So you only have one day in Norwich? A Norwich day trip is a perfect day out at any time of year, with plenty of things to do in and around Norwich come rain or shine.
As someone who lived in Norwich for 3 years, being able to share a Norwich city guide or Norwich itinerary with anyone makes me super happy.
And where 1 day in Norwich definitely isn’t enough to see all that the city offers, it’s a great amount of time to explore this walkable city, visit the famous spots and also discover a couple of hidden gems in Norwich too!
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How to get to Norwich
Although Norwich can seem like a long way east, located in the far East Anglia of England, the city has a very well-connected train station with multiple services a day running from London, The Midlands, Manchester, Cambridge and further afield.
Check the Trainline for the latest timetables.
There’s also your choice of National Express bus services to Norwich if you’d prefer to visit Norwich on a budget.
Driving out to Norwich is also a great option and allows you to take a road trip in East England, perhaps plan a Norfolk road trip, visit Suffolk or a day out on the Norfolk Broads to make a weekend of it.
When is the best time to visit Norwich England?
Being a city, Norwich is a great option to visit all year round, with plenty of outdoor activities and events in the summer. But also plenty of indoor attractions to enjoy if you need to plan for things to do in Norwich in the rain!
But also consider Norwich in the winter, with the famous Christmas Market taking over the centre of the city, it really becomes so magical at that time of year, particularly when you also explore the historic Tombland and Elm Hill area.
One day in Norwich: Places to visit and what to see
Grab breakfast at Unthank Kitchen
A favourite for me as a student and still a favourite to this day! The Unthank Kitchen feels like authentic Norwich and it’s a family run business.
While it’s just a short walk from the city centre, it’s in an area of locals and students that’s affectionately known as the Golden Triangle due to its favourable proximity between the university and the city.
Located on Unthank Road, this cosy brunch café has cured many a hangover and to this day is still my favourite breakfast in Norwich – a great start to your Norwich day trip!
Head here for a more local experience than the usual chain restaurants in the city centre!
It’s only a 20 minute walk from the centre itself!
Climb the Tower at St John the Baptist Cathedral
For an amazing vantage point of Norwich city, you can actually climb the Tower of the Cathedral at the top of Unthank Road as part of a Tower Tour.
This is a real hidden gem in Norwich and an activity not many people know about, but you’ll walk past the church on your way to the city from breakfast.
This is an activity we recommend as one of the best things to do in Norwich regardless of the weather. On a clear day, you can see for miles and really get a beautifully unique perspective of the city. On a cloudy, rainy or low visibility day, the city looks dark and mysterious shrouded in cloud with the colourful striped market stalls below standing out in contrast.
Tours are only £5 per adult and £3.50 for children.
Note: tours are currently suspended for maintenance, check the website here for updates.
Explore Elm Hill and Tombland and check out the quirky stores there
Without a doubt, my favourite area of the city and the place that most visitors would agree is the most charming area of the city.
When you’re planning things to do in Norwich city centre, this colourful area full of cobbled streets, timber framed houses and quirky stores is a must visit!
Take a stroll up Elm Hill and see the colourful houses and cobbled street which frames the church behind. See the crooked house at Tombland that’s through the archway directly opposite Norwich Cathedral gate.
If you want to plan a walking route, walk through the archway opposite the cathedral and until you come out on Princes Street. Turn right and walk to the crossroads where you’ll take a right again down the hill. Take the next right where you’ll find yourself at the top of charming Elm Hill.
On Elm Hill, spend some time checking out the quirky stores and independent shops here. Norwich is famous for its independent and alternative culture, so exploring this is one of the best things to do in Norwich on your day trip to the city.
My personal favourite is Mr P Milnes Antiques and Curios – full of quirky finds, weird collectables and historic pieces. Regardless of whether you buy something in here, the aesthetic of the place is truly unique, full of dark wood and black decor, antique globes, old laboratory skeletons, taxidermy and more make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into a noir movie.
