England might be a small country but it is packed with amazing destinations. If you’re craving big skies, long walks along the cliffs and sandy beaches, Norfolk may well be the perfect place for your next trip.
There are endless beautiful places to visit in Norfolk, from breathtaking nature reserves to idyllic seaside towns and medieval cities. In this post, I’ll dive into some of the best, using my local knowledge to give you all the best tips!
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11 Top Places to Visit in Norfolk, England
I may be biased but if you ask me, Norwich is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire country. This medieval city boasts not one but two cathedrals! Aside from impressive buildings, there are also a host of independent restaurants and cute cobbled streets to explore.
There are plenty of things to do in Norwich, from quirky attractions like an underground Norwich tour to a refreshing walk by the River Wensum. Even though Norwich is the largest city in East Anglia, it still retains a welcoming and community vibe.
Home to the University of East Anglia, it is immediately clear that Norwich is a university city. The cool street art gives this place a modern feel which sits in direct contrast to the historical features that date many of the streets.
The market is the beating heart of the city and it is known for its varied and exciting food stalls. Don’t miss the opportunity to support some local businesses during your visit and chow down on some of the most satisfying budget-friendly munch that you can find!
Recommended accommodation: The Maids Head Hotel
2. The Broads National Park
If you’re a wildlife lover, the Broads National Park is somewhere that you can’t miss. It consists of over 125 miles of man-made waterways, showcasing some of the best scenery on offer in Norfolk. The best way to take in the views is by renting a boat or hiring a kayak for the day.
The Broads wind through a number of picturesque towns and villages, including Wroxham and Coltishall. Both of these places are wonderful destinations for day-trippers to enjoy a pint on a sunny day!
As well as flaunting some of the most idyllic scenery, the Broads National Park is also home to 25% of the rarest animals and plants in the UK. Bitterns, pike, warblers, herons and field mice all call this area home. If you get lucky, you could even see an otter! The best time to spot the most elusive wildlife is first thing in the morning before the waterways get busy.
The kids are sure to love the Broads. For many children, the excitement of motoring down the waterways with ice cream is just too much to take in! If you fancy more time on the water, boating holidays offer good value for money and are family-friendly.
Recommended accommodation: Riverview
Known for its picture-perfect beach huts, Wells-next-the-Sea looks like a scene from a summer postcard. Although this is one of the busiest seaside towns in Norfolk, there are still pockets of tranquillity to escape to.
Trainspotters and those with children won’t want to miss the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway. It travels between Wells-next-the-Sea and the village of Walsingham. The line may only span four miles but a trip onboard is still a fun and novel way to spend the afternoon. Trains run every day but close for winter during December, January and February. The trains are still mostly steam-operated, something you won’t want to miss!
If you’re looking for another wildcard way to spend your time in Wells, why not head out on an alpaca trek? Walking with alpacas down the cobbled streets of Wells is certainly a unique activity but it is sure to be one you’ll remember!
No matter what you do in Wells-next-the-Sea, make sure you do it properly and grab a fish supper from French’s Fish Shop. After all, did you even go to the seaside if you don’t grab a portion of fish and chips?
Recommended accommodation: Bang in Wells
It is a missed opportunity to visit Norfolk and not pencil in a visit to the Royal Residence of Sandringham. Set smack bang in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sandringham is home to one of the finest stately homes in Norfolk.
Set in 20,000 acres of prime countryside, the estate has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This means it is a great place to spot rare and interesting rural wildlife. Although guests can book tickets for a guided tour of the historic house, these can be costly, especially for families.
A better option is to explore the Royal Park. This woodland area is a favourite with locals and tourists alike, offering a wonderful area to explore. There are a number of walks and the park is also cycle-friendly. The Royal Park is open every day and includes a children’s play area.
Recommended accommodation: The Feathers
When we think of the world’s best wildlife destinations, England probably isn’t quick to jump to mind. However, this country has a lot to offer in the way of nature spotting opportunities. If you want to see some fine English wildlife up close, head to the coastal village of Horsey.
Home to an Atlantic Grey seal colony, Horsey and the neighbouring village of Winterton are two of the best places in the country to see these cute marine animals. Every year during November, December and January, the seals flock to the coast to give birth.
Pupping season results in guaranteed sightings and this stretch of coast gets very busy with visitors around this time. At peak season, the beach is roped off to visitors and designated walkways are installed.
It is very important to give the seals space as they can abandon their pups if humans get too close. There is also the risk of being attacked. Female seals (also called cows) are very territorial and their bite can be nasty.
Read more: Seal Spotting in Horsey, England.
Recommended accommodation: Starboard Cottage
The ancient market town of Thetford is steeped in history. It was once home to the ruthless Iceni tribe, headed up by fierce female warrior Boudicca. There has been a settlement in Thetford since the Iron Age and until the Tudor era, the town was one of the largest and most important population centres in the country.
