Why Norfolk holidays should be on your UK bucket list
A Norfolk holidays post is long overdue from the gal who was born and raised on the North Norfolk Coast. I’m super excited to share this post with you guys because it celebrates all that I love about my home county. For those who don’t know, I grew up in a beautiful part of the UK – rural Norfolk. But there is so much more to Norfolk than just tractors and – if you haven’t visited – you have no idea what you’re missing! It is easily one of the most diverse and nature-rich areas of the UK. It boasts everything from stunning coastline to forests, wetlands, vast open fields and even the city. Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve always been so grateful that I had the chance to grow up here. It made for an epic outdoor childhood that probably led me to loving the adventurous lifestyle that inspired this blog.
Something that put me off writing this post for a long time was that I actually didn’t want to bring attention to the area. One thing I really love about Norfolk is the way it has remained relatively untouched by tourism and the crowds of holiday-makers. The towns and villages still retain a quaint and quiet charm, and you can still easily find empty beaches even during the summer school holidays. I don’t want that to change, and I know many other Norfolk locals really treasure that the county is one of the UK’s best kept secrets. So my plea to you guys, is that if you do love the sound of Norfolk. Please visit respectfully and help maintain and protect this beautiful part of the world.
How to get to Norfolk and where to stay?
Norfolk is easily accessible from London – taking just 1 hour 45 to reach King’s Lynn by train, or two hours to Norwich. You can also reach Great Yarmouth by train in just three hours. If you’re driving – even better! Driving to Norfolk or hiring a car is a great choice because it will give you so much more freedom to explore the different villages and beaches at your leisure. Norfolk is rural and there are so many beautiful places to explore, but it can be costly if you have to pay for taxis, or slow if you have to rely on buses and trains. It’s definitely an area where you will relish the independence and freedom that comes with having your own wheels. Read more details of how to reach Norfolk from your area.
How long should I visit for my Norfolk holidays?
If you’re visiting Norfolk – you can easily squeeze a lot into a weekend. If you’re staying at a lovely hotel on the coast and fancy a few days of beach-hopping, it’s perfect for a weekend break. However, Norfolk is also ideal for a week, or two-week stay if you fancy it as a summer holiday with the family. There are so many beautiful places to explore – you could either choose a base for the whole holiday and take day trips out around the county. Or, you could move around, spending a few days based in Norwich and visiting the city, before heading to the North-Norfolk coast.
Hotel recommendations for Norfolk
Norfolk has a huge selection of beautiful boutique hotels to choose from, so if you’re looking for a place to stay you’ll be spoiled for choice. There are also a huge number of caravan parks, holiday homes and B&Bs which you can easily find if you search online. Here are some of the hotels that come highly recommended for the area:
- Links Country Park Hotel, Cromer
- The Dabbling Duck, Massingham
- Titchwell Manor or Briarfields Hotel, Titchwell
- The Hoste Arms, Burnham Market
- The Globe Inn, Wells-next-the-Sea
- The Lifeboat Inn or The Chequers Inn, Thornham
Top beaches to visit on the North-Norfolk coast
Best for old-fashioned Norfolk charm
If you just love the idea of old fashioned seaside villages and a good dose of Norfolk charm, then head to the likes of Cromer and Sheringham. Full of quaint little seaside shops full of knick-knacks and gifts, cosy and traditional Norfolk pubs and of course, all the fish & chips and ice cream your family can eat!
I had a little staycation in Cromer a few weeks ago, check out my blog post to read about my experiences.
Best for beach huts and kids – pack your bucket and spade
Now I’m a bit beach hut obsessed as my family actually owns one at Old Hunstanton and I’ve lovingly painted and helped decorate it with all the seaside charm. But I know I’m not the only one who loves checking out the beach huts and keeping the kids entertained with buckets and spades. If this is more your scene, head straight for Old Hunstanton or Wells-next-the-Sea which both have a gorgeous array of wooden huts along the seafront with plenty of space for the kids to play.
Best for huge deserted beaches and dog walks
If you love Norfolk for it’s wide open skies and huge empty beaches, then Holkham and Brancaster are the beaches for you. Perfect for getting away from the crowds, and with plenty of space for the dog (or the kids) to run off some of that energy before heading back to the hotel.
For those bringing the dog on their Norfolk holidays, you can check out a full list of dog-friendly beaches and the best locations in the county for a walk. These include some of my closest beaches including Old Hunstanton and Brancaster, plus those further afield including Holkham and Mundesley.
Best for fish & chips on your Norfolk holidays
If you follow your tastebuds when you travel, then the classic fish & chips will be top of your Norfolk bucket list when you visit. One of the UK’s finest traditions has to be chippy chips by the sea with mushy peas and I always make sure to get it when I come home. Every town and village along the coast will have several fish & chip takeaways and restaurants – the difficult part is choosing one! Here are some of the top choices along the Norfolk coast:
- No1 Cromer – owned by top chef Galton Blackiston and features both a takeaway and a restaurant
- The Globe Inn & French’s Fish & Chips, Wells-next-the-Sea – both award-winning
- Eric’s Fish & Chips, Thornham – run by Titchwell Manor’s head chef
- Cookie’s Crab Shop, Salthouse – if you fancy trying local crab, this is the place to find it!
