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Seals at Horsey Beach, Norfolk
Seals at Horsey Beach, Norfolk

Things To Do In Norfolk

One of Norfolk's most famous sons, Stephen Fry, said about the county "Beauty, hills, character, glorious towns, villages and countryside, hills! country pubs, funny, fabulous people, hills, seaside, lavender, hills. Ok, I lied about the hills. But there are slopes and rises to the ground that almost amount to hills. Truly."

Norfolk, a county of vast open skies, huge golden beaches and magical waterways

A holiday in Norfolk is as relaxing as settling back in a deck chair and feeling the light salty ocean breeze on your skin, as fun as spending time with your best friend - you know the one who always makes you feel like you're reliving endless summer holidays, and as exhilarating as falling in love. In short, Norfolk is wonderful, and somewhere everyone deserves to have a holiday at least once.


Discovery Days

Norfolk Coastal Path
Explore the Norfolk coastal path

Beautiful Beaches

Norfolk's gorgeous beaches were made for bucket-and-spade holidays. With 90 miles of pristine coastline, you'll have a fantastic time discovering a new favourite beach every day whether your perfect day features sand castles and ice creams at Cromer, or bird spotting in the salt marsh of Holme-next-the-Sea. Horsey's grey seal population is one of the largest in Europe, and you can see the seals (and often their pups) by following the National Trust walk from Horsey Windpump to the beach. There's also Great Yarmouth, and you may want to consider Mundesley with its pretty colourful wooden huts; Gorleston-on-Sea which is very family friendly; and Winterton-on-Sea with a huge golden beach backed by dunes (you can walk along the beach from Winterton-on-Sea to Horsey to see the seals, then return to the café on the beach to refuel - we can personally recommend the crab sandwiches!).

Seals at Horsey
Seals at Horsey, Norfolk

Kings Lynn

With all the beauty of the beaches and the Broads, West Norfolk doesn't garner as much attention in tourist guides. To overlook the wonderful west would be a huge mistake because it's just as lovely as the rest of the county. Kings Lynn offers lots for visitors. Its history as one of the most important medieval ports is evident in the layout of the cobbled lanes where the merchants lived in their fine houses, the grandeur of St Margaret's Church, and the fancy design of the market square. There are lots of places to shop and eat, especially if you're there for the Tuesday market.

Great Yarmouth

Donkey Rides
Traditional Donkey Rides in Yarmouth

For a quintessentially British seaside holiday, look no further than Great Yarmouth. It has all the right ingredients: a clean sandy beach; a seafront lined with shops selling beach balls and sweet sticks of rock; ice cream shops and cafes; and amusement arcades in which to spend pocket money on the games or take shelter from a summer shower. There are bowling greens and a theatre, donkey rides and mini golf, a large park and the Pleasure Beach Gardens. Sandwiched between the ocean and the River Yare, Great Yarmouth is the stuff of which traditional family holiday dreams are made.

The Wash

If you're near Kings Lynn, you should take a detour to The Wash. The estuary, which is the largest in the UK, faces the North Sea and is home to a plethora of birds and wildlife which enjoy the food and shelter provided by a variety of terrain including mudflats, shingle and sand dunes. It's particularly busy in winter when 300,000 visiting birds make it their seasonal feeding ground, and when seals choose the sand banks as a maternity ward for their pups. Anglers should try fishing for flounder around Hunstanton and Snettisham.

The Broads

Boats in Norfolk
The River Thurne, Norfolk

The Norfolk Broads are vast and so fascinating that we've dedicated an entire guide just to the area (things to do in the Norfolk Broads), but there's no way you can talk about discovering Norfolk without at least mentioning them, so they are included here too. One of the nicest ways to experience The Broads is by boat. Navigate your way to places like Hickling or Barton, or simply drift along and dock when you spy a pub or picnic spot you like the look of. Cycling and walking are also popular, and given that the Broads are fairly centrally located in Norfolk, you can easily reach them from wherever you decide to stay.

The Brecks

The Breckland landscape was shaped by the actions of prehistoric farmers, who worked the land until it was barren, when they then moved their crops to a new area and allowed the heath to take over. It is a strangely beautiful scene, not least because, as one of the driest areas in Britain, it often has stunning blue skies. It offers miles of wonderful walking and is home to rare species of wildlife, as well as the only inland sand dunes in the UK. It was inhabited by the Iceni, with Gallows Hill in Thetford being of particular importance, as was Grimes Graves where there are 700 pits dating back nearly 3,000 years.

Rainy Days

Steam Train in Norfolk
North Norfolk Railway

When the heavens open, head undercover to these fantastic attractions.

