A GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE BEST OF NORFOLK, UK
The delightful county of Norfolk located in East Anglia, has long been a hot spot for holidays and weekend getaways and it’s apparent to see why. Norfolk is like fine wine, it has the best of everything. Imagine long stretches of never-ending sandy beaches synonymous of Australia, lush green forests, vistas of picturesque countryside scenes with quaint villages, lavender fields, fish and chips on harbour surrounded by colourful shipping boats, not to mention some of the best award-winning gastro pubs and fine dining establishments in the country. It’s also a place that you will never run out of discovering more and more, leaving you reeling for another visit. You get the wine analogy now right?! Oh and if you don’t like the country bumpkin life, there’s the gorgeous and oldest preserved medieval city of Norwich to discover.
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Here’s your guide to exploring the best of Norfolk…
How to Get to Norfolk
Norfolk has some great links to London as well as the rest of the country and an international airport.
- By Car: Driving is the best way to get to Norfolk as well as getting around Norfolk (via the A14) with total flexibility. Norfolk is the perfect road trip itinerary destination! The cities of Norwich and Kings Lynn are easily accessible as well as the coastal towns, villages and Broads National Park. A useful list of car parks in Norfolk for trip planning. If you’re travelling by train to the area but would also like the convenience of driving locally, look into hiring a car from the closest area to your base.
- By Train: Great Anglia trains have a regular service throughout the country with changes and direct services from London Liverpool Street and Kings Cross every hour with the journey lasting around two hours. To check Norfolk train times and fares head to The Train Line.
- By Coach: Coaches, including National Express, travel daily into north Norfolk from the Midlands, London and the southeast.
- By Air: If coming from further afield, the closest airport to search flights to is Norwich International but London Stanstead, Heathrow. Gatwick, Luton and East Midlands are all accessible via transport to Norfolk.
How to Get Around Norfolk
Norfolk has a great regular bus service running throughout and timetables are available at Travel in East Anglia
If you’ve chosen your accommodation location wisely, then you may be within walking distance of everything you may be interested in seeing, therefore walking is a good way of discovering the area. There are also a number of coastal walks you can take to spot wildlife. It’s also a very sustainable activity. Having access to a car will give you a lot more flexibility to reach the more remote locations. Another option can be to hire a car.
When to Visit Norfolk
Norfolk is a great place to visit anytime of the year. Beach days are probably best for the summer, Norfolk’s landscape makes it great for beautiful autumnal/winter walks as well as summer strolls. Think of long summers on the beaches, sipping on a drink looking out to an endless horizon of sand and sea whereas colder months can be spent wrapping up and walking the coastline, maybe heading to a couple of the cities, museums, having afternoon tea and snuggling up by open fires. The only thing we can never guarantee in the UK is the weather but Norfolk has you covered with many options.
How long to Plan your Visit
Norfolk is an all round destination so, it’s great for a weekend break or you can have a full two weeks, exploring the Broads national Park, combined with a city break and balmy beach days. Weather permitting.
Where to Stay in Norfolk.
There is accommodation galore in the county from camping, glamping, caravan sites, canal barges on the The Broads to boutique luxury hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Norwich has a great selection of boutique hotels in the heart of the historic centre however if you’re looking for something quirky in the countryside with parking and easy access to most Norfolk locations, have a look at Willowfen Retreat.
Related Post: Stay in a Quirky Shepherds Hut at Willowfen Retreat
Recommendations of Norfolk Hotels
- The Wivoten Bell Pub & Rooms – A stunning award winning gastro pub 2 miles away from Blakeney with beautifully decorated luxurious rooms in the pretty, peaceful village of Wivoten
- Blakeney Hotel – the hotel is quite the constitution in Norfolk. Blakeney Hotel with its coastal, quayside location has magnificent views across the estuary and salt marshes to Blakeney Point, which has been designated an area of outstanding Natural Beauty
- The Hoste Arms.- A luxury boutique hotel located in Burnham Market, North Norfolk. It offers guests sixty two bedrooms, two acclaimed restaurants and a spa plus there’s an excellent choice of food in their gastro Pub.
- The Ingham Swan – An award winning restaurant with beautiful rooms set in rural Norfolk, just minutes from the coast. & Beautifully appointed and contemporary styled rooms with four off the main courtyard in the old coach house.
- The White House – Understated luxury on the North Norfolk Coast on Sussex Farm very near Brancaster and Burnham Market. The White House is a new kind of Boutique hotel where you can book a room or hire out the whole house for a family and friends gathering or sleep over!
