As a Norfolk dumpling myself, (that is to say, born and bred in this part of the world), I’ve explored my fair share of Nelson’s County. Although there is plenty to experience all over Norfolk, Cromer holds its own special place in my heart.
There are plenty of things to do in Cromer, both for holidaymakers and locals alike. Walkers will find some beautiful coastal trails and foodies will drool at the availability of freshly cooked crab.
Cromer is a popular destination for families, both because of its budget-friendly attractions and also because it offers the chance to get back to basics and enjoy an old-fashioned trip to the English seaside. In short, if you enjoy the simple things in life, Cromer is a fantastic destination for a staycation.
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19 Fun Things to do in Cromer, Norfolk
1. Enjoy a show on Cromer Pier
Cromer Pier is probably the most well-known landmark in this coastal town. This Grade II listed building has long been important to the town’s inhabitants and has even been voted ‘Pier of the Year’ by the National Piers Society in the past.
Records show that there has been a pier in Cromer as far back as 1391, although this wouldn’t have been the pier that we are familiar with seeing now. Owing to rough storms over the years, the pier has had to be rebuilt and repaired on plenty of occasions! The most recent of these major refurbishments took place in 2013 and was paid for by North Norfolk District Council. They are now responsible for maintaining the pier.
Shops and cafes make up the majority of the facilities on Cromer Pier but the lifeboat station also sits at the tip. Perhaps the most notable facility is the Pavilion Theatre, which is one of only five end of pier theatres in the UK.
The award-winning Cromer Pier Show takes place here and offers visitors a good old knees up, that is to say, a jolly good time! Past performers include Bradley Walsh, Michael Portillo and Julian Lloyd Webber.
2. Take in the sights of Cromer on foot
Although Norfolk isn’t generally known for its great hikes (it is one of the flattest counties in England), Cromer is home to some stunning coastal walks.
Whether you’re looking for a short stroll along the promenade or fancy taking on a long-distance trail such as Weavers’ Way, you’re bound to find something that suits your ability. There are a number of circular walks beginning and ending in Cromer which showcase the rural landscape.
If you are taking on some of the local walks along the clifftop, make sure you account for how windy it can be! I recommend wearing a buff or headband over your ears to prevent hiker headaches.
3. Sample the fish and chips at No1 Cromer
Is any trip to the seaside complete without fish and chips? I don’t think so!
For a taste of the best, check out the award-winning No1 restaurant and takeaway. Did you know, that No1 Cromer is the latest project from Michelin star chef Galton Blackiston? It’s not very often you get the opportunity to try food of this calibre in an unassuming seaside town!
Offering unrivalled views overlooking the pier, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better location for a restaurant in town. Don’t miss the specials board and keep your fingers crossed for the chance to try the epic seafood platter!
If that is too fancy for you, head downstairs and instead opt for a traditional fish supper. The portion sizes are big, the prices reasonable and the taste will be something you won’t forget in a hurry!
4. Sun yourself on the beach
Cromer is one of six beaches in North Norfolk to be awarded Blue Flag status, recognising exceptional facilities, safety, environmental education, management and water quality. On a hot summer’s day, people from all over come to laze on the sand and paddle in the waves.
It is a good beach for swimming, although as is typically the case for England, the water is pretty cold! If you do plan on swimming, make sure you know how to keep yourself safe. Although Cromer beach isn’t a dangerous place for swimmers per se, you should always be mindful of riptides. For more information about beach safety, check out this post from the RNLI.
The seafront is well facilitated so you should want for nothing on your beach day. Toilets, shops and food stands are all within eyeshot of the yellow sand beach. As of August 2021, the council has a beach wheelchair that you can hire for free.
5. See the Bagot goats on the cliff
Seagulls and crabs are two types of wildlife that you might expect to see on a visit to a Norfolk seaside town. But you’re probably not expecting to see Bagot goats.
The famous Cromer goats were introduced to the town in 2016 by North Norfolk District Council, to regulate the cliff habitat. By using goats for this habitat management role, the council are able to save around £15,000 a year which would otherwise be spent on machine-operated conservation.
Although the goats were introduced as a cost saving measure, they have become local celebrities and are some of the town’s most papped residents. Fans of the Cromer goats can buy official ‘Goats on a Slope’ merchandise from the Tourist Information Centre in town.
6. Catch some waves
Although it is usually Cornwall that springs to mind when you’re thinking of surfing in the UK, Norfolk is quickly becoming a hub for wave enthusiasts. Favourable weather conditions, deep swells and top-notch instructors make Cromer a great place to come and try your surfing skills.
Beginners are recommended to check out Glide Surf School, located next to the pier on the East promenade. This family-owned business offers both group and private lessons and even runs surf camps during the summer holidays.
The instructors at Glide have surfed in locations all over the world, from Peru to Indonesia. However, their love of home has pulled them back to Norfolk. That has got to be a testament to the waves at Cromer!
7. Explore nearby Felbrigg Hall
Felbrigg Hall is one of Norfolk’s best stately homes. Located around a five-minute drive from Cromer (or 40 minutes walking), this beautiful historic house is famous for its Jacobean architecture.
