manage it), you are rewarded with a long stretch of sandy beach next to a wetland area which is teeming with birdlife. There also aren’t any shops or restaurants around so if you want to come for the day, you will need to bring your own supplies.
Things to do in Covehithe
Relax and enjoy the beach (take a picnic)
Visit Covehithe church and its interesting ruined outer walls
Visit nearby Africa Alive (5 miles away)
Five Bells Inn Wrentham
Suffolk Beaches Map
One thing to note is that there aren’t many hotels in Suffolk that provide family rooms so you may want to look at self-catering cottages or campsites if you can’t find anything suitable.
Some of the best holiday rental sites for Suffolk are:
Campsites in Suffolk
There are lots of lovely Suffolk campsites that are perfect for camping with young children and you can read more about our pick of the top 15 campsites in Suffolk for families including a few coastal campsites.