Looking for a place to spend your next holiday? How about picture-perfect rural landscapes, mighty castles, sublime estates, pristine beaches, and thrilling boating activities? All these attractions are at your disposal in the romantic and fun-filled Norfolk. Below are eight exciting reasons to visit this picturesque East Anglia County…
The Norfolk Broads
The border area of the Norfolk and Suffolk counties hosts an enormous (around 200 miles) network of rivers, canals, and lakes, two-thirds of which are navigable. Interestingly, the lakes, called Broads, emerged at the end of the 14th century as a result of flooding of peat excavations. Today, these law-protected lands have become the centre of water tourism. Going on a tour or renting a boat, you can explore the peaceful open landscapes of the park. The highlight of the boat trips is stunning windmills built more than 100 years ago to help local farmers grind corn. The park’s coastline also accommodates cosy beaches suitable for family holidays. Being the largest protected wetland in the UK, the Broads is home to a large number of birds, animals, fish, and insects.
Norfolk boasts some of the greatest beaches in the entire UK. Spread over 90 miles of coastline, Norfolk’s sandbanks offer entertainment and sights for all tastes. Fans of traditional seaside resorts will highly appreciate the popular tourist attractions of Cromer, Hunstanton, and Great Yarmouth. If you are hunting down splendid views, boldly head off to Wells-next-the-Sea. Its highlight is a row of 200 colourful beach huts sitting just a few meters from the surf line. Norfolk will not disappoint wildlife lovers – Titchwell Marsh and Cley-next-the-Sea are the best spots to watch birds; the latter is also famous as a seal colony. If tourist crowds are not exactly your thing, you can easily find secluded beaches hidden behind towering dunes.
The wildlife (especially the birdwatching)
Did you know that seven out of ten UK’s rarest animals can be found only in Norfolk? The unique animal world lures thousands of tourists, both from the UK and other corners of the world. If not for water activities, The Norfolk Broads is worth visiting for spectacular birdwatching. The local rivers and lakes harbour numerous bird species including mallards, coots, moorhen, geese, gray herons, marsh harriers, cormorants, kestrels, and bitterns. One of the best places to spy on the feathered is the historic Stubb Mill located near Hickling. Besides that, Norfolk houses dozens of nature reserves showing off a magnificent variety of flora and fauna. Armed with binoculars and a pair of sturdy boots, go to explore these vast woodlands, swamps, wetlands, estuaries, and sandy coastline to peek at the indigenous wildlife inhabitants. Diving enthusiasts will also enjoy the vibrant marine world of the ‘British Great Barrier Reef’ at Cromer Shoals Chalk Bed.
The grand historic estates and castles
Not only is Norfolk rich in natural sights but also in man-made wonders. Over the course of many centuries, royal and noble families had been building up East Anglia with majestic castles, ancestral estates, and country houses. Today, Norfolk’s legacy consists of 7 castles. The most well-preserved are the Norwich Castle, which now houses a museum and art gallery, and the 12th century Castle Rising Castle impressing with its magnificently decorated exterior. Other castles, in particular, Castle Acre, Burgh Castle, and Caister Castle, although have survived to this day in ruins, still amaze with their breathtaking grandeur. Beautifully preserved Norfolk’s Downtown Abbey-esque estates and stately homes are just a stone’s throw away from those ancient strongholds. Surrounded by picture-postcard parks, Sandringham was once a royal family’s country retreat. One of the most romantic places in the whole of Norfolk, the Blickling Estate, attracts not only architecture and history buffs but also hikers who are crazy about its lush park.
The pretty villages
There is no better place to experience the charm of towns and villages steeped in history than North Norfolk. It is hard to believe but each of the 650 villages located here has something to surprise their visitors with. For example, the homeland of Admiral Nelson, Burnham Market, is dotted with atmospheric red-roofed pubs, restaurants, and cafes, in which you can savour a slice of delicious home-made pie and a pint of delightful beer. Blakeney, Brancaster Staithe, and Burnham Deepdale will cater to fishing, sailing, and wildlife enthusiasts. If you gravitate towards tranquil walks, the village of Holkham, the home of the national reserve of the same name and the 18th century Holkham Hall, is a great spot for weekend escapes.
The chance to stay in a cosy country cottage
Norfolk used to be a breeding ground for wealthy landlords, which left behind many charming houses and mansions. There are many wonderful Norfolk cottages to stay in so whether you want to drool over the magnificent sea views or you are fascinated by the idealistic rural landscapes, Norfolk is the place to take a break from hustle and bustle of the city life. Designers breathed new life into farm barns, sheds, and stalls, turning them into luxurious lodges, cottages, and houses full of an irresistible charisma. There is no shortage of fancy, quirky, and cosy modern buildings either, including those created by award-winning architects.
The chance of a holiday on a narrowboat
Carved by a variety of quaint canals, rivers, and lakes, Norfolk is a heaven on earth for boating holiday buffs. Hire a narrowboat and go exploring hidden backwaters inaccessible for hikers. Travelling along the rivers is also an opportunity to admire the lovely towns and villages from a completely new perspective. Peaceful and serene secluded backwaters are a great backdrop for family holidays. As your own captain, you can change views as often as you wish! While you enjoy boat steering, manoeuvring through the canals, and opening the locks, your guests can soak up the sun, fish, watch the wildlife, or dive from the deck.
The unspoilt scenery
Norfolk contains dozens of miles of wondrous coastline strewn with sandy beaches and state-protected reserves. These areas, practically untouched by human hands, still teem with their native inhabitants – birds, mammals, and insects. Unspoilt beaches, including award-winning Holkham, deliver a wealth of options to spend an unforgettable weekend by the sea. Deeper into the inland, where the agricultural influence is especially noticeable, you will find many market towns offering traditional rural cuisine and products of local handicrafts. The majestic estates, stately houses, and castles scattered throughout Norfolk are the stone witnesses of Norfolk’s glorious past. Hands down, the UK’s most romantic, scenic, and history-steeped county is here, in Norfolk.