Entrance to the full estate including house and gardens is free for National Trust members but there is a charge for non-members. There are several short trails around the estate and a circular walk that joins the estate with Cromer. Be warned that livestock roams freely here so make sure you know how to stay safe around cows.
If you really fall for the majesty of the estate, it is also possible to stay on-site at the official holiday accommodation. Felbrigg makes for a great base from which to explore North Norfolk and the idyllic Mustard Pot Cottage is like something from The Secret Garden.
8. Tour the RNLI lifeboat station
Nestled behind the famous Pavillon Theatre sits the lifeboat station, run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The lifeboat station has been serving the town of Cromer since 1804, although it was privately operated back then. Nowadays, the station is manned by volunteers of the RNLI.
The station is home to two lifeboats, one for offshore work and the other for inshore work. The Tamar Class Lifeboat was introduced to the fleet in 2005 and is launched from the slipway. It can hold seven crew members and travel at a maximum speed of 25 knots. The team at Cromer also has access to a smaller D-Class Lifeboat which is launched from a tractor.
At the time of writing, the volunteers at Cromer lifeboat station have an impressive 1372 rescues under their belts. Over the years, some of these have been carried out by a few of the most famous coxswains (commanders of the rescue vessel) including Henry Blogg and Henry ‘Shrimp’ Davies.
Even though Cromer lifeboat station is fully operational, tours can be arranged. However, these must be organised in advance to ensure that volunteers are available. These tours usually cover the day to day operations of the lifeboat crew, their equipment, sea safety and a brief history of the lifeboats. Entrance is free. To book a tour, you will need to contact the Visits Team.
9. Visit Cromer Church
Did you know that Cromer Church boasts the tallest bell tower in the entire county? The church, officially known as the Church of St Peter and St Paul, was built in the 15th century and is the beating heart of town.
Inside the church, it is possible to see notable local figures represented in the stained glass windows. Keep your eye out for some of the lifeboat crews of the past! Previously, it was always possible to climb to the top of the tower for incredible views, however, since peregrine falcons took up residence there in spring 2019, these have had to stop. If you are interested, you can watch a live stream of the Cromer falcons on YouTube.
10. Learn about decorated lifeboatman Henry Blogg
For a dose of local history, head to the Henry Blogg Museum, located on the promenade in the Rocket House. This celebrated lifeboatman served in the RNLI for 53 years and helped save 873 lives during his service.
Blogg is arguably the most famous of all coxswains and he has become a heroic figure for the people of Cromer. In fact, the local high school even had a house named after him! During his time working with the RNLI, Blogg was awarded the prestigious George Cross and a British Empire Medal.
The museum is open Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10 am till 5 pm and admission is free.
11. Hunt for fossils
Cromer is a part of the Deep History Coast which spans 22 miles between Weybourne and Cart Gap. Numerous important finds have been found along this section of the coast and these have provided the earliest evidence for human occupation ever discovered in northern Europe!
As such, Cromer is a wonderful place for a spot of fossil hunting. Look out for the rock pools which are revealed at low tide as these are great hiding places for fossilised echinoids and coral. If you do find any fossils, you are allowed to pick them up (assuming that you are not in a protected area).
However, please bear in mind that you should never dig into the cliffs as this can make them unstable. If you think you have found something particularly rare, please report it to Cromer Museum. You can record your fossil discoveries on the Deep History Coast App.
12. Take a day trip to Norwich
Cromer is commonly touted as one of the best day trips from Norwich as it is only around 45 minutes by train. If you’ve had your fill of traditional Victorian seaside towns, why not trade Cromer in for Norwich for a day?
Norfolk’s capital city showcases another charming side of the region, offering history, quirky street art, cobbled streets and absolutely wonderful afternoon tea! Whilst you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to embark on one of the Hidden History tours around Norwich. They are fun for all the family and will even reveal a few of the city’s secrets!
13. Try your skills at crazy golf
Did you even go to an English seaside hotspot if you didn’t indulge in a spot of crazy golf?! Crabstix crazy golf is located in Evington gardens where the old boating lake used to be. This 18-hole course opened in 2019 and offers family friendly fun just a stone’s throw from the seafront.
It costs £5.00 for children under 12. For anyone over this age, the charge is £7.50 per session. In my opinion, it is certainly a better attraction than the boating lake (I went to school in Cromer and don’t know anyone who ever visited here) but it isn’t quite on par with the crazy golf located down the road in Mundesley.
14. Go crabbing
This is probably the first thing that most visitors think of when they think of the best things to do in Cromer. The town has long been tipped as the best place to go crabbing in the whole of Norfolk!
To get started, you’ll need to make sure you have the right kit. This can all be purchased from the shop at the entrance to the pier. It isn’t costly either, you’ll be able to buy everything you need for under a tenner and use it again and again!
Most people recommend crabbing off the side of Cromer pier but be patient – it may take a while for a crab to come for your bait! Once you feel a crab tugging on the line, reel them in slowly so you don’t drop them.
