Norfolk is a low-lying and predominantly rural county in eastern England, in the region known as East Anglia. It has county borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and with Suffolk to the south. Its North Sea coastline, including The Wash, forms one of the area's main highlights. The county capital is Norwich. Norfolk is the fifth largest county in England, with an area of 5,371 km2 (2,074 sq mi) and a population of 816,500. The name 'Norfolk' is a portmanteau of the Old English North Folk, taken from the tribes of ancient Angles who lived there.
The Broads, one of the region's most popular tourist destinations, lie primarily within the county.
- 2 Acle
- 3 Attleborough
- 4 Aylsham
- 5 Cromer
- 6 Dereham
- 7 Diss
- 8 Fakenham
- 9 Great Yarmouth
- 10 Harleston
- 11 Holt
- 12 Hunstanton & Old Hunstanton
- 13 King's Lynn
- 14 Long Stratton
- 15 North Walsham
- 16 Potter Heigham
- 17 Sheringham
- 18 Stalham and Sutton
- 19 Swaffham
- 20 Thetford
- 21 Wells-next-the-Sea
- 22 Wymondham
- 23 Blakeney
- 24 Cley next the Sea
- 25 Burnham Market
- 26 Holkham
- 27 North Elmham
- 28 Wroxham and Hoveton
- 1 The Broads – a vast network of inland waterways, lakes and marshes, much of which is similar in status to a National Park.
- 2 North Norfolk coastline, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- 3 Thetford Forest – a huge area of managed woodland. Activities within include walking, mountain biking, nature watching, husky dog sled racing. The area also contains a massive war memorial and a Centre Parcs holiday centre - both near Elveden, south of Thetford.
“I’d like to tell you about a very special place. Whether you know it as “East Anglia”, “The Plump Peninsula”, “Home of the Broads”... “Albion’s Hind Quarters”, or quite simply “The Wales of the East”. This is Norfolk.” — Alan Partridge, Welcome to the Places of My Life, 25 June 2012
For many in the United Kingdom, Norfolk is synonymous with the exploits of hapless (fictional!) local disc jockey, Alan Partridge. Yet, despite the antics of Steve Coogan's character, this is a county that prides itself on its unspoilt countryside and beautiful surroundings.
Norfolk has much to offer the traveller: from beautiful and historic Norwich to the scenic Norfolk Broads National Park, this is self-proclaimed 'Big Sky' country, and those from areas with smaller skies are certainly in for a treat.
In many rural communities of Norfolk you will find the rich, soft dialect that is only found in this corner of Britain. The accent and dialect is so broad, in fact, that you may have difficulty understanding it immediately, since consonants are heavily softened and syllables merge into one another. You'll hear a variety of accents and voices at one of the region's many weekly markets, such as that held every Saturday in Swaffham.
The organisation 'Friends Of Norfolk Dialect' (FOND) records and promotes the regional dialect, publishing newsletters, organising events and collects material.
1 Norwich Airport (NWI IATA) is Norfolk's only airport, just to the north of Norwich city. KLM operates direct flights into Norwich from Amsterdam every day, with connections from destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Norwich Airport is off A140 Holt Road and the A1270 Broadland Northway to the north of Norwich.
Konectbus Route 501 Airport Park and Ride runs every 20 minutes - from Norwich Airport to the city centre and Thickthorn Park and Ride. Canary Konect Route 35 runs up to every 60 minutes to Norwich railway station and Carrow Road stadium.
London Stansted Airport (STN IATA) in Essex is much larger than Norwich Airport (the UK's fourth-largest). Flights arrive into Stansted from destinations throughout the UK and Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Greater Anglia runs trains from London Stansted Airport direct to Thetford, Attleborough, Wymondham and Norwich. National Express routes 727 and 728 link Stansted with Thetford, the University of East Anglia, Norwich Bus Station, Acle and Great Yarmouth. Both routes originate at London Heathrow Airport (LHR IATA).
There are no passenger ferry terminals in Norfolk. The nearest international port is at Harwich in Essex. Greater Anglia, Stena Line and Nederlandse Spoorwegen run a "Rail and Sail to Holland" deal, which includes travel to any Greater Anglia station from Harwich International Port, following the ferry trip from Hook of Holland. This deal includes most stations in Norfolk.
There are several trunk roads and major routes into Norfolk:
- - from Cambridge, and Ely into Downham Market and King's Lynn
- - from London, , and Newmarket into Thetford and Norwich
- - from , Newark-on-Trent and Sleaford into King's Lynn
- - from Leicester, Peterborough, Wisbech and Lowestoft into King's Lynn, Swaffham, Dereham, Norwich and Great Yarmouth
- - from Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds and towards Thetford and King's Lynn
- - from Ipswich and into Diss, Norwich and Cromer
- - from Bury St Edmunds into Diss and Great Yarmouth
- - from Lowestoft into Norwich
- - from (London) into Swaffham and Fakenham.
