Places to Visit in Norfolk
Published date: May 2019
Norfolk is a rural county with rich farmland, stunning waterways, big wide skies, windmills, quaint towns and villages and breath-taking coastline. The city of Norwich has wonderful architecture, a magnificent cathedral and a Norman castle and is a popular shopping destination.
The county has a wide choice of lively seaside resorts, traditional fishing towns and quieter beaches where you can escape the crowds.
The famous Norfolk Broads are a patchwork of lakes and rivers and attract many visitors to the region each year. Explore them on foot, by bike or hop on a boat and experience the stunning scenery, native wildlife, migrating birds and the beauty of this unique part of Norfolk.
Norfolk has something for everyone – here are some of the best places to visit in Norfolk:
The historic city of Norwich is the most complete medieval city in the UK. Steeped in history, discover cobbled streets including on Timber Hill and Elm Hill and visit ancient buildings such as Dragon Hall, St Andrew’s Hall and Strangers’ Hall. Norwich Castle and its museum and Norwich Cathedral are both popular visitor attractions and the city has a wealth of excellent restaurants and cafés, shops, theatres, museums, covered market, pubs and live music venues. Norwich is also home to the recently promoted Premier League football club Norwich City, also known as The Canaries, with Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn-Jones both joint majority shareholders.
Whether you are in search of history, culture, live music, entertainment, retail therapy, fine food or sport, Norwich has it all. A visit to Norfolk would not be complete without at least a stroll around this magnificent city or a quick trip on Norwich’s sightseeing bus.
The Norfolk Broads
This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is made up of lakes, rivers and man-made waterways. Visitors can explore the broads on foot and by bike but by boat is undisputedly the best way to see this stunning landscape. Hire holiday cruisers, day boats, canoes, kayaks or book an organised tour and learn about the Broads’ history, its native flora and fauna and discover its enchanting natural splendour.
Enjoy the sense of freedom, peace and tranquillity that the Broads offer; escape the humdrum of life and get close to nature on the vessel of your choice and hop on and off where and when you please. There are also a number of must-see destinations on the Norfolk Broads, here are some of the best…..
Woodbastwick – a pretty village that has won awards for Best Kept Village, with a medieval flint church, brewery with visitor centre and a great pub next door - The Fur and Feathers, where you can sample excellent food and drink.
Ranworth – this village is home to Ranworth Broad Nature Reserve, popular with bird-watchers and ramblers. St Helen’s Church dominates the village’s skyline and has been nicknamed the Cathedral of the Broads and is worth a visit.
Horning Village – a quaint Norfolk waterside village that is sprawled on the banks of the River Bure. With chocolate box cottages with pretty thatched roofs, traditional shops, tea-rooms, local butcher, pubs, fine dining, a deli and a Post Office, it’s a great spot to stop off and while away the hours.
Hunsett Mill – an iconic mill, thought to be the most photographed on the Broads. Sitting in a secluded spot by the banks of the River Ant, this old water pumping mill is a much-cherished part of the local landscape.
Wroxham and Hoveton – these two adjacent villages are separated by the River Bure and the area is known as the capital of the Broads. Much livelier than the locations listed above, there are some excellent places to eat and drink, many shops and boat hire companies, and a terminus for the Bure Valley Railway
The Sandringham Estate
The rural retreat of HM The Queen, the Sandringham Estate is one of Norfolk’s most popular attractions and visitors can pay to access parts of the house, the museum and gardens. The surrounding woodland and heath are open to the public free of charge all year round and there is a restaurant, shop, plant centre and free parking. When HM The Queen is in residence, visitors can catch a glimpse of her and other members of the Royal Family attending church on the estate.
This privately owned and lived-in family home dates back to the 18th century and is the centre of a thriving 25,000-acre agricultural estate with a holiday park, several shops, café and a very popular inn, The Victoria. Holkham Hall itself is also open to the public and visitors can get up close to the ancient statues and other interesting treasures within. Explore Holkham National Nature Reserve, their walled gardens, hire bikes or a boat, head to their woodland adventure play area and deer park or book a place on their ‘Field to Fork’ experience.
Based on the magical children’s books written by local author and creator of BeWILDerwood, Tom Blofeld, this huge award-winning outdoor adventure is fun for the whole family. Discover Crocklebogs, Twiggles, Boggles, treehouses, wobbly wires, slippery slopes, storytelling, boat trips, marsh walks and loads of delicious food.
Pensthorpe Natural Park
One of Norfolk’s finest attractions, Pensthorpe Natural Park can be found 45 minutes from Norwich on the A1067 Fakenham to Norwich road. Pensthorpe has a wide variety of habitat from hedgerows, woodland, wetlands and water meadows to breck and heath, river banks and farmland. It was home of the BBC’s Springwatch programme in 2008, 2009 and 2010, playing host to the familiar faces of Bill Oddie, Chris Packham and Kate Humble. Discover many species of bird, mammal and invertebrate at Pensthorpe and a wide variety of plants that grow in this stunning rich landscape that Pensthorpe Conservation Trust manages. Enjoy indoor and outdoor adventure play areas, bird hides, café, gift shop, educational facilities, talks and guided tours – there is something for everyone at Pensthorpe.
