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With its historic stately homes packed with extraordinary treasures, the Broads National Park with its secret backwaters, and myriad vast sandy beaches that seemingly stretch for miles, the beauty of Norfolk makes it a great setting for an adults-only holiday.
Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway for two or thinking of going away with a few friends, then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a few activities lined up to make your break even more memorable. So, we’ve put together a selection of the best days out in Norfolk for adults, with everything from boating on the Broads to speeding around a racing circuit.
Our collection of holiday cottages in Norfolk is equally inspiring, so make sure you click the button below to have a browse if you’re thinking of visiting.
While away the hours on the waterways of the Broads
Hiring a boat on the Norfolk Broads is a lovely way to spend the day – pack a picnic, a bottle of bubbly and a blanket if it’s chilly, and sail away into the breathtaking landscape. Ranworth and Hickling Broads are both havens for wildlife, with the chance to spot otters, kingfishers and bitterns among the marshes and reed beds, along with some of the rarest and largest butterflies in Britain.
As you drift lazily along the winding network of lock-free waterways (there are 125 miles in total!), alongside patchwork fields and charming windmills, there are also a variety of waterside inns and peaceful country pubs where you can drop anchor for an hour or so. Whether you take to the helm for a romantic cruise for two or hire a bigger vessel for a group of friends, this is a unique experience to reach some otherwise unreachable parts of the Norfolk countryside.
Stay nearby: Herons Quay, sleeps 4
Our guide to the best boat trips in Norfolk highlights some of our favourite cruises.
Experience the life of royalty at Sandringham Estate
If you’d like to see and feel what it’s like to live in a royal residence, then visiting Sandringham makes a perfect activity for adults in Norfolk. Fans of the Royal Family will relish a day spent at the 20,000-acre country estate of the Queen. Start your day with a tour of the opulent rooms of the house where you can easily imagine the family enjoying themselves at Christmas.
Pause for a spot of tea and cake in the tearoom or restaurant, then enjoy a leisurely stroll around the glorious gardens. End the day browsing the fascinating House Museum and admire the collection of royal cars in the Exhibition and Transport Museum. There is also a Country Park, which is part of the Sandringham Estate, open throughout the year with nature trails and woodland paths, and completely free of charge to explore.
Stay nearby: Hayloft Dersingham, sleeps 4
Step back in time in Norwich
The capital of Norfolk, Norwich is a historic city dating back to Saxon times and with its cobbled streets, secret alleyways, picturesque waterside views and incredible buildings, it’s a wonderful place to spend a day during your holiday. Follow its winding medieval streets to discover an array of shops, cafes and restaurants, alongside galleries, theatres and exciting attractions.
A highlight of this vibrant city is Norwich Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe and the most complete Norman cathedral in England. Norwich Castle is another impressive landmark with its museum and art gallery, and a quiet stroll along the River Wensum is a must. Or if your legs are tired, why not try your hand at punting along the river and see the sights from a different perspective?
Stay nearby: Lime Kiln Farm, sleeps 8
Read our guide to the best things to do in Norwich for more exciting activities.
Have a stroll along Holkham Beach
The Norfolk coast is peppered with beautiful beaches where you can spend a day soaking up the sunshine, swimming in the sea and enjoying picnics in the sand. But one of our favourites for adults wanting to indulge in blissful tranquillity away from the busier family-friendly resorts is Holkham Beach in North Norfolk. One of the most unspoilt, stunning stretches of sand in the UK, Holkham is simply jaw-dropping.
Part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve, this untouched stretch of powder-white sand, backed by scented pine woods and bordered by salt marshes, has won many awards. It has even featured in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ - the scene where Gwyneth Paltrow’s lovelorn Viola is shipwrecked in Virginia and seen walking along a seemingly never-ending beach.
Stay nearby: Flagstaff Garden House, sleeps 2
Discover more gorgeous beaches with our guide to the best beaches in North Norfolk.
Tee off at Glen Lodge
Norfolk’s undulating greenery and plentiful waterways are the ideal landscape for evergreen golf courses and Glen Lodge in Bawburgh is one of the best in the county. There are two different courses to choose from, an 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole par 36 course to suit a wide range of handicaps, both with captivating views over the Yare Valley.
For those who don’t take the sport quite as seriously as others, there is also the Congo Rapids Jurassic Adventure Golf course for shorter putting sessions - an 18-hole expedition along self-propelled rafts, past a real plane, a jeep, an erupting volcano and gushing waterfalls. End this Norfolk day out for adults with a glass of wine and something delicious from the à la carte menu in the stylish clubhouse.