Sandringham House

It seems everyone loves a holiday in Norfolk, even the Queen! Sandringham House is open between April and the end of October and, while some of our self-catering cottages in Norfolk are impressive, none comes close to this gorgeous property. Although it's a royal residence, it's very much a holiday home and has a lovely, relaxed feel. There is a lot to see and lots of enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides who volunteer there to help you make the most of your visit.

As you'd expect, there are some amazing collections including rare photographs of the royal family going back generations, ceramics and vehicles. Bypass the obligatory tea towels in the gift shop and pick up some of the estate's apple juice produced from orchards planted by the Queen's father, or eat vegetables grown in the walled garden at the Visitor Centre Restaurant. Sandringham's gardens are lovely if the weather brightens up.

Taste Norfolk

Cromer Crab
Famous Cromer Crab

Rainy days are just made for spending a few enjoyable hours sampling some of Norfolk's finest produce. With so much lush countryside, wrapped in coastline, Norfolk has more than its fair share of superb pubs and restaurants so here are few favourites to whet your appetite.

The Gunton Arms near Thorpe Market is a little different and the perfect place to tuck yourself away amongst the Norfolk countryside. A magical setting on a country estate, you can sit and read the paper with your favourite tipple in front of a roaring fire whilst watching deer wander past and have your steak cooked by Stuart Tattersall just the way you like it on the open-fire in the Elk Room. Venison and seafood from local fishermen are all specialities, as is the artwork (some rather controversial!) that adornes the walls. The Gunton Arms has an incredibly relaxed atmosphere that adults will love and makes dogs most welcome.

The location of The Dabbling Duck is as pretty as its name, sitting along side the village green in Great Massingham. Having been bought by locals, this welcoming village pub offers decent food, decent wine and a jolly decent pint. Whether you order pizza from the wood-fired oven in the garden when the sun is shining, sample Brancaster's juicy mussels, or tuck into a roast beside the fire, the warm welcome you (and your dog) will receive from The Dabbling Duck is sure to give you a warm glow on a damp day.

If fine dining is more your thing then head to Morston Hall near Blakeney and see for yourself why it has rightfully earned its Michelin Star. Of an evening, the restaurant of this country house hotel offers a set tasting menu with a number of tantalising courses packed full of flavour to work through. By day you can enjoy an afternoon tea in the sun lounge but be sure to book! Close to Blakeney, take your walking boots and binoculars in case the weather brightens up.

The White Horse at Brancaster Staithe allows you to truly immerse yourself amongst the Norfolk coastal scenery whilst sampling the fruits of it. With huge roof to floor windows in the restaurant and a big sun-drenched terrace, you will struggle to find a better place to sample the freshest of seafood accompanied by coastal views and lashings of sea air.


East Anglia may seem peaceful now, but it hasn't always been the case. There is a wealth of exciting history lying just under the surface, history you can discover at Norfolk's great museums. A good place to start is the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth which celebrates the region's once flourishing fishing industry. It's in an old smokehouse, and there are lots of hands-on exhibits to inform and entertain. Norwich Castle and Art Gallery will keep you busy for a few hours on a rainy day. As if the castle and dungeons weren't enough, there are collections relating to East Anglia's Viking history, as well as information about renowned Iceni Queen Boudicca, and even an ancient Egyptian mummy. They also have an excellent calendar of events during the school holidays.

Other museums to consider include Strangers' Hall in Norwich, which has a charming collection of dollhouses and toys, the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, The Bridewell, and the Ancient House Museum in an original Tudor house in Thetford.


Norwich City Centre
River Wensum, Norwich

Norwich is a fantastic city with lots to keep you distracted from a downpour. It is a designated UNESCO City of Literature and has a rich literary, musical and artistic culture. It boasts a status as England's best preserved medieval city and has a lovely higgledy-piggledy layout around the city centre. There is an enormous permanent undercover market - the largest in Europe, a river wending an air of calm through the city, and architecture that spans a thousand years. The shopping is fantastic with a market, independent shops and high street with designer names. If you're staying somewhere near public transport, it's worth leaving the car behind and taking a train or the bus into the city. Alternatively, drive as far as the outskirts and make the most of one of six convenient Park & Ride connections. There are several multi-storey car parks in the city, but they are expensive and can fill up early.

North Norfolk Railway

You don't have to be a steam train aficionado to appreciate the beautiful lines of the North Norfolk Railway's steam engines. The railway's rolling stock includes nine beautiful engines dating from 1912 to 1959. They are housed in Sheringham and journey through Weybourne, Kelling Heath Park and Holt, with lots of fun events held on board to cater for a variety of ages and interests. The railway also offers unique experience days throughout the year offering the chance to be a driver or signalman for the day.

