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Relics and reminders from Suffolk’s long history have, over time, become part of the landscape. The burial mounds at Sutton Hoo which date back to the 6th Century and the unique polygonal tower of Orford Castle built in the 12th Century demonstrate how the past influenced the landscape.

There is significant religious heritage that can be seen in the ruins of Greyfriars Priory, in the unique thatched roof of St Peter’s Church in Westleton and in the classical Georgian towers at Mistley.

Our Top Heritage Things to See:

View of Sutton Hoo tower

Sutton Hoo

Visit this Anglo-Saxon royal burial site located near Woodbridge for the improved visitor experience including a new viewing tower.

View of Dunwich Greyfriars

Greyfriars Priory

Grade II listed ruins of a mid-13th century Franciscan friary near the village of Dunwich.

View of Orford Castle

Orford Castle

Home to one of England’s most complete and unusual keeps, visitors can explore the castle from the basement up to the roof.

View of Westleton Church

St Peters Church

The exterior of the church is unusual because it has no tower or spire and it also has a thatched roof.

View of Mistley Towers

Mistley Towers

Overlooking the River Stour, the two porticoed towers stood by the end of an unconventional Georgian church designed by Robert Adam in 1776.

Places to Visit

The AONB has a huge range of things to see and do, from getting up close to the famous Suffolk Punch horse to staying in House in the Clouds in Thorpeness. Dunwich Museum reveals the history of the city under the sea, while Landguard Fort, Bawdsey Radar Museum and HMS Ganges Museum all look at the area’s military history.

There is an opportunity to see how local food and drink is produced such as flour at the Woodbridge Tide Mill or beer and gin at the Adnams Brewery Tour. The vast coastline and estuaries provide an opportunity to explore the area by boat, with not only several foot ferries but also tour operators that offer pleasure trips on the rivers.

Our helpful visitor destination organisation, The Suffolk Coast, is an ideal start for exploring even more. 

Our Top Places to See:

Two horses by a fence

Suffolk Punch Trust

The farm located on the Deben Peninsula not only breeds endangered Suffolk Punch horses but has rare breed animals and runs events throughout the spring and summer.

Group of kids at Dunwich museum

Dunwich Museum

The village of Dunwich was once a large, thriving port but was lost to the sea over six centuries ago. The museum tells the story of the town and the lost city under the water.

Closeup of Southwold pier sign

Southwold Pier

Originally built in 1900, Southwold Pier once welcomed holiday makers arriving by steamboat. Today the Pier offers attractions, entertainment, food and drink .

View of House in the Clouds

The House in the Clouds

Nestled in the skyline at Thorpeness, this quirky house was built to cover a former water tower. Today, the house is available as a holiday let.

Group of kids running in Landguard Fort

Landguard Fort

One of England’s best-preserved coastal defences surrounded by the Landguard National Nature Reserve in Felixstowe. Visitors to the fort can learn about its history and enjoy re-enactments.

View of Tide Mill with boat in foreground

Woodbridge Tide Mill Museum

One of the first tide mills in the country is still working on the same site well over 800 years later. Visitors will not only discover how the flour is made but can buy a sample to take home.

View from inside Ganges museum

HMS Ganges Museum

The museum, located in Shotley Gate, is dedicated to the 160,000 boys who went through the Royal Navy Training Establishment between 1905 to 1976.

Group of people beside machine

Adnams Brewery Tours

Adnams have been brewing beer in Southwold for almost 700 years and the tours take visitors behind the scenes to see how the different beers and spirits are brewed today.

Group of people on small ferry

Suffolk Foot Ferries

There are four foot ferries operating across estuaries in the AONB; Walberswick-Southwold, Butley, Felixstowe-Bawdsey, and Shotley-Harwich-Felixstowe.

People at Bawdsey Gallery

Bawdsey Radar Museum

Following an investment in 2016, visitors to the museum can now enjoy an award-winning exhibition about the development and use of radar from the 1930’s, through WWII to the present day.


For locals and visitors alike walking is one of the most popular pastimes in the AONB and there are several long-distance paths and numerous footpaths to choose from.

Whatever the distance, walkers can see unique landscapes including shingle beaches, heathland, saltmarshes and forest and see the species that live there. The AONB website has over thirty walking guides that are free to download.

Our Top Walks:

Person walking along river bank

Long Distance Walks

Enjoy the challenge of a longer walk over several days, on the Suffolk Coast Path, Sandlings Walk and Stour & Orwell Walk.

Closeup of post pointing to Snape Warren

Sailors Path

Beautiful walking route between Aldeburgh and Snape Maltings exploring varied landscapes and the Snape Warren Nature Reserve.

Suffolk Walking Festival

Annual celebration of walking in the county that takes place throughout May.

View of Orwell bridge from heath

Orwell Country Park

Officially opened 1995 and on the edge of Ipswich, the park follows the Orwell estuary and covers almost 500 acres.

Landscape view of river bank

Pin Mill

A quiet spot along the River Orwell with heathland, wooded cliffs and river valley.

Cultural Heritage

The Suffolk Coast &Heaths AONB has a rich and varied cultural heritage. Aldeburgh and Snape are world-renowned for their close links to 20th Century composer Benjamin Britten and the annual Aldeburgh Festival is now in its 74th year.

Other festivals include: literary festivals such as Way with Words at Southwold, and the music festival Latitude, which has been attracting some of the biggest names in rock and pop since 2006.

