The 10 best places to visit in Norfolk

Norfolk sits on the mid-Eastern coast of England, jutting out into the North Sea. This is the place to come bucket and spade holidays, wildlife adventures, crabbing at the end of the pier, candy-striped beach huts, big skies, forest trails, and tumbling waves.

It’s where the Queen holidays over Christmas and where Admiral Lord Nelson was born. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also have a residence here, an 18th Georgian country House near King’s Lynn. But it’s not just royalty who flock to Norfolk, this corner of England has become increasingly popular with holidaymakers and second-home owners all eager for a slice of coastal living.

And who can blame them as there are so many things to do and so many places to visit in Norfolk. From the magical marshlands and waterways of the Norfolk Broads and the medieval city of Norwich to stately homes, seaside towns and miles and miles of golden sand, you really are spoiled for choice.

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Beach huts on Wells Beach in Norfolk

 

Norfolk is bordered by Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. As the crow flies it is not far from places like London (approximately 100 miles) but be aware that roads become small and wiggly the deeper you drive into the county.

 

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All the best things to do in Wells-next-the-Sea

 

Things to do in Norfolk

Places to visit in Norfolk
The harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk

Wells-next-the-Sea

For a nostalgic seaside holiday destination head to the pretty harbour town of Wells-next-the-Sea. Situated on the North Norfolk Coast, the town was once one of the great ports of eastern England. Today, it’s a wonderful place for a family holiday and one of our favourite places to visit in Norfolk.

The town is divided into three areas. There’s Buttlands, a rectangular green flanked with lime trees and Georgian and Victorian houses. The narrow lanes of the town centre are home to flint cottages and some colourful shops.

At the bottom of Staithe Street is where you’ll find the quay and harbour, where sailing and crabbing boats bob along the water. Crabbing – or gillying, as it is known locally – off the harbour edge is a fun thing to do with kids.

There are lots of things to do in Wells-next-the-Sea but the beaches are, of course, the main draw. Wells beach is a delight, a sandy strip of sand is bordered by stilted colourful beach huts and seals snoozing on the sandbanks. Some of the beach huts are available to hire for the day (or longer) such as this one that comes stocked with deckchairs, beach games, hot chocolate and more.

From Wells Beach you can walk along the coast to Holkham Beach, four miles of golden shoreline. On your return, wander back through the the woods. These Corsican pinewoods were originally planted to protect the land from the wind-blow sand. At Holkham you can Holkham Hall, an 18th century Palladian mansion that’s home to a great playground.

Other things to do in Wells-next-the-Sea include Wells Harbour Railway, a narrow gauge miniature railway which runs from the beach to the Quay, and the light railway that travels between Wells and Walshingham during high season.

Places to stay in Wells-next-the-Sea

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Exploring the Norfolk Broads in Norfolk. Photo Credit Adventures with Ensuite

The Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads covers 125 miles of man-made waterways linking charming villages through beautiful countryside. What are now canals were originally dug out during medieval times to provide peat, but they flooded and created the waterways we see today.

Canal boat is the best way to explore the area. No license is required to hire a boat. On arrival a short tutorial will be given teaching you the basics to safely operate the boat. If you do plan to hire a canal boat make sure you book in advance.

If a boat is not for you, other options to see the area is by foot, bike or horse riding. There are many places to hire a bike in the Broads with plenty of trails and paths to discover the tranquil landscape and lakes.

Some of the most popular and picturesque villages to visit are Horning, Wroxham and Ranworth. Another defining feature are the windmills once used to grind corn or flour. Today most have been restored and have become popular tourist attractions.

St Benet’s Abbey is another site that should not be missed. Established 1,000 years ago, today only ruins remain, but they still show how impressive this abbey must once have been.

By Kristin, Adventures with Ensuite

Places to stay on the Norfolk Broads 

See these options in Horning, Wroxham and Ranworth.

 

Places to visit in Norfolk
The Poppy Line at North Norfolk Railway Station

Holt

Holt is a beautiful old market town close to the north coast and one of the best places to visit in Norfolk. The town is made up of many stunning 18th century Georgian buildings and is full of of antique shops, art galleries and gift shops. You will find Bakers and Larners (Holt’s very own department store), The Gallery, Richard Scott Antiques, Bircham Gallery, Morston Country Sports to name a few.

Holt hosts a great selection of places to eat along the main high street as well as some secret hidden gems tucked away in charming alleyways and courtyards. You will find Byfords along the main high street is always a popular choice for lunch or an afternoon treat and the cake selection is just divine. There are a number of impressive holiday cottages and B&B’s all within walking distance of the town itself

Alongside the town, there are also plenty of other things to do with the family. Holt boasts its own country park, Holt Country Park. The perfect place for little ones to let of some stream and enjoy the 100 acre woodland, picnic areas, nature trails and playground.

