Norfolk conjures images of endless coastlines, marshes, and of course, the tranquil shallow lakes of the Norfolk Broads. The coastline has been named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and it is safe to say that if you feel at peace near water, you’re in the right place.
Whether you’re after a windswept coastal walk with a healthy dose of sea air, or a relaxed stroll in the countryside punctuated with picnics and pub lunches, you can really tailor your break in Norfolk to what you want it to be. In the summer months Norfolk is scattered with wild flowers and the landscape is set ablaze with striking red poppies, making it the ideal backdrop for photographers.
Norfolk’s varied natural landscape makes it a good place for spotting native wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and otters. Long stretches of patchworked meadows and touring sites make Norfolk a desirable choice for a camping, glamping, campervan and caravan holidays. There are sites to suit all needs, from dog friendly and family friendly sites with play areas, to pitches with electric hookup facilities, luxury shower blocks and even wi-fi.
Whilst Norfolk is often viewed as the perfect place to relax and retreat, there’s no reason to be bored when you get there. Brimming with Farmers’ markets, museums, family attractions, cafés, castles, shopping, and annual festivals, you won’t be stuck for ideas.
In fact, Norfolk has a festival for everything.
Foodies and beer enthusiasts can set their sights on Cromer & Sheringham Crab & Lobster Food Festival, Norwich City of Ale Festival, or Worstead Festival, which showcases the best food Norfolk has to offer.
Music fans can choose from the laid-back acoustic offerings of Folk On The Pier, the elegant pairings of seasonal suppers and classical concerts at the North Norfolk Music Festival, or the more family friendly Festival Too, which includes rides, fireworks, food stalls, and free music.
If your interests are a little more specialist or you just fancy trying something different, there are plenty of options throughout the year.
For a culture hit, watch a play at the Shakespeare Festival in the Cloisters at Norwich Cathedral. Or if you’re a fan of fancy dress, you can embrace your inner pirate at Wells Pirate Festival.
If you’re looking for a cheap day out in Norfolk, the Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts in Great Yarmouth is definitely one to consider. Acrobatic shows and performance art will keep you entertained. You are bound to see something you have never seen before, and best of all, almost everything is free!
Fun for both kids and adults, the Hunstanton Kite & Classic Car Festival isn’t just about cars and kites. Whilst you can expect kite displays and rows of enviable classic cars and motorbikes, there are also pony rides, dog shows, falconry displays, and a large craft fair. A great choice if you can’t agree on what to do!
For an authentic taste of country life, Wayland Agricultural Show has everything you could want. Think traditional country pursuits; livestock competitions, vintage tractors, homemade crafts and baked goods, sheepdog displays, and of course, stalls showcasing locally produced and handmade products.
Immerse yourself in times gone by at the Sheringham and Holt 1940s weekend. If you love vintage clothing, you’re in for a treat. Uniforms and 1940s civilian dress are encouraged as they help to enhance the atmosphere. Armed with a Spam sandwich and surrounded by the sounds of gramophone music and the Sheringham Salvation Army Band, you watch a re-enactment or marvel at the vintage 1940s cars and bicycles.
As well as the annual festivals, most towns in Norfolk hold markets either once or twice weekly. Worth a look if you are having a wander through the town centre, but the Farmers’ markets are the best place to taste locally grown produce and experience what makes Norfolk special.
Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market
Held on the first Saturday of the month (excluding January), the Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market takes place both inside and outside two barns, giving it a truly authentic countryside feel. Showcasing a huge selection of products, you will find artisan breads, cheeses, cakes, local ales, pickles, and preserves. Stalls change from month to month to provide variety, but there is always a focus on quality, locally produced goods.
Diss Farmers’ Market & Country Market
As well as locally produced food such as fudge and pork pies, budding gardeners will be pleased to learn that the Diss Farmers’ Market also features a selection of flowers and plants. Head over early on the second Saturday of the month to get your pick of the best.
Loddon Farmers’ Market
Loddon Farmers’ Market takes place twice a month on the second and fourth Saturday every month. A good choice if you are looking for a unique gift (or a little something for yourself), this market also features craft stalls on the second Saturday of each month.
