Every summer, people flock to Cornwall in their droves and by autumn, our Instagram feeds are filled with Cotswold’s staycations. But if you’re wanting to book somewhere different this year, and you’re yet to do Norfolk, we suggest you plan a holiday in this charming part of the country.
When the weather’s on your side, there’s Wells-next-the-Sea beach with its sweet, candy-hued huts and sandy shores, and if it rains, take the opportunity to hole up in one of the regions fire-lit pubs with delicious local food. Rain or shine, here are 15 places in North Norfolk that have won our hearts…
If you’re looking for a stunning base to explore Norfolk, Barsham Barns gets our vote. Tucked away in the rolling hills near Walsingham, the converted property is made of up six beautifully designed barns, sleeping anything from four to 18. Book the Loose Box for a family or friends’ getaway; it comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, two cosy, pastel-hued bedrooms and a sun-drenched terrace for sipping wine on balmy nights. If a big celebration is on the cards, the impressive Great East Barn sleeps 18 – ideal for a milestone birthday or the chicest hen do of the year.
Although we’d quite happily while away a whole weekend dressed in cashmere, reading on the sofas, the coast is a short car ride away and the charming village of Walsingham is close enough to walk to – enjoy a Sunday roast at one of the local pubs and walk it off on the way back.
King's Lynn’s Market Bistro serves up seasonal fare sourced from sustainable suppliers, foragers and gardeners that’s delivered daily. We hear the salt marsh lamb with potato terrine, ox tongue and tomato is particularly good. Make sure you book a table, especially on weekends – it gets busy.
The village of Walsingham is picture-postcard idyllic. Known as a place of pilgrimage, the Abbey is a must-visit if you’re in the area, for its rich history and stunning gardens. Head there to view the Priory ruins, wildflower meadows and a woodland – it’s carpeted with snowdrops in the winter and lush with green in the summer, so there really is no bad time to visit.
Black Lion Pub
If its roasts or good, hearty pub grub you’re after, the Black Lion in Walsingham is excellent. The friendly local comes with heaps of character and taste, both in its rustic interiors and seasonal, locally-sourced menu. Order a fresh crab bloomer and the best chunky chips in town.
Back To The Garden
Café and restaurant, butchers and deli shop, Back To The Garden offers organic produce for locals and is well worth a drop-in if you’re visiting the village of Letheringsett. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, this is where to pick up ingredients for dinner or simply stockpile local cheeses, organic salami and artisanal chocolate.
If you’ve seen Shakespeare In Love you’ll remember Gwyneth Paltrow walking along the sandy beach in the closing scene – that's Holkham. Beautiful, vast and totally unspoilt, it’s a must-visit when you’re in the area. Behind the shoreline lies a semi-circular basin, which, at very high tides, forms a spectacular shallow lagoon, making it part of one of the largest National Nature Reserves in the country. Pack a picnic, grab the buckets and spades or, more importantly, a bottle of bubbles, and head to one of Britain’s best-loved sandy shores.
This breathtaking 18th-century country house plays host to plenty of cool events over the summer. From open-air cinema nights courtesy of Luna Cinema – bookmark The Rocky Horror Show on June 30th – to outdoor theatre – everything from As You Like It to Alice In Wonderland will be performed over the warmer months – and family days out at the local country fair taking place on 22nd and 23rd July, there’s enough to keep everyone entertained.
You can also check-in to the Victorian Inn – a 20-room hotel just moments from the golden sands of Holkham Beach, or the sweet luxury cottage at Holkham Lodges, which can be booked through BarefootRetreats.co.uk
If grand architecture and rich history is your thing, put Houghton Hall on your list of day trips. Built in the 1720s for Great Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall remains one of England’s finest Palladian houses. Its sprawling gardens are a joy to explore on a summer’s day, while the State Rooms are equally as impressive if it rains. Be sure to check out the Richard Long exhibition, a major showcase of the internationally-celebrated, Turner Prize-winning British landscape artist.
The Hoste Arms
There’s charm by the bucket load at the Hoste Arms in one of Norfolk’s prettiest villages, Burnham Market. If you’re after a weekend break, we love their Vine House – a beautiful Georgian townhouse filled with pastel hues, rich velvet, Espa toiletries and tasteful antiques. The main building, pub and restaurant comes into its own in the spring months, with purple wisteria hanging above the sun-drenched beer garden. Plus, room rates start from a very reasonable £165.
Take a family trip to Bircham Windmill, which has barely changed over the last 100 years. Little ones will love climbing the mill’s five floors to watch the sails and machinery in action, and don’t miss the opportunity to meet the farm yard animals. There’s everything from donkeys to sheep and bunnies.
For a special occasion or to finish off your staycation in style, Morston Hall is the only restaurant on this coast with a Michelin star. Book in for afternoon tea or dinner for £75 per person. Expect dishes such as North Sea Dover Sole, Beaufort Crust Salsify Puree, Holkham Hall Venison, Salt Baked Beetroot and Blood Orange Granita. Add a wine flight for an extra £50 per person for an evening meal to remember.
Thornham Wild Luxury
If you think you don’t do camping, you haven’t heard of Thornham Wild Luxury. Those in the know, from cool couples to hip families, flock here throughout the year. The team’s ethos is to allow guests to enjoy all the fun of camping and the great outdoors, but in a cosy, easy and cool environment. Expect luxury lodges and Glastonbury VIP-style bell tents. The area is split into Camps depending on whether you’re after a romantic setting, access to the beach or family time. We like the sound of Wild Camp – an exclusive-use site with five luxury sleeping bell tents, a five-metre 'chill' tent and an amazing 13-metre star canopy to enjoy meals or kick back and unwind. This might just be the coolest place to go camping.
The Anchor Inn
For a casual lunch spot with undeniably good food head to the relaxed Anchor Inn in Morston. Set up by old school friends Harry Farrow, the Head Chef, and Rowan Glennie, the General Manager, the menu is simple and tasty from classic fish and chips to burgers and pork belly surf 'n' turf.
Dotted with charming candy-hued beach huts, Instagram opportunities are rife at Wells-next-the-Sea. Visit for a day in the sun or an ice-cream stop.
Wiverton Farm Shop
If you’re after something to take home, the chutneys, marmalades, seasonal produce and kitchenware make Wiverton Farm Shop a must-visit. There’s also a pick-your-own farm the whole family will love, plus art exhibitions and events throughout the year.