Norwich is known for its fascinating medieval heritage, famous literary significance and of course its Castle! But delve a little deeper and you'll soon find yourself discovering the cities winding, cobbled lanes. Packed full of great family experiences with lots of activities and fun, interactive ways of exploring the city. There’s plenty to inspire, amaze and exhaust your kids here. But will we be able to pack it into 48hrs??
Older children like ours will be enthralled by the stories of Norwich's medieval history on a 'Visit Norwich Guided Tour'. Especially as over our 'Roadschooling Year in Europe' we've decided these guided walking tours are the best way to keep it interesting for the girls allowing us a feel for new cities. Offering the chance to pause, reflect and choose where we actually want to spend the hours or days ahead in any city. But if you prefer to explore Norwich at your own pace, there's plenty of quizzes and puzzles to solve along the way. Just head for the Forum and the Tourist Information Centre as this is the best place to start any visit to Norwich.
Our guide, John, proved adept at dealing with the questions thrown at him by both girls. Immediately interested in the different architecture on show, the flushed flint proved a great start to our exploration of the architecture of the city. But the tour also encompassed the 'art deco' Grand Arcade or the Market Cross in the centre of what must have been a huge medieval market. Norwich's proximity to the coast offers plenty of interesting architecture with plenty of houses boasting timber probably taken from ships dating back to the times of it's most famous son 'Admiral Horatio Nelson' Someone we'd heard much about during our discussions at the excellent 'Age of Discovery' centre in Porto, Portugal.
With Norwich dating back to 800AD, we learnt of Norwich's times of prosperity due to it's trading of textiles and geographic location when it became Britain's 2nd biggest city. A city that could mint its own coins and even had the first pedestrianised street in England (London Street). It even has links to Anne Boleyn, a person we'd recently learnt more about during our tour of the Tower of London. But Norwich's royalty links don't stop there with links to Queen Victoria via the Trimmings shop... There's just so much history to devour in Norwich... it really does take a morning at least to digest all the information...
But talking of digestion and rubbing rummies...
Norwich also has a huge range of family friendly restaurants, cafes! But on this visit, we headed away from the conventional restaurants.. Heading instead for a food lesson across two continents - at the family run Indian 'Namaste' & the impressive French 'Côte Brasserie'.
Having circumnavigated France recently on a 'Taste of France' adventure, we loved seeing both girls experimenting with 'Moules Frites', 'Croquette de Porc' or 'Dark Chocolate Pot'. This increasing love for developing their taste buds started when we dabbled with Truffle Cheese on Napolean's Route and Sarlat's Food festival in the Dordogne.
Both girls love adding new castles to their growing collection across Europe... so when asked it's hard to pick just one but if you've never seen any of these, then they're well worth a visit (Angers, Sintra, Dubrovnik, Dunnottar or Lincoln)
Avid history hunters will love to discover over 1,000 years of castle tales and walk in the footsteps of past kings and even William the Conqueror in the Norman-built Castle that overlooks the city of Norwich. The castle is a classic 'motte and bailey' but its clear lift access impressed us. Not everyone can get to these type of attractions, so well done to Norwich for making such a clear effort to help here.... but it doesn't stop there, the efforts to make it family friendly are throughout the castle (cut away castle models, child height boards). This level of detail just makes all the difference in making a visit enjoyable for both adults and children alike.
Family activities and workshops are held during school holidays, and throughout the year free activities happen to make the castle experience even more memorable. Our girls enjoyed seeing the various exhibitions but especially the task sheets that accompanied us through the Iceni Exhibit... the Soldier Corner and Art Workshop were equally impressive.
The Castle even offered further opportunities this half term, with craft tables making Iceni 'snake bracelets' whilst the little toddlers loved the 'dressing up' Roman fashion shows....
For the budding stage and screen stars over this February half term, you'd have loved hearing stories brought to life within Norwich Castle especially the abbreviated version of the entire history of the Romans in just 20mins. In an enjoyable Neil Paris 'Hail Caesar' production that had our girls jumping up and down in sheer unbridled enthusiasm.
With night setting where better to find somewhere to eat than the informal yet family focused Indian restaurant ' Namaste India'. Their menu is vegan friendly and entirely vegetarian but with a wonderful array of region specific dishes. Whilst, the owners were superb in answering the many questions both girls had about Indian customs, food and geographical differences. We love finding little gems like this colourful restaurant and would recommend it to any other families with kids who love to experiment with food.
On first glance, Norwich compares well with cities like Exeter or Lincoln that we've already visited on our 'UK Cities Tour'. But we've got another day tomorrow to see more of this friendly, welcoming city and we can't wait!!
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