Last updated on February 14, 2023 by Wandering our World
Nestled on Suffolk’s Heritage Coast is the quaint and charming seaside town of Southwold, where you can experience the perfect British escape into nature.
Southwold is home to sandy beaches and colourful, traditional beach huts along the promenade. Within the town itself is a plethora of independent businesses for you to explore, and its surrounding areas are full of lush countryside perfect for camping.
Luckily if you’re planning your own Southwold camping adventure we have everything you need right here. From what to expect at each campsite and any rules that exist, to the best places for food, and even what wildlife you could spot and what time of year is best to see them!
Simply put, everything you need is right here. Let’s get started!
- Getting To Southwold
- The Best Campsites In Southwold
- Camping In Southwold Rules, Regulations & Advice
- Things To Do When Camping In Southwold
- Places To Eat
- When To Go Camping: Weather, Wildlife & Events
Getting To Southwold
Car rental stores can be found in virtually every city across the UK, so don’t worry if you’ve flown or ferried in from Ireland or somewhere else abroad.
But if you’re planning to exclusively use public transport, use a journey planner like this one.
From Manchester, it will take around 5 hours to get to Southwold via the A14, whilst from London, it’ll take around 3 hours via the A12 or the M11 and A14.
From Edinburgh, it’s a whopping 8 hours via the A1(M) and the A1! Finally, from Cardiff, it’s 5 hours via the M4 and A12. You can also go via the A14.
Unfortunately getting to Southwold by train is not straightforward if you’re not starting your journey in the south of England.
In fact from Manchester, you’d have to make about 5 changes. Your best bet is to get a train to London or Norwich (which is closer to Southwold) from any major train station, and then hire a car to make the rest of the way there.
From London, get a train to Norwich, and then make your way to Kings Head in Southwold. Start from Norwich to St Stephen’s Street, then go from there to your destination via train.
You can catch a coach from the Suffolk area to Southwold. Companies like Anglian Coaches take you there from Darsham and Halesworth on the 521 bus service.
The Best Campsites In Southwold For Fun, Views & Facilities
1. Southwold Caravan Site
Southwold Caravan Site offers 19 pitches with electric hook-ups for your caravan. It’s also close to the beach and harbour.
Prices depend on the season. Off-peak prices are around £30 a night for standard pitches, and electric pitches are around £40. Peak prices are around £40 for a standard pitch and £45 for an electric hook-up.
Additional people, bank holidays, and accessories including a gazebo or storage tent will cost extra.
2. Firs Glamping
Firs Glamping offers a luxurious experience whilst simultaneously connecting you with nature.
The site is only small with just 5 tents, but if you manage to book, you’ll be treated to the Suffolk countryside right outside your place of stay. Southwold’s seaside town is only 4 miles away.
It’s £75 per night from October to March, and £85 from April to September – still cheaper than a hotel! Facilities include a kitchenette, hob, fire pit, bikes, BBQ, toilets, showers, and a log burner.
3. Pigs in Blankets
Pigs in Blankets offers a unique camping experience with pitches lying within the grounds of their large farm. It’s beautifully picturesque and in a great area for hikers.
Campervans cost £18 per night per adult on a standard pitch. Children are £10. An electric pitch is £24 per night for adults and £14 for children. Under-3s are free. Bank holidays cost a little extra (£2).
Facilities include toilets, BBQs, showers, drinking water and farming produce. Pets are welcome.
4. Sunnyside Campsite
Nestled in the countryside just outside Southwold is Sunnyside Campsite, another rural farm on the edge of a quaint village. Nearby you’ll find cycle routes and hiking trails, as well as a pub. Campfires and BBQs are permitted.
Southwold is 9 miles away, so this is a good choice for those who enjoy walking. Pre-erected tents are available, as well as hook-ups for caravans.
There are over a dozen extra facilities too, so you’re covered. Prices start from £20 a night and go up to £80.
5. Orchard Wild Camping
Orchard Wild Camping is for those wanting a true escape to the country, all while being a few miles away from Southwold.
Plots are secluded and sheltered by trees, and at night all you will hear are the sounds of nature.
Facilities on offer are showers, toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables and benches. There’s also plenty of open space for the kids to run around. Prices per night start from £30.
6. Jubilee Camping and Caravaning Club
Here you can pitch your caravan or tent, but keep in mind there are no toilets or showers. You also need to join this club to book your stay, so this is great for those who will be visiting for a break often.
There are electric hook-ups, and pets are welcome. Membership starts from £45, but you will still have nightly fees of around £15.
