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Day Boat Hire on the Norfolk Broads

Published date: February 2019

Day Boat Hire on the Norfolk Broads

Considered the UK’s largest and finest wetland landscape, the Norfolk Broads have been a popular destination to hire boats for many decades. These waterways offer open spaces, spectacular scenery, peace and tranquillity and are full to the brim with stunning Norfolk wildlife.

The Norfolk Broads were created by the intensive digging for peat in the Middle Ages, to use as fuel. The empty pits subsequently filled due to rising water levels, creating this area of outstanding natural beauty. Possibly Norfolk’s most famous attraction, the Broads are made up of over 125 miles of lock-free waterways and visitors can sample a variety of habitats from marshland to woodland all year round. Whilst a day out on the Broads seems the perfect way to spend a summer’s day, on a cold and bright winter’s day, they can be just as enjoyable. With some boat companies operating all year round and with heated vessels, take a trip on the Norfolk Broads, whatever the season.

Hire a day boat, canoe or kayak and enjoy wide skies, stunning sunsets and views of Norfolk’s windmills, church towers and rare wildlife. Spot the swallowtail butterfly, Norfolk hawker dragonfly, kingfishers, otters and the elusive bittern. Navigate the broads aboard a boat and stop off at one of the delightful waterside pubs to sample some local Norfolk food and ale and visit nature reserves that are only accessible by boat.

Hiring a boat on the Norfolk Broads is very easy to do, it’s great fun and the cost to hire a basic day boat is very reasonable. Canoes and kayaks are even cheaper. It is something the whole family is sure to enjoy, and you can bring your four-legged friends along too! There are a number of different places in Norfolk where you can hire day boats, kayaks and canoes, from the ever-popular village of Wroxham, to smaller and quieter boatyards such as those in Martham, Stalham and Sutton. If you are thinking about hiring a day boat, canoe or kayak to explore the Norfolk Broads, the following information may be of interest:


The busiest and most popular place to hire a boat in Norfolk is Wroxham. Located 20 minutes from Norwich, Wroxham is considered the capital of the Norfolk Broads, and has hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes, many shops and Roys - a large department store. There are numerous day boat hire companies in Wroxham, offering a large variety of different boats. Wroxham is an ideal place for day boat hire as there is a good selection of Broads to visit from here as well as a nature trail, all within short cruising distance of the town. However, if you are thinking of hiring a canoe or kayak to explore the Broads, you may want to consider starting somewhere quieter. The waterways around Wroxham are often busy with many day boats, private boats, organised tour boats and holiday cruisers, especially during the holiday season. There are plenty of quieter and smaller waterways on the Norfolk Broads, much more suitable for canoes and kayaks, details of which can be found further down this article.

Day boat hire in Wroxham:

Richardson’s Day Boat Hire

The Rhond, Hoveton, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 8UG

Tel: 01603 782309

Broads Tours

The Bridge, Wroxham, Norfolk, NR12 8RX

Tel: 01603 782207

Wroxham Boat Hire

The Broads Centre, Riverside Road, Wroxham, Norfolk, NR12 8UD

Tel: 01603 783051

Barnes Brinkcraft

Riverside Road, Wroxham, Norwich, Norfolk, NR12 8UD

Tel: 01603 782625


Martham is a great place to hire a day boat, especially for those who are wanting to explore the Norfolk Broads at a gentler pace. From Martham it is only a short distance to the beautiful Nature Reserves at Hickling and Horsey, where the swallowtail butterfly, otter, bittern and marsh harrier all call home. Martham is an ideal place to hire a canoe or kayak, as the waterways are much quieter here and are perfect to slowly meander through.

Day boat hire in Martham

Martham Boats

Cess Road, Martham, Norfolk, NR29 4RF

Tel: 01493 740249

Martham Ferry Day Boat Hire

Martham Ferry Boatyard, Staithe Road, Martham, Norfolk, NR29 4RG

Tel: 01493 748291


Located on the River Ant, Sutton Broad is now owned by the RSPB and is a beautiful spot to start your day on the Norfolk Broads. Canoes and day boats are available to hire from Sutton Staithe Boatyard, a small friendly boatyard that is situated at the end of Sutton Broad in the heart of the picturesque Norfolk Broads. Between Stalham and Potter Heigham on the A149, you will have access to Hickling, Ludham, Horning, Catfield, Barton, Irstead and Ranworth, so there is ample to explore from Sutton. Experience breath-taking scenery and unforgettable sights and sounds, such as darting kingfishers as they work the rivers in search of fish, majestic marsh and hen harriers soaring across the wide skies and the booming bitterns and cranes that are occasionally spotted.

Day boat hire in Sutton

Sutton Staithe Boatyard

Sutton Staithe, Norfolk, NR12 9QS

Tel: 01692 581653


This small village is also on the River Ant and is an ideal place to begin your adventures on the Broads. Hire a variety of different boats and enjoy easy access to popular areas such as Hunset Mill, Stalham Staithe, Sutton Staithe and Neatishead, all of which have their own features and attractions.

Day boat hire in Stalham

Banks Boats & Canoe Hire

Staithe Cottage, Wayford Bridge, Stalham, Norfolk, NR12 9LN

Tel: 01692 582457

Wayford Marine

Wayford Bridge, Stalham, Norfolk, NR12 9LL

Tel: 01692 583192


Ludham has both day boat and canoe hire, and this Norfolk village is situated 30 minutes from Norwich. The village staithe offers access via boat to Womack Water and then the river Thurne and is a picturesque and quiet part of the Norfolk Broads. Ludham has a pub, a village shop, gift shop and tea-rooms. Ludham Bridge, which is located about a mile out of the village has a pub, boatyard, shop and tea-rooms.

Day boat hire in Ludham

Ludham Bridge Boatyard

Johnson Street, Ludham, Norfolk, NR29 5NX

Tel: 01692 631011

Potter Heigham

Potter Heigham is a popular place to hire a day boat and is a very pretty stretch of Broad. Its medieval bridge provides access to Hickling Broad, the Upper Thurne and Horsey Mere. A much-visited attraction in Potter Heigham is Lathams, a discount store that sells all manner of items including homeware, food, plants, seasonal goods, clothing and toys.  The village also has a pub, newsagents and chip shop. There is ample parking at Potter Heigham and being only 30 minutes from Norwich, it’s an ideal place to begin your day on the Norfolk Broads.

Day boat hire in Potter Heigham

Herbert Woods

Bridge Road, Potter Heigham, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR29 5JF

Tel: 0800 144 4472


North West Riverbank, Potter Heigham, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR29 5JD

Tel: 01692 670241

Phoenix Fleet

Repps Staithe Boatyard, Potter Heigham, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR29 5JD

Tel: 01692 670460

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