Exploring theSuffolk Coastwithout a car

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Boasting England's most easterly point, the Suffolk coast is the first place in the country to see the sun rise. With miles of golden beaches, long-distance footpaths, nature reserves, and great food, Suffolk’s coastline has a big range of attractions. The scenery varies from kiss-me-quick arcades to remote marshland. And whatever you're looking for at the seaside, you don’t need a car to get there. Here are five great coastal areas in Suffolk that you can explore by train, bus, bike, foot and even boat.

  • County: without a car
  • Great for: arts and crafts | coastal walking | historic buildings | museums | musical connections | sculpture | seaside |
  • 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. Thorpeness

    A windmill, a fantastical boating lake, a cottage in the clouds… in the early 20th century, wealthy barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie developed Thorpeness as a whimsical holiday resort of half-timbering and fantastical houses. Today, it’s a lovely seaside village with buses from Saxmundham railway station.

    • So how do I get to Thorpeness without a car? Bus 521 leaves every couple of hours from the end of Chantry Road, five minutes’ stroll from Saxmundham’s railway station. It takes about half an hour to get to Thorpeness and stops by the magical mere (or meare), where you can hire boats.
    • Five minutes’ walk away around the lake, near Thorpness windmill, get a closer look at the iconic House in the Clouds. It’s not open to the public, unless you want to rent it as a holiday cottage, but it’s a striking landmark.
    • Just beyond this is Thorpeness Golf Club, where the courses include the nine-hole, family-friendly Jiggers miniature golf. The affordable prices include club and ball hire and a souvenir scorecard.
    • Thorpeness also has some great cafés and fabulous stretches of the Suffolk Coast Path nearby, including the walk along the beach to neighbouring Aldeburgh, passing Maggie Hambling’s Scallop sculpture, a tribute to the composer Benjamin Britten, who lived locally. Read on for more…
  1. 5. Aldeburgh

    Surrounded by meadows, marshes, woods and heath, arty Aldeburgh is where you will find the Red House, former home of composer Benjamin Britten and singer Peter Pears. Aldeburgh’s sixteenth-century Moot Hall contains the local museum, exploring everything from Anglo Saxon burials to the local fishing industry.

    • So how do I get to Aldeburgh? Bus 64 and bus 521 both take about half an hour from Saxmundham and run right through Aldeburgh so you can explore the long café-lined high street and the surrounding coast path.
    • Both buses stop about five minutes’ walk round the corner from Hall Farm Lane, where you can rent an e-bike from Eezybike to explore the area. Don’t miss Snape Maltings, an impressive riverside complex with bars, cafes, galleries, sculptures and cultural events, surrounded by wild waving marshes. You can also book a Katch minibus to Snape Maltings from Wickham Market Station.
    • From Snape Maltings, you could follow the delightful Sailors’ Path through woods, heath and marshes six miles to Aldeburgh and get the bus back.
  1. 6. Felixstowe

    Fifteen minutes’ on foot from Felixstowe station are the town’s Victorian seafront gardens. Among the nearby eateries is the Greenhouse, the town’s first and finest plant-based café, serving seriously tasty vegan dishes.

    • From the Stanley Road bus stop nearby, catch bus 77 to Landguard Fort at the southern tip of the town. In its maze of tunnels, you can learn about the Dutch invasion of 1667 and how soldiers stored gunpowder. From one bastion of the citadel, there are views across the water.
    • From a shingle bank below the fort, in the shadow of Britain’s biggest container port, you can catch a ferry hourly to the old pier at Harwich.
    • Trimley station is also useful for accessing Trimley Marshes and walking as far as Felixstowe Ferry, where you can catch another little ferry across to Bawdsey and explore the Deben peninsula. For more car-free adventures in the area, take a look at this guide.
  1. 7. Shotley Peninsula

    Saltmarshes, purple with sea lavender, oak woods full of foxgloves and scented honeysuckle, fields of poppy-freckled barley. The wild Shotley peninsula, where two mighty estuaries converge at the south end of Suffolk, is a hidden gem, served by buses from Ipswich and ferries from Harwich.

    • Bus 97 runs from opposite Ipswich railway station to the far end of the peninsula. Ten minutes’ stroll up Oldhall Road is Shotley vineyard with summer tours and tastings and year-round coffee and cake at weekends.
    • On the way, the bus stops at Chelmondiston for a lovely ten-minute stroll to Pin Mill Woods with views over the boats below, including some old wrecks melting atmospherically into the sea purslane. The 17th-century waterside Butt and Oyster pub nearby is perfect for a drink after walking.
    • Both bus 97 and bus 92 stop by the huge Orwell Bridge, a short walk from the Suffolk Food Hall, a big farm shop-café complex. It’s five minutes’ walk down a signed lane from the bus stop.
    • To see the river from a different angle, take a cruise on the Orwell Lady from Ipswich. For more adventures in the area, take a look at our car-free guide to the Shotley Peninsula.