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The Muddy insider guide to Norfolk

Stunning beaches, beautiful broads, bijou boltholes and a vibrant main city – Norfolk is one of our favourite year-round staycation destinations. Ready to 'Do Different'?

Wells-Next-The-Sea, picture by @visitnorfolk


Well HELLO Norfolk! Home to jaw-dropping scenery, unspoilt villages and indie shopping galore. The Eastern county is a little bit out on a limb, unserved by motorways and not really on the way to anywhere else – which is exactly why we love it so much.

Traditionally summer crowds flock to gorgeous North Norfolk, where there are 90 miles of glorious coastline to explore. Yet why not head inland, too?

There you’ll find verges tumbling with wildflowers, Georgian market towns, safe cycleways, grand country estates and gorgeous gardens.

Plus, The Broads National Park has 125 miles of magical waterways to explore. Oh, and you can’t miss all the delights of cool-but-quaint Norwich, either (read our city insider guide here). Take our hand, and jump right on in!


The Brisley Bell, Norfolk.

Staycation Specialists

Norfolk has flint cottages and thatched farmhouses in abundance You’ll find some of the best on offer with Norfolk Cottages, where you can browse anything from traditional fishermen’s cottages and beach huts to luxury townhouses and converted barns. Or have a look at Norfolk Hideaways, whose properties range from places to sprawl by the pool to a railway carriage – very Agatha Christie.


Plus, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Kett Country Cottages, who specialise in bucolic Norfolk pads. Whether you fancy a luxury Mews house with a hot tub or a riverside retreat, they’ve got inspiration in spades.

Indie luxe

For sustainable modern design check out Shangri-la House, tucked behind the dunes at East Norfolk’s Waxham beach. Far away from the North Norfolk crowds, this high-spec eco build has bespoke fixtures and features throughout and is the perfect place to gather with friends.

Shangri-La Waxham
Shangri-la, Waxham

If you’re looking for a cosy getaway then Spinks Nest Cottage in the North Norfolk village of Wiveton is the definition of rustic luxe. It’s fabulously bijou but every space has been utilised to maximise purpose.

Spinks Nest, Wiveton

Or how about RIBA-award-winning Backwater, a spacious house (sleeping 8 in 4 bedrooms) with a jetty on its own lagoon at Wroxham on the Broads? Inspired by chalets and boat sheds, with the veranda creating a stunning outdoor room with Sonos sound system, teens will love it. (But there’s water on three sides, so it’s not one for small ones.)

Backwater, Wroxham

And at West Runton, secretly hidden in half an acre of its own private woodland is Blackwood. It’s all about earthy and Scandi textures, with decking perfect for sandy feet. Plus there’s a firepit and BBQ area, perfect for chilling under the Norfolk stars.

Blackwood, West Runton

Bliss Blakeney has been written about everywhere because it’s all kinds of wonderful. Built by Lisa Lipscomb and Daniel Broch, pioneers of Everyman Cinemas, it’s a jaw-dropping, fantastically stylish house designed to play with Norfolk’s ever-changing light.

The Cabin at Bliss, Blakeney

Stylish Hotels

No. Twenty9, Burnham Market

Drink, eat and sleep in the company of Hollywood royalty at uber-cool No. Twenty 9 in Burnham Market, where dogs are so welcome they get their own treats from the fabulous Eric & Dolly’s Doggie Boutique next door. You can also book in for a luxurious treatment at chic beauty salon Purely Polished, or pop into No.Thirty3 The Bakery for delicious fresh bakes.

Or if country chic is more your thing, The Hoste Arms is perched on the same idyllic village green and has its own star-studded cinema room for rainy days.

Congham Hall

After a pampering getaway with the girls? Try Congham Hall in West Norfolk, with its blissful spa in a herb garden set in sweeping rural parkland. Or slip into the sleek spa at Park Farm Hotel and Leisure, a country house hotel boasting gorgeous landscaped gardens.

Park Farm Hotel & Leisure

If you’re in the mood for a city break, Maids Head Hotel is the oldest hotel in the UK (dating back over 800 years) and bang in the centre of hip-n-happening (yet still oh so medieval and pretty) Norwich. The hotel can also book you a spin in their vintage Bentley, or organise a cruise along the river.

