The best dog-friendly days out in Norfolk holiday cottages

The best dog-friendly days out in Norfolk

Julie Smith 15 March 2022

If you’re planning a dog-friendly UK getaway, there are few better places to take four-legged friends than Norfolk

Rolling green countryside is perfect for sniffing out adventures and dog-friendly beaches are just right for long walks along the sand.    

To help you plan some of the best things to do with four-legged friends, here are some of our favourite dog-friendly days out in Norfolk.

🐶 Dog-friendly days out at the Norfolk coast

🐶 Dog-friendly days out in the Norfolk countryside

🐶 Dog-friendly days out at the Norfolk Broads

🐶 Book your dog-friendly Norfolk cottage

Dog-friendly days out at the Norfolk coast

Dog at the Norfolk Coast

North Norfolk has 45 miles of stunning coastline to explore and there are lots of dog-friendly beaches dotted all along this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Add to this a fragrant lavender garden and a heritage steam railway and there are lots of dog-friendly days out to be had on the Norfolk coast.

Bean’s Boat Trips

The best way to get up close to the famous grey seal colony at Blakeney Point is by catching one of the Bean’s Boat Trips ferries that run several times a day from Morston Quay. Inquisitive seals can regularly be seen swimming around the boat during the 1-hour trip and you can also spot a selection of birds including terns and oystercatchers. 

Well-behaved dogs are welcome to hop aboard the Bean’s Boat ferry with you but they must be kept on leads for the duration of the trip.  

Holkham Hall

Holkham Hall in Norfolk

The 25-acre Holkham Hall estate lies alongside an unspoilt stretch of sand on the North Norfolk coast with lots of woodland and beach walks to try with four-legged friends. There’s a nature trail to follow, sweeping parkland to explore and even a beautiful walled garden that you can take a turn around as long as dogs are kept on leads. Nestled amongst the sand dunes at Holkham is The Lookout, a dog-friendly cafe with views out over Holkham Nature Reserve and the perfect place to spend the afternoon. 

Fun at the beach

The Norfolk coast has something for everyone with bustling seaside resorts, traditional towns and peaceful villages to spend time at. Many of these seaside towns and villages have dog-friendly beaches so four-legged friends can run on the sand and dip their toes in the sea on a fun-filled Norfolk day out. 

Dog-friendly beach at Old Hunstanton

Here are some of our favourite dog-friendly beaches in Norfolk:

Old Hunstanton - This stretch of sand is sheltered from the wind by its striped red cliffs and gets lots of sunshine during the summer months. It’s dog friendly all year round and just a short walk from the main Hunstanton resort.

Brancaster - Brancaster is a pretty village on the Norfolk coast and, with miles of glorious golden sand here, there is plenty of room for everyone at this dog-friendly beach. It’s a popular spot for kite surfing and extra long walkies with a refreshment kiosk that sells all the seaside essentials.   

Sheringham - There’s a special dog-friendly beach zone at Sheringham between May and September but four-legged friends are welcome everywhere during the rest of the year. This traditional town features colourful beach huts and is one of a few places in Norfolk where you can hold a BBQ on the beach. It’s also close to Sheringham Park, a dog-friendly National Trust site with more than 1,000 acres to explore. 

Cromer Pier

Cromer Pier is a dog-friendly Norfolk attraction

Cromer is one of the best places around for a traditional family-friendly seaside holiday with four-legged friends by your side. Dogs are welcome to join you on Cromer Beach (with some restrictions in summer) and you can also take a scenic walk with them along the Norfolk Coast Path to the pretty village of Overstrand.

A must-visit attraction is the Grade II-listed Cromer Pier which has a prime position in the centre of the seafront esplanade. Dogs can join you in walking the length of this 151-metre Victorian pleasure pier and you can all have some refreshments in the pier’s Pavilion Bar. While enjoying the scenic walk out to sea, you can try out the popular activity of crabbing which is great fun for little ones.  

Norfolk Lavender

This 100-acre site near Heacham on the Norfolk coast is one of the largest lavender fields in the UK. Dogs on leads are welcome to join you in all the main areas of Norfolk Lavender including the fragrant purple fields and a pretty cottage garden that’s filled with herbs and flowers.

You can stock up on a range of lavender products during your visit and view the national collection of lavender which is run with Plant Heritage and features around 100 different varieties of the species. 

