It comes as no surprise that Norfolk is consistently voted one of the best holiday destinations in the UK. Whether you’re seeking the nostalgic delights of a British seaside holiday or a quiet retreat in nature, Norfolk is a fantastic place that has something for every kind of traveller. With a wide range of beautiful cities, towns and villages to stay in, expect to have nothing less than a rich and varied experience here. The travel experts at Plum Guide have the lowdown on where to stay in Norfolk and have put together this guide to help you plan the perfect trip.
Aerial view of Norwich Cathedral, Norfolk
It wouldn’t be a list of where to stay in Norfolk without a mention of Norwich. Spend your time wandering around medieval streets such as the famous Elm Hill, a pretty cobbled lane with buildings dating back to the Tudor period. Just a short walk away are the Norwich Lanes, a network of narrow streets which are home to independent shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re visiting with the family, a trip to Norwich Castle is a great day out as there’s something for everyone. Kids can run around the grounds and see the collection of artefacts, while adults can learn about the castle’s history as a palace and prison.
For more historical buildings, Norwich Cathedral is a magnificent example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and has a selection of guided tours, concerts and events throughout the year. Speaking of events, Norwich has a thriving festival scene where you’re invited to join celebrations such as the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Norwich Pride Festival and the Norwich Beer Festival. Culture vultures should be sure to catch a show at the Theatre Royal, or admire the vast collection of art at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
View of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England
Just a quick half-hour drive east of Norwich is the wonderful resort of Great Yarmouth. When you’re not playing on the huge expanse of golden sand, explore all the delights that the Britannia Pier has to offer, whether that’s enjoying a superb live show, a delicious seafood meal, amusements, rides, or simply taking in the sea air. For more amusements, be sure to visit the Pleasure Beach, a historic fairground which first opened to the public over 100 years ago.
There is also a wide range of attractions in the town itself. The Time and Tide Museum is an interesting place to learn about the town’s maritime heritage, where you can check out the preserved herring curing works dating back to the Victorian era. The Elizabethan House Museum is also worth visiting – take interior design inspiration from the period furniture and discover a costume room filled to the brim with centuries-old armour, clothes and accessories.
Great Yarmouth is just a stone’s throw away from the Norfolk Broads National Park. This unique place is made up of over 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways, and the best way to experience this magical place is from the water. Hire canoes and kayaks to go at your own pace, or take one of the many boat trips. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can also find plenty of walks and cycle routes that go through tranquil countryside and picturesque villages.
The Cromer Pier, Norfolk, England
For more seaside fun, pack your buckets and spades, as you’ll want to spend most of your time on Cromer’s sandy beach. This town on Norfolk’s north coast boasts plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, watersports and sandcastle building. Snorkel out to sea a little, and you’ll come across Cromer Shoals Chalk Bed, which was formed when dinosaurs still roamed. At 20 miles long, this is the world’s longest chalk bed and is nicknamed ‘Britain’s Great Barrier Reef’.
Cromer Beach is divided by the Cromer Pier, the town’s most iconic landmark. Stretching 150 metres into the sea, this is a great place to take a walk, enjoy an ice cream and try your hand at crabbing, a favourite pastime in Cromer. Pick up your gear at the gift shop and see how many crabs you can reel in – just don’t forget to release them back into the sea at the end. If all that crabbing has got your stomach rumbling, you’re in luck, as Cromer is renowned for its fresh seafood, especially the Cromer crab. This is a true speciality, and you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants serving up its soft white meat.
At the very end of the pier is the Pavilion Theatre which showcases a range of live entertainment, including comedy shows, tribute acts and talks throughout the year. For more festivities, the Cromer Carnival is a fun event that takes place each August and features parades, fireworks and a variety of family-friendly activities.
Located on the banks of the River Great Ouse, the seaport and market town of King’s Lynn is a charming place rich in local history and culture. A good place to start is the Stories of Lynn museum which showcases 800 years of Kings Lynn through immersive exhibitions. At The Treasury, get up close and personal with some of the town’s most treasured artefacts, like the ornate 14th-century King John Cup. Fancy yourself as a royal? Head to Castle Rising, one of the most famous medieval castles in England. Climb up to the gatehouse or swan around the lavishly decorated Great Hall. The castle hosts tons of exciting events throughout the year, such as historical reenactments, medieval swordsmanship displays and archery.
If you can’t get enough of historical houses, make your way to Oxburgh Hall, a 15th-century moated house with extravagant rooms to nosy around. Marvel at the Flemish tapestries, neo-Gothic wallpapers, heraldic motifs and the beautiful embroideries made by Mary, Queen of Scots, during her time in exile. More fun awaits at Snettisham Park, a 329-acre working farm where you can meet friendly red deer who are more than happy to be fed from your hands. Help to bottle feed the lambs, groom the ponies, or collect fresh eggs to take home with you.
Beach at the Hunstanton cliffs in Norfolk, England
With a nickname like ‘Sunny Hunny’, how could you say no to a visit to Hunstanton? The town is known for its unique striped cliffs and extraordinary sunsets, made even better by its position as the only west-facing seaside town on the east coast. Its popularity dates back to 1846, and its Victorian charm still exists today with its elegant Esplanade Gardens and lively promenade.
Divided into Old and New Hunstanton, the resort is home to several excellent beaches which are ideal for chilling out on golden sands and swimming in clear waters. Old Hunstanton has a quieter village atmosphere with a huge beach backed by cliffs and dunes – when the tide is out, the beach is perfect for wading, tide-pooling and ball games. Meanwhile, New Hunstanton has a promenade running alongside it and is well-equipped with all kinds of family-friendly attractions. It’s possible to walk between them and experience two different areas in one day.
Despite its modest size, there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Hunstanton. Have fun on the rides at Rainbow Park or while away time at the other entertainment arcades around town. To get out and about, take one of the many coastal walks around the area to spot sea birds, or join a tour to spot the thousands of seals which live in the shallow tidal sandbanks.
But it’s not all about the seaside here – those wondering where to stay in Norfolk for a peaceful countryside getaway should head to the pretty market town of Holt. This quaint town is filled with attractive 18th-century Georgian buildings, which have been converted into independent boutiques and eateries. Holt is particularly known for its antiques and art galleries, which house pieces by local and international artists. Let your feet guide you down narrow alleyways and onto charming hidden courtyards – Lees Yard and Hoppers Yard are two favourites, once home to Victorian cottages, now hosting a variety of interesting shops and cafes.
Holt is a lovely place to take it easy amongst the greenery, as it’s surrounded by nature reserves, woodlands and parks. Just a short walk from the centre of town is Holt Country Park, a 100-acre woodland with oak, pine and silver birch trees. There are numerous opportunities for walking and cycling here, but if you feel like switching things up, then hop aboard the North Norfolk Railway. Catch the Poppy Line steam and diesel train services for a scenic ride all the way to Weybourne and Sheringham.