Plan Your Day Out in Ipswich
From its fascinating maritime heritage to its cool riverside cafés, Suffolk's County Town is packed with pleasures. The compact town centre makes all the attractions easily walkable and there are plenty of places to drop into for a drink or a bite to eat.
The town's traditional street market operates every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the Cornhill. There's a good selection of stalls selling fruit and veg, fresh fish, artisan food and more. The market's loyalty card scheme offers you the chance to win up to £50 in vouchers in a monthly draw.
The Town Centre
Spreading out from the historic Cornhill, Ipswich town centre has a wide range of stores of all kinds, from major chains to interesting independents. Above the modern shop fronts are reminders of the town's historic past: splendid facades such as the pargeting and carving on the famous Grade I listed 'Ancient House', once a bookshop, now a branch of Lakeland. For a more contemporary retail experience, visit the Sailmakers or Buttermarket shopping centres where you'll find many high street brands, including Boots, TK Maxx, Topshop and Virgin Media.
Connecting the town centre with the waterfront, St Nicholas Street and St Peter's Street are lined with independent establishments, mostly housed in lovely old buildings. You can browse for art or antiques, buy designer fashions, enjoy a frozen treat from I-Scream and more.
Set right at the heart of the town, this handsome stately home has been its most iconic building for over 500 years. Extremely well preserved, it has several fascinating rooms to visit, including the Tudor kitchen and the sumptuous Georgian saloon. It's also home to a wealth of work by famous Suffolk artists, including the biggest collection of Constables and Gainsboroughs outside London.
Free to visit, this Victorian gem is everything a museum should be: fascinating, inspiring and educational. Exhibits include a huge variety of stuffed animals, a replica of a woolly mammoth and a gallery tracing the geology of Suffolk from 70 million to 10,000 years ago.
Ipswich Transport Museum
From bicycles and fire engines to trams and trolleybuses, the 90 vehicles in this brilliant museum form the largest collection in Britain devoted to one town. There's also a big collection of material associated with local engineering companies and transport memorabilia.
St Peter's by the Waterfront
This delightful 15th century church was once Cardinal Wolsey's College chapel. Today it's a lively performance venue and heritage centre with many retained features, including the Victorian pulpit, the magnificent tournai marble font and the stained glass windows. It's also home to the Ipswich Charter Hangings, created to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter to the town.
Unitarian Meeting House
Opened in 1700, this historic building is believed to be the only remaining example of a purpose-built, timber-framed Dissenting Meeting House of its period. Furnished with a magnificent hexagonal pulpit and box pews, it's still in use today as a place of worship.
Housed in a magnificent 19th century market building, the Corn Exchange was converted to a performance venue in 1975. It hosts all kinds of events, including big names on the comedy circuit, live music and the annual CAMRA beer festival.
Based in the Jerwood DanceHouse on the waterfront, DanceEast is a world-class dance training and performance venue. A diverse range of activities on the site include shows, community outreach initiatives, dance classes and exhibitions.
Ipswich Art School Gallery
Many respected artists are associated with Ipswich Art School, including Maggi Hambling, Brian Eno, Leonard Squirrell, Bernard Reynolds and Lawrence Self. The gallery presents major international exhibitions, as well as showcasing the work of local painters, sculptors and designers.
Ipswich Film Theatre
Now run by a trust and staffed by volunteers, this long-established art house cinema offers film fans the opportunity to see independent and international movies which are often not screened by the big multiplex chains.
New Wolsey Theatre
A much-loved Ipswich institution since 1979, the Wolsey presents a year-round programme of drama, musicals, comedy and live music, including West End hits on tour. It's particularly well regarded for its home-grown actor-musician productions, including a rock 'n' roll panto.
Opened in 1929 as a cine-variety hall, this handsome art deco building seats 1500 people and is the largest performance venue in East Anglia. The varied programme ranges from touring West End plays and musicals to gigs by chart-topping bands and solo artists.
Sir John Mills Theatre
This is the home of community theatre company Eastern Angles. Performing here and in venues across the region, they specialise in original, commissioned plays and musicals, often on East Anglian themes. Their annual Christmas show is always bags of fun.
Located in the UCS main building on the waterfront, this light, airy exhibition space hosts exciting contemporary art shows, featuring work by both students and professionals. Admission is free.
The town has some wonderful parks where you can wander, chill out or enjoy an al fresco feast. Opened in 1895, Christchurch was the town's first public park and is still the most popular, playing host to major events including the annual Music in the Park festival. Other inviting green spaces include Holywells Park, which was 're-launched' in 2015, following a huge make-over funded by a £3.5 million lottery grant. Excellent facilities include a beautifully refurbished visitor centre with café in the former stables, the stunning renovated orangery and a state-of-the-art children's play area.
The Orwell River
Why not take a leisurely boat trip on one of East Anglia's most beautiful waterways? The Orwell Lady is a two-deck motor cruiser that offers short trips to the Orwell Bridge or longer excursions down to Harwich harbour. Alternatively, step back in time aboard the traditional Sailing Barge Victor, built in Ipswich in 1895.
Cafés, Tea Rooms and Coffee Houses
Fancy a cup of Earl Grey and a cream cake or a chocolate-dusted cappuccino and a biscuit? There are plenty of places around the town to celebrate the great British tea ceremony or revive yourself with a shot of caffeine, ranging from traditional tea rooms to coffee house chains. Popular town centre establishments include Patisserie Valerie in the Buttermarket, as well as the café above Berridges jewellers and Pickwicks, both in Dial Lane. There are also several attractive options down at the waterfront, including Coffeelink, Theta Café, Cafe Neptune and Dance Eats in the Jerwood DanceHouse.
Restaurants and Pubs
Ipswich has all kinds of eateries, from traditional inns to trendy restaurants, including Indian, Chinese and Asian-fusion venues such as the Mizu noodle bar on Cornhill and KwanThai in St Nicholas Street. Several national chains are also represented, including Nandos, Zizzi, Pizza Express and Ask. Many of the best places to eat are along the waterfront, combining great food with superb views of the marina, full to the gills with rows of smart yachts and motor cruisers. Gourmet options include the Bistro on the Quay, the Waterfront Bar Bistro, the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Aurora Bar and Restaurant, and Mariners, a unique floating restaurant on a refurbished former gunboat and hospital ship moored in the dock.
Food To Go
Take-away meals, snacks and street food are readily available throughout the town. You'll find all the usual suspects, including McDonalds, Subway, Greggs, KFC and Dominos. But there are also quite a few independent establishments too, including traditional fish and chip shops, family-run sandwich bars and ethnic street food specialists.
Bike & Go
Explore Ipswich at your own pace on two wheels. With our brilliant Bike & Go scheme you can hire a bike to pick up from Ipswich train station at a fixed daily charge of just £3.80.
Where To Stay
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