North Norfolk Railway

You can enjoy a relaxing journey through stunning scenery between Sheringham and Holt on the North Norfolk Railway, also known as The Poppy Line. The heritage railway is run by volunteers and the beautifully restored steam trains feature handsome period carriages for dogs and their owners to travel in style. A trip on the North Norfolk Railway is like travelling back in time and you can sit back and enjoy a slower pace of life as you travel from the Norfolk coast to the handsome Georgian town of Holt.  

Along the way there’s a restored station at Weybourne and it’s well worth getting off at this historic seaside village which features a dog-friendly pub and a shingle beach that has no restrictions for canine companions at any time of the year.        

Dog-friendly places to eat at the Norfolk coast

  • The Ship Inn is a dog-friendly pub that overlooks the golden sands at Mundesley. Dating back to the 17th century, it’s the oldest pub on the Norfolk coast.
  • The Beach Cafe is situated near the peaceful sands at Wells-next-the-Sea and will reward well-behaved pooches with a special tasty treat. 
  • The Mariner Inn looks out to sea from its spot near the golf course in Old Hunstanton. Dogs can join you in the cosy bar and in the beautiful beer garden that leads straight onto the sand dunes.

Dog-friendly days out in the Norfolk countryside

With National Trust sites, historic castles and the UK’s largest pine forest to explore, you’ll find plenty of options for dog-friendly days out in the Norfolk countryside. Here are some of our favourite things to do:

Thetford Forest

Covering more than 18,000 acres of Norfolk and Suffolk countryside, Thetford Forest is the largest lowland pine forest in England. You’ll find lots of wonderful woodland walking trails to tackle with four-legged friends who can sniff out adventures amongst the trees. 

Dogs are welcome in Thetford Forest’s High Lodge Visitor Centre where you can enjoy a picnic or a BBQ before tackling the accessible 2.5-mile circular heritage trail to learn more about the history of this part of East Anglia.

There’s also a dog agility course close to the Lynford Arboretum section of the forest, where athletic animals can have fun tackling a range of obstacles and burn off any excess energy.  

Blickling Estate

Another wonderful country house worth visiting with canine companions is Blickling Estate, a Jacobean mansion surrounded by parkland, ancient hedgerows and rolling meadows in the beautiful Bure Valley.

Maps are available showing various waymarked trails around the estate with highlights including The Great Wood which is covered in a carpet of bluebells during springtime, and The Blickling Mausoleum walk which includes views out over the lake.

The Muddy Boots cafe at Blickling gives out dog treats to well-behaved pooches and if you fancy meeting some new four-legged friends, the Blickling Bounders meet at the estate each Monday for walkies. 

Felbrigg Hall

This 17th-century country house is a Norfolk National Trust site that lies in more than 500 acres of dog-friendly grounds. A series of buggy-friendly pathways and trails will take you around Fellbrigg’s rolling parkland and nature-rich woodland with dogs able to join you everywhere on the estate except for in the hall and formal gardens.

Highlights of a visit to Felbrigg Hall including taking a stroll around the large lake where you can spot an array of wildlife, and seeking out a brick Ice House from the 1600s as you walk around the estate’s famous Victory V which is made up of trees planted in 1946 to commemorate the end of World War II. 

After your walk around the estate, dogs can join you in Fellbrigg’s cafe, The Squire Pantry, for some well-earned refreshments.

Castle Acre

Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk

The village of Castle Acre near Kings Lynn is the perfect place to visit for history buffs, with an ancient castle and priory that you can explore with four-legged friends by your side. Castle Acre Priory is one of the country's finest monastic sites with sprawling ruins dating back to the 11th century that you can walk your dog around, with scenic spots for picnics and family-friendly trails for little ones.

The nearby castle is part of an entire Norman settlement with ancient gatehouses and a large motte (or mound) where you can enjoy views out over the village. Discover more castles in Norfolk.

Sandringham Royal Park

Part of the Queen’s private Sandringham Estate, the Royal Park is free to access at any time of the year and dogs can join you in walking along two waymarked nature trails that are 1.5 and 2.5 miles in length.

There are lots of places in the 243-acre country park where you can stop for a picnic or let doggies roam off-lead. You’ll also find duck ponds and children’s play areas making Sandringham Royal Park perfect for a dog-friendly Norfolk day out that the whole family can enjoy.   