Dining in Norfolk
Dining is a huge thing in Norfolk. Award winning Gastro pubs, fine dining establishments to street food, numerous coastal sea food shacks and restaurants, not forgetting fish and chips on the beach.
Related Post: The Best Places to Dine in Norfolk
The Best Things to do and See in Norfolk.
The UK’s best preserved medieval city is in my opinion a complete knockout. Rich in history and culture, a plethora of dining and drinking establishments, parks, historical points of interest , one of England’s oldest market places as well as the magnificent Norwich cathedral. Find everything you may need to plan your trip to this stunning east Anglian City in A Guide to the very Best of Norwich.
Related Post: A Guide to the Very Best of Norwich
The capital city of West Norfolk has been one of the country’s important ports since the 12th century and you’ll certainly see lots of its maritime heritage past throughout the town with medieval old merchant’s houses stretching down the river between cobbled streets, elegant custom houses beside the quays and River Great Ouse, which leads out the The Wash and North Sea. Be sure to check out the medieval harbour front.
Add to your itinerary:
- The focal point of the history in Kings Lynn is The Custom House which houses a display on the town’s links with the Hanseatic League Hanseatic League
- Pay the statue of Explorer George Vancouver a Visit George Vancouver
- The Georgian Hanse House is one of the country’s most significant historic buildings and well worth a visit.
- True’s Yard Museum is dedicated to the town’s fishing heritage is you love maritime adventures.
- If you’re a lover of history and fancy stepping into prehistory, discover the story of Seahenge at Lynn Museum.
More Information: Things to do in Kings Lynn
Be-lavie Tip: Wander the streets and mooch around the multitude of independent shops and cafes or popping down to the local Market Place on Tuesday or Saturday
Wells is a pretty small seaside town in North Norfolk and has one of the most stunning coastlines you’ll see. The entire 50 mile stretch runs from Snettisham to Mundesley and has been designated and Area of Outstanding Beauty
It is pretty famous for the long line of beautiful, colourful beach huts (some that you can rent along the beach) but also the sand dunes and white powdery sand. The town’s iconic features are the overhanging harbour gantry, crab fishing off the quay and the miniature train running the mile from the town to the beach.
Add to your Itinerary:
- The Beach
- Crabbing on the quay
- Fish & Chips on the Quay
- Wells Harbour Railway
- Beach Mile walk
- Well’s Carnival
- Harbour Tour
- Wells & Walsingham Light Railway
- Pinewoods Walk
- Maltings & Staithes Street
More Information: Things to do Wells-next-the-Sea
The beach at Holkham is one of the most unspoilt and beautiful stretches of sand in the country. At high tides, the semi-circular basin behind the shoreline fills to form a shallow lagoon. If you’ves seen ‘Shakespeare in Love’ you’ll remember the last scene where Gwyneth Paltrow walked across a beach, that beach is Holkham Beach at Low Tide.
Holkham National Nature Reserve, one of the largest in the country, is home to many rare species of flora and fauna. The Holkham Estate is one of a select few privately owned estates to have been awarded Approved Body Status allowing it to manage its own land whilst the beach is managed by Natural England in partnership with Holkham.
Holkham beach was recently voted ‘Best Beach in the UK’ in a survey of travel writers in 101 holidays
Add to your Itinerary:
- Holkham Hall
- Holkham Nature Reserve
- Holkham Ropes Course
- Alpaca Trekking
More Information: Things to do in Holkham
This expansive stretch of flat golden, unspoilt sand is a year-round favourite. With literally miles of beach there is plenty of room for summer picnics and romantic winter walks.
As well as being a good family beach with all this sand, Brancaster is a popular spot for windsurfing, kite surfing and various buggies. It is also one of the best dog friendly beaches in Norfolk.
Brancaster beach is part of the Brancaster Estate, which is now owned by the National Trust. This iconic stretch of coast is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also home to important natural features such as the tidal salt marshes of Scolt Head.
Be-lavie Tip: Please note although Brancaster beach is owned by the National Trust, the car park is not therefore members have to pay.
Add to your Itinerary:
- RSPB Titchwell Marsh
- Royal West Norfolk Golf Club
- Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve
More Information: The Brancaster Estate
Brancaster Beach, Beach Road, Brancaster, Norfolk, PE31 8BW
SatNav: For Brancaster Beach: PE31 8AX (Beach Road), If you are visiting Brancaster Staithe Harbour, please us PE31 8BW (Harbour Way)
Thornham Old Harbour (Salt Marshes)
Situated around four miles away from Hunstanton and on the North Norfolk coast declared an area of outstanding beauty, Thornham is a pretty delightful town to be visited for it’s salt marshes, beach and deli!