Crabbing can be great fun for people of all ages, especially those on a budget. However, always remember that crabs are living things and treat them with respect.
15. Savour a pint in the Welly
There are a couple of good pubs in Cromer but the most popular is the Wellington, affectionately dubbed ‘the Welly’ by locals. This family-run pub serves real ales, spirits and cocktails, as well as home-cooked grub in their smokehouse restaurant.
The Welly doubles up as tourist accommodation so there is usually a good mix of locals and visitors here. On a nice day, make sure you enjoy a pint of the good stuff in the courtyard. Pets are welcome too!
16. Fritter some change away in the arcade
I want to be clear upfront: I know arcades are cheesy and low-budget. I know that kids from the local high school hang out there exploring each other’s tonsils. And I know that arcades still offer the same prizes that they did 30 years ago. I’ll fess up though, arcades are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine.
They might not be world-class attractions but if you are looking for a slice of old fashioned fun, the arcade is likely to provide it. Get rid of those pesky two pence pieces in a pusher machine and shoot up some zombies in a darkened booth. Because… why not?
17. Check out Cromer Lighthouse
Prior to the construction of a lighthouse on the clifftop at Cromer, the parish church was responsible for shining a light to guide passing shipments. The lighthouse as we currently know it was built in 1833 by Trinity House.
It has an octagonal-shaped tower and was finally automated in 1990. Unlike the traditional red and white striped lighthouse at Happisburgh further down the coast, Cromer Lighthouse is white.
Although the public cannot enter the lighthouse, it is still worth hiking up to this spot to admire the views. If you did want to explore the lighthouse interior, you would need to book a stay there – it has been converted into holiday accommodation, run by Rural Retreats.
18. Delve into the history of Cromer
This hidden gem is a must-visit for people interested in Cromer’s evolution from a Victorian seaside resort. Cromer Museum, located next to the church, is a small but wonderful attraction, and the entrance fee for adults is less than a fiver!
If you’re travelling with children, they are sure to love the extensive fossil collection in the museum, all discovered along North Norfolk’s Deep History Coast. Cromer Museum is even home to some bones from the iconic West Runton Mammoth.
19. Time your visit with a fun event
Cromer is no stranger to a good party and it hosts a mixture of events across the calendar. Cromer Carnival is the biggest of these and takes place annually during August. The carnival lasts for a week and includes a parade through town and a huge fancy dress event.
As well as the carnival, there is also the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival, dubbed by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the best food festivals in the UK.
If you happen to be visiting Cromer during December, there are a couple of cool events taking place at the end of the month. Every year hundreds of locals run into the sea for the Boxing Day Dip (often to raise money but sometimes just for the novelty of it) and there is an impressive firework display on New Year’s Eve.
20. Go see the Banksy artwork
During the summer of 2021, internationally renowned street artist and political activist Banksy embarked on his ‘Great British Spraycation’. The result was 10 Banksy artworks in Norfolk and Suffolk.
One such mural popped up on a sea wall in Cromer and has sparked a lot of interest. The mural depicts a group of hermit crabs looking on at empty shells. The crab in charge of protecting the empty shells is holding a sign saying ‘Luxury rentals only’. The artwork raises important issues surrounding homeownership on the East Coast and the financial displacement of locals out of the housing market.
Since Banksy claimed the artwork on his Instagram, North Norfolk District Council have varnished the work to protect it from the elements. To see it, head along the east promenade towards the beach huts.
How to get to Cromer
Considering that Norfolk is a little behind other areas in England when it comes to public transport, Cromer is actually pretty well connected. The town has its own train station which serves the Bittern Line, from Sheringham to Norwich. Trains are roughly every hour and the journey to Norwich takes around 45 minutes.
If you are travelling from London, you’ll need to first take a train to Norwich and then transfer onto the Sheringham-bound train.
The town is also served by Sanders bus services. This may well be your only option if you staying in some of Norfolk’s other areas such as Blakeney, Holt or Aylsham. Make sure to check timetables in advance of your visit.
If you are driving, you’ll be pleased to hear there are several decent-sized car parks in Cromer with disabled parking, mostly run by North Norfolk District Council. These are pay and display but regular visitors to North Norfolk can save some pennies by investing in a car park season ticket.
Where to stay in Cromer
Located just half a mile from the centre of Cromer, this Georgian country house offers comfort and style. The rooms and clean and cosy, providing a wonderful base for your Cromer stay. Although breakfast is not included in the room rate, there is the option to add it on for £12.95. Free parking is available and there is even an indoor swimming pool on-site!
The Red Lion ££
For a spot in the middle of the hubbub, look no further than the Red Lion. Doubling up as a public house and an accommodation option, the hotel is over 200 years old and has retained many of its original features. It overlooks Cromer’s spectacular beach and the restaurant boasts real ales and locally sourced food.
If you are looking for traditional seaside accommodation without compromising on quality, head to the Cliftonville. Situated overlooking the beach, this seafront hotel is within eyeshot of the centre of town. This Grade II listed building has retained much of its charm, including stained glass windows and an original grand staircase. There is a popular a la carte restaurant on site that is raved about by guests.