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Norwich things to do

Norwich Castle in Norfolk

You could happily spend most of your visit to Norwich simply strolling round the lovely city, admiring its architectural treasures, browsing the wonderful shops and sampling the delights of some of the hundreds of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs. But there are plenty of interesting things to do and places to linger.

The Anglican Cathedral is a good starting point. This magnificent building, with its soaring spire, was founded in 1096 and built from creamy white stone brought over from Caen in France. The precinct originally included a monastery and the beautiful cloister is still intact. Inside there are numerous architectural and ecclesiastical treasures and plenty of information to get the most out of your visit. There's an excellent shop and refreshments are served in the stunning new contemporary Hostry building adjacent to the cathedral.

A visit to the twelfth-century Norwich Castle is popular with all the family. The castle has housed a museum since 1894 when it ended 650 years' service as a prison and today there are interactive exhibits suitable for all ages, including gruesome reminders of its prison days, collections of natural history and an excellent art gallery dominated by works from the famous Norwich School of painters.

The Bridewell is another family-friendly museum much enjoyed by visitors of all ages. This ancient building has had a colourful history spanning 700 years, during which it has been a home to powerful merchants, a house of correction, a factory and a museum. Today its galleries are packed with fascinating objects and hands-on displays. You can watch archive films in the mini cinema, listen to local shoe workers’ memories and play games in the 1950s living room.

For outdoor activities, you can spend an enjoyable afternoon in one of Norwich's excellent parks. Right in the city centre, Chapelfield Gardens is popular for picnics in summer and there's often entertainment going on here. Larger green spaces are dotted round the city and have great facilities for children: try Eaton, Waterloo or Wensum Parks, or a country walk on Mousehold Heath with great views over the city.

You can also discover the hidden Plantation garden — three acres of beautiful restored Victorian gardens on Earlham Road. Further up Earlham Road, a short drive or bus ride away, is the University of East Anglia. Here there is a lovely park with the river and wooded walks leading to the UEA Broad. The university is also home to the Sainsbury Centre, an iconic Norman Foster building housing an important and fascinating collection of art and artefacts. The huge and airy space also houses a cafe and museum shop and there's usually a world-class visiting exhibition to enjoy as well as the permanent displays.

Whitlingham Country Park is another treat for the whole family, with its outdoor water sports centre, large Broad, woodland walks and adventure playground as well as an excellent visitors centre and cafe. You'll find this at Trowse, just to the east of Norwich. There is also a dry ski slope here.