A seaside escape since Victorian times, its seafront is dotted with colourful buildings, Aldeburgh is refreshingly quaint – and understated. There are no traditional seaside entertainments…no amusement arcades, pier, or kiss-me-quick hats here and that’s one of the reasons we love it. Instead, you’ll find a high street boasting some fabulous independent boutiques, craft and food shops, plus a great choice of cafés, delis and restaurants. There’s even a small cinema (built in 1919, it’s one of the oldest in the UK) for those rainy afternoons…
Unusually for such a small town, Aldeburgh is home to several art galleries – perfect for art lovers to while away an hour or two. Look out for Caroline Wiseman Modern and Contemporary based in the iconic South Lookout, and newcomer Ballroom Arts (located between the high street and the seafront), a dramatic project space for exhibitions and events.
If you’re looking for a cultural fix beside the sea, Aldeburgh’s the place…
A rich cultural history
There’s one word to sum up Aldeburgh’s arts and music scene: vibrant. Artists and musicians have flocked here for decades, inspired by its landscapes and people.
The 4m high scallop shell was created by iconic artist Maggi Hambling, a native of Suffolk. When you come across the sculpture, take a minute to study its upper edge where you’ll find a line from Peter Grimes, Hambling’s favourite Britten opera: “I hear those voices that will not be drowned.” The Scallop isn’t a ‘look, don’t touch’ work of art; the lower part of the shell serves as seat – the perfect spot to sit and take in the ever-changing seascape (or for the kids to clamber over…).
The Aldeburgh Festival, which Britten founded in 1948, takes place every June at nearby Snape Maltings, when this otherwise quiet part of Suffolk is thronging with world-renowned classical musicians and artists from far and wide.
Wander along the seafront and you’ll find the historic Jubilee Hall. Built in 1857, it plays host to the Aldeburgh Literary Festival every March, as well as other festivals, talks and theatre performances throughout the year. And just a 5-minute drive away is The Red House, once the home of Benjamin Britten; open from March to September, you can stroll through the house and gardens and immerse yourself in the composer’s world.
Food, glorious food
There’s one thing we absolutely can’t do without during a day trip to the seaside – fish and chips! Luckily for us, the award-winning Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop (named by The Guardian and The Times as just maybe ‘the best fish and chip shop in the world’) doesn’t disappoint. Be prepared to queue though…
If fish and chips aren’t your bag, don’t worry – the Suffolk coast is rich in other quality local produce such as Suffolk ham and pork, smoked fish, asparagus, strawberries, honey, and cheese – try Aldeburgh Market deli and restaurant for a mouth-watering selection of local fare. For freshly baked sourdough, morning pastries and savouries, the family and dog-friendly Two Magpies Bakery is a winner; sit and enjoy an espresso as you watch Aldeburgh life go by.
If beach walks and art trails have left you with an appetite for something more substantial, The Regatta Restaurant, located in the heart of the high street, is a great choice for foodies, especially those with a love of seafood. Or if you fancy something meatier, try a juicy steak sourced from Suffolk and Norfolk stock, or a Blythburgh pork loin at The Lighthouse Restaurant. Another high street gem, this is the place to go for a relaxed, delicious dining experience.
For a day at the seaside with a difference (and less than an hour from Wild & West farm), Aldeburgh ticks all the boxes.
Pubs, Cafés and Restaurants, we recommend
> The Suffolk (previously L’Escargot Sur Mer)
> The Lighthouse
> Cross Keys
> The Brudenell
> Two Magpies Bakery – Aldeburgh (great for Coffee and Pastries)
> Adleburgh Beach
> 16th Century Aldeburgh Museum
> Cinema – Aldeburgh Cinema Trust
> Fishers Gin Distillery
> The Aldeburgh Beach Lookout
> Golf (The Aldeburgh Golf Club)
> The Red House – House of Benjamin Britten
> The Scallop Shell