Car-free Accessible SuffolkSuffolk

Suffolk has some of the UK’s most beautiful train and bus routes – visitor attractions in their own right. Recent improvements mean that more of us can access these scenic journeys as well as Suffolk’s fabulous theatres, museums, beaches, wildlife reserves and places to eat. Everyone’s access needs are different and not everyone can get around car-free, but here are some destinations with good public transport links nearby that are working to help more people enjoy them.

  • County: Suffolk
  • Great for: accessibility | beaches | culture | family fun | food and drink | scenic train |
  • Refreshments: lots of great cafes, restaurants and pubs.
  • Please note: researched/updated in February 2024. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 4. Southwold

    This popular seaside town has plenty to see: a long sand-and-shingle beach, a delightfully-different pier, a towering lighthouse, an amber museum and lots more.

    • Bus 99 from Lowestoft runs to Southwold every hour. The buses are operated by First and welcome guide dogs and other assistance animals. Most of the buses are designed with lower floors to help wheelchair users or people with pushchairs get onboard.
    • A number of sights in Southwold are attempting to improve access too. Southwold Pier has a ramp, step-free shops and the manager speaks some sign language. The Amber Museum has audio description and tactile signage. The seaside promenades are mostly wide and flat with lovely coastal views.
  1. 5. Ipswich

    A seaport since the seventh century, Suffolk’s county town has a maritime air despite being about twelve miles from the sea. From the marina and the gull-haunted River Orwell, there’s a sea-weedy tang of the ocean and the spruced-up waterfront is lined with harbour-side bars and cafés.

    • Atmospheric river cruises on the Orwell Lady have been surveyed by AccessAble and you can read a detailed guide.. These boat trips can take you all the way to Felixstowe, passing hidden river coves and brown-sailed barges.
    • Ipswich Shopmobility provides bookable wheelchairs and scooters in the Buttermarket Shopping Centre. You can find detailed guides to lots more Ipswich venues, including shops, cinemas, swimming pools and churches on the AccessAble site.
    • AccessAble have also created a Streetscape access guide to the roads between the New Wolsey Theatre and the waterfront area. The theatre has a strong commitment to inclusivity and features a range of signed, captioned or relaxed performances as well as audio-described shows with touch tours beforehand. There’s a detailed venue guide, large print programmes and a hearing system.
    • Direct trains arrive at Ipswich railway station from Norwich, Lowestoft, Cambridge and London Liverpool Street and there is a lift to the platforms. The station is about half a mile from the waterfront area and there are taxis and bus stops outside the station.
  1. 5. Stowmarket

    Scattered through the Suffolk countryside are colourful market towns, lined with quirky shops and Georgian mansions. Nearby, are lakes and flowering meadows full of jewel-like damselflies. Even the railway stations, with their decorative chimneys and brick gables, look like stately homes!

    • One stop north of Ipswich on the railway line to Bury St Edmunds Stowmarket’s mock-Jacobean station. The station is step-free and AccessAble have created a Streetscape guide to the roads between the railway station and the town centre.
    • This route runs past the church and very close to the Food Museum, a huge, revamped visitor attraction with rescued mills and farm buildings from all over Suffolk. AccessAble have surveyed the site, which is enormous, with a medieval barn, a fruiting walled garden, paddocks of sheep and goats and a restored weatherboarded watermill.
    • The museum’s Feast café, with its tubs of flowers, has some great food like homemade lasagne, freshly-baked warm scones or cinnamon-dusted carrot cake. The museum offers lifts around the huge museum on electric golf buggies and assistance dogs are welcome with a bowl for water at the cafe. You can see the museum’s access policy here, including ramps and handrails around the cafe and plenty of benches for people to rest on around the site.
  1. 6. Sudbury

    Medieval weavers and eighteenth-century silk mills brought wealth to the market town of Sudbury and most British silk is still produced here. This handsome town, ringed by water meadows and ancient commons, has hundreds of beautiful buildings from light-filled churches to half-timbered cottages.

    • The artist Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbury in 1727 and his birthplace is a fabulous newly-extended museum that includes numerous paintings hung on elegant silk-covered walls and a paintbox that once belonged to John Constable.
    • The new galleries at Gainsborough House have modern levels of access. There’s a wide automated entrance and a lift to the upper levels. Assistance animals are welcome, carers are admitted free, and you can borrow a wheelchair.
    • There is step-free access to Sudbury railway station and AccessAble have created a Streetscape guide for the roads between Sudbury railway station and the Town Centre, leading almost to the museum door. The route passes the new Arts Centre in St Peter’s Church, which is also an accessible building with audio and visual interpretation and an interesting programme of events.
    • Sudbury also has an Easy Access trail along a tree-lined former railway line. The three-mile Valley Trail runs along a wide level path with a fairly firm surface. The views along it are quite varied, including woods, water meadows, the distant town across the fields and the pretty River Stour.
  1. 7. Places to stay and more...

    These are just a few of the more accessible destinations in Suffolk. 2023 saw around 100 new venues surveyed by Access Able, including the Hotel Folk group.

    • One of the hotels in the group is the seaside Brudenell in Aldeburgh. Bus 64 from Saxmundham runs to Aldeburgh. You can also explore this area on the new Katch minibus, with room for one wheelchair, from Wickham Market station.
    • The Katch minibus stops right outside Snape Maltings, a fully-accessible site, where the concert hall welcomes guide dogs and has an infrared hearing system. Nearby, there are boardwalks through wild reed beds, past wading birds and iconic sculptures.
    • For somewhere to stay in the Lowestoft area, here is AccessAble’s guide to the Hatfield Hotel, and in Felixstowe, there’s the Suffolk Sands holiday park, very close to the route of bus 77. There are accessible guesthouses and holiday cottages across the county, from a step-free coastal hideaway in Southwold to the luxurious Kesgrave Hall spa and hotel near Ipswich with ground floor bedrooms. It’s close to bus 66, which runs direct from Ipswich railway station. The waterside Salthouse Harbour hotel has lifts, accessible rooms and views across the boats outside.
    • Many thanks to the Suffolk Coast and the Food Museum for additional photos. Mother and baby getting on bus photo is (c) iStock.com/SolStock