Pastel perfection at Suffolk’s seaside retreat on the 64!
This week’s hidden gem destination is Aldeburgh, a charming, serene coastal retreat in Suffolk at the end of First’s 64 bus from Ipswich, which is a really pleasant scenic journey that runs hourly and takes 1 hour, 37 minutes.
Aldeburgh offers a delightful blend of traditional seaside charm and quirky attractions. Begin your journey at Aldeburgh Beach, renowned for its shingle expanse and iconic “scallop sculptures,” a controversial artwork by Maggi Hambling dedicated to Benjamin Britten, the town’s famous composer.
For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Aldeburgh Museum is a ‘must’. Housed in a 16th-century timber-framed building, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Aldeburgh’s maritime past, including exhibits on local fishing traditions and the town’s connection to the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo.
Aldeburgh is famous for its pastel-coloured houses which are a timeless hallmark of the town’s charming coastal aesthetic. These distinctive hues are an integral part of Aldeburgh’s architectural character, evoking a sense of tradition, cheerfulness, and a connection to the sea.
The tradition of painting houses in pastel shades dates back centuries. Initially, fishermen and their families used leftover boat paint to adorn their homes. As a fishing village, Aldeburgh’s residents repurposed these marine paints to brighten up their houses, giving the town its characteristic palette of pastel colours.
The choice of pastels served a practical purpose as well. The soft, muted tones helped homes stand out through misty coastal weather and complemented the natural surroundings—blues and greens of the sea and the beach. Over time, this tradition became a cultural norm, and the pastel colour scheme became a defining feature of Aldeburgh’s architecture.
Discover the charming Moot Hall, an 18th-century timber-framed building with a fascinating history. It has served as a courthouse, a meeting place for the Corporation, a prison, and even a market. Now, it houses the Aldeburgh Museum, showcasing the town’s rich heritage.
Film enthusiasts should head to the Aldeburgh Cinema, one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas in the UK, dating back to 1919. It continues to screen a diverse range of films, combining classic cinema with contemporary releases.
Aldeburgh also boasts a strong literary heritage, being the inspiration for several works by George Crabbe, a renowned poet and naturalist. There are two fabulous traditional book shops in the town, The Aldeburgh Bookshop and Reed Books, with some real gems inside on the shelves. Explore too, the Red House, the former residence of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, which has been turned into a museum and showcases their lives and work.
No trip to Aldeburgh would be complete without savouring its world-famous fish and chips. The town takes great pride in its locally caught fish and freshly cooked chips, offering a delightful gastronomic experience – The Lighthouse Restaurant in the High Street is particularly recommended. So too, The Two Magpies Bakery, a few yards from the bus stop back to Ipswich and also in the High Street offers some great treats, particularly for breakfast.
Immerse yourself in the Aldeburgh Arts Festival, an annual event celebrating music, poetry, visual arts, and performance. It’s a perfect opportunity to engage with the town’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.
Aldeburgh really is a fabulous, underrated location. It’s the perfect climax to a delightful journey on the 64 bus which winds it’s way, twisting and turning across leafy Suffolk countryside, whilst also stopping at fascinating small towns, including Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Saxmundham and Leiston – treats in their own right, such that a trip to Aldeburgh is worthy not just of a day-trip but also part of a great staycation. With great connections by rail into Ipswich or from one of the many bus routes around the town, it’s also a really easy trip to make and one close to London, but blissfully tranquil by comparison!
Check out 64 Ipswich – Aldeburgh – Great Scenic Journeys for more details of this fabulous journey.