Norwich is the only city in Norfolk, England. Not only this but it is the most complete medieval city in the country, steeped in fascinating history. The city is a fantastic base for those wanting to explore more of Nelson’s County or likewise, visit different parts of the East of England. As a central transport hub, day trips from Norwich are easy to arrange.
Although there are plenty of things to do in Norwich, including castle visits, secret tunnels and canoeing, it is well worth exploring more of Norfolk and East Anglia. Norwich is ideally placed just a stone’s throw from the coast so a trip here really does offer the best of both worlds!
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9 Best Day Trips from Norwich
If you’re planning a day trip from Norwich, these are a few options, recommended by a ‘roite local girl’! The day trips listed below are all less than two hours away, either by car or public transport.
Day Trips from Norwich by Train or Bus
Train is a great way to travel within East Anglia. Services to the places listed tend to be regular, although frequency tends to decrease at weekends. Bear in mind that train travel in the UK is expensive and to get your tickets for the best possible price, you will usually have to book in advance.
Buses depart regularly from Norwich bus station, just off St. Stephens Street. There are numerous stops all over the city and most routes will through the city (Castle Meadow, Tombland and Anglia Square).
Arguably one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Norfolk, there are plenty of things to do in Cromer, from crabbing to visiting its award-winning pier and incredible sandy beach. The town itself is small, making it very easily navigable on foot. There are also a few large car parks for those driving.
Whilst you’re in Cromer, don’t miss the chance to grab some fish and chips from No1 Cromer, theirs are some of the best in the county. Along the seafront, there’s an arcade, a small selection of rides and plenty of opportunity for fossil hunting – great for families!
Walkers will also be interested to know that the Weavers Way route begins from here. Whilst you won’t get time to do the whole thing, the initial part of the trail is easy to navigate with beautiful views.
How to get there: Catch a train to Cromer from Norwich train station. The train which alights at Sheringham also stops at Cromer, with the journey taking around 45 minutes. It takes roughly the same amount of time to drive there. There is a direct bus to Cromer from Norwich bus station.
The town of Wroxham is a gateway to the Broads National Park. This area is one of Norfolk’s most beautiful and offers the opportunity to get back to nature as well as providing an idyllic setting in which to relax.
You can easily rent a boat and explore the waterways, something which comes highly recommended. Stop off at the pub named The Rising Sun in Coltishall for a delicious waterside lunch. As you’d expect, the Broads are a great place for wildlife spotting too. A number of rare animals call this area home, including the Bittern, a heron-like wader bird.
Trainspotters won’t want to miss a steam train adventure on a visit to the Bure Valley Railway! This nostalgic form of transport links Wroxham with Aylsham and is a great way to take in the rural Norfolk scenery.
How to get there: You can get to Wroxham by boarding the Norwich train which alights in Sheringham. The journey takes around 15 minutes and will drop you at the Wroxham/Hoveton station. From here, it will take a further 15-20 minutes to walk into Wroxham centre. Buses also travel here from the city centre (picking up at Castle Meadow) and it is possible to drive.
3. Great Yarmouth
For those of you looking for a bit of a throwback, Great Yarmouth is a good choice. Whilst the promenade has barely changed from its heyday in the ’50s, the town offers up good old fashioned entertainment, ideal for families.
The bright lights of the arcades tempt in visitors and the Pleasure Beach amusement park is as fun as it is rickety – and believe me, that’s a lot! Try to make time for a matinee performance at the Hippodrome, the circus is a favourite with both adults and kids.
When visiting Yarmouth, it is practically criminal to pass up on the opportunity to follow your nose to freshly fried sugar doughnuts on the seafront. You don’t need directions, they will call you!
How to get there: Hop on the train to Great Yarmouth from Norwich train station. It will drop you at the outskirts of town but from there, walk towards the neon lights which illuminate the seafront. If you get confused, just look on Google maps. The journey by train is just shy of an hour. Buses are also available from the city centre which are marginally quicker, however, the fastest way to get to Yarmouth is to drive.
The market town of Thetford is a good choice for those looking for a day trip from Norwich which doesn’t involve too much travelling. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the rural spaces (though watch out for cows). There is even a Dad’s Army walking tour as much of the series was filmed in Thetford.
My favourite part of Thetford is the forest, which also happens to be where Go Ape is located. Test your fear of heights on the ‘Treetop Challenge’ or have at a go at the ‘Forest Segway,’ both are a great way to get your blood pumping!
History buffs won’t want to miss Thetford Priory. This English Heritage site was once one of the most powerful monasteries in East Anglia and now lies in ruin. It is free to visit and also has an onsite car park.
How to get there: Many of the services from Norwich train station stop at Thetford, including those to Cambridge and Nottingham. The journey takes around 30 minutes. If you’re driving to Thetford, allow around at least 45 minutes for your trip.