The salt marshes are a fab walk from the village and serves as a nature reserve – great for bird watchers and the like. There are well defined paths as well as fishing boats lining the route, which is perfect to stroll down to the beach itself through the marshland. Think of endless views over the horizon!
Add to your Itinerary :
- Walk through the old boats and through the salt marshes to the beach
- Grab a picnic from the well-known Thornham Deli
- Bird spotting at the marshes
Meander the cute villages with its picturesque church and cottages.
More Information: Things to do in Thornham
Slow Paced Pretty Norfolk Villages & Towns
Cley next the Sea was an important trading port in the middle ages and is now best known for its renowned nature reserve. Between the village and the sea, you will find Cley Marshes, a nature reserve owned by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary. Cley’s lagoons and beach, grazing marsh and reedbeds attract wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, making it a haven for birdwatchers
Standing on the edge of the marshes and the village is Cley’s other famous landmark, an 18th century windmill. Now a guesthouse, it is open to the public offering fantastic views over marshland which was used for horse races in the early 19th century and was a haunt for smugglers! The shingle beach can be accessed through the marshes and is a great place for sea fishing.
Next to the village green sits the impressive 13th century St. Margaret’s church. The narrow village streets are lined with unique shops including a smokehouse, bookshop, picnic fayre deli, tea shops and a pub as well as a shop selling hand-thrown stoneware pottery, made on site.
Add to your Itinerary:
- Cley Windmill Hotel & Restaurant
- The Smokehouse
- Cley Pottery Shop
- Picnic Fayre Deli
- Art café (just outside Cley- vegetarian café with a beautiful art gallery.
More Information: Things to do in Cley
Blakeney, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is an ideal base to explore the north Norfolk Coast. At the heart is Blakeney National Nature Reserve with wide open spaces and uninterrupted views of the coastline, ideal for walking and spotting local wildlife including seals and migratory birds. The village has pretty flint cottages, once home to local fisherman, and there are plenty of places to eat and stay as well as pubs, gift shops and art galleries to visit.
Tucked away in an alley just off the quay is Blakeney Guildhall, where you will find the remains of the house of a prosperous Blakeney merchant, which has a fine 15th century brick-vaulted undercroft.
Add to your Itinerary:
- Meander the village and fishing, as well as private boats that line the quay
- Stay or dine at the famous Blakeney Hotel
- Book a Seal spotting or bird watching boat trip
- Have a snack or breakfast at 2 Magpies Bakery with fab views
More Information: Things to do in Blakeney
A short five minute’s drive from Blakeney is Morston Quay. If you’re in the area, I would highly recommend taking a seal watching boat trip with Bishops Boats. This was probably the highlight of the Norfolk trip as absolutely mesmerising as well as educational. Tickets have to be pre-booked and collected at Blakeney harbour then you drive to Morston Quay to board the boat. The area is owned and run by the Nations Trust therefore parking for members is free.
Boats leave regularly and trips last around an hour round trip. One not to be missed.
Blakeney Point Nature Reserve is home to England’s largest Grey Seal colony and many summer breeding birds. A boat trip to see the seals is one of the best things to do in Norfolk. The National Trust are based in teh Blaekeny Point Nature Reserve continuing their work in protecting the resident and seasonal flora and fauna in the area.
Read about the National Trust’s work and planning your visit to the Nature Reserve
Be-lavie Tip: Book your boat trip early to avoid disappointment and don’t forget your binoculars and camera!
Best time to see a large proportion of pups is November/December.
More Information: Things to do in Morston Quay
Norfolk’s version of Chelsea on the sea, Burnham Market is over a mile from the glorious coast, with its open green surrounded by characterful flint cottage, this charming village is extremely popular with holiday makers and as well as second homeowners.
The village provides a great mix of renowned restaurants, pubs including the Hoste Arms and The Nelson and a special mix of local shops including a traditional post office, butcher, hardware shop, fish shop and around 30 highly original independent and specialist shops, deli’s, beauty salons, and galleries selling paintings, prints and unique coastal artworks.
Add to your Itinerary:
- Mable’s Paint Pot and Sweet shop
- Visit Socius fine dining Restaurant
- Wander the indepndet shops and boutiques
- The Hoste Arms
- All Saint’s Church
- Stay in one of the many pretty holiday cottages.