What else to do during your Norfolk holidays?
Norfolk holidays are a perfect opportunity to get out and get active. Why stay in when there are so many amazing places to explore? Whether you prefer beaches or woodlands – there’s plenty of places to get moving. Why not hire bikes and go cycling or hike some of the great nature trails or coastal routes? If you’re a fan of horse-riding, there are lots of stables and places to take lessons around the area. Check out this full guide for Norfolk walking, cycling and horse riding routes.
For those who love watersports, or have always wanted to try, head to the beaches! Hunstanton Beach is home to a Watersports School where people of all ages can get specialist instruction in kitesurfing, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding and power kiting. You can also try Hunstanton Sailing Club for a host of water-based activities including canoeing and kayaking. They have in the past hosted the British Kitesurfing Championships and regularly have summer events with taster sessions for the whole family.
Culture & Heritage
The county is an absolute hive of culture, heritage and history so prepare to dive in when you visit. From the Hanseatic heritage of King’s Lynn to the vast fishing history that surrounds the Norfolk coastline, to the Royal traditions of the Queen’s winter residence, Sandringham House. You’ll be spoilt for choice of places to visit, but perhaps it’s worth organising your Norfolk holidays to fit in with some of the many events happening in the area. Why not plan to visit the King’s Lynn Hanse Festival or the Sandringham Flower Show?
If these don’t tickle your fancy, you could plan a visit to one of the many historic National Trust properties across the county for a look at our local history. The combination of magnificently preserved buildings, stunning gardens and wide-open skies is always a winner. Personal favourites include Oxburgh Hall, Felbrigg Hall & Gardens, and the Blickling Estate – find out more on Norfolk National Trust properties here. There are also a great range of stately homes that aren’t managed by the National Trust, including Houghton Hall and Holkham Hall which both have beautiful gardens, host festivals and events, and regular exhibitions of the arts.
Norfolk holidays can be about more than just beaches. Why not stray from the coastline and head inland to discover the amazing woodlands we have right on our doorstep? From Sandringham Park and Sheringham Park, to Holt Country Park and even parts of Thetford Forest. There are also Burlingham Woods and Foxley Woods which is famous for the annual bluebells in May. Plus enjoy Wayland Wood, Bacton Wood and Mousehold Heath which are all stunning in autumn.
If you just fancy a good walk but don’t mind where you go – choose from this great list of walking routes across Norfolk.
Festivals and events
Despite being such a sleepy, quiet part of the UK, Norfolk still manages to smash it when it comes to festivals and events. Every year you can expect a packed calendar of music, arts, sports and much more taking place across the county. King’s Lynn and Norwich provide busy hubs with various festivals taking place throughout the year including:
- Sundown Music Festival, Norwich – a range of the latest music acts
- Houghton Festival, King’s Lynn – house music festival
- Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norwich – arts, culture & music
- The King’s Lynn Festival – classical music & orchestral concerts
- Festival Too – Europe’s largest FREE music festival
- King’s Lynn Literary & Poetry Festivals – featuring lots of visiting writers & poets
Elsewhere around the county, you’ll also find a range of events taking place including the following:
- Cromer Carnival
- North Norfolk Food & Drink Festival
- Deepdale Festival
- Wells Pirate Festival
- Norfolk Walking Festival
- KLWN Pride
- Hunstanton Kite Festival and Classic Car Rally
Find a full list of events here. And a short drive into Suffolk, you will find:
I’ve lived in Norfolk all my life but it was only this year when I finally visited the Norfolk Broads. It’s a huge draw of tourism for the area and after spending an evening cruising around the waterways, I can understand why. This national park is made up of 125 miles of man-made waterways set against beautiful countryside. Visitors can hire cottages on the water, or boats during their stay. Find out more about visiting the Broads in this article. You can also read my article on booking a cruise as your next trip!
Attractions & Kids
Whatever the weather during your Norfolk holidays, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. With lots of great attractions and plenty of fun activities for the little ones, it’s a perfect holiday destination. Top attractions include:
- Blakeney seal trips
- BeWILDerwood, Norfolk Adventure Park
- SEA LIFE, Hunstanton & Great Yarmouth
- ROARR Dinosaur Adventure
- Norfolk Lavender
- Sandringham Estate
- North Norfolk Railway – Poppy Line (steam train)
- Snettisham Park Farm
As someone who has grown up in North Norfolk and started her career at the local newspaper. I have always been a cheerleader for the area. I’m so proud to share this Norfolk guide with you, which I hope will help you plan your dream holidays. And for those who have never thought of visiting before. I hope I’ve helped to show you a whole new side to the county that will inspire you to visit.
While I have tried to feature a huge range of events, locations and things to do in this post. I was also very aware that it had hit the 2000 word mark. So if I’ve left out anything you would like featured, please do feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you been to Norfolk? Has my guide helped place it on your UK bucket list?