Adventure Days

Kayaking in Norfolk
120 miles of waterways suitable for kayaking

Thetford Forest

Thetford Forest is in south Norfolk. Owned by the Forestry Commission, it is nearly 19,000 hectares of fun. Walking, running, mountain biking and horse riding are all popular activities. If you're there in the early morning or just before dusk, you might see sledge dogs in training. Archery, canoeing, paintballing and geocaching are all possible, and there is a Go Ape activity centre with climbing and Segway tours. If you want to hire a bike, Bike Art is in the High Lodge within the park, and there is also a visitor's centre and cafe.


Given the vastness of North Norfolk's beaches, it's hardly surprising they attract kitesurfers. Snettisham, Heacham and Hunstanton are popular places to experience the thrill of kitesurfing the waves. It's an exhilarating sport and for those just starting out, Hunstanton Watersports offers introduction days (as well as courses for the more experienced).

Surf in Cromer

For more traditional surfing, head to Cromer. Much loved for its pier and crabs, Cromer is also a hot spot for surfing and paddle boarding (SUP). Glide Surf School offers group and private lessons daily throughout the summer months (April 1st through to the end of October) and weekend lessons during the winter.

Cromer Beach
Cromer Beach is a haven for watersports

Paddle Power

With the Norfolk (and Suffolk) Broads having over 120 miles of magical waterways to navigate, it goes without saying that there are endless opportunities for water lovers. The quieter backwaters are more peaceful and a haven for wildlife, whilst the larger rivers attract motor craft and the more experienced paddler capable to handling stronger currents. There are plenty of companies hiring kayaks and canoes throughout the Broads including The Canoe Man who also offers guided canoe trails (including otter spotting trails) and Bushcraft Day Courses – a wonderful way of experiencing natural Norfolk at its best.

Dinosaur Adventure Park

It's not exactly Alton Towers, but Dinosaur Adventure Park will keep the kids happy and give them a little adventure without costing you a fortune. This dinosaur themed venue has lots of rides, play areas, activities and displays. There are animals to feed and pet, slides to whizz down, and a splash zone that's open between Easter and October half term. It's good value for money, especially if the weather is a bit overcast as there is a big indoor play area which is suitable for all ages.

Lazy Days

Old Hunstanton in Norfolk
Sunrise over Old Hunstanton Beach

A holiday in Norfolk doesn't have to be all go, go, go. Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy the fact that you don't have agendas or timetables.

The Waveney Valley

This picturesque part of Norfolk runs along the southern border. It offers visitors beautiful countryside, charming villages and lovely market towns, all with a warm welcome that you'll come to realise is standard around here. Diss and Harleston are two great places to spend a lazy day, the former having Cittaslow (literally "slow city") status, where people are encouraged to take the time to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life, and the latter having a thriving market that has operated every Wednesday since 1259. Whilst technically in Suffolk (but just a hop across the border for a day trip!), Beccles is great for browsing independent boutiques and sitting by the water with a drink and a meal, while Bungay is almost a time capsule with an interesting town trail walk that takes in, among other sights, a Roman well and a ruined Norman castle.


There are several appealing attractions in Fakenham. The first is Pensthorpe Nature Reserve. This award winning attraction is a mix of gardens, farmland, and carefully conserved habitats such as water meadows, woodlands and hedgerows. You'll lose count of the number of different animals, birds and insects you'll see and, with a variety of animal talks and activities like pond dipping, you'll learn a lot as well. Since you're having a lazy day, let the staff at the Courtyard Cafe do the cooking for you before stopping by the gift shop to pick up some fresh local produce on your way out.

Other relaxing pastimes in Fakenham include a stroll through the countryside and along the banks of the River Wensum, browsing the popular Thursday market, and having coffee and a cake in a great cafe.

Secret Garden Spa

Spa Day in Norfolk
Enjoy a relaxing 'spa day'

A spa day at the Secret Garden Spa at Congham Hall is sheer bliss. They offer a range of packages and treatments, including several which are a full day of pampering with a delicious lunch. Spa packages also include the indoor swimming pool, thermal suite and outdoor hot tub. Many of the treatments incorporate herbs grown in the gardens around the hotel.

Houghton Hall Walled Garden

Houghton Hall is lovely, but it's the walled garden that will really take your breath away. Previously kitchen gardens, it was redeveloped over several years, and the five-acre space now includes an Italian garden, formal rose garden with more than 150 varieties of rose, statues, fountains, and a glorious herbaceous border. You can tour the house, which was built for Britain's first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, in the 1720s, but it is worth saving it for a sunny day when you can appreciate the gardens as well.