Need to truly escape and unwind? Check out Muddy Award winning The Norfolk Mead in the gorgeous broadland village of Coltishall. Set in eight acres of grassy meadows, plus featuring a lake and frontage onto the River Bure with a picnic boat for hire, it’s really very special. 

The Norfolk Mead, Coltishall

Inbetweeners wanting a quaint country experience but with a bit more to do on the doorstep should head to Byfords in the North Norfolk market town of Holt. It’s a café, deli, pub, restaurant, ice-cream parlour and also offers 16 “posh” B&B rooms and a self-catering apartment. (Basically, it has everything!) Holt also has some of the best independent shopping in the UK.

Byfords, Holt

New and cool

The Harper

The Harper in Langham is Norfolk’s newest luxury hotel, a sleek contemporary escape paring laid-back style with a wink of irreverence. There’s a resident’s-only spa, a groovy bar, a restaurant and a pretty outdoor yard with fire pits. What’s not to adore?

Fritton Lake

Alternatively head for Fritton Lake, Norfolk’s new answer to Soho House, on the border with Suffolk and in an area that’s part of a huge rewilding programme. It’s ultra stylish and chilled out, and even has a wild swimming lake with a sauna. Majorly on our hitlist!


Fancy something completely unique? Try time-travelling back to the 1940s at a (very comfortable) WWII Control Tower, on the edge of a former RAF base at North Creake. This Art Deco styled B&B is a cross between your Nana’s house and a museum.

Control Tower, North Creake

Alternatively there’s a quirky, fabulously glam vintage vibe at Muddy Award winner The Dial House in the mid Norfolk market town of Reepham. Enjoy a cool cocktail bar, secret dining areas, eclectic decor and a record player in every room. 

bedroom wooden beans roll top bath at end of bed wooden floors cow hide rug
The Dial House, Reepham

Party Pads

Voewood near Holt is a beautiful Arts and Crafts house with a Rock ‘n’ Roll heart. Imagine Kate Moss with her buddies on a country jaunt and you’ll get the picture.

Voewood, High Kelling

Or for a super-sophisticated country retreat, Mount Amelia in Ingoldisthorpe is a Grade II-listed country pile with a sweeping drive, spacious grounds, a games room and a huge country kitchen. Perfect for large family getaways. 

Mount Amelia, Ingoldisthorpe


Wild Meadow Glamping

Where to even start?! For a slice of true Norfolk magic head to Wild Meadow Glamping on the sweeping Raynham Estate. Eight boutique luxury yurts (some with ensuite bathrooms) are dotted around a pretty meadow on the grounds of a grand stately home. There’s also a big fire pit, perfect for stargazing, plus a lantern-lit “Turnip Tent” where you can have a sunset drink.

Wild Retreat

We also seriously love the wide views, huge skies and Out of Africa-esque vibes at Wild Retreat in Cawston, where you can pop to cute salon Heaven’s Above for a beauty treatment. (It’s glamping, not camping, after all!)

For an off-the-grid experience, Gorsey Meadow is a bijou eco glamp site where feral kids can run wild in meadows, woodland and rivers. Amber’s Bell Tents has a beautiful range of small, family friendly sites across Norfolk (and beyond) including at Mannington HallWiveton Hall and Hoveton Hall Estate.

Amber’s Bell Tents

They’re all incredibly special, particularly the inspirational 2,000 acre Little Massingham Estate on the far reaches of North West Norfolk. With forests and heathland, wild ponies and piggies, like Fritton Lake it plays a huge part in the important rewilding work that is happening in Norfolk and across East Anglia with Wild East.

West Lexham is a boutique glamping retreat site with seven treehouses, hidden away in the heart of the Norfolk countryside. Think hippie eco chic meets Little House on the Prairie – how could we resist?

