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Your ultimate guide to the Norfolk coast holiday cottages

Your ultimate guide to the Norfolk coast

Traditional seaside resorts, famous nature reserves and magnificent stately homes make the Norfolk coast a stunning holiday destination.

This Norfolk coast has been a stylish place to holiday for centuries, even the Queen has an impressive residence in Sandringham that’s open to the public. We have lots of cottages and lodges throughout this desirable region, so take a look at our collection of Norfolk Coast cottages and see if you can find your perfect holiday retreat.

During the mid-18th century, the Norfolk coast gained a reputation as a health destination with people believing the Norfolk waters had soothing properties to rival Bath and Buxton, possibly due to the chalk reef that feeds the sea life. It became the place to go on holiday and improving transport links only made Norfolk more popular. Once the idea of the Great British seaside holiday caught on, visitors to Norfolk increased exponentially, shaping the economy of the coastal resorts of Great Yarmouth, Hunstanton and Cromer, transforming them into the traditional holiday destinations we see today.

Misty beach with a trail of stones and wooden posts

But it’s not all about the colourful beach huts, vibrant piers and delectable fish & chips. The magical landscape of Norfolk is an environmental paradise dominated by nature reserves that include marshes, pine forests and stripy cliff-faces. It’s a spectacular place for walkers, explorers and adventurers to discover.

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty runs along its coastline where birders can discover the Norfolk spotted crake, lesser yellowlegs and white stalk. A colony of seals has made its home at Blakeney Point and each winter seal pups can be spotted basking on the sand.

This area is bursting with unique wildlife and vibrant resorts - here we’ve curated all the essential information you need for a holiday along the Norfolk coast.

A land of stately homes

Blickling Estate - National Trust stately home near Aylsham in Norfolk
The Blickling Estate near Aylsham

Sandringham Estate

The most prestigious of Norfolk’s country homes must be the royal manor house on the Sandringham Estate. First opened to the public by King Edward VII in 1908, all the main ground floor rooms used by them now welcome guests, so you can see the spectacular interior of the royal family's private country house.

There’s an extraordinary collection of vehicles, ceramics and other artefacts from the estate’s royal history alongside shops and a tea room to ensure guests have an enjoyable experience. Drop by the parish church for intricate paintings and sculptures and before you leave, dine on tasty sandwiches and cakes as an afternoon tea.

Holkham Hall, Nature Reserve & Beach

The Holkham Estate is a vast and sublime place to investigate. Often, you’ll find events and attractions on-site and there is endless stunning parkland to wander home to a herd of free-roaming Fallow Deer. The hall itself is an elegant architectural delight steeped in history and full of old artefacts and is a member of the esteemed Treasure Houses of England.

The nature reserve includes saltmarsh, dunes and a pine woodland. Guided walks talk place throughout the year, so guests can discover wildlife such as the migrant birds during winter and see the dance of the Ghost Swift Moth and blooming lavender fields during the summer.

An unspoilt stretch of sandy beach makes a wonderful place for walking or picnicking. At low tide, a basin is revealed and fills to form a temporary lagoon.

Felbrigg Estate & Gardens

Gaze at the intricate architecture of this opulent country home. See unusual and unique plants growing in the gardens and get hiking - there are 250 acres of woods and parkland to meander through. A picture-perfect place to visit while on your holidays.

With regular events throughout the year for adults and kids and a plethora of objects to find throughout the rooms documenting the manor’s history, it’s a delight to explore.

This magnificent estate is less than 3 miles from Cromer beach - why not combine a trip to this coastal resort for an exciting couple of days by the sea?

Further inland you’ll find more stunning manors, country homes and estates to tour. Wander through Hindringham Hall and its traditional English garden, see the grandiose Houghton Hall and its unique exhibits, arrange to tour with the Lord and Lady of the manor at Mannington Hall or take in the impressive library and ancient mausoleum on the Blickling Estate.

At the seaside

Of course, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is home to some incredible beaches and coastal resorts have grown up around them welcoming visitors on relaxing seaside holidays.

Great Yarmouth Coast
Wander down to Great Yarmouth Beach

Great Yarmouth

The place for a truly great British holiday with coloured beach huts and local amusements, it’s a family-friendly option with endless sand for digging sandcastle, digging moats and flying kites.

This glorious stretch of sand has two piers and a promenade to explore as well as shops and cafes scattered along the front. The town itself has fantastic attractions including Sea Life Centre and Pleasure Beach theme park and sits on the edge of the Broads so hire a sailboat for a day and drift among the reeds, dining on the open water.

