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100 things to do on the coast in Norfolk

You’re coming to the Norfolk coast and you haven’t done your research yet. Don’t despair. Let the Visit Norfolk team take you through you all the best things to do while you’re here, so you don’t waste a moment.

We’ve got spectacular beaches, wonderful walking and wildlife, iconic attractions and much, much more. To make it easier for you we’ve split the mostly year-round activities into the three parts of our 90 mile coastline and then finished off with specific events and festivals.

WEST COAST – HUNSTANTON TO WELLS-NEXT-THE-SEA

1 Walk in the footsteps of Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love on Holkham beach.

2 Visit Holme-next-the-Sea beach and imagine the day when the tide revealed the prehistoric Seahenge. There’s a replica of it in King’s Lynn Museum.

Hunstanton cliffs and lighthouse aerial Mike Page

3 Stand on the stripy cliffs at Hunstanton and tell people the land you can see in the distance is Holland. (It’s actually Lincolnshire across The Wash).

4 Walk the Norfolk Coastal Path, which starts at Hunstanton. You can do it in chunks and get the Coast Hopper bus back to where you started.

5 Imagine you’re in Provence with a trip to Norfolk Lavender at Heacham.

6 Visit Burnham Thorpe, birthplace of Horatio Nelson, and go in the church where his father was rector.

Burnham Overy Staithe

7 Then stand on the quay at Burnham Overy Staithe and look at the river where Horatio Nelson learnt to sail.

8 Watch the sunset at Hunstanton, otherwise known as Sunny Hunny. It’s the only east coast resort that faces west.

9 Listen out for a booming bittern and watch marsh harriers perform their amazing ‘sky dancing’ at RSPB Titchwell Marsh.

Hunstanton beach cricket multi-generation family

10 Play beach cricket on any number of our huge beaches. Hunstanton and Brancaster are ideal.

11 Have a fresh crab sarnie at The Crab Hut at Brancaster Staithe. Tasty!

12 Learn more about the coastal environment at The Lookout visitor centre at the end of Lady Anne’s Drive, Holkham.

Mussels cooking

13 Order mussels from a pub menu on the coast. They may be the ‘poor man’s shellfish’ but the ones we grow in our tidal creeks are FAB-U-LOUS! We recommend The White Horse at Brancaster (sit out on the deck overlooking the marshes in Summer) or The Lifeboat at Thornham. If you’re flush, order oysters.

14 Take an hour-long Seal Tour with The Wash Monsters from Hunstanton and you’ll get to see the local colony lounging around on the sandbanks.

15 Have a pint of local beer and know that it was made with some of the best malting barley in the UK, because it’s grown on the high fields of north Norfolk, particularly on the Holkham Estate, where it benefits from the salty sea frets.

16 Find the large grey stone block in the walls at Brancaster’s St Mary the Virgin church – it was originally used in the walls of a Roman fort that was in the village.

King's Lynn waterfront sunset West Norfolk

17 Take a ferry from King’s Lynn to West Norfolk and do the Peter Scott Walk along the old sea bank to the lighthouse at Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire.

18 Ready for some fish and chips? Of course you are! We recommend Eric’s at Thornham.

19 Take a ride on the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway, the world’s longest ten and a quarter inch narrow gauge railway.

Sunset at high tide behind the old beach huts at Wells-next-the-sea on the North Norfolk coast.

20 Count the beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea. You’ll need more than ten fingers and ten toes.

21 Take your dog for refreshments at the Wells Beach Café – they love dogs there.

22 Look out for samphire on the menu, otherwise known as sea asparagus. They say that naughty London restaurateurs send people up to nick it.

23 Put a picnic together at Walsingham Farm Shop and then head to the beach!

RSPB Snettisham The Wash

24 Visit RSPB Snettisham at the crack of dawn and watch thousands of wading birds do aerial acrobatics. In the Winter you’ll also see tens of thousands of migrating geese. Then go and have breakfast at the Rose & Crown.

25 Imagine you’re on the location of a James Bond film at Burnham Deepdale – fields here were transformed into ‘paddy fields’ for the 2002 Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan.

26 Buy some tasty freshly caught fish from The Fish Shed at Brancaster.

NORTH COAST – WELLS-NEXT-THE-SEA TO CROMER

27 Climb the watch tower at Sheringham Park and be amazed by the incredible coastal view down to Blakeney Spit.

Cromer surf school

28 Learn to surf on Cromer beach. There’s a surf school just for that purpose!

29 Hunt for mammoth teeth on the beach at West Runton. This is where the world’s largest mammoth skeleton was found. All part of the Deep History Coast.

Blakeney Point Seals

30 Take a boat trip from Morston to see the seals at Blakeney – they’re SOOOO cute! Pre-book with Beans Boats or Temples.

