Norfolk has a variety or urban landscapes, albeit all with lots of green places to escape and explore. These are great places to visit for a short break.
Norwich, with its magnificent Norman Cathedral and Castle, is the best-preserved medieval city in the country, but it’s also a vibrant, modern city with a thriving cultural, music and arts scene and two universities.
It’s a very walkable city, with lovely views by the river Wensum, and at its heart is a colourful market place with independent shopping in the nearby Lanes and two malls for High Street names.
The railway station is a few minutes’ walk from the city centre.
King’s Lynn has more Graded buildings than any other town in the country, based on a maritime trading history with Northern Europe, with a wealth of stunning buildings, museums and attractions. Don’t miss Purfleet Quay with its splendid 1683 Custom House, the finest medieval merchant’s house in England, the largest and best-preserved medieval Guildhall and magnificent Minister – all within a few minutes’ walk of the rail station.
Close to King’s Lynn are the market towns of Swaffham, Downham Market and Fakenham.
If you love to eat and drink, and shop, then Aylsham is for you. Recently named one of the best places to live in the UK, here are a few reasons why, and they’re all walkable. Breakfast on pastries and coffee at the epic bakeries in the appealing and historic Market Place and pop into the chocolate and sweet shops on Red Lion Street to keep you going as you dip in and out of the shops.
For lunch try pizzas with a stamp of authenticity or look for the deli-greengrocer shop on the way to the steam train station. How about choosing between several vintage tearooms for cream teas or painting a plate while you enjoy your cake. For history buffs, the mini museum facing the peaceful church, is a must-visit.
Book ahead for the private dining room and restaurants in Red Lion Street and around the Market Place, where the inn has hosted Daniel Defoe, Horatio Nelson and Queen Victoria as well as all the many others since about 1650. There’s a Cromwell-era ghost as well.
Finally sink into bed at the same inn or in the designer rooms in the old ironmongers and try to read a few pages from that great book you bought in the irresistible indie bookshop you can probably see from your window. The whole point is that this is a place where you can abandon your car on arrival.
Visit Aylsham, for the thrill of discovering great local food, and long to stay longer.
Thetford is the gateway to the Brecks and Thetford Forest and this is a perfect base from which to explore the area’s diversity, wildlife, rich history and fun outdoor activities.
Riverside Thetford is the birthplace of 17th century radical Thomas Paine, whose thinking encouraged American independence and the abolition of slavery and where the BBC’s Dad’s Army was filmed – look out for statues of Paine and Captain Mainwaring in the town centre, as well as the Sikh Prince Duleep Singh.
Holt is a fine Georgian town, the happy result of a fire that devastated the medieval wooden town in 1708. Today it’s a great base from which to explore the north Norfolk coast as well as enjoying the town itself, with lots of quirky antique and bric-a-brac shops, good cafes and restaurants and the ‘old school’ department store Bakers and Larners of Holt. Discover the back lanes and alleys from the Victorian era.
You can get also get to the beach by steam railway… the North Norfolk Railway will take you to Sheringham. Not to be missed.