Find and book the perfect b&b or holiday cottage in Southwold
Visit Southwold: the home of Latitude festival!
Southwold is an old English town – so old that it's actually described in the Doomsday Book, noted as a fishing port. Right on the edge of the cliffs north of the River Blyth, Southwold made a name for itself as one of the biggest – and best – fishing ports in the country by the middle of the 1500s. Now, it's less of a fishing town, and more of a quaint, Victorian styled getaway, so-called the “Kensington-on-Sea” for its reputation as offering more luxury holiday rentals than would typically be expected of a seaside town. Indeed, Southwold deserves its impressive reputation: from the gorgeous sandy beach, to the picturesque landscape, fine Georgian buildings, and pebble-walled cottages.
How to Get to Southwold
This charming seaside town can be found on the Suffolk Heritage Coast, right on the west coast of England. It's easily accessible via a lot of the major roads that run through England, Wales, and Scotland. If you're coming from London or the South then your best option is to take the M25 until the A12 junction, just south of Brentwood. From here, just follow the A12 until Blythburgh, and the follow the signs for Southwold. Driving down from the north, Midlands, and anywhere else in the UK is pretty similar; pick up the A14 or any other major road that links to the A12, and then follow the signs.
If you want to reach Southwold by train, the nearest stations are those of Darsham and Halesworth, both easily reachable via the East Suffolk Line running directly from London Liverpool Street. If you're travelling from further afield, your best bet is to get a direct train to London, and then change here to get the Greater Anglia train from London Liverpool Street across to Darsham or Halesworth. Likewise, for any international travellers looking to make Southwold their next getaway destination, fly into any of the London airports, get a train or the tube to London Liverpool, and hop on the train going west towards Southwold.
Where to Stay in Southwold
Self-catered holiday cottages in the centre of town
Southwold's town centre is like any typical seaside resort's town: old fashioned shops, retro ice cream, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and plenty of bars. Southwold is almost an island, surrounded almost entirely by the North Sea in the East, the Southwold harbour to the south, and the River Blyth, which means the town centre has a very secluded feel to it, completely removed from the rest of the country in the best way. The architecture is simple in its design, but the traditional elements pervade the streets, creating the perfect sanctuary from the modern world.
Stay in the town centre just steps from the high street if you want to be near all the action. From the retail therapy to the quality food and even the local Adnams brewery. The self-catering, short-term apartment rentals available at The Swan Hotel are perfect. Found in Southwold's market square, the Swan Hotel is quintessentially English, with an old-fashioned, quiet atmosphere about the holiday accommodation that is perfectly reminiscent of the traditional seaside holiday. Complete with Georgian and Victorian features, if you're a family looking to have lots of space for the kids, or a couple wanting to get away from everyone on a romantic break, the Swan Hotel is perfect for you.
B&Bs along the coast
Travellers come to Southwold to sample the sea air, so staying along the coast is the best for this – plus you get some pretty amazing sea views as well. with a working lighthouse, beach huts, a vibey and busy harbour, the fantastic beach, award-winning pier, and even cliff-top cannons, Southwold's coastline is one of the best seasides to stay in. Why not stay in the tradition B&B rental that is The Crown Hotel? With a nostalgic atmosphere to this entire bed and breakfast in Southwold, it's just around the corner from the sea – so close you can practically smell the sea air in your room and feel the sand between your toes as you wander down to the breakfast room.
Things to do in Southwold
The Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum
The Alfred Corry is an old rowing lifeboat first built in 1893 by the Beeching Brothers, and served the town of Southwold for 25 years, during which time it is credited with saving the lives of 47 people. The museum itself was once the Cromer Lifeboat shed originally built in 1923, and the exhibitions within the museum aim to give visitors and travellers an insight into the history of sea rescue in Southwold. It talks about the lives of the Southwold Lifeboat Crews form 1893 until 1918, as well as discussing the history of the Alfred Corry lifeboat.
Buckenham Galleries is a selection of the leading contemporary art galleries in Southwold, set in one of the oldest buildings in the seaside town. The gallery has various different art exhibits on display, including paintings, jewellery, glass work, ceramics and more, all spread over two floors in the old townhouse. Every year, they host frequent exhibitions that invite new and upcoming artists from the local area.
Not far from the main city of Southwold is one of the prettiest getaways along the east coast of England. Dunwich Heath offers a true sense of being at one with nature; owned by the National Trust since 1968, it's a rare portion of costal lowland heath that's managed to survive and escape from agriculture and property development. The Dunwich Heath is a wildlife habitat for rare and fantastic animals and plant life; from July through to September, for instance, lucky visitors can spit the pink and purple heather and coconut-scented yellow flowers that populate the fields.
A fantastic spot in Southwold that offers impressive views out to the horizon over the sea, complete with eighteen-pound cannons on top. According to reports, these guns were first gifted to the town of Southwold back in 1746 by the Royal Armouries, as a way to protect the seaside resort from an onslaught from the sea, and various shipping raids. If rumours are to be believed, they were actually gifted by the Duke of Cumberland, but one thing for sure is that they were gifted in order to protect from Southwold's very own pirate enemies – the Dunkirk pirates. Gun Hill is also, reportedly, haunted; the guns were last used in 1842 when there was a misfire, a delayed shot that caused a soldier to look down the muzzle and consequently get his head blown off, who now reportedly haunts the hill.
First held in 2006, the Latitude Festival is one of the UK's best music festivals and it takes place every year in the same place: Henham Park, right near Southwold – so close, that you don't have to camp, but instead just book cheap accommodation in town. The festival is a diverse mix of music, comedy, drama, literature, and dance.
St. Edmund's Church
St. Edmunds Church was first built as far back as the 15th century, although the site used was an old, ruined church first build during the 1200s. The church is a Grade I listed building, and it was built to match the wealth and power demonstrated by Southwold during the Middle Ages. Famous for the fabulous medieval screen, and 15th century “Southwold Jack” effigy which was believed to once be part of a clock.
Best Time to Visit Southwold
Located in the East Anglian region of England, Southwold is lucky enough o get a lot less rainfall than the rest of the UK on average. However, being a typical seaside town near the coast, it can experience briskly chilly winds coming across the North Sea, which makes the weather feel colder than it should be. With that in mind, the late spring and early summer months, from May through to early September, is the best time to visit if you're looking to relax on a beach with your family, building sandcastles and eating ice cream. Plus, this is when travellers will get to see the Aldeburgh Festival in June, and the August poms at Snape Maltings. Despite the colder weather, the winter can be a great time to visit; not only is it out of season, which means it's a lot cheaper, travellers can also see the Southwold Concert Series, which bring world class performers from all over the world. Spring time is also beautiful, with elderflowers and wildlife growing in the fields, good weather, and lower prices as its out of season.