31 Bird watch at Cley Marshes, one of the top birdspotting reserves in the UK.

Cromer aerial Mike Page 2

32  Take in a variety show at Cromer Pier – it’s the world’s last end-of-pier theatre.

33 Climb up Beeston Bump at Sheringham and revel in the coastline views. This was the site of a second world war Y Station which linked to Bletchley Park.

34 Admire the sea view from Roman Camp and know that you’re on the highest point in all of East Anglia.

Kelling Heath cycle family

35 Take a cycle ride on the coastal Quiet Lanes at Kelling Heath – check out that view.

36 Look out for Stewkey Blues – cockles from the tidal creeks at Stiffkey.

37 Ride the North Norfolk Railway, known as The Poppy Line, from Sheringham to Holt. It goes through Sheringham Golf Course. Choo choo!

38 Visit Roughton Heath near Cromer and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Albert Einstein. He stayed here in 1933 after escaping the Nazis.

39 Visit the National Trust-run Felbrigg Hall for a long walk and a sneaky peek in their excellent walled garden.

40 Take the Bittern Line from Sheringham or Cromer to Norwich and you get to see some of the Norfolk Broads National Park too!

41 Head down the Gangway at Cromer for the RNLI Henry Blogg Museum, named after the most decorated lifeboatman of all time.

West Runton rockpooling

42 Go rockpooling at West Runton for shore crabs and starfish.

43 Walk along the prom at Sheringham, Cromer or Overstrand licking an ice cream. With a chocolate flake. It’s the law.

Zoo

44 Discover the native animals of South America at Amazona at Cromer.

45 Enjoy a fresh seafood platter at Cookie’s Crab Shop at Salthouse. Delish! Bring your own beer or wine – they don’t have an alcohol licence. Hic!

46 Or at Cley-next-the-Sea buy an improvised lunch from Picnic Fayre and Cley Smokehouse and dine out by the River Glaven with Cley Windmill in the background.

Wiveton Hall Farm fruit pick

47 Go strawberry-picking at Wiveton Hall and then have a slap-up lunch at the excellent café.

48 Ride a tank at the Muckleburgh Military Collection. There’s lots of army vehicles, artillery and uniforms.

49 Look out for a performance by the Sheringham ‘Lobster Potties’ dancing the traditional Norfolk Morris style or their annual Potty Festival.

Cromer No 1 fish and chips

50 More fish and chips? Don’t mind if we do. In Cromer try No 1 or Mary Jane’s. Get take-out and sit on the promenade overlooking the beach and pier. Go on, you’re on holiday.

51 Climb to the top of the tower at St Peter and St Paul Church at Cromer – it’s the tallest in Norfolk.

52 Take the circular Coastal Path walk from the lovely port of Blakeney to Cley-next-the-Sea.

53 Visit the Glandford Shell Museum in the Glaven Valley, a very picturesque waterside scene. The museum is just as picturesque, a small building with Dutch gables.

Crab fishing family Wells-next-the-Sea harbour, Norfolk

54 Go crabbing off Cromer Pier or Wells-next-the-Sea quay.

55 Step inside a cosy Victorian fisherman’s cottage at Cromer Museum. People were much smaller then!

56 Walk the shingle spit at Blakeney to the Point where the largest seal colony in the country reside. It’s four miles so put on some stout walking shoes!

EAST COAST – OVERSTRAND TO GORLESTON-ON-SEA

57 Go dune jumping at Winterton-on-Sea. The dunes are topped with marram, which is Norse for sea grass.

Gorleston beach

58 Discover the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea. Director Danny Boyle, who shot scenes for his hit film Yesterday here, described it as ‘one of the great secrets of England. It’s beautiful’.

59 Walk in the footsteps of the first tourists ever to arrive in the UK at Happisburgh on our Deep History Coast.

Pleasure Beach Gt Yarmouth rollercoaster
60 Ride the wooden rollercoaster at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach… the last one in the UK that needs a brakeman because there are no brakes on the track. Eek! (Madness filmed their video for House of Fun here).

61 Order some freshly-made donuts on Great Yarmouth seafront. Bet you can’t eat one without licking your lips.

Hippodrome Circus Gt Yarmouth

62 See a show at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, the country’s last complete circus building. And the Water Spectacular is just that! There are shows at Easter, throughout the Summer, Halloween and Christmas.

63 Visit the East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens – 32 acres of the exotic, exuberant, innovative and traditional.

Venetian Waterways Gt Yarmouth
64 Take yourself back to Victorian times by a visit to the restored Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake at Great Yarmouth.

65 Have a flutter at Great Yarmouth Racecourse, but don’t lose your shirt – save that for sunbathing on the beach.

Time & Tide couple Gt Yarmouth
66 Visit Time & Tide Museum at Great Yarmouth and learn that in one day in 1907 fishermen brought into port 80 million herring. In ONE day!