A beautiful manmade accident, the Norfolk Broads were created in the Middle Ages when holes were dug in Norfolk settlements to excavate peat for fuel. Digging was very much a manual task, which would have been highly physically demanding without the luxury of specialist digging machinery that we have access to today. Due to rising water levels the holes regularly flooded, making it increasingly difficult to extract the peat. Over time the holes filled with water, creating a breathtaking landscape of thirty shallow lakes- which became known as the Norfolk Broads.
The Broads are a must see if you are visiting Norfolk, and if you want to learn more about how the landscape developed, the Museum of The Broads in Stalham should be first on your list.
If you prefer a woodland setting, Thetford Forest Park is lined with huge pine trees, Chinese fir trees and rare Serbian spruce trees. In the summer months the forest feels refreshing and uplifting as the area is filled with deep greens and earthy brown tones underfoot. If you are visiting in the autumn, head to Lynford Arboretum to experience crispy leaves and scattered pine cones set against a backdrop of glowing golden light.
The forest has several walking and bike trails for all abilities and is a popular location for horse riding. Whilst you are exploring the forest be sure to keep an eye out for deer, you might just see one if you’re lucky.
Thrill seekers and adventurers should head straight to Go Ape in Thetford Forest, where a course of Tarzan swings and zip lines will have you soaring through the trees in no time. This place puts the high monkey bars at your local play area to shame.
Family Days Out
Roarr Dinosaur Adventure
Roarr Dinosaur Adventure is Norfolk’s busiest paid attraction, and for good reason. Combining action and excitement with an educational day out, children of all ages will find something to enjoy.
Fearless kids can learn about snakes and have the chance to touch a real snake at the Snake Encounter, or the more reserved might want to try Guinea Pig Petting or joining in some of the daily craft activities.
Just make sure you let them burn off some energy in the Dinomite Play Area before heading home!
Norfolk has attractions to suit all children, not just the action seekers. For kids who love reading, BeWILDerwood is a great opportunity to bring their imagination to life. Based on the weird and wonderful creatures in Tom Blofeld’s BeWILDerwood books and poems, this is a unique day out that creative kids will love.
Bressingham Steam Museum
East of Thetford, you will find Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens. Ride a traditional steam engine, choose your favourite galloper horse and take it for a spin on the carousel, or relax in the gardens. You can take the day at your own pace depending on your mood, and there’s also a gift shop to pick up a souvenir before heading home.
A trip to the zoo always goes down a treat, and Banham Zoo won’t disappoint. Home to all the animals you would expect- zebras, giraffes, and tigers, Banham Zoo also houses animals that you may not have seen before, like the maned wolf, red panda, snow leopard, black & white ruffed lemur, and the red footed tortoise.
Make it an extra special memory for the kids with one of the Animal Experiences. Take part in a Feeding Experience or have a go at being a Zookeeper or an Animal Trainer. Banham Zoo also do Birthday parties, and pushchairs and mobility scooters are available for hire.
If you fancy a classic British seaside trip, Great Yarmouth is the place to go. Wander down the picturesque seafront known as the ‘golden mile’ and tuck in to some classic fish and chips along the way. Unfortunately, you will find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to fish and chip shops, so you may have difficulty choosing!
The seafront also has specially designed beach wheelchairs that are suitable for using on the sand. The Tourist Information Centre staff are happy to look after your usual wheelchair whilst you are using a beach wheelchair.
Kids will love the traditional Merrivale Old Penny Arcade, and the Tea Rooms at Merrivale Model Village are worth a stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
You can check the weather and see what is happening right now using the Great Yarmouth seafront webcams. But don’t worry if it is rainy, there are still plenty of indoor attractions to keep you entertained whilst you stay dry.
Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre is a great choice if the weather is putting you off the beach. Listen to a talk on sharks, watch the penguin feeding time, or make your way through in your own time, taking a break in the restaurant. And with a soft play area in the shape of a pirate ship, the kids will be able to use up some energy they have stored up from being indoors.
Further to the North of Norfolk is Cromer Pier, a Grade II listed Victorian pier with a twist. The end of the pier features a fully functioning theatre that has been hosting the Cromer Pier Show for over 40 years. A live variety show featuring dancers, comedy acts, music, and elaborate costumes, it is the only End of the Pier show in the world. With both matinée and evening performances, it is the perfect way to end your trip to Norfolk on a high note.