Cromer

Home of the delectable Cromer crab, known for its extra-flavoursome taste due a life spent dining on the chalk reef that lines the coast.

First on your list must be a dining experience and next should be a trip down Cromer’s famous pier - notoriously great for crabbing - to see the theatre perform. It’s claimed to be the last end-of-pier show in the UK so don’t miss it on your holiday.

The sandy beach is great for playing a game of footie or paddling in the shallow waters. See animals at the zoo, snap a pic of Cromer church and head inland to magnificent Felbrigg Estate.

Sandy beach and dunes at Old Hunstanton in Norfolk
The sandy beach at Old Hunstanton

Hunstanton and Heacham

Endless golden sand stretches along this region of coast. Amusements, the Sea Life centre and theatre can all be found on the front while the excellent beaches are both great for exploring rock pools, splashing in the sea and running around on the sand.

For a little more relaxation and a little less excitement, head down to the quieter Old Hunstanton Beach to see its famous colourful striped cliffs and wander the pretty Esplanade Gardens.

Sheringham

Two famous features adorn this coastal resort: the North Norfolk heritage steam railway runs through town and Sheringham landscape park and woodland with magnificent coastal views sits above the beach. Priory Maze & Gardens, golf club, museum, skate park and tea rooms make Sheringham a gorgeous seaside town to investigate.

Clamber over pebbles and onto sand to enjoy this lovely stretch of beach. Amongst the boulders you can find rockpools and there’s a cliff path to wander. A promenade sits behind with shops, cafes and a dog-friendly pub.

Other coastal towns and villages with delightful beaches include Holt, Wells-next-the-Sea, Mundesley and Brancaster, where you’ll discover Brancaster Staithe and Burnham Deepdale.

Wildlife and nature reserves

Grey seal at Blakeney Point in Norfolk

Blakeney

This reserve is perhaps the best-known for its growing colony of seals that make Blakeney Point their home. During the winter months, seals come ashore to breed so you can take a boat with operators such as Bishops Boats across the estuary to spot fluffy white seal pups amongst the sand dunes.

The rest of the reserve is home to all manner of waterfowl and migratory birds and there’s a stunning coastal walk to trek from Blakeney town down to the Stiffkey Saltmarshes.

Cley Marshes

To the east of Blakeney you’ll find the spectacular Cley Marshes: a haven for wild birds. It’s the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest reserve having been purchased in 1926 and is regulated to ensure it’s an optimum environment for its inhabitants. 

An 18thcentury windmill towers over the village of Cley-next-the-Sea and by the village green is a magnificent church. Tea rooms and shops have popped up to satiate guests visiting the reserve so after exploring and bird spotting in the vast marshes, retire for a cream tea.

Holme Dunes

At the edge of The Wash, a magnificent bay, sits this stretch of sand. The beach here is important for migrating birds and is the area where Seahenge was discovered, a bronze age burial site only visible when the tides were out, which is now being preserved at the Lynn Museum.

North Norfolk Steam Railway

Otherwise known as the Poppy Line, the North Norfolk Steam Railway will take you from Sheringham all the way to Holt. Take in incredible views, book in for one of their events or pick a date for dining onboard an archaic automotive.

Steam Train of the North Norfolk Railway travelling through the countryside

Norfolk Coast Path

This trail runs from Hopton-on-Sea to Hunstanton and is a fantastic way to take in spectacular scenery and explore coastal resorts. At Holme-next-the-Sea it meets Peddars Way, a trail that leads inland through a magnificent pine forest and suitable for cyclists. This is not the only way to get to know Norfolk: there is an entire web of paths throughout this region, collectively known as the Norfolk Trail Network.

Norfolk Coast Path signpost

You can find some of the other treks and trails Norfolk has to offer in our guide to walks in Norfolk.

Heacham lavender fields

A special extra for your trip to this incredible region. During the summer, the lavender fields in Heacham are in full bloom and you are welcome to take a tour of the spectacular landscape. Snap photos of incredible landscapes and breathe the calming scent of lavender.

Lavender Fields at Heacham in Norfolk

Holidays by the sea

Due to the region’s flat geology, the Norfolk coast is lined with wide stretches of sand so wherever you end up along the coastline you won’t be far from a glistening beach and the lapping waves of the sea.

If you're looking to plan the perfect holiday on the Norfolk coast, take a look at our full collection of coastal cottages in Norfolk.

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