Just outside Holt is the North Norfolk Railway Station where you can hop on the Poppy line where a steam train will take you all the way to Weybourne and Sheringham. There is a bus which takes you from Holt to the station.

By Anna, Twins and Travels

Places to stay in Holt

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Blakney in Norfolk. Photo Credit: Where Goes Rose?

Blakeney

One of the most pretty and idyllic places to go in Norfolk is Blakeney. Even if you just have a weekend in Norfolk, it’s well worth fitting this scenic town into your plans.

Blakeney is most famous for Blakeney Point where you can see seal pups being born during the summer months. Boat trips depart throughout the year and you can choose to board one from Blakeney or just around the corner in Morston (if you take this options, Beans Boat Trips are a great company!).

While seals are the main appeal, there are plenty of other things to do in Blakeney. Blakeney Nature Reserve runs alongside the town and is famed for its birdlife and bird watching opportunities. Even if you’re not a fan, it’s worth taking a walk through the nature reserve: the flat golden land stretches out toward the ocean and the sky seems to sit lower than you’ve ever seen it before.

Grab a famous Norfolk crab sandwich from The Moorings cafe and eat it while sitting in the nature reserve.

Blakeney as a town is a pretty place to wander – don’t miss Blakeney Guildhall dating back to the 15th century. Grab a takeaway coffee from Blakeney Delicatessen, a lovely family-run deli, and finish off with an ice cream from the stall behind Blakeney Guildhall.

Another reason to visit Blakeney is its convenient location. It’s just a short drive from Cromer, Sheringham, Holt and Wells-next-the-Sea making it perfect for a road trip.

By Rose, Where Goes Rose?

Places to stay in Blakeney

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Elm street in Norwich, Norfolk. Photo credit: Mummy Travels

Norwich

Norfolk’s county town was once England’s second city, and from its famous cathedral to the pretty riverside, as well as historic streets galore, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Norwich with kids.

It’s a perfect city to wander around: along the old quay are sculptures of bales showing names and occupations of those who once worked there, while the cobbled alleys around Tombland are lined with half-timbered buildings and higgledy-piggledy medieval houses.

Elm Street is one of the most famous spots, but don’t miss the Norwich Lanes for boutiques and cafes, as well as the streets around the Bridewell, where you can spot everything from street art to plaques in the pavement and a quirky bronze figure on a bollard of a ‘wild boy’ who went from German forest to English court and eventually Norwich prison.

Along the way, stop in at the Adam and Eve pub, which is over 750 years old or stock up at Amaretto Deli, which has lovely cakes and treats as well as takeaway meals.

There are some great attractions too: Norwich Castle has been transformed into a museum, so you can discover local history and see the keep, plus there are other medieval buildings to visit such as Stranger’s Hall. The 11th century cathedral stretches for 461 feet, with a memorial to Edith Cavell, a stone labyrinth pathway in the cloisters and even its own cathedral cat.

By Cathy, Mummy Travels 

Places to stay in Norwich 

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Seals lounging on Horsey Beach in Norfolk

Horsey

Located on the North Norfolk coast, Horsey is an incredible spot which should be on any Norfolk itinerary. Although it is regularly overlooked in favour of the county’s larger seaside resort towns, the small village of Horsey has plenty to draw in visitors.

Most famous for the grey seal colony that come there to breed, Horsey is a wildlife enthusiasts paradise. Although the seals can be seen year-round, the pupping season lasts from November to January. During this time, you can see fluffy white pups on the beach!

The beach is cordoned off to ensure the seals safety during pupping season and there are dedicated viewing platforms to observe the animals. This is a very family friendly attraction and sightings of seals are guaranteed during these months. If you are visiting the seals at Horsey, make sure you follow the advice of the seal wardens to ensure the wellbeing of these beautiful animals.

There are no beach huts for rent on this part of the coast but in the summer months, Horsey beach is still a wonderful place to spend a sunny day with the kids.

The village is also home to a number of short but beautiful walks. From the beach, you can head to the nearby pub, The Nelson Head. It has a wonderful family-friendly beer garden and the short walk to get there can also be extended to explore some of the Norfolk Broads.

By Sheree, Winging the World 

 

Places to visit in Norfolk
Cromer Pier in Norfolk. Photo Credit: Norfolk Local Guide

Cromer

Cromer may be most famous for its crabs but it has so much more to offer visitors of all ages for a day out in Norfolk. It has a beautiful coastline, historic pier, and plenty of fun attractions. Note that some activities are seasonal.

First, you should try your hand at crabbing from the pier. With a bit of luck and the right bait, you should be able to catch at least one. Since you should return any crabs you catch, if you want to eat one, many restaurants in the area serve Cromer crabs.

Then you can enjoy the beach which has blue flag status. Grab some fish & chips from Galton Blackiston’s No 1 Cromer. You could hire a beach hut or even go on a search for fossils. Some people like to go surfing.

