England’s fourth-largest county by area, and yet not even in the top 20 by population, Norfolk is one of the country’s most rural and diverse regions. With landscapes varying from the unique and beautiful wetlands of the Broads – East Anglia’s only national park – to the beaches and marshlands of the north Norfolk coast, not to mention Norwich, one of the country’s most historic cities, you really could spend a very happy few weeks here discovering it all.
Most people don’t have that long, however, so you need to be selective – and this guide will help. Be sure to explore the long and varied coast (and not just in the north), which is home to some of England’s best sandy beaches as well as thriving colonies of grey seals. And don’t miss the unique network of rivers and lakes that make up the Broads – home, incidentally, to 25 per cent of Britain’s rarest wildlife species – while leaving time for the woods and heathlands of the Brecks, officially England’s driest region.
The best time to travel to Norfolk
When to visit depends on where you’re going. The north Norfolk coast is honestly better outside of peak summer, a time when the main road through the region can be gridlocked at times. The Broads can get super busy in summer, but it’s usually easy to escape the crowds, especially in the lesser-visited southern Broads.
Norwich is a joy at any time of year, but livelier during the annual Norwich & Norfolk Festival each May. Prices all over Norfolk drop considerably during the winter months, which happens to be a lovely time to experience the region’s beaches, especially in December and January when the seal pups are born.
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Where to stay in Norfolk
An elegant and very peaceful small country-house hotel just 10 minutes from King’s Lynn, providing just the sort of relaxed, weekend-in-the-country feel you might be looking for. The handsome Georgian manor house has 31 rooms and suites, divided between the main house, a dozen or so rooms grouped around a courtyard garden, and five sumptuous cabins (each has a private terrace looking out over the orchards). The spa lays on lots of treatments and has a lovely pool surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, together with a steam room, a sauna, and an outdoor hot tub.
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