24 Feb 10 Best Things To Do in Norfolk
Norfolk in East Anglia has some of the most beautiful scenery in England and is the ideal place to get away from it all. With miles of coastline and stunning nature reserves, there are plenty of opportunities for birdwatching, fishing and wildlife-spotting. Whether you choose to cycle, walk, or ride one of the historic railways, there are some charming towns and villages to stop off at along the way. A highlight of any visit to this party of the world is a boat trip on The Norfolk Broads- a magical network of navigable waterways set in stunning surroundings. When you’re feeling hungry after a day of exploration, the county has some excellent gastropubs and eateries serving up tasty meals made with the freshest local ingredients.
If you’re planning to visit the region, I’ve put together a list of best things to do in Norfolk, from stately homes, to beaches and festivals. One thing’s for sure, there’s so much about Norfolk to love.
1. Visit Sandringham House
The Sandringham Estate is the Her Majesty The Queen’s Norfolk retreat and has been the private home of British Monarchs since 1862. The stately home- Sandringham House- is set amongst 24 hectares of stunning gardens. You can pay an entrance fee to see the house, museum and gardens, or simply enjoy the country park, which is free to the public.
2. Boating Along the Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads is a national park consisting of over 125 miles of meandering waterways, passing through beautiful countryside and pretty villages. Of course you can cycle or walk the pathways alongside the rivers and laks, but the best way to see the Broads is by taking a boat ride or planning a boating holiday. You can moor up and stop in a country pub, or explore one of the charming towns along the way. As the UK’s largest nationally protected wetland, there are also lots of rare species of wildlife to be seen.
3. Taste Local foods and ales
You can support the local economy by dining in restaurants, hotels and pubs that promote local produce. Must-try foods include Cromer crab, samphire, Stiffkey cockles, Brancaster mussels, Binham Blue cheese and Norfolk Turkey. If you’re on a self-catering holiday, stop by the local farmer’s markets to purchase fresh, quality ingredients to cook with. Norfolk also has over 25 micro-brewers and a plethora of pubs where you can try local ales.
4. Tour Holkham Hall
Holkham Hall is an 18th century country house that was constructed in a Palladian style for Thomas Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester. It has featured in Hollywood movies such as The Duchess and Shakespeare in Love, and boasts one of the most unspoiled and beautiful beaches in England.
5. Attend a Festival
There are numerous festivals that take place throughout the year in Norfolk, including the Norfolk Food & Drink Festival, the Norwich City Festival of Ale and Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival.The biggest of them all is the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, which takes place across 17 days in May and features world-class music, performance, visual art and literature.
6. Hit the Beach in Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth is an extremely popular seaside destination for weekend breaks, holidays and day trips. The famous ‘Golden Mile’ is packed with entertainment for all the family, featuring amusement arcades, rides and other attractions. With more than 15 miles of sandy beaches in the Greater Yarmouth area, there is plenty of space to find a secluded spot.
7. Take a trip on one of the Heritage Railways
If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Norfolk, you can take a ride on one of the heritage railways, such as the Mid-Norfolk Railway, the Blue Valley Railway or the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. The North Norfolk Railway, also known as the ‘Poppy Line’, is an incredibly scenic train journey that travels from Sheringham along the coastline to Weybourne and through the heathland to Holt.
8. Walk Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast Path
With such beautiful countryside, Norfolk offers plenty of walking routes for the keen rambler. The 46 mile-long Peddars Way is one of the most popular walking trails in England and has existed since Roman times. This long distance trail starts in Knettishall Heath Country Park in Suffolk and ends at Holme-next-the-Sea on the North Norfolk coast.
9. See the Seals
Seeing the adorable, inquisitive seals is a must-do when visiting Norfolk . Blakeney is home to a colony of around 500 seals and they can often be seen basking on the beach, or popping up alongside the boats in the water. The colony consists of both Common and Grey Seals- the Common Seals have their young between June and August, while the Grey seals have them between November and January. You can take boat trips lasting one or two hours from both Blakeney Harbour and Morston quay.
10. Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture and one of the finest cathedrals in the country. The cathedral is steeped in history and you can learn how it survived various disasters through history, including riot, war, plague and fire. If you need evidence- there’s a musketball embedded in Bishop Goldwell’s tomb! Highlights include a collection of over 1,000 medieval roof boss carvings, numerous original Norman wall paintings, medieval graffiti and a 14th century Despenser Retable.