11 reasons why Norwich is the best city

Norwich really is a fine city.

Here are 11 reasons why Norwich really is a fine city - Credit: Archant

With its thriving independent businesses, vibrant food scene and sought-after postcodes, Norwich really is a fine city. 

But if you’re still not convinced, here are some things the city has to offer which have been named among the best in the UK.

1. Best place to live 

Norwich Market.

Norwich Market. - Credit: Archant

Norwich was named the best place to live in the East of England

In a list compiled by The Sunday Times, the fine city beat the rest to the top spot. 

Seven locations were on the region's shortlist, representing the best of Britain in the annual Best Places to Live guide.

The judges said of Norwich: "Britain’s most likeable small city has all the things we love: high culture, café culture and beautiful buildings of every kind."

2. Best farm shop

St Giles Pantry in Norwich

St Giles Pantry in Norwich - Credit: Archant

St Giles Pantry, located in Upper St Giles, was ranked fourth in the country due to its green approach, according to sustainability experts Pebble. 

Most Read

The firm recognised the shop for its focus on sourcing local produce and using suppliers within a 40-mile radius of Norwich. 

The pantry stocks coffee, wine, and ales which are made by independent roasters and producers.

It also sells freshly baked goods and hosts events for the community.

3. Best afternoon tea

Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett.

Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett. - Credit: Google Maps

Park Farm Hotel, just outside Norwich, featured in a list of 51 of the best places to enjoy tasty scones and dainty sandwiches. 

The list was compiled by Muddy Stilettos, which offers an insider's guide to the best food, day trips, hotels, and more across the country. 

It praises the "gorgeous surroundings" of Park Farm Hotel where you can enjoy a traditional three-tier tea and a glass of fizz, which you can also combine with a trip to its spa. 

4. Best pub

The King's Head in Magdalen Street.

The King's Head in Magdalen Street. - Credit: Google Maps

The King's Head in Magdalen Street was voted the best pub in Norwich and the overall pub of the year for the Campaign for Real Ale's (CAMRA) Norwich and District branch's annual awards.  

Owner Stephen George said: "We are delighted to be named Norwich & District CAMRA Pub of the Year for the fourth time.

The Fat Cat in West End Street was the runner-up for Norwich's pub of the year.

5. Best brunch 

The Assembly House in Norwich.

The Assembly House in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The Assembly House is a Georgian gem in the heart of the city. 

And the business also recently made it on to a list of the UK's top 50 restaurants for brunch

The list is based on more than one million reviews written by diners using OpenTable, a reservation website and app. 

The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon teas, with menus put together by its director and renowned Norfolk chef, Richard Hughes. 

6. Best cycle route

The new surface on parts of the Marriott's Way isn't popular with some dog walkers and cyclists, say

Marriott's Way in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Marriott's Way was named in a list by The Times as one of the best and easiest cycling routes in the country

The 26-mile footpath, bridleway, and cycle trail runs between Norwich and Aylsham and follows the routes of two disused railway lines. 

The Times described it as an "easy, flat ride along old railway paths" where you will see woodland, farmland and meadows.

The Times recommends The Red Lion in Bishopgate in Norwich as the place to eat.

7. Best place for a night out

The new-look Tombland in Norwich as people enjoy being out and about as the Covid restrictions are e

Tombland in Norwich. - Credit: Archant/Denise Bradley

Norwich was named one of the best places in the UK for a night out thanks to its vibrant mix of bars, pubs, and clubs. 

Get Licensed ranked locations using research based on factors including the number of drinking venues per head, the cost of a pint , and a range of different safety concerns. 

Norwich ranked at number five, with York at the top spot followed by Telford, Warrington, and Edinburgh. 

Norwich also ranked number three, again behind York and Telford, in a separate safety index ranking.

8. Best book store

Owners Dan and Leanne Fridd outside Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Norwich

Owners Dan and Leanne Fridd outside Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Norwich - Credit: Supplied by Bookbugs and Drag

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, which opened in Timberhill in 2019, was named the East of England's Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards 2022.

But this wasn't the business's first taste of national recognition.

Run by Leanne and Dan Fridd, the store was named among the top 10 independent book stores in Britain by publisher Louise Boland for The Guardian.

9. Best independent shops

Philip Brown's shop with the urinating mannequin in the window, which they now have to remove due to

Philip Brown in Norwich. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

In a new list of the country's 50 best independent retail experiences published by The Sunday Times, both Philip Browne and Country and Eastern in Norwich were included

Country and Eastern, in Bethel Street, was praised for its "remarkable selection of reasonably priced print tablecloths, napkins, duvet covers, and other beautifully made homewares".

While 35-year-old menswear store, Philip Browne, in Guildhall Hill, was said to "blend humour with high fashion" with its "cheeky window displays" and was praised for its selection of brands such as Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela, and Billionaire Boys Club.

10. Best city for independent businesses

Anne Schroer at her new vegan kebab restaurant and takeaway, Doner Bei Tante Anne, in Wensum Street.

Anne Schroer at her vegan kebab restaurant and takeaway, Doner Bei Tante Anne, in Wensum Street. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Norfolk Retro's Laura Budds said St Augustines Street, where she has her shop, is "becoming the hear

Norfolk Retro in St Augustines Street. - Credit: Laura Budds

Norwich was named as one of the best cities to launch an indie according to Bionic's business index for 2021.

Despite a pandemic, many bosses took the plunge last year and saw success against all the odds. 

Laura Budds, a former teacher, fulfilled her life-long dream of selling vintage furniture full-time when she permanently set up shop in St Augustines Street last year with Norfolk Retro.

The sentiment was echoed by Norwich newbie Anne Schröer of Döner Bei Tante Anne, who launched her vegan kebab brand in Wensum Street in 2021.

11. Best vintage shopping 

Rosie Dearlove outside her new permanent store for Slayyy Vintage, which started out life on Norwich

Rosie Dearlove outside her store for Slayyy Vintage, which started out life on Norwich Market. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

Our fine city was also named best in the UK for vintage and second-hand shopping.

That's because Norwich has, per capita, the most vintage stores in the UK.

It is also home to the ninth highest number of second-hand shops and the seventh most vintage second-hand selling events.

There are a total of 28 vintage shops in the city, with an average of 4.3 stars, and 43 second-hand shops.

Rosie Dearlove, the 20-year-old owner of Slayyy Vintage in St Giles Street, said: "Norwich is a thriving city of independents, there's an amazing amount of vintage and second-hand stores."