One of the very prettiest of Eastern England’s seaside resorts, Southwold sits atop sturdy cliffs that have largely protected it from the fate of its increasingly subaquatic neighbours. Its reputation as a well-heeled holiday getaway has earned it the nickname ‘Kensington-on-Sea’ after the posh district of London, and its gorgeous sandy beach, pebble-walled cottages, cannon-dotted clifftop and rows of beachfront bathing huts are all undeniably picturesque. The occasional whiff of roasting malt is also a reminder that Southwold is home to the Adnams Brewery (727200; www.adnams.co.uk; Adnams Pl, Sole Bay Brewery), so what better excuse to try its creamy ales in one of the town’s old coaching inns.
The tourist office (724729; www.visit-southwold.co.uk; 69 High St; 10am-5pm Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm Sun Apr-Sep, 10.30am-3.30pm Mon-Fri, to 4pm Sat Oct-Mar) can help out with accommodation and information.
Starting inland, the Church of St Edmund (Church St; admission free; 9am-6pm Jun-Aug, to 4pm rest of year) is worth a quick peek for its fabulous medieval screen and 15th-century bloodshot-eyed Jack-o-the-clock, which grumpily overlooks the church’s rear. A mere stone’s throw away is an old weavers’ cottage that now houses the Southwold Museum (726097; www.southwoldmuseum.org; 9-11 Victoria St; admission free; 10.30am-noon & 2-4pm Aug, 2-4pm Apr-Oct), where you can gen up on the explosive 132-ship and 50, 000-men Battle of Solebay (1672), fought between the English, French and Dutch fleets just off the coast.
But Southwold’s shorefront is really the place to be. Take time to amble along its promenade, admire the squat 19th-century lighthouse before ending up at the cute little pier (722105; www.southwoldpier.co.uk), first built in 1899 but recently reconstructed. In among a few cheap-and-cheerful bars, fast-food dispensers and amusements, you’ll find a quirky collection of handmade slot machines including a mobility masterclass for zimmerframe-users, and a modern water clock sculpture with a naughty secret revealed every half hour.