67 Have chips from Great Yarmouth Market Place. They’re fried in beef fat and, liberally sprinkled with vinegar and salt, they’re spud-u-licious!

Joyland Snails, Great Yarmouth

68 Ride the snails at Joyland in Great Yarmouth. One for adrenaline junkies. Not.

69 Visit the National Trust’s Horsey Windpump and enjoy the views of Horsey Mere.

Sealife Gt Yarmouth

70 Walk through the tropical fish tanks at Sea Life Centre in Great Yarmouth – yes, through!

71 Step on board the Lydia Eva at Great Yarmouth’s South Quay – an original lovingly-restored drifter from the 1930s.

Happisburgh lighthouse in a field of oilseed rape

72 Walk in the footsteps of Ellie Goulding at Happisburgh’s red and white-striped lighthouse – she filmed her video for The Writer here.

73 Visit St Nicholas Minster at Great Yarmouth, the largest parish church in the country. Nearby is the house of Anna Sewell, who wrote the children’s classic Black Beauty.

Burgh Castle Roman Fort, Great Yarmouth

74 Stand by the walls of the Roman Burgh Castle Fort and imagine that in their time this was a huge estuary and Great Yarmouth didn’t exist! The fort is the largest remaining Roman building in the UK.

75 Step inside the Tolhouse Musuem at Great Yarmouth – it dates back to the 12th century and is one of the UK’s oldest gaols.

76 Hit the heights in Great Yarmouth by taking a ride on the Big Wheel.

Seafront Central Beach Gt Yarmouth

77 Walk the entire length of the Golden Mile at Great Yarmouth and spend a penny – in the amusement arcades.

78 Learn about Great Yarmouth in days gone by at the Elizabethan House.

79 Tell everybody you’ve been to California… the one that’s just north of Great Yarmouth that is. Named after the California Gold Rush. Yes, really!

80 Head to Great Yarmouth’s South Denes and discover the original Nelson Monument, topped by Britannia and inscribed with the great admiral’s victories.

Sea Palling beach

81 Discover the secret-ish beach at Sea Palling with its perfect bays and shallow swimming water.

82 There are more ‘secret’ beaches at Waxham, Cart Gap and Eccles-on-Sea.

Most of the activities above can be done year-round but to enjoy our final selection you’ll need to plan your diary. Keep abreast of what’s happening with our What’s On section.

83 Every September step back in time at Sheringham when the town and North Norfolk Railway host a superb 1940s weekend. Expect to see a lot of costume play!

84 The North Norfolk Music Festival takes place each August. It’s all over the place. In north Norfolk.

Thursford Christmas Spectacular

85 The Thursford Christmas Spectacular is one of a kind. Auditions for the November/December show start in the West End in February. Trust us, it’s brilliant.

86 In July Great Yarmouth hosts the Wheels Festival on the Golden Mile.

87 The Wells-next-the-Sea Pirate Festival has the town sticking a parrot on its shoulder and playing a soundtrack consisting mostly of Aha.

Holkham Hall Country Fair

88 Holkham Country Fair takes place every two years in July and it’s always brilliant.

89 In late Summer, Great Yarmouth hosts the world-class Festival of Bowls, the largest outdoor open bowling event in the country. In January, Potters Resort nearby hosts the World Indoor Bowls Competition.

90 The Hunstanton Lawn Tennis Tournament in August is the Britain’s largest open tennis competition and has been running for almost 100 years.

91 Through the summer there are midweek fireworks at Great Yarmouth.

Blakeney greasy pole competition

92 Every Summer at Blakeney Quay there is an Aquatic Sports Day which includes sandcastle building, crab catching, tug of war and the infamous ‘Greasy Pole’ challenge!

93 Carnival Weeks are a big thing at our seaside in July and August. Find them in Cromer, Sheringham and Wells-next-the-Sea.

Out There Festival Great Yarmouth

94 If you’re here in September, enjoy the superb Out There Festival at Great Yarmouth, a weekend of mostly free public performances with a circus theme.

95 Also in September in Great Yarmouth is the Maritime Festival, two days of family-friendly fun on South Quay.

Cromer Crab & Lobster Festival

96  If you’re here in May, don’t miss the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival!

97 Gorleston has its Clifftop Festival every July. You’ll love to stroll along the ‘Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play, Tiddely-om-pom-pom!’

98 The Hunstanton Kite Festival in August is one of the most colourful events in Norfolk.

North Norfolk Food Festival Holkham

99 In late summer enjoy the county’s largest foodie gathering, the North Norfolk Food Festival, at Holkham Hall.

100 If you’re feeling very brave there are Boxing Day Swims at Cromer and Hunstanton. Brrrr!

Phew, all that should keep you busy! Have a great trip to Norfolk’s coast.