Camping In Southwold Rules, Regulations & Advice
Free Camping In Southwold
Free camping is generally not allowed in Southwold or England. There may be some exceptions, for example, if you are in a National Park, but you must check on an individual basis.
Some National Parks do not allow camping, and some simply tolerate it, but only if you leave no trace and only spend one night. In short, you need landowner permission.
If you really want a free camping experience, you can visit this site to join a club with an annual membership fee where you will find landowners that are happy to let you stay on their plot for a while.
Looking After Yourself & Nature
Make sure to follow your campsite’s specific rules. The following is some advice to help you camp responsibly in general, and to explore surrounding nature responsibly.
Whether you’re pitching up a tent or hooking up a caravan, you should aim to leave no trace of your stay when camping in Southwold. This means leaving no litter behind, and fully putting out any fires – throw water, stir it, and water it again. Use designated fire rings or a fire pit.
Help protect the surrounding environment by washing or going to the toilet at least 30 metres away from any natural sources of water, so you don’t contaminate or disturb wildlife. Bury any waste. Tampons and pads should be taken with you – animals can dig them up.
Use organic toiletries and cleaning products without harsh chemicals – many supermarkets now sell soap bars (to reduce plastic waste) and organic cleaning products to help clean out your tanks. You can also now find biodegradable baby and disinfectant wipes.
Leave everything as you see it – this includes rocks, trees, pebbles, burrows, wildflowers etc. Watch out for any underfoot nests. If you disturb something endangered, you could be fined.
Stay as quiet as is reasonable so as to not disturb other campers or wildlife. Always keep your pets with you, and don’t feed any wild animals as they will become a nuisance and/or become ill.
To protect yourself from biting insects like gnats, midges, and mosquitos, wear long sleeves and use lots of insect repellent. You can also pitch your tent on high ground so as to avoid poorly drained and damp areas, which attract these insects.
If you want to make extra sure you’re avoiding these insects, you can even check the weather forecast and position your tent away from the direction of the wind. This way you won’t open your tent only to be greeted by an insect cloud. Finally, make sure your tent is always closed, even if you’re just nipping out. You should also use non-fragranced products and seal away food, rubbish, and other waste. Remember that smoke deters insects too.
When camping in Southwold watch out for ticks too. They latch onto your skin and burrow in, causing inflammation, itching, and possibly allergic reactions and even serious illness, including long-term diseases. Wearing long sleeves and insect repellent reduces this risk.
You can also remove ticks from the skin with tweezers – grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward steadily. Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol.
Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, you may walk through fields of cattle. Just keep a good distance and don’t disturb them.
Fishing In Southwold
Read this overview of freshwater fishing rules in England. You need a rod licence if you’re over 13 years old and follow the rules of privately owned bodies of water.
Sea fishing does not require a licence but there are restrictions on what species and size you can keep.
In Southwold, people enjoy fishing on the pier. There are many fishing shops throughout Southwold too.
Things To Bring When Camping In Southwold
Make sure to take these things with you on your trip:
- A water filter
- Rubbish bags
- A filtered torch
- Warm clothing
- Waterproof clothing
- Insect repellent
- A fire pit
- First aid kit
- Plant-based/organic and non-fragranced toiletries
- Plant-based/organic cleaning products
The 7 Best Things To Do When Camping In Southwold
1. Southwold Pier
At Southwold Pier, you’ll encounter restaurants along the boardwalk, arcades, and shops.
Enjoy some fish and chips as you stroll along the pier while checking out what’s in store, as many events take place throughout the year, including discounts during half-term holidays to keep the kids entertained, as well as shows and celebrations.
2. Southwold Maize Maze
For fun-seeking families, visit Southwold Maize Maze. Try your best to make it to the middle of their mazes of maize.
One ticket grants you access to both mazes, as well as other activities like go-karts and zip lines. There’s also an on-site café so you can refuel.
Arguably the best time of year to book for is Halloween when the mazes and other activities get a spooky theme – you can even go pumpkin picking. Prices are around £10 per person, depending on the time of year.
3. Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room
For the more intellectual amongst your family or group of friends, this tiny, quiet museum is sure to please. The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room was built in 1864 as a spot for fishermen and mariners.
The aim was to keep them out of pubs. Today you’ll find cabinets filled with interesting historical artefacts, as well as portraits and photos.
4. Southwold Lighthouse
This still-operational lighthouse was used to guide many boats to the shore and has been at work since 1890. During the summer, you can enjoy a 30-minute tour, which features a climb to the top.
