Southwold’s reputation as a well-heeled holiday getaway has earned it the nickname 'Kensington-on-Sea' after the upmarket London borough, and its lovely sandy beach, pebble-walled cottages, cannon-dotted clifftop and rows of beachfront bathing huts are all undeniably picturesque. Over the years the town has attracted many artists, including JMW Turner, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst.
For most visitors Southwold's shorefront is the main attraction. Take time to amble along its promenade and admire the squat 19th-century lighthouse before ending up at the little pier, first built in 1899 but recently reconstructed. In the 'under the pier' show you'll find a quirky collection of slot machines, the likes of which you’re not likely to have seen elsewhere; in the current recession climate, how about having a satisfying go at Whack-a-Banker?
The Coastal Voyager is on hand to whisk you off on a range of boat trips, including a 30-minute high-speed fun trip (adult/child £22/12), a leisurely river cruise to nearby Blythburgh, and a three-hour trip to Scroby Sands to see a seal colony and wind farm.
Inland, the Church of St Edmund is worth a peek for its fabulous medieval screen and 15th-century bloodshot-eyed 'Southwold Jack' effigy, grumpily overlooking the church's rear – purpose unknown, though believed to be part of a clock. A mere stone's throw away is an old weavers' cottage that now houses the Southwold Museum, exploring Southwold’s 1000-year old fishing industry, the explosive 132-ship and 50,000-men Battle of Solebay (1672), fought just off the coast, and the role of the sea – Southwold’s livelihood and its destroyer.
You can also take an hour-long tour (£10) of the town's very own Adnams Brewery – producer of six types of beer, as well as vodka and gin – followed by a 30-minute tutored beer tasting.
Southwold's liveliest event is the Latitude Festival held in Henham Park (5 miles west of town), combining an eclectic mix of music, literature, dance, drama and comedy with a stunning location.
The tourist office has extensive accommodation listings.