At Snape Maltings there is an opportunity to enjoy sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Alison Wilding, while Maggi Hambling’s Scallop sculpture can be found on the beach at Aldeburgh.

Our Top Cultural Activities:

Way with words festival

Way with Words

Every November the coastal town of Southold opens its door for this popular five day literary festival.

Multi-coloured sheep at Latitude festival

Latitude Festival

Now in its 14th year, this annual music festival takes place in Henham Park, near Southwold.

Scallop statue on beach

Maggi Hambling ‘Scallop’ sculpture

Installed on Aldeburgh beach in 2003, ‘The Scallop’ commemorates composer Benjamin Britten and displays a quote from Britten’s Peter Grimes ‘I hear those voices that will not be drowned’.

Landscape view of Snape and river

Snape Maltings

One of the world’s leading centres of music, Snape Maltings, originally a working maltings, became a concert hall in 1965 as avenue for the Aldeburgh Festival of Music.

View of Red House in Aldeburgh


One of the most popular seaside towns in Suffolk and well known for its links to composer Benjamin Britten. You can visit his home The Red House which is famous for their great fish and chips!

Leisure Activities

There are numerous ways to get active in the AONB. You can explore the area by bike or visit Tunstall and Rendlesham Forests which both have dedicated trails for families and advanced mountain bikers. There are canoes and paddleboards available to hire at several beach locations as well as great spots for crabbing.

Every year, the AONB takes part in the Great British Beach Clean which is a great way for people to help in the effort to improve the local environment.

Our Top Leisure Activities

Landscape view of river with boats in foreground

Iken Canoes

Explore the River Alde by canoe, kayak or stand up paddleboard and keep an eye out for otters and seals who often visit the area.

Kids crabbing by river


There are lots of great spots for crabbing in the AONB and popular locations are Walberswick, Bawdsey or Felixstowe Ferry.

People picking up litter at a Beach Watch event

Great British Beach Clean

There are lots of ways to support your local environment but a popular way to get started is to join the annual Great British Beach Clean which takes place between 18-21 September 2020.

Woman and children in front of beach houses

Swimming and Sandcastles

Suffolk’s beaches are a mix of sandy and shingle and many people enjoy taking a dip or spending a family day out making sand castle in front of traditional beach huts.

Couple walking in a forest

Rendlesham Forest

1,500-hectare mixed woodland near Woodbridge offering walking, cycling and orienteering trails including the famous UFO trail.

Man on bike cycling through forest

Tunstall Forest

Tucked between Tunstall and Blaxhall Commons, the forest is home to many ground nesting birds including Nightjar and Woodlark. There is also the Viking Trail – a 10-mile advanced mountain biking route.

Couple and dog walking on beach

Dog walks

Suffolk is a very dog friendly county and there are fantastic walks for dogs. While some beaches restrict dogs in the summer months, many are open. The AONB encourages owners to take responsibility for reducing dog disturbance of wildlife.

Become a beach detective

Download our handy guide to help understand all the items you might find on our shingle beaches.

You may also be interested in meeting the Beach Bonkers organisation for a day out looking for treasures.

Sail boats sailing through Orwell bridge

River boat trips

Take a different look at the beautiful Suffolk coast and rivers by enjoying a sightseeing or charted boat cruise

Landscape and Nature

Without doubt, the scenic beauty of the AONB makes it a unique place to live and to visit. Central to this is connecting with nature and being close to so many different and rare habitats including estuaries, reed beds, saltmarshes and shingle.

Enjoyment with respect is our advice. Many rare birds make the AONB their home including the woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler while others such as the Redshank and Oystercatcher come for the breeding season. Other threatened species such as the silver-studded blue – the UK’s rarestbutterfly can also be found in the patchwork of ancient heathland.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the plants, animals and birds in the AONB by visiting nature reserves managed by the RSPB, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and National Trust.

Our Top Natural Places

Winding river surrounded by marshes

Orford Ness

Internationally important Nature Reserve with the best conserved area of vegetated shingle in Europe.

Small river running towards camera

Deben estuary

A Site of Special Scientific Interest covers the River Deben and its banks, along the 16 kilometres from its mouth at Felixstowe Ferry to Woodbridge, home to 40% of Suffolk’s saltmarshes.

Landscape view of Shingle Street

Shingle Street

A coastal hamlet famous for its shingle beach providing a home to a variety of wildlife including birds and insects.

Landscape view of a pond

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Numerous nature reserves are owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who manage almost 8,000 acres of unique habitats and support threatened species such as dormouse, hedgehog, swift, water vole and lapwing.

Field in Sutton Heath

Sutton Heath

Managed by the Woodland Trust, this mixed woodland features sweet chestnut, pine, oak trees, most of them 70-100 years old, as well as several varieties of bat.

Landscape view of Covehithe beach

Benacre National Nature Reserve

With a combination of reedbeds, lagoons as well as woodland and heathland, the nature reserve is home to over 100 bird species.

Path by some trees

Wrabness Nature Reserve

Overlooking the River Stour and managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, Wrabness is home to many species including the Nightingale and Short-eared Owl.

Redshank fishing in shallow water


The RSPB has several reserves across the AONB providing an opportunity to visitors to learn more about the different habitats and glimpse some of the incredible bird species that live, breed and feed in Suffolk.

Landscape view of Dunwich beach

Dunwich Heath and Beach

One of several National Trust reserves at Dunwich you can follow the family wildlife trails and learn about the different species who live and breed on the heathland. There are also accessible routes for wheelchairs and pushchairs.