West Lexham

If you fancy a festival-style escape with friends and family, The Fire Pit Camp in Wendling is available for exclusve hire and includes six bell tents, a warehouse bar, Leila the Retro Double-Decker Bus and Priscilla the Vintage Mini Caravan. Plus, the pièce de résistance, The Wren’s Nest – a two storey dome structure made of hazel branches, and one of only two of its kind in the world that you can stay in.

The Firepit Camp, Wendling

Transport yourself to Africa (well, sort of) with Wild Luxury‘s stylish ‘Serengeti’ and ‘Zambezi’ style Lodges at three private North Norfolk camps – Thornham Bay, The Hideaway and The Wild Camp.

Wild Luxury


With so many amazing local producers in Norfolk, the food scene is one of the best in the country (with multiple Michelin stars to prove it). And it’s not all about fine dining, or even just great pub grub. Make sure you stop at the roadside stalls with honesty jars, selling everything from jam and eggs to samphire, mussels and cottage garden flowers. Slow you down, as they say around here!



In Norwich head to Farmyard (cool twin sister of The Dial House) for their laid back ‘bistronomy’, or sample authentic French classics in the très trendy Norwich Lanes at L’Hexagone.

L’Hexagone, Norwich

We also adore Michelin Plate-holding Benedicts and Roger Hickman’s for top notch contemporary British cuisine, and at The Last Wine Bar Norfolk’s seasons are an integral part of inventive cooking where nothing goes to waste.

The Octopus, Great Yarmouth

For fine dining in the Broads we love thatched gastro pub The Ingham Swan (which has a Michelin Plate). Over on the East Coast Great Yarmouth is emerging as a foodie hotspot in its own right, with brand new seafood restaurant The Octopus leading the charge.

Up in North Norfolk, Michelin-starred Morston Hall is the place to book for a stunning seven-course tasting menu which changes every single day. 

Meadowsweet, Holt

If you can manage to get a table (the waiting list is long!) then don’t miss a trip to Holt’s new star Meadowsweet. Based in a gorgeous Grade II listed house, it bagged a 2022 Michelin star after just nine months of business.

North Norfolk is also home to Sculthorpe Mill, a pretty waterside pub which recently reopened under new management following a massive renovation – a prestigious Bib Gourmand quickly followed!

Sculthorpe Mill, Sculthorpe

Looking for great food in West Norfolk? The Bank House in King’s Lynn is perfect for a spot of dockside dining, while Michelin Plate rated Socius in Burnham Market is the place to go for cool, airy decor and tasty sharing plates.

Socius, Burnham Market

In need of something a bit lower key? For fabulous fresh seafood, a laid-back vibe and incredible clifftop views head to Rocky Bottoms near West Runton.

No coastal holiday is complete, meanwhile, without fish’n’chips, and many swear you’ll find the best in Norfolk at Eric’s (who have branches in Thornham and Holt). We also recommend the venerable Grosvenor Fish Bar in Norwich (fish tacos, yes please!) and Plattens in Wells-next-the-Sea. 

Rocky Bottoms, West Runton


Norfolk is absolutely packed with stellar destination pubs. If you’re after a pint by the coast head straight for The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe, which has a glorious Marshside Bar where you can make the most of Norfolk’s vast skies.

The White Horse, Brancaster

For a country classic you can’t beat The Brisley Bell, well worth a detour into gorgeous rural countryside for its delicious menu and beautiful quirky rooms. 

And you won’t find a rural pub much more idyllic than The Rose & Crown in Snettisham – the first place Prince William popped for a cheeky pint after one of the lockdowns. He’s a local lad after all.

The Suffield Arms

If you’re feeling hip (er, always!) we recommend The Suffield Arms in Thorpe Market, which reopened last year after nine years of closure. A sister pub to the equally sumptuous and groovy The Gunton Arms, it’s similarly studded with cool contemporary art curated by owner Ivor Braka. Plus, it has a fabulously lavish-looking upstairs saloon bar – afternoon cocktails, anyway?

If you’re in town Blue Joanna is beloved of the Norwich cool crowd, offering a great Asian tapas menu and proper music (on vinyl, obviously). Or hit up Gonzo’s Tea Room with its roof bar, killer cocktails, eclectic decor and DJs – it would be rude not to.