Cambridge is one of the most famous cities in England, mainly due to the prestigious university which is located there. If gothic architecture, scenic waterways and manicured gardens are your thing, Cambridge is an ideal choice of day trip from Norwich.
Tours around the university are run by genuine graduates which mean you get a real insider look into this esteemed institution. Trinity College is a highlight for many visitors as it is one of the oldest colleges and perhaps the most famous.
The city also boasts 40 acres of beautiful botanic gardens, as well as other picturesque green spaces. Cambridge is also very bike-friendly with several cycle lanes. Do as the locals do and take your bicycle (or hire one whilst you’re there) and get exploring!
No trip to Cambridge is complete without a spot of punting on the river. Whilst you can choose to work your own arm muscles, it’s far more relaxing to enjoy a chauffeured punting experience. On a sunny day (which is never guaranteed in England), this is something you can’t miss!
How to get there: Greater Anglia run trains to Cambridge from Norwich train station. The journey takes around an hour and a half. It takes around the same time to drive to Cambridge from Norwich but many don’t find the city easy to navigate. In this case, it is probably easier (and better for the planet) to use public transport to travel. Buses depart from the bus station however, the journey is longer than by train.
Located in the neighbouring county of Essex, Colchester holds the accolade of Britain’s oldest recorded town and was once the capital of Roman Britain. It is a great day trip for families, owing to the abundance of fun, kid-friendly attractions.
As well as playing host to one of the country’s largest zoos, there is also the soft-play Childsplay Adventureland which is a great way to entertain the little ones.
Owing to its historical importance, there is much to see in Colchester if you are interested in the past. Colchester Castle Museum makes for a fascinating visit and Balkerne Gate (a 1st-century Roman wall) is also well worth a look. Continuing on the theme of history, make sure you cram in a visit to the English Heritage site St Botolph’s Priory, just a few minutes from the train station.
How to get there: Trains to Colchester from Norwich leave every hour, daily. The journey takes just over an hour. Driving there will take longer, at around an hour and 40 minutes.
Self-Drive Day Trips from Norwich
Located on the North Norfolk coast, Horsey is a small village within the Broads National Park. It is around a 40 minute trip by car from Norwich and also one of the best places in the country to see wild grey seals.
The seals at Horsey are some of Norfolk’s biggest stars, second to only Stephen Fry. They can be seen year-round, however, if you visit from November to January, you’ll time your visit for pupping season. For three months, the seals birth along the beach at Horsey and sightings of adults and pups are virtually guaranteed. During this time, the beach is cordoned off to ensure seal safety but there are dedicated areas to take in the views.
To make the most out of your Horsey day trip, stop in the Nelson Head for a bite to eat. It isn’t too far from the beach and they have a beer garden which is a beautiful spot to enjoy a pint on a warm sunny day.
How to get there: From Norwich, the quickest route to drive to Horsey is via Acle.
How often does one get the opportunity to visit a royal residence? Not often enough in my opinion! One of Norwich’s best day trips is to Sandringham Estate, the country retreat of Her Majesty the Queen.
There is much to do at Sandringham. You should first take a tour of the royal residence – after all, the opportunity to see where the royals spend Christmas is too good to pass up! Once you’ve bought your ticket (either in advance or on the day), you’ll also have access to the gardens.
The Sandringham Royal Park is set over 243 hectares and is a beautiful place to explore the outdoors. Hike or bike one of the many trails or bring your pooch for a walk. The Royal Park is also a great spot to search for wildlife.
Bear in mind that Sandringham House and formal Gardens closes for the winter (October – April).
How to get there: Sandringham is located 36 miles from Norwich, as the crow flies. It takes around an hour to drive there from the city.
The Georgian town of Holt makes for a wonderful day trip from Norwich. It is known for its charming rural setting and independent boutique shops which line the high street. Once you’re done with shopping, grab a delicious lunch from Byfords, renowned locally for their high-quality local produce.
If you’re somebody who enjoys a slower pace of life, then you’ll easily be able to while away the hours in Holt. However, if you’re craving a bit more than quaint market towns, you can easily combine your visit here with one to nearby Baconsthorpe Castle.
The ruins of this former manor house are free to visit and offer a wonderful dose of local history. Baconsthorpe Castle is located just a 10-minute drive from Holt or you can walk there in around an hour. There is also a public bus which drops off at the post office in Baconsthorpe.
How to get there: The journey to Holt from Norwich takes around 45 minutes to drive.
Where to Stay in Norwich:
Centrally located and with convenient on-site parking, the Maid’s Head Hotel is a great choice for those wanting to be away from the noise whilst still in the heart of Norwich.
The wonderful Georgian Townhouse is situated around half a mile from the city centre. It boasts a large garden, along with a bar and restaurant. All rooms are en-suite.
This idyllic accommodation option is set in a building that is nearly 100 years old. It’s a peaceful retreat that will feel a world away from the bustle of the city!
What are your favourite day trips from Norwich? Let me know in the comments!