5. Southwold Museum and Historical Society
Another great museum is Southwold Museum and Historical Society, which exhibits artefacts and stories from local history.
It’s run mostly by volunteers and offers an insight into how Southwold became what it is today. Many of the artefacts can be traced back hundreds of years. What’s more, it’s free to enter, but donations are welcomed.
6. St Edmund’s Church
St Edmund’s Church was built in the 15th century and still stands in all its glory today. You’ll be treated to beautiful architecture and stunning stained-glass windows.
7. Hen Reedbeds
Hen Reedbeds is a nature reserve ideal for those who enjoy bird spotting or taking peaceful walks. Created in 1999, this reserve provides a sanctuary for herons, tits, hawkers, and warblers. You may also see otters, water voles, and – on land – ponies grazing on the fields.
The Best Places To Eat
Coasters is a small restaurant for those looking for a quick refuel. They describe their menus as Modern British, using locally sourced ingredients.
You can dine at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the menus change depending on the ingredients available at that time of year.
Some staple items include a bacon sandwich, a full English breakfast, lunch sandwiches, haddock and chips, sausage rolls, curries, and desserts.
2. The Boardwalk
The Boardwalk is a go-to for those walking along the pier, and they also do takeaway – so you can order your fish and chips and enjoy them by the sea.
Their menus also change throughout the year depending on the season – so expect freshness. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meals are available, and you can sit outside.
3. Sole Bay Fish Company
Also providing takeaway and fish and chips is Sole Bay Fish Company, which is also very close to the lighthouse.
Catches on offer include cod, haddock, rock eel, oysters, lobster, sea bass, crab, and shellfish – so you’ll be getting a true taste of the British coast.
3. Harbour Inn
Right by the sea is this classic British pub. Harbour Inn is the one place for social gatherings at lunch or lively evening drinks with friends.
Drinks on offer include a range of Adnams beers, spirits, and wines. The menu features fresh local seafood such as shrimp, sardines, monkfish, and herring.
This pub is also family-friendly, and dogs are welcome. No need to book – first come first served.
4. Enzo’s Pizzeria
When you’ve finally had enough fish and chips, you can visit Enzo’s Pizzeria.
Located on Southwold’s High Street, this restaurant boasts a small but tasty menu of authentic Italian pizzas and sides. There’s also a selection of drinks including Italian wine and beer.
Make sure you reserve in advance (up to 6 people) and keep in mind that there is a £15 deposit.
When To Go Camping: Weather, Wildlife & Events
Time your camping trip to Southwold well with these tips on annual weather, seasonal wildlife, and year-round events.
The British coast is known for its blustery spells, and Southwold is no exception. But this can offer a nice relief during the summer when it can get quite humid, even on overcast, rainy days.
That being said, the windiest 6 months of the year tend to be from October to March.
Winter is by far the coldest and wettest time of year, with average lows of 2 degrees (C) and around 11 days of rainfall a month, but temperatures can be a lot lower (up to -5 degrees).
Late Spring is quite pleasant, with highs of around 15 degrees. Summer is pleasant too at around 20 degrees, but week-long heatwaves can get as high as the mid-to-late thirties.
Even without these high temperatures, it is always very humid during summer and early autumn – where temperatures start back down to spring levels.
All year round you’ll be treated to plenty of wildlife, whether you’re on the coast or in the countryside. Most of the year, especially in springtime, you can see cattle grazing in the fields. This includes cows, sheep, and maybe even ponies or horses.
Birdwatchers are in for a treat too, with birds like grebes and divers in and around many ponds and rivers, mostly during springtime.
The great crested grebe is one to look out for, with its lion-like, red mane of feathers. Seabirds of course include seagulls, gulls, shearwaters, razorbill and even puffins – visible especially during winter.
Mammals to watch out for include deer, bats, squirrels, red squirrels, red foxes, dormice (especially visible at night), harvest mice, badgers, otters and rabbits.
You may want to ensure your trip corresponds with one or more of these annual events:
- Adnams Tours and Experiences: Book a tour with Adnams Breweries and see how their iconic beverages are made. There are multiple slots available every month.
- Beccles Farmers Market: This market takes place twice a month and has over 30 stalls with fresh and local produce on offer. During December it is transformed into a Christmas market. You’ll find it at the United Reformed Church Hall.
- Woottens Spring Plant and Garden Fair: During springtime, you can take a look at all the beautiful plants on offer from various stallholders. It takes place on The Iris Field.