Gonzo’s Tea Room, Norwich

Cafes, delis & farmshops 

Norfolk glories in its rural landscape, nurtured by farmers growing lots of lovely local produce. With plentiful farm shops across the county, you’ll spy a fair few as you pootle around the countryside.

Back to the Garden, near Letheringsett

Our favourites include Walsingham Farm Shop (they also have stall on Norwich Market), Thornham DeliThe Norfolk Deli in Hunstanton and Back to the Garden near Holt.

We also rate Black Farm Barn in Salhouse on the Broads, a new farm shop which hosts a monthly market with fab artisan sellers.

black farm barn
Black House Barn, Salhouse

Café sur la plage? You’ll be spoilt for choice! Head to The Whelk Coppers in Sheringham or Old Town Beach Cafe in Hunstanton for great views, good coffee and old school charm. And for Tex Mex snacks we have the hots for laid back Guac & Mole, right on the beach in Sheringham, the place to go after a morning’s paddle boarding at neighbouring SUP Shack.

Guac&Mole, Sheringham

In Norwich check out newcomer The Yard, a cracking coffee stop with monochrome decor, greenery an abundance and friendly vibes. We’re also obsessed with Bread Source, a hip coffee shop and artisan bakery with branches across Norwich and Aylsham.

Bread Source
Bread Source, Norwich and Aylsham

In fact, artisan bakeries in general are increasingly “the thing” in Norfolk – we also rate Siding, Two Magpies and Loaf (among many more).

Smoke and fishes

With 90 miles of coastline you’ll find fresh fish, seafood and (love it or loathe it) local delicacy samphire are everywhere.

Photo by @normal_for_north_norfolk

Pop into Gurney’s Fish Shop in Burnham Market or Westons in Blakeney to pick up all your fishy bits – and don’t miss a trip to a local Smokehouse. Cley Smokehouse and Staithe Smokehouse are among our favourites.

Sweet treats 

Norfolk is currently absolutely rammed with cake shops and pudding parlours that are as Instagram-worthy as they are delicious!

Winibees, Sheringham

Winibees in Sheringham and Bakeaholics in Attleborough are two bang-up-to-date bakeries favouring hot pink decor and eye-catching, inventive bakes. Imagine if Barbie ate really, really good cake…

Bakeaholics, Attleborough

Caught a little too much Norfolk sunshine? Cool down at the equally Insta-friendly Swirl in Wells, selling soft serve ice creams and…frozen cocktails. Hallelujah! Back in Sheringham you have to visit lovely Aloha Ices, offering the most beautifully presented ice-creams and a fabulous vegan range.

Swirl, Wells-Next-The-Sea

It’s not all about the new kids on the block, however. With more than 35 years experience, East Coast Gelato in Hunstanton never disappoints and has an epic range of flavours.

We also love cute Cavick House Farm near Wymondham, with home-made cakes and a quaint egg vending machine. Retro pretty Heydon Village Tea Room is also rightly famous for its mouthwatering and imaginative cream teas.

Figbar, Norwich

Last but absolutely not least, Norwich’s Figbar is a high-end dessert bar serving up unique and delectable goodies. Funfetti blondie, anyone?


Norfolk has oodles of fab, family-friendly attractions. BeWILDerwood – yet another Muddy Award winner – is a magical adventure theme park, cleverly hidden in woodland in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. Hop on the story-telling boat and enter the enchanting world of Twiggles and Boggles for hours of fun on zip lines, slides, mazes and treehouses.

BeWILDerwood, Hoveton

The sweeping Holkham Estate on the North Norfolk coast is alive with theatrical events, tours, food fairs and outdoor activities, whatever time of the year you visit. It has a brilliant woodland play area, featuring treetop-level walkways and treehouses, plus an excellent ropes course.

Holkham ropes course

Kids will also love ROARR Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade, where you can get close to some pretty convincing dinosaurs on the woodland activity trail. There’s also a small animal farm, indoor and outdoor play areas, a splash zone, a theatre and high ropes and zipwires.