Wells Harbour at sunrise

There are lots of lovely seaside towns in Norfolk, but Wells-Next-the-Sea on the north coast is one of the best for a lazy day. It lacks the glitzy distractions of Great Yarmouth and Cromer, offering instead pastel wooden beach huts, a beautiful park surrounded by Georgian houses, a pleasant lack of high street brands and a wealth of quirky independent shops. There is a peaceful harbour where you can watch the boats bob in the water and the kids trying their hand at crabbing, and a good variety of pubs and restaurants. Wells Carnival (normally toward the end of July) is a week of laid-back summer fun, but there is usually something extra on offer whether it's an exhibition or a show.

Read all about it

Holidays are as much about recharging your batteries as having fun, so for the perfect lazy day, why not put your feet up for a few hours and dive into one of these favourite books that are all set in Norfolk. Elly Griffiths has not only created a fantastic character with Ruth Galloway, but her series of crime novels take place in Norfolk's towns and villages as well as along the coast. Start at the beginning with The Crossing Places which begins on a lonely salt marsh and which expertly blends mystery and archaeology. Harriet Evans took inspiration from stately homes like Holkham Hall and the Mannington Estate for her light-hearted romance, A Hopeless Romantic. Another author who likes a Norfolk stately home is Stephen Fry, who used one as the setting for The Hippopotamus. Not to neglect the beach, Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth is a murder mystery that takes place in a fictional town named Ernemouth which is just like Great Yarmouth.

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to Norfolk
A whirlwind tour!

If your time is limited, squeeze some of these activities into your holiday for an authentic Norfolk experience.

Sample Cromer Crab

Ask any local, and they'll have a favourite place to tuck into the legendary Cromer crab. Make sure you make time to sample it during your visit to Norfolk.

Kite flying at Sunny Hunny

When it's time to work off that delicious lunch (or build up an appetite for your next meal) head to Old Hunstanton Beach, otherwise known as Sunny Hunny. It's one of the best beaches in the UK for kite surfing, which typically means it's ideal for flying kites too. Old Hunstanton is less crowded than nearby Hunstanton, with an enormous stretch of sand that's perfect for running, playing and kite flying.

Best of the beaches

Norfolk's beaches are simply put, stunning. If you have limited time to experience their magnitude and beauty then visit Holkham. This wonderous nature reserve offers an interesting mix of beach, forest and salt marsh which can be fully appreciated by walking from Holkham, along the beach to Wells-next-the-Sea (café for refreshments at the other end). Return back along the Peddlar's Way and Norfolk Coastal Path through the trees for a change of scenery. Parking is available in Holkham (off Lady Anne's Drive).

Walk to Blakeney Point

It's possible to walk from Blakeney to Blakeney Point at low tide. It's not exactly a gentle stroll, but the 8-mile return walk across the shingle to one of the oldest nature reserves in Britain is worth it, and you will be rewarded with fantastic views and a sense of accomplishment. There is parking at Cley Beach, and the walk will take around five hours. The National Trust manages Blakeney Point, and there are restrictions at various times of the year to protect birds and wildlife. For example, dogs are not allowed between April and August. Round off your day with a seafood supper at the recommended White Horse Inn for a true taste of Norfolk.

See the Seals

Blakeney Point is also popular for seal spotting. If you don't have time to walk there, take an hour-long boat trip from Morston Quay (check timetables as it varies throughout the year). Whether you see the seals basking on the beach in the summer, or with pups during the winter months, it is an amazing sight and one not to miss.

World Snail Racing in Congham

Congham is the epicentre of the popular sport of snail racing. The exciting event takes place at the Cricket Field every year in July, attracting around 200 entrants who spend 364 days training for their shot at glory. The current title holder covered the 13-inch course in a lightning fast two minutes and 47 seconds, so make sure you have your camera ready.

Last Minute Offers in Norfolk

Thinking of a break in Norfolk? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

...the largest Christmas show in the UK is not in London, or even Blackpool, but Thursford. Every year, Thursford's spectacular collection of steam engines and organs is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, crowned with a glittering three-hour musical and entertainment extravaganza that will get even the most devoted Scrooge into the Christmas spirit.

...Norfolk was once connected to mainland Europe. It is the first place prehistoric man chose to settle when they arrived 1.2 million years ago, with the oldest known settlement being in Happisburgh.

...with 659 medieval churches still standing - more than anywhere else in Europe - Norfolk is a historian's paradise.

...children's dinner time staple, the fish finger, was invented in Great Yarmouth in 1952.

...there are no motorways in Norfolk making it the perfect place to slow down and unwind.

...Norfolk used to be the most populated county in England, and, in the 1100s, Norwich was the second largest city in the country after London.