Part busy container port, part charming seaside town with activities to suit all ages and interests, Felixstowe is well worth investigating. Words: Richard Bryson.

Felixstowe tends to live in the shadows of more feted Suffolk seaside destinations. But perhaps its appeal is spreading as it was recently included in The Sunday Times’ Best Places to Live Guide. And while it may lack a little of the allure and gentility of Aldeburgh, Thorpeness and Southwold it is more accessible, with a train link to Ipswich, plus the A14 which snakes into the Midlands.

It’s also a town of two halves with the port dominating the landscape to the west. It’s the United Kingdom’s largest container port and one of the busiest in Europe so any visitor to the town’s seafront should be able to spot mighty ships entering or leaving this corner of Suffolk’s coast.

Away from this hive of industry, Felixstowe (the name means “happy place”) takes on the mantle of traditional Edwardian seaside resort and boasts a Blue Flag beach. Children and the young at heart can enjoy the pier’s amusements of slot machines, penny falls and retro mini bowling.

What of the town’s history? During 1338 Edward III used it as a base before sailing to fight the French and its importance as a lynchpin in England’s defences was highlighted when, in 1667, Dutch invaders landed but failed to capture Landguard Fort.

In the 1930s it was home to Wallis Simpson throughout the abdication crisis. Walk along the coastline and you will spot further resistance to potential invaders – several Martello Towers built to repel Napoleonic forces.

A friend who regularly visits the town says it offers the complete package to keep all family members – regardless of age – happy and enthralled, adding: “It has the old world charm of the area around the Ferry to Bawdsey, then there’s happy-go-lucky fun and frolics around the pier. And if you want some awesome views go to the next door port.”

Where to buy

“Felixstowe is fast becoming the next desirable area for coastal living, having undergone a comprehensive programme of regeneration in recent years,” says Callum Jacobs, associate partner at the Felixstowe branch of estate agents Fenn Wright.

“The old part of the town remains one of the most sought after locations, especially those properties that offer scope for remodelling or improvement. While fashionable coastal neighbours, Aldeburgh and Southwold, have previously taken the limelight, buyers are attracted by the beautiful Edwardian architecture and attractive price tags here. You really can get a lot for your money in Felixstowe and the surrounding villages, with properties to suit every budget.”

Developers have also seen the potential Felixstowe has to offer, with several desirable new homes developments springing up along the seafront. Fenn Wright are marketing the site of the former police station, St Mary’s nursing home, next to the ever popular Fludyers Hotel, and Laureate Fields.

How much?

Rightmove reports properties in Felixstowe had an overall average price of £316,992 over the last year. The majority of sales were detached properties, selling for an average price of £433,055. Semi-detached properties sold for an average of £314,741, with terraced properties fetching £255,269.

Adds Callum: “Old Felixstowe remains one of the most wanted locations, especially those residences that offer scope for remodelling or improvement. The bungalow market remains buoyant, often achieving in excess of the guide price, which range from £350,000 to £750,000. Cliff Road has seen prices at circa £1,000,000 with buyers wanting to take full advantage of the beautiful panoramic sea views.”

Time out

The town has good bakeries, butchers and fishmongers plus Underwoods, a long established hardware store. And – glory be – it still has a handful of high street banks.

There’s a cosmopolitan feel to eating out so choose from Bencotto, a Mediterranean-themed restaurant, or Anatolia which has Turkish dishes on the menu. Meanwhile Alba Chiara is a seafront Italian restaurant and the Green House Cafe is an excellent vegan cafe just off Hamilton Road.

One of my favourites is The Alex, a cafe bar with good food on the sea front. Come the late spring you won’t be able to miss the Felixstowe Wheel, a London Eye-style ferris wheel which should be operating during the warmer months. The Palace is a reasonably priced two-screen cinema.

In search of literature? There’s Stillwater Books and the Treasure Chest, a Tardis-like second hand bookshop.

Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club is based on the shores of the Deben and hosts national Laser sailing championships over the summer. There’s an outdoor gym, table tennis and boules courts off the promenade in Sea Road.

Golfers should head to Felixstowe Ferry, the fifth oldest club in England and one of only 246 true links courses in the world. Play it on a windy day and you might find the odd ball wafting onto the beach.

Travel links

Trains to Felixstowe depart from Ipswich at 58 minutes past the hour. The 15-mile journey is covered in 25 minutes with stops at Westerfield, Derby Road and Trimley St Mary. More at

The busy A14, a major trunk road, runs from the port right through a great swathe of England into Leicestershire. You can branch off the A14 to join the A12 south to London, or north to take the coast route to Southwold and Lowestoft.


The primary/junior schools Kingsfleet, Fairfield and Colneis are good. There is also Felixstowe Secondary School and sixth form while Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, takes many Felixstowe students, particularly for sixth form. Private schools at Ipswich and Woodbridge are about half an hour’s drive away.

Facts on facilities

The town has its own hospital – with a minor injuries clinic – in Constable Road and the larger Ipswich Hospital is less than half an hour’s drive away.

There are two doctors surgeries; Howard House and the newly-built Grove Medical Centre. For local eye care, with good referral contacts to London specialists, try the town’s Scarborough Opticians.

The library has lots of community events for children and older people.

For the fit and active The Brackenbury Sports Centre has space for a variety of sports and classes, plus tennis courts, while the Felixstowe Leisure Centre includes a gym, swimming pool and indoor bowls.


Just moments from the beachfront, the family friendly seaside escape of Beach House has views across to the colourful beach huts that sit along the water’s edge.

This coastal haven is the perfect location to enjoy endless days on the beach or get a feel for the hustle and bustle of Felixstowe itself.

Enjoy a dip in the sea and return to a home full of character which offers three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Stylishly decorated, the property has a stunning rear garden, which is also perfect for some al fresco dining and a tipple or two. Even better, it features a wonderful deep bathtub to relax in under the fairy lights after a busy day out.

A seven-night self-catering stay (it sleeps six and there’s room for two dogs) is priced from £824. More at

There’s also Cowpasture Cottage which also sleeps six. Formerly an historic farmhouse building, this lovingly restored cottage provides a bright and spacious home for guests to enjoy.

Surrounded by countryside and wildlife, it’s close to picturesque walking and cycling routes, making it perfect for those nature lovers looking to explore what the surrounding areas of Felixstowe have to offer.

The property features a conservatory and wood burner, along with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Meanwhile the spacious lawned garden is the ideal spot to host a barbecue or enjoy an evening looking up at the stars.

A seven-night self-catering stay is priced from £971.


Here are some of our favourite Felixstowe and properties for sale:

Walking distance to town (Offers in excess of £325,000)

This recently renovated and extended two-bedroom bungalow is located within walking distance of the town centre. The well-presented accommodation includes a kitchen with integrated appliances and an open plan living/dining room with feature fireplace and doors leading out to the garden. (Fenn Wright, 01394 548700)

Imposing family home (Guide price £700,000)

An imposing and beautifully presented six-bedroom family home close to Felixstowe town centre and seafront. The property has been sympathetically modernised whilst retaining many fine period features throughout. (Fenn Wright, 01394 548700)

Abundance of character (£630,000)

Built in 1905, this is a fine example of an Edwardian detached four-bedroom family home located close to the town centre and beach seafront. It has an abundance of character throughout and has been sympathetically upgraded by the current owners. (Scott Beckett, 01394 338000)

High spec development (£230,000 to £750,000)

Laureate Fields is a contemporary collection of one- and two-bedroom apartments and two-, three- and four-bedroom terraced, semi-detached and detached houses. Each property includes a high specification, featuring a fully inclusive kitchen and bathroom specification as standard. (Fenn Wright, 01394 548700)