More Information: Things to do in Burnham Market
Holt’s fine 18th century Georgian buildings make the town one of the most attractive in north Norfolk. The town is home to many art galleries, antique and book shops and places to eat located along the high street and tucked away in hidden, charming courtyards and alleyways.
The market place in the middle of the town has a cross memorialising the soldiers who lost their lives in the war. Off the market place, a tree lined avenue leads to the 13th century church of St. Andrew. To make sure you see all the key landmarks in the town, take the Holt Owl Trail, by following the owl pavement plaques.
Add to your Itinerary:
- Visit the nearby Holt Estate
- Meander the independent shops in the town
- Discover the hidden Folly Tearooms
- Mooch around the cute Hopper’s Yard artisan shopping courtyard.
More Information: Things to do in Holt
Sandringham needs no introduction but it’s the much-loved 243 hectare country retreat of her Majesty the Queen and has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862.
The Sandringham estate is open all year-round, however certain areas can be closed for events. It’s wise to plan your visit before hand.
Add to your Itinerary:
- Country Park
- Shopping and Restaurants
- St Mary Magdalene Church
- Some of the many Events including equestrian shows
- Gardens and Grounds
More Information: The Sandringham Estate
The village of Bamburgh in North Norfolk is pretty small, encompassing traditional village life and a pretty stream running through it’s centre.
Bawburgh village is a picturesque village to the west of Norwich, about five miles from the city centre. It has a thriving community and the Village Hall is at the centre of many varied activities such as quiz nights, coffee mornings and social evenings. Many of the original family members still live in the village and it has become popular for those who work at the University of East Anglia, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and Norwich Research Park. Bawburgh remains a friendly and welcoming community
It’s a great place to have a short stroll through especially if you’re staying or dining at The Kings Head, a popular 2 x AA rosette winning gastro Pub. It comes highly recommended and it’s easy to see why once you’ve eaten there.
More Information: Things to do around Bawburgh
- Address: The Kings Head: Harts Lane, Bawburgh, Norwich NR9 3LS
- Tel: 01603 744977
- Website: The Kings Head
The charming North Norfolk village of Wiveton is within walking distance of the popular coastal villages of Blakeney and Cley-next-the-Sea. Set in a picturesque location overlooking the Glaven Valley, Wiveton is home to the the multi award winning Gastro Pub, The Wiveton Bell and the popular and quite superb Wiveton Hall Cafe and ‘Pick Your Own’ farm. During the late summer the lanes around Wiveton and the paths on The Wiveton Downs are laden with elderberries, which are excellent for wine-making and preserving, later in the year Blackberries and Sloes are abundant.
Dining at the Wiveton Bell is a must if you’re staying or walking through the village. You can stay at the Bib Gourmand 2021 restaurant in one of it’s six beautifully appointed rooms or dine. Book a table in the marquee at the back which features quirky décor and local art pieces.
More Information: Things to do in Wiveton
- Address: The Wiveton Bell. Blakeney Road, Holt NR25 7TL
- Tel: 01263 740101
- Website: Wiveton Bell
Norfolk Lavender, Heacham
Aiming to form a reference collection of all varieties of lavender known to us, Norfolk Lavender is a brilliant place to visit if you love this gorgeous purple flower. Walk up and down the lavender rows to see the different varieties as well as stopping off at the shop. There’s also a tea rooms to grab a cuppa whilst you ponder your floral purchases.
Norfolk Lavender also has daily trips to its Lavender fields, which are completely stunning – imagine those images of endless rows of lavender into the horizon. Check before you go if these are running when you plan to visit.
More Information: Things to do in Heacham
- Address Norfolk Lavender, Caley Mill, Lynn Rd, Heacham PE31 7JE
- Tel: 01485 570384
- Website: Norfolk Lavender
- Stay in a Quirky Shepherd’s Hut at Willowfen Retreat, Norfolk
- The Best Places to Dine in Norfolk
- A Guide to the Very Best of Norwich
- More UK Travel Inspiration
Trip Planning Essentials:
- Check flight schedules through Skyscanner
- Book Trains and Coaches via The Trainline
- Reserve your car hire with EuropCar
- Book your preferred Norfolk Accommodation
- Save money by considering National Trust Membership
- Check latest Reviews of experiences on Norfolk at Tripadvisor
- Travel Green with Eco-Friendly products