Ten of the prettiest villages in Norfolk holiday cottages

Ten of the prettiest villages in Norfolk

Julie Smith 12 July 2021

Whether you prefer rolling green countryside, riverside strolls or spending time close to the coast, Norfolk is a county that has it all. There are seaside resorts and market towns to visit plus endless pretty villages where you’ll find everything from beautiful historic houses and classic country pubs to peaceful nature reserves where you can spot an array of Norfolk wildlife.

To help you plan the perfect getaway to this wonderful part of the world, we have compiled a list of pretty Norfolk villages that are well worth making the effort to visit during your next short break or holiday in Norfolk. 

#01 Blakeney


Probably best known for a large colony of grey seals that live at the nearby nature reserve, the coastal village of Blakeney is also home to a pretty harbour and the Blakeney Guildhall, a vaulted, 15th-century stone building which is managed by English Heritage.

The hub of the village is atop a small hill with views out to sea and dotted amongst Blakeney’s characterful flint cottages you’ll find an assortment of pubs, cafes and independent shops.

  • Blakeney Point is a 4-mile shingle spit that’s home to colonies of terns and grey seals. The National Nature Reserve also comprises 160 hectares of grazing marshes which are known as the Blakeney Freshes.
  • Beans Boat Trips offer daily seal-watching boat trips from Blakeney Quay. Before your journey, it’s worth spending time at the harbour watching the traditional fishing boats come in.
  • Food and drink options include The Moorings, which has lots of local, seasonal Norfolk produce on their menu, and The Kings Arms, a dog-friendly inn that dates back to Georgian times.

Stay nearby:  Le Corsaire | Sleeps 3 guests + 1 dog

#02 Cley-next-the-sea

Pretty Norfolk villages - Cley

Another wonderful coastal village with a nature reserve close by is Cley-next-the-sea, which backs onto peaceful salt marshes and is centred around a historic 18th-century windmill, where you can now enjoy a romantic dinner for two. 

Other foodie options in the village include the Cley Smokehouse where you can pick up traditional kippers or fresh Cromer crab, and Picnic Fayre, a delicatessen full of Norfolk cheese, chutneys and freshly baked goodies.

  • The long stretch of shingle beach at Cley-next-the-sea is perfect for a bracing walk with four-legged friends - there are no dog restrictions at any time of year.
  • A Norfolk Wildlife Trust visitor centre at Cley Marshes has panoramic views over the beautiful coastline. There are also six hides where you can watch the site’s wide variety of seabirds, and pathways that are specially accessible for wheelchair users.
  • Shopping options in Cley-next-the-sea include a garden centre, a second-hand bookshop and The Barn at Artemis where you can browse an assortment of interesting gifts and antiques. 

Stay nearby: Catlin Cottage - Cley | Sleeps 4 guests plus 1 dog

#03 Wroxham and Hoveton

Prettiest Norfolk villages - Wroxham

Technically two Norfolk Broads villages, Wroxham and Hoveton are connected together and so tend to come as a pair. Collectively referred to as the capital of the Broads, they lie on either side of the meandering River Bure and make a great starting point for exploring the various waterways of this Norfolk national park. 

Along with a selection of riverside walks and lovely pubs, there are great shopping options in the villages including regular car boot sales at Hoveton village hall and the family-run Roys of Wroxham department store.

  • Broad Tours are based at Wroxham and offer day boat hire if you fancy exploring under your own steam or guided tours where you can simply relax and enjoy the scenery. 
  • Children will love riding the miniature trains at Barton House Railway; the line runs scenically through a pretty Wroxham garden along the banks of the River Bure.
  • The gardens at nearby Hoveton Hall are well worth visiting and feature wildlife-rich woodland, lakes, an arboretum and the beautiful walled Spider Garden.

Stay nearby: Gingerbread | Sleeps 4 guests + 2 dogs 

#04 Reedham

Pretty Norfolk villages - Reedham

Another lovely village within the Norfolk Broads is Reedham, which is located on the northern banks of the twisting River Yare. The village is a popular spot for holidaymakers, with a picturesque waterside main street that’s just right for a scenic stroll and an assortment of pubs to call in along the way.

The Reedham Ferry Complex is a popular attraction in the village and the place where you can catch the Norfolk Broads’ only chain ferry across to the other side of the River Yare. There’s also fishing available here and an on-site restaurant with riverside views.  

  • Reedham is home to one of the UK’s only railway swing bridges that’s still in operation. The distinctive bridge dates back to 1902 and you can watch it swing open to watch a variety of boats sail through on their journey along the Broads.
  • There’s a great fish and chip shop in the village - we recommend getting a takeaway and enjoying an al fresco meal on the Reedham riverbank.
  • Pettitts Animal Adventure Park is located on the edge of Reedham and is a great family-friendly day out that little ones will love, with rides, play areas and a variety of animal experiences.

Stay nearby: Reedham Riverside | Sleeps: 4 guests + 2 dogs

#05 Holkham

Pretty Villages - Holkham

The village is centred around the sprawling Holkham Hall and gardens, and the handsome properties here typically date back to the 18th century when they were originally built as part of the estate. Many of the businesses in Holkham still have connections to the grand stately home such as The Victoria Inn, a fine dining restaurant in the village that uses seasonal produce from the estate.

With a location on the North Norfolk coast, Holkham is also home to England’s largest national nature reserve, with dunes, saltmarsh and pinewoods that attract a vast array of local wildlife.

  • The beautiful beach at Holkham is backed by pinewoods where you’ll find an assortment of woodland trails to follow. Alternatively, you can take a stroll along the sand to nearby Wells-next-the-Sea.
  • There’s much to see and do at Holkham Hall, with elegant rooms, pretty walled gardens, a woodland play area and a mile-long boating lake.
  • Shops at Holkham include a couple of independent craft and homeware stores and Adnams, a local brewery that sells its own beers along with a range of wines and spirits from the village’s old school house. 

