PAGE UPDATED: 07.07.2022
Suffolk is our home county and we’ve lived here all our lives. When we’re not travelling long-distance we like nothing better than to jump in the van and take a day trip somewhere local.
When you visit Suffolk, you’ll soon see what the county is renowned for: open countryside, big skies, enchanting forests, and a wonderful coastline.
And it’s one of the driest and warmest parts of the UK – always a bonus!
On this page we’re going to introduce you to some of our favourite spots inland and along the beautiful Suffolk Coast, some of which are secluded, out-of-the-way places, with an air of mystery about them.
Visiting Suffolk – is it motorhome friendly?
When you visit Suffolk – like any tourist destination – you’ll obviously want to know about the best places to see and things to do. And as a motorhome driver you’ll also want to know if you can park!
Let’s just say that some places cater better than others for us van-lifers.
It’s a serious consideration because if you’re driving a really large motorhome parking is not easy in some locations. And sometimes it is impossible!
The good news is that most of the places we like best in Suffolk – and those we’re going to tell you about – are less touristy so you shouldn’t have a problem.
Driving on Suffolk’s country lanes
Another thing is that some of the places we’ll mention are down single-lane roads. That’s the thing about Suffolk; there are lots of narrow B roads (called byroads) criss-crossing the county that sometimes turn into little more than dirt tracks with grass growing in the middle.
If that’s something you’re not familiar with it can feel a bit disconcerting when you see another vehicle coming toward you, especially if you’re in a big RV and there is no passing place. However, Suffolk folk are pretty friendly and laid back so you should be fine!
We’re going to list our favourite Suffolk places in alphabetical order to make them easy for you to find. Some are inland and others are along the beautiful Suffolk Coast with its big open skies.
Our Favourite Places to Visit in Suffolk
Otherwise, scroll through the list below. We’ve added more detailed stories to most of the places so just click the links for more info…
You’ll be able to zoom in on the map below to locate each place.
A huge man-made reservoir just a few miles south of Ipswich. It is found along the A137 toward Manningtree. It is perfect for a long walk or cycle (it’s 8 miles all the way round). There’s a cafe, play area, and brand new campsite.
Up the A12 north toward Woodbridge, then onto the B1083 past Sutton Hoo. In another twenty minutes you’ll reach Bawdsey Quay that looks across the river Deben to Felixstowe Ferry. We love going here but it is the scene of one of our biggest van life disasters!
You can jump on the little ferry across to Felixstowe for a drink or meal at the pub.
This is one of Trudi’s favourite childhood places that is all too quickly disappearing into the North Sea. It’s off the A12, just north of Southwold. You can park your van along the narrow road close to the church ruins. Then you must walk a little way to the beach, which is usually very quiet. Just how we like it.
Prepare to get away from it all…
Dunwich and Minsmere
We’ve put these together as they’re right next to each other. Dunwich was once a thriving sea port with several thousand inhabitants but has since been lost to the sea.
And Minsmere is Suffolk’s most popular RSPB site with many different walks through woodland, heathland or along the marshes and beaches.
A great Suffolk seaside town with fantastic sandy beaches, Also Landguard Point with museum and fort. Felixstowe Docks – still the largest container port in the UK – and Old Felixstowe with great views out to sea.
There WERE good parking facilities for vans. But read our report for worrying news!
Knettishall Heath Country Park
One of Gav’s favourite childhood places with miles and miles of heathland and forest.
Accessed off the A1066 close to Thetford Forest Park, there are many different walks. Some through the woods or by the stream. Plus around 30 Exmoor ponies roaming freely. Knettishall can get quite busy at weekends and there’s usually an ice-cream van and coffee vendor.
You can’t come to Suffolk and not visit Lavenham to marvel at its crooked houses. This is a very popular tourist destination with people coming from all over the world to admire the medieval architecture.
Accessed just off the A134 near Long Melford, Lavenham also has a beautiful church. It also has a second-hand book section! There are several signed walks all around the village.
This is more of a stop-by destination a few miles off the A12 and we stumbled upon it out of curiosity. There’s nothing else here for visitors apart from the abbey ruins but when we looked into its history we found that the abbey had connections with one of Suffolk’s most gruesome legends!
If you take the A1152 off the A12 just after Woodbridge, you’ll soon see signs for Orford. You’ll drive through Rendlesham Forest and after a few more miles enter the village of Orford where you can visit a 12th century castle, take lovely walks along the river banks, or do some crab fishing at the quay.
But what you really want to do here is book yourself a place on the little boat and head out across the water to one of the most mysterious places in Suffolk.
RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall
It has become a monthly treat to go along to RAF Lakenheath viewing area with the van to work on research and writing for this website. Sitting listening to the jets warming up, ready to dash along the runway then burst upwards is like the build-up to Christmas. So exciting!
Jet after jet with screaming engines and a bass note that reverberates right through you storm along the ground before lifting higher and higher…climbing and banking…
Or, for something a little bigger, you can go across to John’s field at Mildenhall to watch the huge tanker planes take off and land like they’re weightless.
Read our page about these two American bases which blend beautifully into an area of Special Scientific and Botanical Interest!
The first place we took the van together and a place we return to at least once every year for a night or two.
Rendlesham Forest has a wonderful campsite right in the centre and it comes with one of the UK’s biggest unsolved mysteries: the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident in 1980. There’s a walk you can take along the UFO trail.
This bleak and desolate stretch of coast possibly hides the secrets of an attempted Nazi invasion in WWII.
Reached via twisting country lanes, there’s just enough room to park your van and wander onto the shingle beaches to enjoy the peace and quiet. And there’s a good chance you’ll see the seals across the water sunbathing on the sandbanks.
Heading out of Ipswich, under the Orwell Bridge along the B1456, you’ll venture onto the Shotley peninsula, eventually reaching land’s end at Shotley Marina.
There’s plenty of room for a motorhome and spectacular views across the rivers Orwell and Stour to the docks back at Felixstowe and Harwich, respectively. There are some lovely walks up and down the rivers, great for beachcombing. And if you fancy a longer walk you can make your way to Pin Mill for a delicious lunch at the pub.
Southwold is a seaside resort with an olde-worlde feel to it. There’s a really fun pier which houses some of Tim Hunkin’s whacky inventions, a sandy beach, lighthouse and great fish and chips! And you’ll find allocated motorhome parking in the main car park close to the pier. Always a bonus!
Read Seaside Nostalgia at Southwold and step back in time.
And just a mile south of Southwold is the village of Walberswick, well worth visiting for the name alone!
It gets very popular in the summer months where families come to catch crabs on the famous crabbing bridge or sunbathe amongst the dunes.
We love to pick the samphire and cook it with fresh fish. Delicious!
If you feel inspired to visit some of our favourite Suffolk places but don’t have your own van yet, have you thought about hiring a camper? Before you do, make sure you check out all you need to know about motorhome rental.