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
Photo of Benjamin Kempton
Travel Writer26 March 2021

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 – 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 unmistakeable 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.

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  • The Broads

    Boats can often be found moored along the towpath at Horsey in the northeast of the Norfolk Broads | © Michael Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

    The Hamilton

    Hotel, Guesthouse
    Map View
    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.

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    Great Yarmouth

    Britannia Pier, in Great Yarmouth, where you can enjoy theatre shows, arcades and rides | © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

    Comfort Hotel Great Yarmouth

    Hotel
    Map View
    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.

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    Blakney Point

    Blakeney Point is a National Trust nature reserve – home to common and grey seals | © Keith J Smith. / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

    Dales Country House

    Hotel, Guesthouse
    Map View
    Dales Country House
    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.

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    Poppy Line railway

    The Black Prince operates daily from April till October on the North Norfolk Steam Railway, aka the Poppy Line | © AlanWrigley / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

    Feathers Hotel

    Inn, Hotel
    Map View
    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.

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    Thetford

    Thetford Forest, the largest lowland pine forest in Britain, is great for cyclists | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

    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.

    Elveden Inn

    Inn, Hotel
    Map View

    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.

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    These recommendations were updated on March 26, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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