#06 Burnham Market

Pretty villages - Burnham Market

Burnham Market is understandably one of Norfolk’s most popular spots. The picturesque Georgian village is centred around a large green, with an array of pubs, delicatessens and cafes dotted around the surrounding streets.

It’s up to you whether you simply watch the world go by from a bench on the village green or spend some time browsing Burnham Market’s excellent selection of independent shops, which range from traditional butchers and fishmongers to stylish boutiques and art galleries. 

  • The Hoste is a fine dining restaurant located in a characterful 17th-century building on Burnham Market’s village green. It has been awarded two AA Rosettes so is a good choice for a special meal with loved ones.
  • Burnham Market is just a few miles from the coast, with nearby Burnham Overy Staithe providing a peaceful stretch of fine, soft sand to spread out and relax on.
  • A bustling market takes place along the high street each Wednesday. After browsing the assortment of local stalls you can relax with a cuppa and cake in one of the characterful village tea rooms.

#07 Walsingham

Pretty Norfolk villages - Walsingham

The rural village of Walsingham on the North Norfolk Coast is surrounded by lush green Norfolk countryside on the banks of the River Stiffkey and has a rich history that dates back to Saxon times. The beautiful Walsingham Abbey has been a place of pilgrimage since the 11th century and today the grounds feature stunning snowdrop-filled gardens and an ancient packhorse bridge.

The Walsingham Farms Shop sells a range of produce that’s grown in the surrounding fields, and there are also a couple of good village pubs to call in for refreshments.

  • There are lots of interesting period buildings to visit in the village including Walsingham Bridehall which was once an 18th-century prison and The Shirehall Museum which is located in the old Georgian courtroom.
  • Take a scenic 30-minute steam train journey through the countryside on the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway. Handsome red trains will whisk you along the tracks of the narrow gauge steam railway to the beachside village of Wells-next-the-Sea. 
  • There’s an assortment of lovely walks to try from Walsingham, or you can explore the surrounding countryside on horseback with a hacking session from the North Norfolk Riding School.  

Stay nearby: Hope Cottage - Norfolk | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

#08 Mundesley

Pretty Norfolk villages - Mundesley

Located within the Norfolk Coast AONB, Mundesley is a wonderful little seaside village that was first made popular by the Victorians thanks to its wonderful stretch of sandy beach. Today the beach at Mundesley is lined with colourful beach huts and boasts top-quality water that’s a top pick for water sports.   

The village itself is filled with characterful period cottages and, along with a trio of pubs, there’s a small high street with a good selection of local shops.

  • Mundesley is part of Norfolk’s Deep Heritage Coast Discovery Trail and an interactive app will help children search for and identify fossils on the beach and discover how the area would once have looked. There’s also lots of nautical information in the Mundesley Maritime Museum.
  • You can practice your swing as you look out to sea with a round of 18 holes at the Mundesley Golf Club. There’s also the Adventure Island Golf on the seafront promenade which is a perfect option for families.
  • Shallow rock pools on the beach at Mundesley are great for little ones to explore and there’s also a children’s playground to keep them entertained.

Stay nearby: Anchor Cottage - Norfolk | Sleeps: 5 guests

#09 Ludham

Pretty Norfolk villages - Ludham

Located within the Norfolk Broads National Park, Ludham is a pretty riverside village with the majestic 14th century St Catherine’s Church at its centre and a collection of thatched chocolate-box cottages surrounding it.   

All the ingredients for a traditional English village are here including a pub, tea room and general store, making Ludham the perfect place to while away an afternoon or two. Grab some local supplies at Ludham’s delicatessen and enjoy a picnic on the small village green.

  • Mooring is available at Womack Staithe at the edge of the village if you fancy arriving at Ludham by boat. It’s worth seeking out the nearby Hunter’s Yard which is home to a fleet of 1930s mahogany yachts.
  • The nearby Potter Heigham Nature Reserve is a haven for local wildlife, and walking trails are available to explore this Site of Special Scientific Interest. 
  • Also close to Ludham is the How Hill Nature Reserve, where you’ll find secret gardens to explore, and the tiny Toad Hole Cottage Museum, which shows how a Victorian family once lived.

Stay nearby: Lavender Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 1 dog

#10 Heacham

Pretty Norfolk villages - Heacham

Located close to the popular seaside resort of Hunstanton, Heacham is a picturesque coastal village that’s best known for its large fields of lavender. The beaches here and at nearby Hunstanton are the only couple of stretches of sand in Norfolk that face west, so it’s a great choice for laying down a blanket and watching the sun go down. 

Heacham is home to a trio of pubs and, along with a beautiful Norman church, there are also butchers, bakers, gift shops and tea rooms in the village.

  • Norfolk Lavender in Heacham is one of the UK’s largest lavender farms and it’s well worth visiting during the summer months when the fragrant purple flowers are at their peak.
  • The water quality at Heacham is excellent, with calm and shallow waters that are perfect for paddling in during a day at the beach. 
  • There are two beaches to choose from at Heacham: North Beach is the more bustling option with fish and chips shops and an amusement arcade on the promenade; South Beach is a quieter stretch of sand where you can relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Stay nearby: Norfolk Cottage | Sleeps: 5 guests plus 2 dogs

Plan your Norfolk getaway

Norfolk coast - plan your UK getaway

If you have been inspired to explore some of these very pretty villages, you’ll find a selection of lovely holiday cottages throughout the Norfolk coast and countryside. From cosy boltholes for a romantic retreat to dog-friendly properties where the whole family can stay, browse the full range of Norfolk holiday homes to find your perfect 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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