Dog-friendly places to eat in the Norfolk countryside

  • The Lodge - Dogs can join you in the bar area of this country pub and restaurant in Dereham which serves home-cooked dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. 
  • The Bull Inn - located on the pretty village square in Little Walsingham, the history of the Bull Inn dates back to the 15th century and features a lovely beer garden. 
  • The Duck Inn - this dog-friendly 17th-century inn is a stylish gastropub that celebrates Norfolk’s best seasonal produce.    

Dog-friendly days out at the Norfolk Broads

Dog at the Norfolk Broads

Not only can dogs travel by boat with you on the waterways of the Broads National Park but there are also peaceful wildlife gardens to visit and a narrow-gauge steam railway with its own resident cocker spaniels. Here are some of the best dog-friendly days out in the Norfolk Broads:  

Bure Valley Railway

This narrow-gauge steam railway follows the meandering path of the River Bure through the Norfolk Broads and is so dog-friendly that it even has its own resident cocker spaniels called Harry and Milly. 

The Bure Valley Railway line runs for 9 miles between Aylsham and Wroxham and you can hop on and off at a selection of pretty Norfolk Broads villages including Buxton, Brampton and Coltishall. It’s a wonderfully relaxing way to spend the day and, with a path running alongside the railway line, you can combine a train journey with a scenic dog walk to explore the Norfolk Broads.  

Broad Tours Day Boat Hire or River Cruise

Dogs at the Norfolk Broads

You can’t visit the Norfolk Broads without exploring at least some of its network of waterways by boat. 

If you fancy the freedom of travelling under your own steam, day boat hire is available from a number of different providers and you can hire dog-friendly picnic boats from Herbert Woods and Martham Ferry to spend the day on the water. Open-air seating means you can enjoy the view as you sail along the river with your furry friend by your side.

Dog-friendly cruises are available aboard the plush Southern Comfort riverboat which departs from Horning between March and November with both a covered saloon and outdoor seating available. Broads Tours also offer daily river cruises from Wroxham and dogs are welcome to join you onboard boats with names such as Belle of the Broads and the Vintage Broardsman. 

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

This woodland and wildlife garden is located in the heart of the Norfolk Broads and features a mixture of both wild and cultivated plants, and 4 miles of pathways to wander along with four-legged friends. 

Water bowls are available in various parts of the dog-friendly gardens which feature ancient woodland, eye-catching sculptures and flowers such as camellias, primroses, hydrangeas and wood anemones. Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden has its own private waterway and this tranquil location is perfect for spotting an array of Norfolk wildlife including otters and kingfishers.    

Gooderstone Water Gardens & Nature Trail

This is another lovely Norfolk garden that you can explore with four-legged friends. A visit to Gooderstone Water Gardens & Nature Trail has to be one of the most relaxing dog-friendly days out in Norfolk, with lots of seating available so you can enjoy its picturesque spot near the river. 

There are 13 different numbered bridges to help you find your way around the 13-acre site which includes a nature trail, four ponds and a natural trout stream. Also nestled amongst the colourful borders and grassy paths is a bird hide, a bamboo grove and a stumpery. An on-site tea room sells a range of snacks and cakes with well-behaved dogs able to join you in here. 

Horsey Windpump    

Horsey Windpump

The village of Horsey is the part of Norfolk where the Broads meet the coast and this remote and secluded landscape is renowned for its wildlife including the swallowtail butterfly which is unique to the area. Horsey Windpump is one of Norfolk’s most iconic sights and sits alongside the water in this spectacular location. 

Although dogs aren’t able to join you on a climb to the top of Horsey Windpump, you can watch the sails turning from an outdoor seating area. There is also a series of walking trails to follow and a beautiful wildlife garden to take a look around.

Dog-friendly places to eat in the Norfolk Broads

  • The Dog Inn Ludham - a dog-friendly dining pub near the River Ant with an outdoor play area to keep kids happy during your visit.
  • The Ferry Inn - this welcoming dog-friendly pub looks out over the water from a spot close to Horning Ferry Marina on the River Bure and serves regular carveries with a selection of roasts to choose from.
  • Acle Bridge Inn - you can arrive by boat at the Acle Bridge Inn which has its own moorings available. There’s lots of outside space for kids and dogs to enjoy including a boat-shaped climbing frame for little ones.

Book your dog-friendly Norfolk cottage

If this has inspired you to plan a dog-friendly adventure in Norfolk, you’ll find a range of lovely holiday cottages scattered throughout the coast, countryside and the Broads National Park.

Browse our complete collection of dog-friendly cottages with handy features such as enclosed gardens to find your perfect Norfolk base.  


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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