Europe,  UK

A Day Trip to the Jungle – in Norfolk

Hidden away in quiet corners of East Anglia are two leafy, jungle gems. With sites in Costessey and Beccles, Urban Jungle is a unique nursery, cafe and event space that specialises in tropical and exotic plants within a jungle setting, but don’t worry if you’re not green-fingered. Whether you’re an expert or plant novice, your visit will be special!

The koi pond at Urban Jungle

The site at Costessey, Norfolk, is well established, having been there for over 20 years. Three years ago, the team opened a sister site on the outskirts of Beccles, Suffolk. Both have a large cult following with most people saying ‘oh yes I LOVE it there!’ after any mention of the name.

You can tell the plants in the nurseries are lovingly grown and being displayed within such an inspirational setting, you can lose yourself among a beautiful maze of exotic and unusual plants including cacti and succulents, bamboo, trees, climbers and ferns. Get lost in the grass or arid polytunnels, wander the rose garden and peruse the palms and perennials. Urban Jungle also stocks a huge selection of pots, composts and paraphernalia, just take a look in the pay hut!

Whatever your level of green-fingeredness, the friendly team are on hand to answer any questions and make suggestions _ all trained horticulturists, they have a wealth of knowledge to share! Also, don’t worry if you fall in love with a huge plant you know won’t fit into your car no matter how hard you try, don’t call your friend with a convertible – the team can deliver it for you!

Once you’ve perused the nursery, don’t forget to make a pit stop in the Jungle Cafe – it’s really something special. Both sites make people stop in their tracks as soon as they walk in to take in the jungle that lies before them. Choose a table nestled in a cosy corner, screened and surrounded by luscious foliage, and relax on one of the comfy sofas before choosing from a delectable menu.

Choose from a range of homemade and beautifully presented dishes using locally-sourced produce. There’s also plenty of vegan and dairy/gluten free options, and they also offer an all-day breakfast menu – a win in my book! If you’re looking for something lighter, the cakes are to die for. All homemade, you can choose from the delicious display on the counter, the chocolate brownie is my all time fave!

If you’re looking for something special, look no further than the Jungle afternoon tea. Is there anything cosier than a beautiful tray of treats among the greenery? Filled sandwiches, homemade sausage rolls, fruit and cheese scones and a selection of sweet treats adorn a wooden A-frame, decorated with jewels of edible flowers. Delightful!

The cafes are also home to an array of gifts and houseplants (my favourite bit!). With new deliveries arriving weekly, there’s always something new and interesting adorning the shelves, alongside pretty pots and macrame hangers.

Each location has its own unique quirks to discover. Enjoy the beautiful bridges, Koi pond and ‘Insta-famous’ shelves at the Costessey cafe. Or try and find ‘the nest’ in the Beccles cafe for a secluded nook, be sure to pop into the Cactus House too.

Both nurseries and cafes are completely dog-friendly so whether you’re on your own or visiting with the whole family, you can bring your canine companions with you! If you visit the Costessey site, you might even spot lovely Luna, the nursery’s resident pooch who can usually be found playing fetch with pine cones!

Following on with the eco-friendly vibe, all of the furniture, blankets, cushions and throws in both cafes are all recycled or upcycled, having been sourced from charity shops. Some of the furniture has even been made from reclaimed materials by the clever team!

If you’re looking to try a new skill, Urban Jungle host regular workshops at both sites in a whole host of areas. Try your hand at terrarium building, making a macrame plant hanger, creating a flower crown, or fixing up a festive wreath! The team also offer some workshops as private events with afternoon tea included – perfect for a hen do or birthday party.

Have you ever been to Urban Jungle or would you consider visiting? Let us know in the comments!

Laura works for a charity as a communications manager and uses as much of her holiday as possible to travel the world. She loves to go on European city breaks as well as longer trips further afield and is keen to see more of the USA and South East Asia...

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