Paleontologists at Roarr

For wet weather fun, Norfolk has ten museums that make up the Norfolk Museum Service. Our favourites include Norwich Castle (bear in mind that the Medieval castle itself, the keep and dungeons are currently closed for refurbishment) and Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse for fantastic living history.

Norwich Castle

We also love Time & Tide in Great Yarmouth, inside an old herring smokehouse, and The Ancient House Museum with its award-winning education programme.


Redwings Horse Sanctuary, with branches in Aylsham and Caldecott, is a wonderful day out for mini horse lovers. Little nature-buffs will also adore Pensthorpe Wildlife Park, which boasts both a cracking adventure playground and a classy wooden indoor play area and soft play. There’s always a fun adventure trail to follow or den-building to be done around the beautiful gardens, and lots of bird-spotting if that’s your bag (including flamingos)!


Local parents also adore Wroxham Barns, which features a cute kids’ farm and a fairground-style play park. It hosts all sorts of special events, from pumpkin picking to live lambing – plus, there’s some fab shopping for the grown-ups, too.


We’re not saying it never rains in Norfolk, but we’re the driest county in the UK – so it’s almost always a good day to get out there and explore the incredible landscape!


Wells Next the Sea

There are so many beaches to choose from, so let’s do this by requirements. For a beautiful beach with amenities, our family favourites are Old Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea, West Runton and Sea Palling. Or for full-on seaside shenanigans, go great guns in Great Yarmouth – a traditionally big and brassy holiday town, which is also becoming increasingly hip and creative. (The Sealife Centre there is also a fun little trip.)

Great Yarmouth

For an old-school seaside town head to Cromer, Sheringham and Mundesley. After wild, empty stretches of white sand? Try Brancaster and Waxham. 

Holkham beach is undoubtedly the tourists’ favourite, due to vast sands and enormous Norfolk skies. However – Muddy tip alert – why not head to Burnham Overy Staithe instead, and either walk the North Norfolk Coastal path or squelch through the estuary to reach the secluded end of Holkham Beach. (Watch out for the naturists, however!)


Finally, watching the sunset over Happisburgh lighthouse is the most romantic way to end the day – and there’s a totally fantastic playground (complete with a zipwire) right next to the beach carpark.

Happisburgh (pronounced Hayes-borough)

Want more sandy Inspo? Read about our favourite Summer Beaches here.


With picturesque windmills, bobbing swans and bucolic waterways, the Norfolk Broads are timelessly lovely. (Until you pass a noisy party boat, that is!)

Messing about on the Broads

Whether you choose to hire a boat, SUP, canoe or simply sit in a waterside pub and watch the world go by, this area of Norfolk offers something really lovely.

We’re especially fond of Coltishall, with its pretty common, and Ranworth, with its floating Norfolk Wildlife Trust centre, boardwalk and historic church. (You can climb the tower for amazing views.)

Cycling & Walking 

The Norfolk Trials network features 1200 miles of walks, cycle and bridle routes across the country, so you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to stretch your legs.

The Norfolk Coast Path runs 83 miles from Hunstanton in West Norfolk to Sea Palling on the East Coast, via multiple beauty spots including Blakeney and Stiffkey.

Norfolk Coastal Path

The Peddars Way is another great walking and cycling route, tracing from Suffolk through Thetford Forest in Mid Norfolk and finally joining the Norfolk Coastal Path at Holme-next-the-Sea.

Thetford Forest

And if you fancy channelling your inner warrior goddess (let her out!), the Boudicca Way runs for around 36 miles between Norwich and Diss, passing through the gently undulating countryside of south Norfolk and the Waveney Valley. 

Beautiful Houses & Gardens 

Norfolk’s certainly not short of a country pile or two. The Blickling Estate, birthplace of Anne Boleyn, is a gorgeous Jacobean hall with acres of pretty grounds to explore. Every August they host Classic Ibiza and hundreds of young-at-heart clubbers relive their halcyon days. Reach for the lazers!

Blickling Estate

Sheringham Country Park  has the most beautiful rolling grounds and is famed for its dreamy clouds of vibrant Rhododendrons in late spring. Felbrigg Hall, with 520 acres of dog and buggy-friendly land, is also a Muddy favourite (with a sweet second-hand bookshop).