There are also many things to do in Cromer away from the water. St. Peter’s and St. Pauls, Cromer’s Parish Church, has the tallest bell tower in Norfolk and is home to a pair of peregrine falcons. Step inside to see the impressive organ, beautiful stained glass, and intricate ceiling.

It’s also worth going to the RNLI Henry Blogg Museum to learn about one of the most decorated lifeboatmen in history. It’s free to visit and child-friendly too. Alternatively, if you want to do something fun, check out the arcade, the mini-golf course, or one of the local pubs. You could also catch the last surviving end of the pier show in Europe.

By Anisa, Norfolk Local Guide 

Places to stay in Cromer

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Photo Credit: East Anglia Family Fun

Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is the perfect resort for all ages, with miles of sandy, golden beaches and seven stunning dog friendly beaches to choose from along the coastline, it’s the perfect place to spend a day, weekend or a week.

The resort of Great Yarmouth offers various holiday accommodation, from holiday parks with caravans and camping options, hotels, bed and breakfasts or maybe an eco barn.

Both Great Yarmouth and Gorleston beaches offer you the option to hire a beach hut during your stay, perfect for keeping your belongings in while enjoying a beach day.

There are numerous family friendly attractions on offer too. If you love theme parks then check out Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach with its traditional wooden roller coaster and legendary log flume, where you can get wet just walking along the seafront!

If you are fond of animals, check out Thrigby Wildlife Park or Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre, which is located directly in the middle of the golden mile.

Looking for a unique experience, you must visit the Merrivale Model Village, to see everything in tiny form. Love the circus? Why not book tickets for the Hippodrome with their thrilling acts and water spectacular, definitely not one to miss.

If you prefer the quieter life then perhaps the Norfolk Broads would be your preferred holiday, either a luxury lodge on the riverside or perhaps a boating holiday.

Whichever experience you choose, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome and an unforgettable holiday in Great Yarmouth.

By Mandi, East Anglia Family Fun 

Places to stay in Great Yarmouth

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Happisburgh Lighthouse in Norfolk Photo Credit Pack the PJs

Happisburgh

The village of Happisburgh, on the North Norfolk coast, is in constant peril from the sea with houses and roads being lost over recent winters. However, it is a lovely village and definitely worth visiting.

The centre of the village is very attractive and there is an adventure playground for children with zip lines and all sorts of swings and roundabouts. Further back into the village, walking towards the church is a little burger shack, which produces the best burgers you will ever taste. Examples of their menu include locally sourced ¼ pounder steak burgers, the speciality Happisburgh crab burger and a vegan lentil and walnut burger as well as homemade cakes and scones.

Just outside the village, within walking distance through the car park you will find the eye catching red striped Happisburgh Lighthouse. A star of film and television and situated just up the coast from Eccles-on-Sea it is the oldest working light in East Anglia, and the only independently run lighthouse supported solely by voluntary contributions in the UK.

Built in 1790 the 85ft tower is now run by the Happisburgh Lighthouse Trust, which allows visits to the lighthouse on a number of dates in the summer season, if you can climb the 112 steps. The guides are brilliant providing an excellent commentary on local history and fossil hunting at low tide on the shore. The lighthouse visit is brilliant for adults and children alike and judging by the queues to get in its popularity is already well established.

By Tracey, PackThePJs

Places to stay in Happisburgh

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Places to visit in Norfolk
Horsey Windpump in Norfolk. Photo Credit: Country Hopping Couple

Horsey Windpump

Windpumps in Norfolk play an important role in pumping out the water from low level marshlands into a main water system like river. Naturally for this reason, Broads National Park is dotted with wind-pumps and windmills. Horsey Windpump is an iconic windmill and a grade II listed National trust property located in a village of Horsey, that is part of the Broad National Park in Norfolk. The wind pump was built in 1912 on the grounds of 18th century Horsey Black Mill.

Horsey Windpumps were owned by Buxton family until a powerful lighting struck the Windpump in 1943. Since then, the Windpump had severed damages and was constantly under restoration managed by National Trust. In 2019, the cap and sails of Horsey Windpump were replaced.

If you fancy climbing 60 odd steep steps of windpump, you can actually get to the top and enjoy the gorgeous views of the surrounding marshlands. A word of caution though is that the steps are narrow and steep, so wear appropriate shoes.

You can also enjoy many circular walks that begins from Horsey windpump. One of the popular walks is around the Horsey Estate that is a 4.5 mile circular loop where you can encounter wildlife, marshes and mills.

There is also a small garden designed by National Trust to grow plans and attract bees and butterflies. At the site, there is a paid car parking space, WC, and a small cafe that offers tea, coffee and delicious cakes.

Horsey Windpump is relatively youngest and one of the largest wind pumps in Broads and is certainly one that is worth visiting!

By Anuradha, Country Hopping Couple

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