The best market towns in Norfolk holiday cottages

The best market towns in Norfolk

Ed Roberts 01 June 2023

Do you know how many market towns there are in Norfolk? 

There are, in fact, 17, including the seaside attraction of Great Yarmouth, the modernised King’s Lynn and the historic, traditional market towns of Aylsham, and Holt. 

In this informative guide, we have picked a selection of our favourites to talk about and for you to visit. And if you'd like to stay nearby, just click the button below to browse our full collection of holiday cottages in Norfolk. 

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What is a market town? 

Fruit and veg at a Norfolk market

Market towns are often characterised by a large square at their heart, typically furnished with a large clock and stone troughs for animals to drink from. In the past, they were often a business lifeline to the faraway cities; places where banks, vets, doctors, hotels were based and farm workers lived. The train network connected these places to the larger towns and cities before cars and lorries became commonplace too. 

Nowadays, the cattle markets are fewer in number and the cows, pigs and sheep convene at out-of-town complexes that have been built specifically for the purpose – the thunder of cloven feet, their canticles of bleats and calls having been replaced, these days, by the sounds of cars and other modes of transport.

Many of Norfolk’s market towns and large villages have retained their historic features: the square, the town hall, and the community pub. The towns were all granted a market charter, some as far back as the 11th century, to be official trading posts. These days, the towns make for pleasant holiday destinations because they offer all the prettiness of a rural village yet at the same can come in handy for shops, pubs, restaurants, filling stations, takeaways, cinemas, and public transport links. 

When you are in Norfolk, you are never too far away from the water, whether that’s the sea (The Wash, the North Sea, and the English Channel) or the bewitching Norfolk Broads, so there’s always plenty of gorgeous countryside to wander through and enjoy during your holiday.

Read on to find out about our favourite market towns and villages in Norfolk.


Stateley home near Aylsham

Market day – Twice weekly (Mondays and Fridays)

Aylsham is located north of Norwich (13 miles) on the road to Cromer (10.5 miles) at the coast. The town is one of five Cittaslow towns in the UK. For those unfamiliar with these settlements, the residents adopt their own community objectives to achieve a good quality of life through principles and environmental initiatives; the movement is inspired by the Slow Food cities of Italy. Cittaslow towns are very welcoming of visitors, and the towns look just like any other British countryside town. Aylsham is in a great position for you to be able to enjoy the Norfolk Broads, Norwich, and the North Norfolk coast.


  • Visit Cromer at the coast for its pier, Amazona Zoo, and a taste of Cromer Crab
  • Go birdwatching in the outlying countryside around Aylsham
  • Take the family to the wonderful attraction, BeWILDerwood


Binham Priory near Fakenham

Market day – Every Thursday

Fakenham has hosted a weekly market since the 13th century. Its provenance and standing as a market village is indisputable and the array of stalls that gather every week is very impressive. Oodles of locally sourced foods and drinks are available to be bought in Fakenham’s village square. Situated on the River Wensum, 19.5 miles from the North Norfolk coast, Fakenham is found in gorgeous countryside.


Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth in Norfolk

Market day - Wednesdays and Saturdays (plus Friday from Whitsun until the end of October)

Great Yarmouth is, arguably, coastal Norfolk’s most famous holiday resort. It’s also been a market town since the 11th century and has a historic marketplace to show for it. Great Yarmouth is full of attractions such as RSPB Berney Marshes, Breydon Water, The Golden Nugget, Priory Gardens, The Yare Gallery, and The Tolhouse Gaol.


  • Walk along Marine Parade
  • Visit Britannia Pier and play the slots
  • Hire a deckchair and enjoy the sun on the beach


View across the grounds to Felbrigg Hall

Market day - First Sunday of the month

Lovely Holt is a small market town perched at the edge of the Norfolk Coast AONB. Close to Sheringham (7.5 miles) for day trips to the beach, there’s plenty to see in and around Holt including Holt Country Park and along the Holt Owl Trail as you get to know the place. The town has lots of quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants to discover, too. Be sure to seek out Blakeney Point and Cley Marshes for nature days out.




Market day – Every Saturday

The ever-popular open-air market in Sheringham draws in shoppers from far and wide. The town is widely known for its foodie events and carnivals like its Crab and Lobster Festival, the Steam Gala, and the Sheringham Carnival. Found at the sea’s edge in the Norfolk Coast AONB, Sheringham has a lovely seafront and many shops and restaurants to visit for sampling Norfolk-made grub.



Acle in the Norfolk Broads

Market day – Second Saturday of every month

Nearly 9 miles from the Norfolk coast at Great Yarmouth and 13 miles east of Norwich in the lowlands between the River Yare and Bure is the market village of Acle. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Broads’, it’s one of the best places to stay in Norfolk to admire the wild marshes and hire a touring boat.


  • Walk the Weavers Way long-distance footpath or one of the many trails around Acle
  • Hire a boat to traverse around the Norfolk Broads
  • Admire the 13th-century St Edmunds Church


Attleborough is a Norfolk market town

Market day - Every second and fourth Thursday of the month

Attleborough is a Norfolk market town almost halfway between Norwich and Thetford Forest. Attleborough is most famous for being the hometown of the footballing brothers John and Justin Fashanu, as well as the Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. There were two local airfields during WW2 outside Attleborough; although they are gone, many of the old buildings from Attleborough’s heyday remain. It is also close to Thompson Water, and Wymondham Abbey.


King's Lynn

King's Lynn in Norfolk

Market day - Every Tuesday

King's Lynn is located at the western edge of Norfolk. As far back as the 12th century, the town was one of England's most valued ports, and its long relationship with its mercantile past is evident in the old buildings that line its streets. If you are interested in history, then King's Lynn offers lots of heritage sites for you to discover alongside several self-guided walking tours like the Maritime and Hanse Trails that take in the Custom House, St Margaret's Church, the quayside, and the Market Square. The town is known for its interesting shops and festivals, which centre around Festival Too, a free event in late June or early July.


Stay at a self-catering cottage in a Norfolk market town

Holt is a market town in Norfolk

Enjoy a holiday at a self-catering cottage in one of Norfolk’s many market towns and villages. They are the best way to experience rural town life in the UK. We have properties all across the county from romantic accommodation for two to large farmhouses for extended families. Whoever you’re hoping to holiday with, we have the perfect market town escape waiting for you.

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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