From its vast cycle-friendly plains of flat, picturesque marshland to its sweep of unspoilt beaches, Norfolk’s outdoorsy charm and handsome villages show British countryside at its best
Find a deserted beach
It may get busy in the more popular towns during the summer holidays, but there is easily enough beach to go around – there is a continuous strip of golden sand running along the entire north coast, providing limitless options for days out in Norfolk. Park at pretty Wells-Next-The-Sea beach and make your way through the woods to the sea. From here, you can head west in the direction of Holkham until you find a spot of sand to call your own. Alternatively, hit ‘Sunny Hunny’ – the Blue Flag beach of Hunstanton, where donkey rides and boat trips are on offer to the more active bather. Cromer is another Blue Flag beach, thanks to its long sandy stretch and clean waters protected by lifeguards. The beach at Cromer has many more touristy offerings, including cafes, fun fair rides and, of course, its famous pier. You can have a go at “gullying” – catching the little crabs that hide under the sand in the shallow waters. There are many here – all you need is a line with some raw meat strung along it and a vessel to keep your haul in.
See an end of the pier show at Cromer
If you do make the trip to Cromer, why not make an evening of it? Cromer’s Pavilion Theatre at the end of the pier produces a riotous in-house show every summer and winter. Think old school seaside entertainment with family-friendly variety performances for an intimate audience of 500. It’s one of the last surviving “end of the pier” shows – a fun blend of comedy, singing and dancing where many stage stars start their career.
Go wild swimming
While taking a dip in the sea off-season takes a courage all of its own, wild swimming is a uniquely thrilling thing to do in Norfolk. It’s also a great way to discover some of Norfolk’s prettiest rivers and waterways. Make The Broads your first port of call on a warm summer’s day – the River Bure is a perfect spot, with clear waters and charming scenery. Wild swimming takes some serious mettle, so do consider bringing a tea flask and a warm jumper for post-dip recovery.
Visit Wroxham Barns
If you’re travelling with family, then Wroxham Barns is a crowd-pleasing place to spend an afternoon. It’s a little development of craft studios with a funfair, mini golf course and a small farm. The latter gives kids the chance to feed baby lambs by bottle in spring time, meet the pigs making a fine mess of the piggery, and give lunch to guinea pigs, rabbits and pygmy goats. While the kids are squealing at piglets and grooming ponies, you can browse homemade wares in the craft shops, and stock up on plants and local produce too.
Head to the races – or get behind the wheel yourself
If much of Norfolk runs at a slower pace than city-slickers might be used to, you’ll find things move a little more quickly at Snetterton. It’s a motor-racing track and home to the second longest circuit in the UK. It hosts tournaments such as the British Touring Car Championship, the British Formula Three Championship and the British Superbike Championship, as well as novelty events for beautiful old vintage cars. But whatever you drive yourself, you can get a taste of adrenalin with a track day – many of these are designed specifically for beginners who fancy getting behind the wheel of something speedy. You’ll have one-to-one guidance from a professional race instructor, who will school you in the art of driving fast while keeping a car balanced and under complete control. Just remember to leave your learnings at the door when you head back onto the coastal roads.
Go seal spotting
The National Trust-owned spread of sandy dunes at Blakeney Point provides a home to one of the largest colonies of grey seals in England. You can take an hour-long trip to see the seals and their record numbers of pups from Morston Quay. These have been running for more than fifty years and you’re almost guaranteed to see some seals – there are more than 500 animals regularly basking on the sandbanks. The best time to see the baby pups is between June and August, when the common seals have their young, or between November and January when the greys seals give birth.
If beautiful countryside and sandy beaches sound like the perfect weekend away, then take a look at our hotels in Norfolk.