Elevated colorful beach huts on the sandy North Norfolk coast

Things to do in  East of England

Cambridge, cathedrals, and more

Church spires and stately homes stud the East of England’s rolling fields and wetlands as they sprawl from London to the North Sea coast. Cambridge tops the list of things to do in the East of England: like rival Oxford, this university city is famed for river punting and ancient colleges. But the cathedral cities of Ely, Norwich, and Peterborough draw history buffs; Norfolk’s sandy beaches and canal-boat Broads bring families flocking; and many visitors pass through en route from Tilbury cruise port or London Stansted Airport.

Top 15 attractions in East of England

SEA LIFE® Great Yarmouth

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From humble sea stars to giant sea turtles and mighty sharks, the marine world of SEA LIFE® Great Yarmouth will introduce you to many beautiful and fascinating creatures of the deep. Enjoy close-up views of marine life in environments that re-create their natural habitats and daily staff presentations that offer more in-depth information about the aquarium’s animals.More
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Old MacDonald's Farm

Old MacDonald's Farm

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With a wide range of animals, amusements, and activities designed to entertain families, Old MacDonald’s Farm can be a fun-filled day out whatever the weather. Meet more than 30 different species of animals including meerkats and wallabies, jump on amusing rides, and enjoy the soft play areas at this folksy park that’s scaled for young kids.More

SEA LIFE® Hunstanton

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A state-of-the-art marine aquarium, SEA LIFE® Hunstanton takes visitors on an undersea odyssey filled with close encounters with a wide variety of sea creatures. The staff at the center, known as Rainforest Rangers, are happy to show off their jungle creatures and creepy crawlies to visitors.More

River Cam

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The River Cam cuts through the heart of Cambridge and is one of the city’s most important natural attractions. While visitors can stroll along its banks, floating down the River Cam in a traditional flat-bottomed punt is one of the most quintessential Cambridge experiences and a convenient way to see some of Cambridge University’s most prestigious and otherwise inaccessible college buildings.More

King's College Chapel

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Hailed as the most impressive work of medieval architecture and Gothic design in Britain, Kings College Chapel now ranks as the most-visited attraction in Cambridge. The church is famous for its Gothic facade and elaborate stained glass windows, and for the fact that the foundation stone was laid by Henry VI himself in the 15th century.More

University of Cambridge

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Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Made up of six schools, 31 constituent colleges, and more than 100 academic departments, the historic university boasts an impressive alumni, which includes Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and Lord Byron.More

Trinity College

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Founded by Henry VIII in 1546, Trinity College is the largest Cambridge University college and the alma mater of many British Prime Ministers, Royal Family members, and Nobel Prize winners. Here, visitors can explore the 17th-century Great Court, Trinity College Clock, and Wren Library among other buildings, as well as attend public lectures and rent punts for use along the River Cam.More
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Fossils Galore

Fossils Galore

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Dino-loving kids and adults alike will appreciate the robust collection of fossils, bones, and crystals housed at Fossils Galore, a museum and workshop situated just 30 minutes outside of Peterborough. Highlights include a Woolly Rhinoceros skull and an Iguanadon dinosaur, as well as regular talks about fossil hunting, the chance to watch behind-the-scenes bone cleanings, and interactive exhibits.More

Queens' College

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Dating back to the 15th century, Queens’ College is among Cambridge University’s oldest colleges. The photogenic, river-straddling campus encompasses medieval courtyards; the President’s Lodge, a Tudor-style half-timbered building; and Mathematical Bridge, a wooden arch footbridge constructed entirely from straight timber beams.More

Bridge of Sighs

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Built in 1831, this bridge spans the River Cam, linking the New Court of St. John’s College with the older Third Court. While Cambridge’s covered bridge bears only a passing resemblance to its Venetian namesake, the Grade I-listed structure—with its neo-Gothic arches and tracery windows—is architecturally significant in its own right. More

Mathematical Bridge

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Spanning the River Cam, this wooden footbridge is often attributed to Isaac Newton, who—as the story goes—designed it in such a way that no bolts were needed to keep it in place. In reality, the bridge was built more than 20 years after Newton’s death, and is held together by bolts, though it is still recognized as an engineering marvel. More

King's College

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Founded in 1441 by Henry VI, King’s College is one of the most prestigious and perhaps the best-known of the Cambridge colleges. Notable alumni include writer Zadie Smith and mathematician Alan Turing; however, it’s the grounds and buildings which are of most interest to visitors. Here, explore landscaped gardens, stroll along the River Cam, and admire the 15th-century Gothic King’s College Chapel.More
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Skegness Aquarium

