With beaches, wild waterways, and ancient forests, Suffolk is a camping haven on England’s east coast.
With unspoilt countryside that inspired many of Constable’s paintings, meandering waterways, and a coastline with truly beautiful beaches, Suffolk is a great choice for a camping holiday. Its diverse landscape lends itself to all manner of outdoor activities perfect for any trip—from riding through Breckland forests to catching waves on the North Sea. Art lovers can take time to explore the area affectionately nicknamed Constable Country, after Suffolk native John Constable, while history buffs can immerse themselves in Ipswich, or visit wool towns that hark back to Suffolk’s trading past. Winter wanderers are in for a treat too, with annual bird migrations, coastlines, and cosy pubs making the county a cold-season favourite. And campsites make the most of all of these natural assets. While some might complain that there’s no motorway across East Anglia, we think that’s part of its charm. Much of the county is rural, and some of the best campsites in Suffolk are also some of the most basic—farm meadows, countryside tent sites, and caravan-friendly woodlands.
Another historic city encircled by sprawling greenery, Bury St. Edmunds is best known for its ruined abbey, cathedral, and enormous surrounding parks. Hikers and bikers can follow routes through the Abbey Gardens, Fullers Mill Garden, or West Stow Country Park, or simply use the area’s rural campgrounds as a gateway to Thetford Forest Park to the north or Cambridge to the west.
Straddling the border between Suffolk and Norfolk, this ancient coniferous woodland draws outdoor explorers with its balmy climate, sports trails, flora, and fauna. Most trees are in Thetford Forest, the largest manmade lowland forest in the country, which offers a bit of adventure with a wealth of walking, running, and cycling trails, plus some high ropes. Caravan parks and tent pitches are plentiful in the area, and the nearby town of Brandon is also home to the enormous Brandon Country Park, which appears on many Breckland nature trails.
Another shared attraction with Suffolk’s northerly neighbour, the winding waterways of The Norfolk Broads National Park are a boater’s paradise. The Suffolk section is known as the Waveney Valley, centring on the river of the same name. Spend a lazy day sailing from Bungay to Lowestoft, stopping for lunch in a waterside pub garden, or relaxing at a campsite right on the water with easy access to the best fishing and wild swimming spots. The Broads are a great area to camp and explore with 125 miles of peaceful waterways perfect for cruising, kayaking, and wildlife watching.
Arguably Suffolk’s greatest attraction, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty boasts more than 50 miles of unspoilt coastline, stretching all the way from Harwich, Essex, to Lowestoft on the Norfolk border. Its idyllic villages, dune-backed beaches, and year-round programme of immersive events make it a camping hot spot, so it’s worth booking well in advance.
With its charming old town and vibrant art scene, Ipswich is one of England’s up-and-coming destinations, just an hour’s train ride outside the capital. Campsites abound in the city’s many satellite villages and provide a great springboard for a day of city exploration. Don’t miss the must-see Christchurch Mansion, which hosts a free concert in its grounds during the annual Ipswich Arts Festival.
If it’s family camping in Suffolk you’re looking for, there are plenty of family-friendly sites around the county with a wide range of facilities. You’re sure to find somewhere that suits you, whether it’s a campsite with no cars so your toddlers can trundle about freely or a place with a playground for older kids to practice their climbing skills. And if you’re considering a camping holiday with children for the first time, rest assured—kids tend to love camping and everything that goes with it
There’s nothing wrong with simply relaxing on a camping holiday in Suffolk, but if you do get itchy feet and want to get out exploring, there’s plenty to do. Here are just a few ideas.
1. Spend a day on the beach
With 50 miles of coast and dozens of beaches, there’s bound to be one you like. Enjoy a windswept walk on a dune-backed beach; swim or paddle in shallow waters; find a place for watersports; or sit down with fish and chips.
2. See Willy Lott’s House
Featuring in Constable’s most famous painting, The Haywain still stands in the village of Flatford. Now maintained by the National Trust, you can see the view Constable captured on a self-guided exterior walk.
3. Kayak on the River Stour
One of the best ways to see the wildlife of the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is to hire a kayak (or take your own) and paddle along the river.
4. Visit a medieval village
Suffolk was a wealthy centre for the wool trade in the 15th century, so many of its half-timbered buildings and large, ornate churches are from this time. If you fancy a look around one of these wool towns, perhaps head for Lavenham, one of the UK’s best-preserved medieval villages.
5. Explore The Broads National Park
The peaceful waterways of The Broads National Park are well worth exploring on foot or by water. Hire kayaks or canoes, or hop aboard a river cruiser to sit back and take in the scenery.
6. Take to the trees at Thetford Forest
Thetford Forest is the largest man-made lowland forest in the UK with walking, running, and cycling trails to keep active families busy. But if that’s not quite enough adrenaline, there’s also the chance for a zip line, rope bridge, or tightrope at Go Ape.
7. Stroll down Southwold Pier
This is Britain’s only 21st-century pier, replacing the first pier built in 1900, and it’s home to shops, eateries, and quirky amusements.
8. Go birdwatching
Minsmere RSPB is a great place to see a variety of birds even if you don’t know bearded tits from bitterns. There are self-guided activities for kids, plus a play area and kid-friendly café.