Shops in Norwich come in all shapes and sizes. Shopaholics will love exploring the labyrinth of luxury stores, designer boutiques and independents in the Norwich Lanes and The Royal Arcade. There are great high street options in the shopping centres of Chapelfield Norwich and Castle Mall. And on top of that, Norwich is home to one of the oldest, biggest and best outdoor markets in the country, an antiques fair people flock from around the region to rummage through, and the small matter of a 600-stall car boot sale.
Shopping in Norwich
If you’re looking for popular high street retailers and household fashion brands, then make a beeline for Chapelfield Norwich, a commercial cathedral of over 100 stores, including a flagship three-storey House of Fraser.
Head towards the Cathedral Quarter and you’ll come across Castle Mall in the heart of the city centre. It’s five storeys of popular stores, including Boots, Tiger and TK Maxx. It’s also home to an eight-screen VUE Cinema with up to four hours of free parking, courtesy of Castle Mall’s two car parks and their combined 800 spaces.
The Royal Arcade is one of our favourite buildings in Norwich. It’s a fine example of architecture, designed and built in 1899 by Norwich local George Skipper – the architect responsible for the stunning Jarrolds independent department store, which used to be his office on London Street. He was an architect of immense originality and helped to shape the city. As Poet Laureate John Betjeman once said, “George Skipper was to Norwich what Gaudi was to Barcelona”.
Inside The Royal Arcade, its avenue of boutiques is flooded with light from the arched glass ceiling and decadent hanging lanterns. This combines with its colourful Royal Doulton tiling, provides quite a first impression considering the understated nature of the arcade’s facade when you approach from the streets.
While the vast majority of The Royal Arcade’s shops have changed over the years, Langley’s toy shop has been trading ever since it opened in 1899. Today, it’s joined by Digby’s, the bespoke chocolatiers, Arcadia Jewellers, Berrys & Grey’s bamboozling world of bespoke homeware, along with a Jamie’s Italian, and much more.
Last of all, we have to give a nod to the Norwich Lanes, a maze of alleyways, courtyards, pedestrianised streets and open spaces that are home to some of the finest medieval architecture in the UK, let alone the city. It’s also where you’ll find more than 300 independent shops, galleries, museums, venues, cafés, bars and restaurants.
We’ve already mentioned Jarrolds, which isn’t to be ignored if you’re planning a shopping spree. When it comes to fashion in the Lanes, there are popular spots like Catfish, Dogfish, Philip Browne, and Working Title. If you’re all about shoes, then you’ll want to pay a visit to All About Shoes on St. Benedicts Street. There’s also Curious Fair, who create luxury bespoke masks, headdresses and accessories, and Norwich’s own Aladdin’s cave called Head in the Clouds, along with some of the best bars of Norwich’s nightlife.
Our video guide to Norwich shopping
Norwich Market is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in the country. Originally established in the 11th century following the Norman conquest of England, it’s been serving the people of East Anglia for over 900 years and today consists of over 200 stalls where you’ll find everything from fresh produce and street food to vintage clothing and antiques. Norwich Market is open from Monday to Saturday and is one of our top recommendations in terms of places to visit for anyone coming to Norwich for the first time, providing the weather’s kind. Brick Pizza can be found on the fringes of the market square, and in the middle of the action, you’ll find the original stall of another one of our favourite places to eat in Norwich, Storm in a Teacup Café.
If it’s antiques you’re looking for, then be sure to investigate when The City Antiques Fair & Fleamarket is next being held. Once a month, it takes over the stunning St. Andrew’s Hall just on the other side of the river, and less than five minutes’ walk, from our Norwich City Centre (Duke Street) hotel. Having only been established a couple of years ago, it’s quickly built a reputation for being one of the best antiques fairs in the region and regularly has over 60 stalls offering all kinds of fascinating things from far-flung places.
On a vastly bigger scale, and perfect for a bit of bargain hunting is the Arminghall Car Boot Sale, which comes to Old Stoke Road every Wednesday, Sunday and bank holiday Monday. Established more than 30 years ago, it’s grown in size and popularity to be one of the biggest and best car boot sales in the region, with up to 600 stalls setting up shop at its lovely riverside location. As is the case with car boot sales, you should expect the unexpected and still be surprised with what a bit of rummaging reveals. As the old saying goes, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, so head down and see what takes your fancy. After all, it’s less than a 10-minute drive from our Norwich East (Broadlands/A47) hotel.