21 reasons to love Norfolk
We have 90 miles of coast!
... 93 when the tide’s out! It offers huge variety, from enormous wide sandy beaches at Brancaster, Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea, tidal creeks and salt marshes, superb nature reserves for birdwatching, a 4-mile long spit of sand and shingle at Blakeney that’s home to the largest colony of seals in England, cliffs with stunning views, and traditional seaside resorts. And there’s a coastal path meaning you can walk around it all too!
Our Royal connections
Norfolk has the second, third and fourth in line to the throne living here! Sandringham is the Queen’s rural retreat, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children live on the estate. And if it’s good enough for Royalty…
The best birdwatching in the UK
We reckon we have the best birdwatching in the UK, particularly over the winter when we have our Winter Wildlife Safari. There are internationally-renowned nature reserves across the county, particularly in the unique Norfolk Broads and along the west and north Norfolk coast.
England's greatest naval commander
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, England’s greatest ever naval commander, was born at Burnham Thorpe in north Norfolk on September 29, 1758. Indeed, he once said, ‘I am a Norfolk man and glory in being so’. Catch up with him at the Nelson Museum in Great Yarmouth where you can also see the Nelson Monument (built before Trafalgar Square’s Nelson’s Column) or see where he learnt to sail with a trip to Burnham Overy Staithe. At Burnham Thorpe pop into the Lord Nelson and have a snifter of Nelson’s Blood…
Norfolk is the perfect place to catch crabs!
The ones found in the sea – we don’t suggest you try catching them in a fishmongers. That would be shoplifting. Cromer is the king of crabbing! With nearby Sheringham it has a Crab and Lobster Festival every year and every August bank holiday hosts the World Pier Cabbing Championships.
We have Norwich city
Not Norwich City, we have them too, but just lately you’d have to be a masochist to spend 90 minutes at Carrow Road. Not only is Norwich England’s first UNESCO City of Literature and the best-preserved medieval city in Britain (no fast-running water so the Industrial Revolution passed it by), but it’s also the only English city to be excommunicated by the Pope, following a riot in 1274 between monks and citizens which irked the Supreme Pontiff. Norwich has five department stores, two shopping malls, superb indie shopping in The Lanes, and a Norman castle and cathedral.
We have steam railways!
Choo choo! Try the Bure Valley Railway between Aylsham and Wroxham inland or the North Norfolk Railway, otherwise known as The Poppy Line, between coastal Sheringham and pretty Georgian Holt. Other steam railways are available.
The unique Norfolk Broads National Park
The Norfolk Broads is not a disrespectful term for women, but instead a 125-mile navigable and lock-free network of unique waterways, to best be enjoyed by boat. A National Park, we call them the Venice of the West. The Broads are not only mentioned in a David Bowie song (Life on Mars), but are the only National Park in England with a city in it, and are unique because, amongst other reasons, they’re man-made… yes, really! At Wroxham, you’ll find Roy’s, the largest village store in the world!
You can't put a Holt to our history
You can step back in time to the Georgian period with a visit to the wonderfully handsome market town of Holt, poke around the wide range of shops, boutiques and delis and don’t miss Bakers & Larners, which has incredible wine and food departments. The reason Holt is such a perfect little Georgian town? The town burnt down in 1708 and was completely rebuilt! You can also take a steam railway ride from here to the coastal town of Sheringham on The Poppy Line.
You'll love our Downton Abbeys
Norfolk has more ‘Downton Abbeys’ than you can shake a stick at, including Blickling Hall near Aylsham, which doubled as Bono’s abode in an episode of Alan Partridge. Take a walk around the estate gardens and then have a pint at the Buckinghamshire Arms. It’s unlikely you’ll see the headless ghost of Anne Boleyn, who was born here, but you never know!
The first tourists to Britain came to Norfolk
You can walk in the footsteps of the first tourists ever to visit the United Kingdom! We’re serious! After a tidal surge in December 2014 at Happisburgh, archaeologists from the British Museum found footprints that tests revealed were 850,000 years old - the earliest evidence of man found outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa. In Norfolk! At the time Britain was linked by land to the Continent and would have looked like African savannah, complete with bison, hyenas, rhinos, lions and mammoths. We call this area Norfolk’s Deep History Coast.
