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Norfolk East Coast things to do

Surfers on the East Norfolk Coast at sunrise

There is more to do here than at first meets the eye. This part of the county is flatter than other areas perhaps but because of it, lends itself to easy walks, cycle rides and gentle drives around country lanes and pathways that are set against a magical backdrop of huge skies and a landscape where the rivers meander in to the sea in amongst Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is also an area of contrasts, you can escape and get far away from the madding crowd if you want to but there is also plenty to discover if it’s an active family holiday that you are looking for.

Dotted along the coast from Mundesley to Great Yarmouth are 11 sandy beaches to explore stretching over 30 miles in total, some of which are hardly populated, even during the summer months. The North Sea at certain times of the year offers enough swell for surfers and on the days when there are bracing winds along the coast the kite surfers are out in force, whether taking part or just watching, it is an exhilarating experience!

The coastal villages have their own treasures; drop into Mundesley and visit the tiny Maritime Museum, which is a working Coastguard lookout with a marvellous miscellany of maritime exhibits. Close by along the coast road visit Stow Mill, built in the 1820’s and now lovingly restored by its current owners, the Mill has four floors to view. Another iconic coastal landmark at Happisburgh, pronounced Hazeboro, is the red and white striped lighthouse open on selected days throughout the summer months, it is the only independently run lighthouse in the country and has had its share of famous visitors including the late Queen Mother, the novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the sculptor Henry Moore. If you are on foot, walk the local village trail whilst you are there and if you have the energy climb the 133 steps of the village church tower for some spectacular views along the coast – you can even see the spire of Norwich Cathedral 16.5 miles away on a clear day! At Waxham stop to take a look at the Great Barn; a fully restored, magnificent Elizabethan thatched barn that has been converted to a museum of rural Norfolk life, there is also a great Café that will provide a warm welcome. Horsey although only a mile from the sea is embraced within The Broads National Park and here there is the magnificent Horsey Windpump owned by the National Trust. Enter at ground level to see the inner workings of the mill and unravel its past as you climb to the very top for spectacular views. This stretch of coast is also home to a colony of grey seals who beach themselves at Horsey from November to early February during the breeding season.

The town of Great Yarmouth at the southern end of the county is a lively, seaside resort with all the traditional activities you would expect. The sandy, long stretch of Central Beach is enclosed by two piers, Britannia Pier, and Wellington Pier; both feature family themed attractions, theatres, restaurants and bowling. Take part in hosted events such as Soccer on the Sands and Volleyball and all the family can enjoy the fireworks spectacular that takes place each Wednesday evening during the summer. The SeaLife Centre, Joyland, Monkey Business, Play Stax and to the south, Pleasurewood Hills, will keep children of all ages entertained.

The town is also bursting at the seams with history. Seek out its maritime heritage and architecture; with six museums including the award winning Time and Tide Museum, two Roman forts and one of the most complete and best preserved medieval town walls in England dating back to 1261, there is much to discover here.

Start to venture inland and you will find access to the southern Broads with Rollesby, Ormseby, Filby, and the Nature Reserve at Hickling Broad all within easy reach. Here amongst quieter waters you can hire a canoe, rowing boat or paddle-board to get yourself around. For keen walkers and only accessible on foot, Breydon Water and Martham Broad are great locations for bird watching but there are also ample opportunities elsewhere for fishing, cycling and walking to find beautiful views of the local landscape and wildlife.

Other family attractions to visit in the area are Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens near Filby, Pettitts Animal Adventure Park near Reedham, the Great Yarmouth Potteries, The Broads Museum & Sutton Mill, East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens and Alby Crafts & Gardens; history buffs would enjoy exploring Bromholm Priory and Paston Great Barn.

Finally, if you are a keen star-gazer, this part of the county, due to its lack of pollution is the perfect place to look up at the night skies and discover such favourites as The Big Dipper, The Little Bear and The Milky Way. As the horizon is low in the sky you get to see a lot of stars on a clear night!