Spectacular wildlife and uninterrupted views of beautiful coastline, Blakeney is a charming picturesque Norfolk village and must visit destination, especially popular with bird watchers and ramblers. Enjoy boat trips to see the seals from nearby Morston Quay, coastal walks, vast open landscape and big skies and birdlife such as breeding terns. Find a number of excellent pubs, restaurants and cafés in the village; just what you need to refuel after a bracing coastal walk.
This pretty north Norfolk coastal town is a popular destination especially during the summer months, with a good variety of independent shops, restaurants, cafés, pubs, holiday accommodation, a market, eighteen-hole golf course, theatre and leisure centre. Sheringham beach is mostly shingle, but when the tide is out there is plenty of sand and many rock pools full of life. The North Norfolk Steam Railway runs from the old Sheringham station, through Weybourne and on to Holt and is a great way of seeing the beautiful Norfolk coastline and picturesque countryside.
Sheringham Park is worth a visit and during May and June it has magnificent displays of rhododendrons and azaleas. Owned by the National Trust, visitors can walk several way-marked routes around the park and enjoy spectacular view points and climb the tree-top gazebo. This dog friendly park has a visitor centre, shop and café and is a mixture of woodland and coastal landscape.
The Burnham villages are situated around the River Burn on the north Norfolk coast and include Burnham Market, Burnham Overy Staithe, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Overy Town, Burnham Deepdale and Burnham Norton. These pretty and quite exclusive unspoilt coastal villages are steeped in history and make the ideal location to enjoy stunning coastline, beautiful landscapes, great beaches and have some excellent places to stay and dine, with plenty of fresh local produce and freshly caught seafood.
Burnham Market, sometimes referred to as Chelsea-on-Sea, is a unique traditional Georgian village that lies two miles from Brancaster Beach and six miles from the coastal town of Wells-next-the-Sea. Find boutique and antique shops, eateries and delis, galleries and a fine collection of charming chocolate box cottages and a quaint village green. Burnham Market, like the other Burnhams has managed to retain a unique and special village feel and continues to attract many celebrities who love this special place.
There is so much to see and do in Cromer – a day just isn’t enough to explore this north Norfolk coastal town. Situated 23 miles north of Norwich, Cromer is especially popular during the summer months, although it is favoured by walkers all year round. Renowned for its world-famous Cromer Crab, visitors will find plenty of restaurants, cafés and fishmongers selling this delicious crustacean.
Cromer Pier is home to Cromer RNLI Lifeboat and the Pavilion Theatre and is accessible on foot, with the lifeboat station open to visitors and free to enter (donations are most welcome). Cromer Pavilion Theatre hosts a hugely popular variety show and other events, shows and performances throughout the year. The pier is also a popular crabbing destination, with organised crabbing competitions being held each year.
Cromer Beach is sand and shingle, popular for swimming, surfing and kayaking and there is 18-hole golf course overlooking the beech, close to Cromer lighthouse. The town centre has many good independent cafes, restaurants, fish and chip shops and pubs and a great selection of shops, both independent retailers and high street brands.
Cromer church is situated in the centre of town and its tower, roughly 160 feet high, can be climbed for a small charge. The view from the top on a clear day is quite something. Amazona Zoo in Cromer is a popular visitor attraction with South American wild animals, educational yurt and soft play area.
The Henry Blogg Museum celebrates the most decorated lifeboatman in RNLI history and is free to enter and worth a visit.
Up there with Blackpool as one of the UK’s most treasured seaside destinations, Great Yarmouth has been receiving holidaymakers since the 1760s. Its vast sandy shoreline stretches for 17 miles and includes both busy tourist hotspots as well as quieter parts where you can escape the crowds. If you want donuts, fun rides, candyfloss, sticks of rock, chips, amusement arcades and lots of entertainment, then Great Yarmouth is for you. The town’s circus is worth a visit and the Pleasure Beach, a free-to-enter theme park is popular with thrill seekers and families. There are many restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops in Great Yarmouth, with horseracing, greyhound racing, stock car racing and casinos.
The UK’s largest man-made lowland forest, Thetford Forest covers an area of 18,730 hectares that can be explored on foot or on bike. Straddling the south of Norfolk and the north of Suffolk, Thetford Forest is a patchwork of pine trees, heathland and broad leaf trees. High Lodge Visitor Centre provides excellent outdoor facilities, including walking and cycling trails, Segway hire, picnic areas, bike hire, archery, play areas, BBQ hire and the popular Go Ape! There is a café serving hot and cold food and drink and dogs are permitted outside.