Skegness Aquarium

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Get up close to sharks, scorpions, and more at Skegness Aquarium, where pirate-themed exhibits, hands-on activities, and underwater experiences offer family-friendly fun and immersive insight into coastal biodiversity. Plus, the aquarium’s prime spot on the Skegness seafront makes it easy to visit several top attractions in one day.More
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Harwich International Port

Harwich International Port

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Located in Essex on the edge of the North Sea, Harwich International Port is about 85 miles (137 kilometers) northeast of London. Opened in 1883, Harwich International is a main port of call for Stena Line ferry services to the Netherlands and is used for commercial shipping. It's also one of the East Coast’s five major Haven Ports.More

Fitzwilliam Museum

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Fondly known as "the Fitz", this grand neoclassical building houses Cambridge University’s principal museum. Its collection, originally bequeathed by a Cambridge alum and nobleman in the early 19th century, has since grown to include some 500,000 artworks and antiquities; ranging from mummies to paintings by Titian, Matisse, and Rubens.More

Top activities in East of England

Walking Tour of Cambridge

Walking Tour of Cambridge

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210
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$96.69
per group
Historic Cambridge: A Guided Walking Tour

Historic Cambridge: A Guided Walking Tour

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355
From
$264.30
per group
Private Chauffeur Punt Tour

Private Chauffeur Punt Tour

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99
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$179.21
per group
Private Cambridge Punting Tour

Private Cambridge Punting Tour

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298
From
$140.53
per group
University Walking Tour

University Walking Tour

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187
From
$15.47
Private 2-Hour Cambridge Walking Tour With University Alumni Guide
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Private | Cambridge Uni Alumni-Led Walking Tour & Punting Tour
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All about East of England

When to visit

With its notoriously gray and rainy weather the rest of the year, summer is the peak season for visiting England, and the East of England is no exception. Norfolk’s beaches fill to bursting during the summer school vacation in late July and August, while Cambridge is tourist central throughout the European summer. The shoulder seasons (May–June, as well as September) offer prospects of decent weather paired with smaller crowds and, often, better-value accommodation.

Getting around

While strikes can be an issue, efficient trains link cities and many towns across the East of England: even small villages generally have a twice-daily bus service. Cars are more trouble than they’re worth in pedestrian-friendly Cambridge, which encourages drivers to park in out-of-town lots with bus services to the center. However, a tour or a car lets you cover more ground than public transit to explore the eastern coast and countryside.

Traveler tips

The classic English accompaniment to a Cambridge punting picnic is Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, a gin-based liqueur that’s served over ice with chopped strawberries, citrus, and cucumber, plus Sprite (or, as the locals call it, lemonade). For a classic taste of the Norfolk coast, walk from sweeping, pine-fringed Holkham Beach to the candy-colored beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea, then eat a crab sandwich on the seafront.

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People Also Ask

What is East England famous for?

Low-lying and generally flat, the East of England’s best-known destination is the university city of Cambridge. But it’s also known for the cathedral cities of Norwich and Ely, the sandy beaches of the North Norfolk coast, the Norfolk Broads’ canals, the royal residence at Sandringham, and stately homes, including Houghton Hall.

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Where should I visit on the east coast of England?

The North Norfolk coast is one of the most attractive stretches of England’s east coast. Highlights include Blakeney, which has seal-watching in season; Wells-next-the-Sea, a historic fishing village with party-colored beach huts; and Holkham, which offers the Holkham Hall stately home, a nature reserve, and the much-filmed Holkham Beach.

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Is the East of England worth visiting?

That depends. Most first-time visitors to the UK traveling on tight schedules can skip the East of England altogether or simply take a day trip to Cambridge from London: the train takes a little more than an hour. Beach enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and history buffs will want to spend more time.

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How many days do you need in the East of England?

Many travelers spend their entire vacation exploring the East of England, but four days let you hit some key highlights. Spend day 1 in Cambridge; explore Ely and King’s Lynn on day 2; discover the cathedral and boutiques of Norwich on day 3; wrap up on the North Norfolk coast.

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Is East Anglia the same as the East of England?

Not quite. Many people use the term East Anglia to mean eastern England, but the two areas differ slightly. The East of England is an official UK region that includes the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Cambridgeshire; East Anglia covers Norfolk, Suffolk, and parts of the other two counties.

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What is the best month to visit the East of England?

June is a great month to visit the East of England, with wildflower meadows in bloom and lavender from mid-month. The days are generally warm and often sunny, ideal for hiking, boating, and beach walks, but the school vacations have yet to begin, so attractions are less crowded.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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