From vibrant coastal resorts and quaint market towns to picture-perfect wetlands and forests, Norfolk really is a county that has something for everyone
Why visit Norfolk?
Norfolk boasts around 90 miles of wonderfully varied coastline, ranging from spectacular cliffs and dunes to vast expanses of golden sands. The resorts at Great Yarmouth and Cromer offer amusements, attractions and seaside entertainment and are ideal for families, while the beaches at Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea have lovely, flat stretches of sand that are perfect for relaxing walks. Hunstanton, with its unusual stripy cliffs, is the county’s only west-facing beach and is an ideal place for rock-pooling. It is also a popular destination for kitesurfing.
Norfolk’s countryside is equally varied. The Norfolk Broads are characterised by reed-fringed waterways, big skies, pretty villages and photographic windmills. The best way to explore the Broads is by boat and with 125 miles of lock-free boating to enjoy, you can relax, take things at a leisurely pace and watch the world float by.
The county also has huge swathes of forest. Two of the largest are Thetford Forest and The Brecks, where lovers of the great outdoors will find a wide range of outdoor activities to try. Norfolk boasts more than 1,200 miles of walking, cycle and bridle routes, which run along the coast and through the gently rolling landscapes.
Wildlife watchers are spoilt for choice as Norfolk is home to some of the country’s finest nature reserves. The reserves at Blakeney and Holkham offer the chance to see seals, otters and a stunning range of birds, including rarities such as the bittern and marsh harrier.
Norfolk’s rich heritage can be explored through its castles, cathedrals and many medieval churches. It is home to a fine selection of museums and beautiful stately homes, including the royal retreat at Sandringham, the magnificent Blickling Hall and the tranquil moated Oxburgh Hall.
Norwich is the UK’s most complete medieval city. It’s also a shopper’s paradise with a mix of high street names, independent shops and the largest market in Europe. It has a thriving arts and cultural scene, as well as some great historic pubs, stylish bars and fabulous restaurants.
The county is also home to several heritage railways, including the North Norfolk and Bure Valley Railways, where you can enjoy wonderfully scenic routes through glorious countryside. So whether you’re looking for a fun-filled family break or a relaxing getaway for two, you’ll find plenty to do on your weekend breaks in Norfolk.
A brief history
The discovery of ancient monuments, tools and coins show that Norfolk was an intensively farmed and well populated area during the Bronze and Iron Ages. It was raided by the Angles following the Roman withdrawal in 410 AD and became part of the region known as East Anglia.
By the time of the Norman Conquest, Norfolk was one of the most densely populated parts of the country. It became prosperous as a result of arable farming and wool production and by the 16th century, Norwich was the second largest city in England.
In 1862, Sandringham was purchased by Queen Victoria for the Prince of Wales and the estate has been a private residence for the royal family ever since. The house and gardens were first opened to the public at the Queen’s behest to mark her Silver Jubilee.
When’s a good time to visit Norfolk?
With a wide range of festivals and events taking place throughout the year, why not plan your short breaks in Norfolk to coincide with the celebrations.
The Norfolk & Norwich Festival takes place in May and is the county’s biggest arts and cultural event. The festival features music, theatre, comedy, dance and literature. Classical music lovers will enjoy the King’s Lynn Festival, a celebration of classical music and jazz, which is held in a variety of beautiful historic venues throughout the town. The festival takes place in July and past performers have included Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Alfred Brendel and Aled Jones. King’s Lynn also hosts the Festival Too in June. It’s a free music event and features leading names from the world of pop, as well as local acts.
The Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival celebrates wonderful local seafood and is held during early summer. Its coastal locations make it a great destination for a family day out. Families can also enjoy the Out There festival, a two day street arts and circus event, and the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival, which take place in the town in September.
Food lovers will find a wide range of events taking place across the county during the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival in September, while real ale fans can enjoy a pint or two at the Norwich Beer Festival in October.
By train: Half-hourly services run from London Liverpool Street to Norwich with local connecting services available to Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Sheringham, among others. Services also run from London King’s Cross to King’s Lynn. From Scotland, the North and the Midlands, change at Peterborough, where regular services connect to Norwich.
By bus or coach: National coach services run to Norwich and there are regional and local bus services.
By air: Norwich Airport is located just four miles from the city centre.
Take a look at our hotels in Norfolk and indulge in the beautiful countryside and sandy beaches yourself.