Stay nearby: 1 Station Cottages, sleeps 2
Sail away to Blakeney Point
At the heart of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blakeney National Nature Reserve is one of the most important sites for migrating birds in Europe and is home to a colony of around 500 common and grey seals. This 4-mile spit of shingle and sand dunes is managed by the National Trust and is one of our favourite days out in Norfolk for adults as seeing the seals up close, especially during the breeding season, is such a special experience.
The best way to observe the wildlife on Blakeney Point is to book a voyage on one of the locally operated boat trips departing from Morston Quay, with some cruises offering the chance to go ashore and visit the Lifeboat House. Enjoy the skipper’s in-depth knowledge of the atmospheric marshes and creeks - boats go at high tide once a day in the winter and often twice a day in the summer.
Stay nearby: Admirals Cottage – Norfolk, sleeps 3
Ride the North Norfolk Railway
Immerse yourself in the golden era of steam with a nostalgic journey onboard the North Norfolk Railway. As the heritage train chugs through 10 miles of mesmerising countryside and coast from the seaside resort of Sheringham to the Georgian town of Holt, you can sit back with a glass of fizz and drink in the views – this has surely got to be one of the best activities for grownups in Norfolk!
Along the way, there are quaint stations to hop off and visit, along with exhibitions and artefacts from the bygone days of steam travel. Make your experience even more special by booking one of the dining trains, including the Cream Tea Train, Fish and Chip Train, and Pudding and Prosecco Train. There are even murder-mystery locomotives and themed days celebrating the 1940s for added fun.
Stay nearby: Sheringham Mews, sleeps 5
Browse our guide to 5 great railway journeys through Norfolk for more information.
Breathe in the scent of Norfolk Lavender
When it comes to summer days out in Norfolk for adults, nothing beats a relaxing wander through the soft purple haze of the Norfolk Lavender fields in Heacham. The heady scent of this much-loved plant hangs in the air and soothes the senses as you marvel at over 100 different varieties planted in row after row, stretching out to the horizon – it is estimated that if they were planted out in one long hedge, it would stretch for 200 kilometres!
This distinctive Norfolk landmark offers special tours when the lavender is in flower, through the fields and in the distillery where the fragrance is extracted from the plants for perfumes and soaps. After your tour, be sure to stop for an indulgent slice of lavender cake in the tearoom, or even an afternoon tea complete with homemade lavender scones accompanied by clotted cream, strawberry jam and a cup of Earl Grey tea. Then pick up a memento of your visit from the gift shop; we recommend a little bottle of pure essential oil for some instant calm.
Stay nearby: Lavender Bungalow, sleeps 4
Soak up the grandeur at Blickling Estate
Days out in Norfolk don’t get much grander than this magnificent Jacobean mansion in Aylsham, once the residence of the Boleyn family. Set within 4,600 acres of landscaped gardens and historic parkland, Blickling Hall is really something to behold. Within its elegant walls are a treasure trove of tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and the most prestigious book collection held by National Trust.
Surrounding the house is one of the finest gardens in the UK, with myriad walking and cycling trails. Look out for the pyramid-shaped Mausoleum, ancient yew hedges, garden ornaments and unique topiary. Ride a Segway around the parkland, enjoy a game of croquet, find the secret garden and relax with a picnic.
Stay nearby: Half Moon Inn, sleeps 6
Sample some motorsport at Snetterton
Those with a need for speed should visit Snetterton, an exhilarating track that’s regularly raced on by the likes of touring cars, GT cars, classic sports cars and more. For a day out with a difference, you can test your mettle on a track day and experience what it is like to drive at speed around a professional racing circuit.
Encounter a superb mix of fast sweeping corners, medium speed corners that test your apex-hitting skills and slow corners to challenge your nerve. The thrilling Bombhole and the never-ending Coram complete the circuit. There are track days designed specifically for beginners so there’s no need to worry about being on the track with only fast, experienced drivers. Alternatively, keep your feet on solid ground and check the calendar to see what events are coming up during your stay.
Stay nearby: Willows Retreat, sleeps 4
If you’d like to round off your holiday to Norfolk in style, click the button below to browse our full collection of cottages in Norfolk. From romantic retreats just for two to big beautiful boltholes where all your friends can come along too, we’ve got a great selection of self-catering accommodation for adults to make your break extra special.
If you’re planning a couples holiday in Norfolk, have a read of our guide to the most romantic places to visit in Norfolk for some more inspiration, or check out these great brewery tours!