Also don’t miss the Tombland Bookstore if you’re a bibliophile or if you’re looking for rare and fascinating books in Norwich.
See the Cathedral
It makes sense to visit the cathedral while you’re exploring the Tombland area, since it’s located directly opposite.
Whether you want to go inside and explore or just admire it from the outside, the Norwich Cathedral is a stunning building both inside and out.
If you do visit, there are free guided tours during the week every hour from 10am-3pm and it’s a great way to learn more about the historic cathedral and its past.
Visit the Market Square and Arcades
Next, make sure you head over to the vibrant Market Square in Norwich where you’ll find the permanent market filled with colourful stores selling everything from street food to handmade soaps.
Gain a vantage point of the market from the terrace in front of the town hall, or head to The Garnet pub on the corner of the square for a refreshing pint with a view!
Around the square you’ll find the famous Jarrold’s Department Store which was founded in Norwich in 1770. You’ll also see the entrance to the Royal Arcade which is again full of independent stores, cafes and restaurants. The shops and restaurants in here tend to be a bit pricier but they’re perfect if you’re looking for a gift or a special treat.
Explore the Book Hive bookstore
Possibly my favourite independent bookstore in England, I attended countless events here as an English Literature student and still love to see this independent bookstore in Norwich thriving.
This fun, green building is one you can’t miss while you explore the heart of the city and it’s worth a quick peep inside too.
If you’re a literary lover, make sure you check their website to see what events they have going on as they often have readings, signings or literary talks and events with fascinating people including authors, publishers or guests from the University of East Anglia in Norwich (UEA).
See Norwich Castle
Although this isn’t the most spectacular English castle in the country, it’s worth a visit if you’re a history fan, with so much interesting information about the city of Norwich, it’s history as once the second largest city in England after London, and it’s prominent position over the years as the major east coast city for traders, travellers, invaders and explorers coming from Europe.
However at £7 per adult and £6 per child, it is pricey to visit if you’re visiting as a family. So if you’re not an avid history fan, it might be best to see and admire from outside!
Grab beers and pizza at Redwell Brewery
Local breweries often feel like the most authentic food and drink experience in a city, almost always independent, created by locals who are passionate about the drink and food they create, we always recommend visiting a brewery in a new city to get the true vibe of the place.
And Redwell Brewery is no exception.
With the friendliest staff, tucked away underneath the arches of Bracondale Bridge, and with amazing woodfired pizzas and beers, this is a great spot for a casual dinner and drink to end your day.
They have a large, industrial indoor area for food and drink, but also a large beer garden area if the weather is good, where you’ll be served from an American-style Airstream caravan!
Located right next to the Norwich train line, it’s a spot to enjoy the good weather, a good pint and feel fully immersed in your day out in Norwich!
See a show or event
Norwich is famous as a literary and artistic city, it’s the home to many famous authors, actors, famous figures and writers including Ian McEwan, Olivia Coleman, Philip Pullman and the fictional character Alan Partridge.. So it’s no surprise that there are often events taking place that are organised by the city or by the University – which has a globally recognised Creative Writing Programme.
The city is also England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, an accolade awarded in 2012 and is still only 1 of seven cities of literature in the world.
Of course the events taking place do change regularly, so make sure you check online for what’s on in Norwich. Here are some places to check:
Where to stay in Norwich
If you’re planning to stay in the city overnight (great idea!), then here are some of our favourite places to stay in Norwich city centre that are convenient for you and your trip to make the most of your time here!
For luxury hotels in Norwich, check out The Georgian Townhouse.
For Boutique hotels in Norwich, check out The Maid’s Head Hotel.
For unique places to stay in Norwich, check out St Giles House Hotel.
For budget hotels in Norwich, check out The Holiday Inn Norwich City.
Summary: Norwich day trip itinerary
Hopefully this Norwich itinerary has given you plenty of ideas and inspiration to plan your day out in Norwich. There really is so much to offer in this historic city and we can only recommend staying a day or two longer to really see the best of what the city has to offer.
Pin this for later to plan your future trip!