Planning on visiting North Norfolk? We’ll share with you our experience of where to go and what to expect from some of the best beaches in the UK.
Please note, this list is in no particular order and contains no affiliate links. Everything in this article is based on personal experience alone and is for the information and enjoyment of readers only.
Cromer – Best for Fun, Frolics and Fish & Chips
Controversial, I know (everyone has their favourite), but in our tried and tested opinion, the best place to eat fish & chips in North Norfolk is on the iconic Cromer Pier. Mary Jane’s Fish Bar is conveniently located on Garden Street which sits almost directly above the entrance to pier – just close enough that your chips don’t get cold whilst you walk down to your favourite bench. Cromer is also one of the best places in the UK to see the sun rise and set in the same spot. Add to this the long sandy beaches (when the tide is out), family friendly activities and numerous ice cream shops, there is no place quite like it! Don’t forget to pick up a Cromer crab on your visit – they are a local delicacy!
Sheringham – Best for Sweets, Souvenirs and Steam Trains
A real gem of a seaside town, Sheringham has everything you need for a proper family holiday. As featured in Queen’s iconic music video “Break Through”, The Poppy Line runs a combination of steam and diesel locomotives year round, giving everyone the chance to experience a slice of transportation history. The town boasts a lovely sandy beach, though nowadays it comes complete with views of the ‘Sheringham Shoal’ wind farm on the horizon. There is also a brand new swimming pool called “The Reef” which has a second smaller pool and splash zone for little ones – perfect for the occasional rainy day! One of the other lovely things about Sheringham is that the high street is still thriving with a good number of independent shops, many of which have been around for years. This is thanks to the support of its loyal local customer base of course, but its a wonderful benefit for visitors. I recommend you check out ‘The Chocolate Box’, ‘The Bakehouse’, ‘Blyth & Wright’ and ‘Creativity’, just to name a few!
Wells-Next-The-Sea – Best for Beach Huts and Boutiques
For most people the idea of owning your own beach hut is something of a pipe dream, but you can play make-believe for one day by renting one! The Happy Huts offer everything you need for the ultimate family day at the beach – deck chairs, beach toys, a stove for making a hot cup of tea… all you need is a picnic and some towels and you are good to go! They are all beautifully decorated and very well managed, offering you a day full of picture-perfect memories. By the way, this is not an advertisement for The Happy Huts, they are just blooming brilliant! Don’t believe me – check them out for yourself! As for the high street, Wells has really undergone a regeneration in recent years. There are a real mix of unique independent shops and boutiques, as well as your traditional rock shops and ice cream parlours. The food offering is ever-evolving too, but our favourites have to be ‘The Golden Fleece’ on the quayside for top quality meals in a traditional pub atmosphere, and ‘Bang in Wells’ at the top of Staithe Street for a vibrant twist on modern classics.
Holkham – Best for Sandy Toes and A Seamless Sun Tan
A village that oozes an abundance of wealth, both of the material and natural kind, Holkham is unlike any other place on the North Norfolk coast. Home of the iconic Holkham Hall, the residence and it’s surrounding parkland sits comfortably inside this National Nature Reserve.
Holkham Bay is one of the UK’s best and last remaining naturist beaches, allowing visitors to legally connect with nature in all it’s naked glory. No, I’m not joking. The beach is owned by Holkham Hall Estate and, with the exception of a brief period in 2013, it remains a nudist beach to this day. If you prefer to keep your clothes on, you may want to refrain from venturing West of the warning sign.
Hunstanton – Best for Water Sports and Donkey Rides
One of the few remaining beaches with seasonal donkey rides, this is the place to go in North Norfolk. The geographic location of Hunstanton makes it one of the few West facing beaches on the East coast, giving it something of it’s own microclimate, making it perfect for water sports! Thanks to the folks at Hunstanton Water Sports, you can learn to paddleboard, kite-surf and more with the help of qualified instructors. Our top tip when visiting “Sunny Hunny” is to check the tide times before you go. When the tide is in, the beach space is very limited and pebbly, but when the tide goes out, it reveals miles of glorious sand! The South beach is where you’ll find the main attractions, but if you want somewhere quieter to walk the dog, head on over to the North beach. You can read about Hunstanton Beach in more detail over on Explore Norfolk UK’s website.
Brancaster – Best for Twitching and Tranquility
Brancaster beach stretches from Titchwell in the West, several miles along the coast from Burnham Overy Staithe. The main beach falls under the wider area of the Brancaster Estate, managed and preserved by the National Trust, so don’t expect to find deck chairs or fish and chips here! The beauty of Brancaster lies in natures creation. If you are a keen birdwatcher, walk along to RSPB Titchwell Marsh. Here you’ll find plenty of perfectly positioned bird hides for spotting some of Norfolk’s rarest and most incredible residents.
Cley-Next-The-Sea – Best for Shingles and Skinny Dipping?
OK, let me start by saying Cley beach is NOT a nudist beach… however as a former local, this place is renowned for early morning sea swimming which has been known to go on ‘sans swimming costume‘, if you catch my drift! This beach is very secluded due to it’s shingle bank and distance from the village itself. Appropriately named, “Beach Road” leads you down to the beach car park and follows the North Norfolk Coast Path until you’re just meters from the shoreline.
Happisburgh – Best for Quiet Strolls Along The Shore
Pronounced “hayz-buh-ruh”, the sleepy seaside village of Happisburg is famous for it’s iconic red and white striped picture perfect lighthouse, but there really isn’t much else here. A pay-and-display car park sits at the top of the cliff along with a few toilet cubicles and a play ground for the kids. That is it. It’s then a steep walk down the slope to the sandy beach. Watch out for the eroding cliff edge – landslides here aren’t uncommon, as you’ll soon see!
BONUS BEACH – Horsey – Best for Seasonal Seal Spotting
(this one is technically East Norfolk!)
Famous for it’s grey seal colony and Horsey Windpump, this tiny seaside village is a great place for a brisk walk. During the months of November and January, the beach are is closed to humans in order to protect the seals as they come to give birth and nurse their pups. That being said, there are roped off paths that you can use to admire these beautiful creatures from a distance. Seals can still be spotted throughout the year, though more commonly in the water during the warmer months. There is a pay-and-display car park close to the beach at Horsey Gap, and a National Trust car park just a mile inland at Horsey Windpump. For more information on how to visit this unique village respectfully, please visit the Friends Of Horsey Seals website.
Which is your favourite North Norfolk beach? Let us know in the comments – we love hearing from you!
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