Norfolk Travel Guide
Our luxury experts have compiled a guide to some of the top locations to visit, sights to see and local cuisine to sample during your luxury cottage holiday in Norfolk.
Norfolk is a good destination for a luxury cottage holiday at any time of the year. Located on England’s mid-east coast, it is easily accessible from London and the Midlands in particular. Norfolk’s biggest claim to fame is quite possibly the Norfolk Broads which attracts a host of leisure travellers who come to relax, enjoy boat trips and seek out great country pubs along the way. There’s also about 90 miles of coastline in Norfolk that features great beaches and popular seaside resorts such as Cromer and Hunstanton, as well as some of the driest weather in the UK. With beautiful countryside for walking and cycling, pretty market towns, cities like historic Norwich, important nature reserves and Royal connections, there is plenty to see and do.
Caister, also referred to as Casiter-on-Sea, is a lovely coastal village with one of the most beautiful wide stretches of beach in Norfolk which is popular with people of all ages, dog-walkers and particularly families. Long walks can be enjoyed in the sea breeze, whilst the grassy sand dunes offer great shelter for a picnic. There is a good helping of holiday parks in the area, which also means that there are a good number of shops, restaurants and cafes nearby offering plenty of opportunities to stock up on supplies and find refreshments.
"Highlights of Caister include the Caister Lifeboat Station, which puts on a fascinating demonstration in the summer."
The ruined foundations of a Roman fort; and Caister Castle that was built in 1432 and now houses an impressive private classic car and motorcycle collection that’s open to the public. The lively seaside resort of Great Yarmouth is just 3 miles away and offers a host of family-friendly amusements including a theme park and adventure golf course, whilst the stunning waterways of the Norfolk Broads are just that little bit further.
The Norfolk Broads are a stunning network of rivers, lakes and man made waterways with over 125 lock-free miles to explore. Hiring a cruiser is a popular way to do so at your own pace, whether for a day or a week, but if you’d prefer there are plenty of boat excursions available instead. Either way, combine with a stay in a luxury cottage for a stylish way to end your journey. Places such as Martham are great for canoeing and rowing, however the Norfolk Broads aren’t just about the water. There are plenty of market towns and rural villages with waterside pubs and tearooms along the way too, for total relaxation.
“Wroxham, on the River Bure, is one of the main hubs in The Norfolk Broads and is known locally for its highly regarded department store, ‘Roys of Wroxham’.”
From Wroxham you can take a steam train ride on the Bure Valley Railway through scenic countryside all the way to Aylsham. In contrast, there are many quiet spots such as the typical Broadland village of South Walsham with its pretty cottages, two churches, two pubs and picturesque Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens where you might be lucky enough to spot an otter. Other points of interest include the historic thatched house of How Hill, Hardley Windmill, the sunken wherrey cargo vessels that can be seen at low tide on Surlingham Broad and the RSPB reserve at Breydon Water.
Cromer on Norfolk’s north coast is a traditional seaside town that’s particularly popular with families. The town was developed into a resort by the late Victorians and the pier is one of their lasting legacies and also where a traditional end of the pier variety show takes place every summer. There are lots of independent shops, art galleries, book shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants where you can enjoy eating the famous Cromer crab. Head down the zig-zag paths from the town and you’ll find swathes of sandy blue flag-rated beach perfect for building sandcastles, crabbing or paddle boarding.
“A good orientation of the area is the Deep History Coast Discovery Trail that runs from Weybourne to Cart Gap and features 11 discovery points, including Cromer.”
In the town there’s the RNLI Henry Blogg Museum that tells of the lifeboat station’s fascinating history, whilst in the summer, maritime history is celebrated at the Cromer Carnival and Crab & Lobster Festival. People also come here to walk scenic routes along the Norfolk Coast Path and up to the lighthouse for superb views. If you like birdwatching, make the trip to Salthouse Marshes further along the coast, whilst those interested in historic houses should visit the 17th century Felbrigg Hall and Gardens.
Burnham Market is the largest of The Burnhams, the collection of pretty north Norfolk coast villages located near the River Burn. A vibrant place with Georgian charm and plenty of style, Burnham Market has pubs and places to eat, as well as around 30 shops including stores selling fine produce, fashionable boutiques and galleries, many of which have been likened to those along Chelsea’s Kings Road. Along with Burnham Market, The Burnhams also include the smaller villages of Burnham Overy Staithe, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Overy Town, Burnham Deepdale and Burnham Norton.
“On a day with pleasant weather, a country walk between the villages is a popular thing to do, whilst being so close to the coast means that beautiful beaches such as Brancaster are within easy reach.”
Some of the UK’s best nature reserves are nearby too, including Scolt Head Island which can be reached from Overy Staithe in the summer months. For a day out oozing with grandeur visit the 18th century Holkham Hall which is a Palladian style country house steeped in history and brimming with ancient treasures, yet is still very much the family home of The Earl of Leicester.
Hunstanton was purposely created during the Victorian era by local landowner Henry Styleman Le Strange and has been popular ever since. It’s famous for its cliffs with distinctive layers of rock giving them a striped appearance, wide beaches, sunsets over the sea and fun things to do for all ages. There are traditional amusements, a fun fair, an aquarium, crazy golf and a classic band stand on the green, whilst Hunstanton’s parks and gardens, including the lovely Esplanade Gardens which features a play area, can be explored along the 1.5 mile-long Horticultural Trail. The town also hosts annual events including the Hunstanton Kite Festival.
"About a mile further along the coast, you'll find Old Hunstanton which is the quieter side of the resort with more of a village feel."
You can take a lovely clifftop walk between the two, a longer walk on the Norfolk Coast Path. or head into the countryside on the historic Peddars Way. Close by cyclists can enjoy a challenging ride along the National Cycle Network Route 1. Wildlife lovers should take a boat trip to spot seals or visit the RSPB reserves at Titchwell and Snettisham, whilst other attractions nearby include the Norfolk Lavender farm, Bircham Windmill and Royal Sandringham.