Norfolk has the world’s largest chalk reef
It’s around 20 miles long and is just 200 metres off the north Norfolk coast. The marine haven has so many species, including sponges, burrowing piddocks, sea squirts, anemones, starfish, brittlestars, sea slugs and fish including shoaling horse mackerel and bass, that experts are describing it as 'Britain's Great Barrier Reef'. Our famous Cromer crabs get to feed on it, and that’s why they are so sweet, succulent and meaty.
We used to have hyenas in Norfolk
Talking of mammoths, the biggest and best-preserved mammoth skeleton ever found was discovered in Norfolk! The only bones missing were eaten by hyenas. How do we know? Dissected fossilised hyena poo was found to contain mammoth bone! If you know what you’re looking for, you can still find mammoth teeth on the beach at West Runton.
The beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea
Our higgledy-piggledy multi-coloured beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. We think there are 200 beach huts, but we always lose count before we get to the end. The beach here has been voted the best in Britain on more than one occasion!
Thetford Forest is the largest lowland forest in Britain
Covering 80 square miles, Thetford Forest is perfect for walking, cycling, orienteering, spotting red deer or just maybe having a picnic in a clearing. Or you could hunt Pingos! No, no, nothing sinister – Pingos are circular lakes that were formed after the last Ice Age. There’s an 8-mile trail of them you can walk and they’re unique to this area.
Europe's highest concentration of medieval churches
At one time there were over 1000, of which 659 still survive. Of these, 125 have round towers – more than any other county in Britain. At 23,000 square feet, St Nicholas Minster at Great Yarmouth is the largest parish church in the country.
Norfolk has the highest point in East Anglia
There is a myth that Norfolk is as flat as a week-old pint of beer, perpetrated by Noel Coward in his play Private Lives: ‘Very flat, Norfolk’. The Cromer Ridge at Beacon Hill, also known as Roman Camp, is 338 feet above sea level, almost exactly the height of two Nelson’s Columns and only slightly shorter than St Paul’s Cathedral! Try walking and cycling around here and you’ll never call Norfolk flat again.
The unique Great Yarmouth rollercoaster
Great Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach rollercoaster is the only remaining wooden one of its kind in the UK (one of only eight in the world) and one of only two remaining where a brakeman is required to ride with the train, to control its speed - as there are NO BRAKES on the track! Gulp!
Boudicca is the Queen of Girl Power
The famous Queen Boudicca of Norfolk’s Iceni tribe started Girl Power in this country by refusing to kowtow to the occupying Romans after they ignored her late husband Prasutagus’s will, took his land and raped their daughters. Instead she took her warriors on a rampage, destroying Camulodunum (Colchester), Londinium (London) and Verulamium (St Albans), before being defeated by the Romans at the Battle of Watling Street. Nonetheless, she’d struck a significant blow for feminism.
Of course, today, while Nelson stands proud at one end of Whitehall in London, in Trafalgar Square, Boudicca is on her chariot at the opposite end, by Westminster Bridge. We rather like the idea that Number 10 Downing Street is protected at either end by Norfolk heroes!
Today you can walk The Boudicca Way between Diss and Norwich.
Cromer has THE WORLD'S last end-of-pier theatre
The Pavilion on the Grade II listed Victoria pier hosts variety shows in the summer and at Christmas. Cromer Pier was judged Pier of the Year in 2015 by the National Piers Society. Nice when you get an award from your peers.
Norfolk is the UK's best sunniest/driest county
Norfolk's unique Deep History Coast
Norfolk's unique Deep History Coast is where a prehistoric version of the Swiss Army knife was found, the world's biggest and best-preserved mammoth skeleton, and 850,000-year-old human footprints - the first tourists to come to our country!
Magnificent churches and cathedrals
Norwich has two cathedrals, and Norfolk has more round-towered churches than anywhere else in Europe, plus wool churches and plague churches to explore.
Explore our beaches and coast
Norfolk has more than 90 miles of coast, ranging from enormous sandy beaches to dramatic cliffs, shingle spits, and tidal salt marshes and creeks. And it can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Find family-friendly attractions in Norfolk
Norfolk has so many family-friendly attractions, including adventure parks, theme parks and zoos. And don't worry about the weather - most of them have indoor fun too!