Culture Trip’s Guide to Norfolk

Hiring a boat on the Broads is an idyllic way to enjoy the Norfolk countryside
Hiring a boat on the Broads is an idyllic way to enjoy the Norfolk countryside | © Michael Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo

Sitting on the eastern hip of England, Norfolk will transport you away from utilitarian city landscapes and out into the glorious outdoors: beaches to the north, countryside to the south, with the meandering Broads weaving in between. So if you’re seeking a holiday on home turf, look no further than our Norfolk travel guide – and book your stay with Culture Trip.

This part of East Anglia is only a two-hour drive from London, yet it feels like a completely different world. Swap high-rises for rural cottages that lean on each other for support, and smog for the unmistakable whiff of cow pat – then you really know you’re in the countryside.

Norfolk has some beautiful seaside towns, and Great Yarmouth is great if you’re bringing young ones with its Golden Mile of amusements, rides and attractions. If you’re looking for more company than just the ducks on the Broads, then Norwich, the county capital, is your best bet, with great places to grab a bite. Whatever you may want from your trip to Norfolk, let Culture Trip inspire you with this comprehensive guide.

The Broads

Boats can often be found moored along the towpath at Horsey in the northeast of the Norfolk Broads

Sit back in the sunshine (hopeful, we know), with the gentle putt-putting of the engine and the slap-slapping of the water in the background as you potter along the Norkfolk Broads on a hired motorboat. What could be more relaxing? Hire your boat for the day from Wroxham and make your way down the 201km (125mi) of lock-free waterways. Just don’t forget to bring a picnic.

1. The Hamilton

Hotel, Guesthouse

Rural view from window of a bedroom in the Hamilton
Courtesy of The Hamilton / Expedia

All this boating stuff can be tiring work, so Culture Trip has selected the seafront Hamilton guesthouse in Great Yarmouth as your top place to stay. Ideally located for exploring the town – with the Venetian Water Gardens, shopping centre and greyhound racing track all nearby – it has a warm, welcoming feel, which you’ll appreciate after a long day out on the Broads.

Great Yarmouth

Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth, where you can enjoy theatre shows, arcades and rides

A British summer holiday doesn’t get more traditional than a trip to Great Yarmouth – something plucky Brits have been doing since the 1700s. All that would top it off is an endearing family rendition of “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside in the car. There’s ice cream, a model village, a wooden rollercoaster and, of course, the beach, all 15mi (24km) of it – not for nothing is it called the Golden Mile. Attractions and entertainment aplenty await, but nearby countryside, with paddocked fields and pretty villages, add a sense of character, as well as a break from all the fun of the fair.

2. Comfort Hotel Great Yarmouth

Hotel

Sofa and large bed in a spacious room with a radiator at Comfort Hotel Great Yarmouth
Courtesy of Comfort Hotel Great Yarmouth / Expedia

If you’re bringing the family for a day at the beach, you’ll want a suitable hotel to stay in. The Comfort Hotel, in Great Yarmouth, is ideal; it’s budget-friendly, but the best thing about it is the location – it’s only a minute’s walk to the beach.

Blakney Point

Blakeney Point is a National Trust nature reserve – home to common and grey seals

No, you’re not in the Scottish Orkneys, or the Vatnsnes Peninsula in northwest Iceland – in fact, Morston Quay, in Blakeney Point, is home to the largest seal colony in the UK. Aren’t they adorable? They’re inquisitive creatures and often like to get up close to the boat, so have your camera at the ready. The best time to go is between June and August when the seals give birth – there’s nothing cuter than the saucer-sized black eyes of a seal pup gazing up at you.

3. Dales Country House

Hotel, Guesthouse

Country-chic room with four-poster bed, rustic wood furniture and doors to a patio at Dales Country House, Sheringham
Courtesy of Dales Country House / Expedia

A 15-minute drive east along the coast from Blakeney is Dales Country House, in the seaside town of Sheringham. You’ll be blown away by the spectacular National Trust parkland here, and that’s without even mentioning the hotel itself: a fabulous Grade II-listed manor house with a top-notch restaurant to match.

Poppy Line railway

The Black Prince operates daily from April until October on the North Norfolk Steam Railway, aka the Poppy Line

All aboard! Cut through the sweeping Norfolk countryside with the most comfortable seats – and the best views – in town. Nothing beats the nostalgic smell of burning coal and the clickety-clack of a steam train pulling up to the station, while you watch it gently come to a stop. The North Norfolk Steam Railway, better known as the Poppy Line, goes from Sheringham, across the coast and inland, to the Georgian market town of Holt, where it would be rude not to round off your traditionally British afternoon by heading down a quaint alleyway or into a charming courtyard for a spot of afternoon tea.

4. Feathers Hotel

Inn, Hotel

Several wooden dining tables and chairs in a dining area at Feathers Hotel
Courtesy of Feathers Hotel / Expedia

Step off the train at Holt railway station and make your way through the Georgian market town. You could pick up some fish’n’chips for dinner from Eric’s; or wait until you get to Feathers Hotel – a traditional inn. Pull up by the fire with a pint of ale, then retire for the night in one of the atmospheric rooms.

Thetford

Thetford Forest, the largest lowland pine forest in Britain, is great for cyclists

Seen enough of the sea? Head inland to Breckland for an eco-adventure through Thetford Forest, whether that’s by bike, on foot or up in the trees. Just outside of Thetford you can step back in time at Oxburgh Hall – a moated 15th-century manor house – or at the fort hill and the Ancient House Museum in Thetford. There’s also the Pingo Trail, a 8mi (13km) hike of circular lakes created in the last Ice Age, and Grime’s Cave, home to the only open neolithic flint mine left in the UK. Thetford is also the birthplace of Dad’s Army. Enough said.

5. Elveden Inn

Inn, Hotel

This is one for the foodies. For a boutique stay in Thetford, book your stay at the Elveden Inn. After all that exploring, a hearty meal and a pint or glass of something refreshing will be just what you’ll need. Almost all the produce is sourced from the estate’s own farm.

Looking for a place to stay in Norwich? Check out our pick of the best cheap hotels in Norwich, England, bookable on Culture Trip.

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