Houghton Hall in West Norfolk is a lush stately home and gardens with cool art credentials, having hosted exhibitions by the likes of Damien Hurst and Anish Kapoor. Its grounds are dotted with permanent sculptures by artists such as Henry Moore, and an extra-special ‘Skyspace’ installation by light and space artist James Turrell. Check the website to see if any fresh exhibitions might be coming up soon.

Houghton Hall

For a real hidden gem, check out The Plantation Garden in Norwich. This Victorian sunken garden is a magical place, and a great spot to have a cream tea in the summer. If you’re in the right place at the right time you could also pop into Norwich Cathedral’s Bishop’s Garden, a famed secret garden which only opens for a few select days of the year.

The Plantation Garden, Norwich.

Or for even MORE under-the-radar garden glory head to the East Ruston Vicarage Garden, an exotic series of themed gardens near the East Norfolk coast – it’s seriously special.

East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden


It’s fair to say that Norfolk has a certain reputation for being, er, well, let’s call it “quirky.” And hurrah for for that, we say! If you’re hunting for the best places to experience that “normal for Norfolk” vibe, read on.

Wiveton Hall is one of our favourite spots for coffee with a view – plus, you might bump into the infamous eyebrows of Desmond MacCarthy, aka Mr Normal for Norfolk himself.

The greasy pole event at Blakeney Regatta is another kooky Norfolk spectacle, and great fun. It essentially involves watching people of all ages attempting to walk, run, crawl or slide their way along an ultra-slippery pole, fixed over the harbour’s edge. (Or you could have a go yourself!) Health and safety? What’s that?

Kids will love crabbing (also known locally as gillying) at Blakeney, Wells Quay or Cromer Pier. Avoid plastic pollution and grab a biodegrable line from the lovely Salthouse Store if you’re passing along the coast road. Plus, you could try asking a local fishmonger if they have any crabbing scraps – the stinkier the better, we’ve always found!

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular is another Norfolk institution which really has to be experienced to be understood. It’s been going for 43 years, drawing over five million visitors to this tiny village in North Norfolk. Yes, this musical extravaganza might have an epic silver-haired fan base – but who can say no to a proper variety show with a saucy side of glamour? Don’t forget to pack your feather boa!

Glanford Shell Museum

We also must mention the Glanford Shell Museum, a fabulously original little place which houses the finest seashell collection in the UK inside a tiny flint building. (There are a few other shell museums in the county, but this one is by far the best.) Adding an extra dose of quirky charm, the church above the museum chimes out a hymn or a Christmas carol on the hour, every hour – all year around.


Everyone knows that Norfolk is a haven for bird-watchers, but it’s also one of the best seal-spotting locations in the UK. You can often watch them in the waters between Sea Palling and Winterton, and November to March is pupping season at nearby Horsey.

If you walk along the wild and beautiful dunes you’ll see and hear hundreds of seals and their pups on the beach below. It’s a truly unique and remarkable experience.

The Horsey seals are looked after by knowledgable wardens but every year total idiots – clearly not Muddy readers – try and take selfies with them. So don’t be one of them! You can also take a boat trip out to Blakeney Point from Morston, with Beans or Temples, and see them at peace in their natural environment.


The annual Norfolk and Norwich Festival has an incredible history, and will be celebrating its 250th anniversary in May 2022. Every year it brings a world-class programme of international art and home grown talent to venues and open spaces across the region. From classical and contemporary, to weird and wonderful, there’s bound to be something you’ll love!

wayfarings wells beach art installation
The Norfolk and Norwich festival

The county is also host to a huge range of music festivals. Special mention must go to Houghton, a seriously hip festival for true dance-music lovers on the grounds of the stately home. It’s returning this August, after being cancelled for three years in a row. Plus, new this year there’s Wide Skies and Butterflies, a fantastic pop, rock and indie festival on the gorgeous Raynham Estate. Rave on, Norfolk!

Houghton Festival

Where to next? Try our insider guides to the CotswoldsDevon and Cornwall.

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