Although the town isn’t that touristy when compared to some of the other top places to visit in Norfolk, it still attracts its fair share of visitors. The earthworks of Thetford Castle date back to the Iron Age and the motte is recognised as a Scheduled Monument. Don’t come expecting an actual castle though, the motte is all that is left. Essentially, it looks like a big grassy mound!
A much more satisfying visit will be had at Thetford Priory. Once one of the most important monasteries in the whole of East Anglia, what remains now is only ruins. Still, this historic site is great to explore. It is free entry to all, making it ideal for those on a shoestring staycation.
If you’re a Dad’s Army fan, don’t miss the opportunity to embark on a tour around the town. Tour guides escort visitors around many of the filming locations in Thetford before finishing at the Dad’s Army Museum.
Recommended accommodation: Oddfellows Hall
A favourite with families, Cromer is a great place to visit in Norfolk. This charming seaside town has managed to retain its charm over the years, offering a fun beach escape for visitors of all ages. Kids are sure to love the arcades and crazy golf!
There is an interesting mix of the traditional and the contemporary in Cromer, with modern restaurants and hipster cafes. For history buffs, the lifeboat station and Henry Blogg Museum are likely to be of interest and are a great way to learn about the town’s past.
Cromer’s clifftop location gives way to some excellent walks, my favourite of which heads up to the lighthouse past Happy Valley. It is an easy hike and most people should have no issues with the terrain. Time your hike with the sunset for the best views!
If you’re an art lover, don’t miss the chance to spot a real-life Banksy! During the summer of 2021, Banksy headed off on his Great British Spraycation around the Norfolk and Suffolk coast. He left several murals behind, including the one above on the sea wall in Cromer.
Recommended accommodation: The Red Lion Hotel
8. King’s Lynn
Located in West Norfolk, King’s Lynn is a destination often overlooked in favour of Norfolk’s coastal destinations. However, this isn’t to say that there is nothing to do there. This market town is known for its historic architecture.
The easiest way to get your bearings in King’s Lynn is to join one of the guided walks. The most popular walk is the Historic Lynn tour which delves into over 900 years of history. If history isn’t really your thing, there are other walks available, including the Smugglers, Sailor and Merchant Adventurers. All of the guided walks take place regularly throughout the summer season.
The surrounding area is also home to two of the most famous castles in Norfolk, Castle Rising and Castle Acre. While the former is an impressive fortress that is largely intact, Castle Acre is now little more than ruins. Despite this, both sites make for a fascinating day out.
Recommended accommodation: Dukes Head Hotel
Renowned nationally for its outstanding nature reserve, Cley is a wildlife lover’s dream. The Cley and Salthouse Marshes are home to a whole manner of rare and migrating birds, including the Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier and Snow Bunting.
Although there isn’t lots to do in Cley, it is a wonderfully picturesque destination that those looking to enjoy a slower pace of life will love. Check out the local gallery, shop for books in an old-fashioned store or enjoy a spot of tea in the sunshine.
Cley-next-the-Sea sits on the Norfolk Coast Path, one of the most notable long-distance hiking trails in Norfolk. If you don’t fancy taking on the full 84 miles, you can still follow the 2.5-mile section from Cley to Blakeney.
En route, you can see an 18th-century windmill (this doubles up as a guesthouse if you want to stay in luxury!) and offers stunning vistas of the nature reserve. Once you arrive in Blakeney, finish your visit with a boat trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point.
Recommended accommodation: Bramble Lodge
Sunny Hunny began life as a Victorian seaside resort. Although the area has seen change over the years, its core purpose has stayed the same. Hunstanton is still a thriving seaside resort that sees thousands of domestic and international visitors every year.
Although good weather is never a guarantee in England, Hunstanton isn’t called ‘Sunny Hunny’ for nothing. It is the only west-facing seaside resort on the East coast, meaning that it enjoys more sunshine than average.
The town is known for its striped cliffs which have long captivated the attention of geologists. These red and white cliffs are made from chalk and carrstone. It is possible to find fossils in the chalky layers of the cliffs at Hunstanton.
Recommended accommodation: No 33
Holkham is one of Norfolk’s most pretty villages. It is best known for the grand stately home which sits there and the incredible beach, owned by the estate.
You may feel like you recognise Holkham Beach when you visit. This is because it has been a popular filming location that has featured in many Hollywood movies including Shakespeare in Love.
Holkham is also home to an incredibly important nature reserve. It spans 3,900 hectares and covers a wide variety of habitats. From woodland to salt marsh and even sand dunes, this is a beautiful cross-section of Norfolk terrain.
The downside about a stay in Holkham is the cost. The village is very small which enhances its exclusivity. As such, accommodation can be expensive. However, if you are looking for a luxury staycation, Holkham may well be a good bet.
Recommended accommodation: No 52 ‘Sea Holly’ Holkham
What is your favourite place to visit in Norfolk? Let me know in the comments!