London, Essex and Suffolk to Norwich
Greater Anglia operates fast trains all day, every day from London Liverpool Street, London Stratford, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and Stowmarket into Diss and Norwich. Trains depart London Liverpool Street roughly once per half hour during the daytime on weekdays. Trains also depart in the early morning, late in the evening, and on weekends. Change at Norwich for onward journeys towards Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Sheringham.
London, Cambridge and Ely to King's Lynn
Stansted Airport, Cambridge and Ely to Norwich
Greater Anglia operates stopping trains during the daytimes from Stansted Airport, Audley End for Saffron Walden, Cambridge and Ely into Thetford, Attleborough, Wymondham and Norwich. Change at Norwich for onward journeys towards Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Sheringham.
Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Peterborough to Norwich
East Midlands Railway (EMR) runs a stopping service from Liverpool Lime Street to Thetford and Norwich via: Warrington Central, Manchester Piccadilly, Sheffield, Nottingham, Grantham, Peterborough and Ely. Change at Norwich for onward journeys towards Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Sheringham.
Lowestoft to Norwich
Greater Anglia operates stopping trains during the daytimes from Lowestoft in Suffolk into Haddiscoe, Reedham, Acle and Norwich. Change at Norwich for onward journeys towards Cromer, Sheringham and Thetford.
National Express operates several bus routes into Norfolk:
- 490 - London Victoria, London Stratford, Cambridge, Newmarket, Thetford, University of East Anglia and Norwich
- 491 - London Victoria, London Stratford, Thetford, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Acle and Great Yarmouth
- 727 - Heathrow Airport, Stansted Airport, Cambridge, Newmarket, Mildenhall, Thetford, University of East Anglia, Norwich, Acle, Great Yarmouth
- 728 - Heathrow Airport, Stansted Airport, Cambridge, Newmarket, Mildenhall, Thetford, Norwich, University of East Anglia
Long-distance routes by First Bus are:
- Excel A - Peterborough, Thorney, Wisbech, Walton Highway, Terrington St John, King's Lynn, Narborough, Swaffham, Scarning, Dereham, Hockering, Easton, Cringleford Bus Interchange, Norwich
- Excel B - Peterborough, Thorney, Wisbech, King's Lynn, Narborough, Swaffham, Scarning, Dereham, Hockering, Easton, Cringleford Bus Interchange, Norwich
- Excel C - Peterborough, Wisbech, King's Lynn, Walton Highway, Terrington St John, King's Lynn, Narborough, Swaffham, Easton, Cringleford Bus Interchange, Norwich
- CoastLink X1 - Lowestoft, Gunton Pleasurewood Hills, Hopton, Gorleston-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth, Acle, Norwich
- CoastLink X2/X21/X22 - Lowestoft, Pakefield, Beccles, Loddon, Thurton, Norwich
- Coastal Clipper 1/1A - Lowestoft, Gorleston-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth, Caister-on-Sea, Hemsby, Martham
Megabus operates one long-distance route in Norfolk:
Some local cross-border routes also operate in the south and west of the county.
Norfolk is on the National Cycle Network and international EuroVelo network:
- National Cycle Route 1 - Dover and London to the south, Newcastle upon Tyne and Scotland to the north. The route enters Norfolk at Beccles to the south-east, and at Wisbech to the north-west. Route 1 passes through Loddon, Norwich, Reepham, Fakenham, Walsingham, Wells-next-the-Sea, Burnham Market and King's Lynn. Charity Sustrans looks after the National Cycle Network.
- National Cycle Route 11 - Unfinished cycle network through Sawbridgeworth, Saffron Walden and Cambridge which enters Norfolk near Downham Market. Charity Sustrans looks after the National Cycle Network.
- National Cycle Route 13 - Signposted cycle route through Colchester, Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds which enters Norfolk near Thetford. In Norfolk, route 13 passes through Watton and Dereham before meeting route 1 south of Fakenham. Charity Sustrans looks after the National Cycle Network.
- EuroVelo 12 North Sea Cycle Route - International cycle network through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France. Follows the route of National Cycle Route 1 through Norfolk.
- The Icknield Way Path runs from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire into Norfolk near Thetford. The route forms part of the longer Greater Ridgeway running 360 miles from Lyme Regis to Hunstanton.
- The Angles Way runs along the Norfolk Suffolk border from Great Yarmouth to Thetford (passing through both Norfolk & Suffolk).
- The Hereward Way long distance footpath runs from Oakham to Knettishall Heath (4 miles E of Thetford) where it connects with the Peddars Way and the Icknield Way.
- The Ouse Valley Way runs between the source of the River Ouse in Northamptonshire and King's Lynn.
Information on all rail services can be found on the website of National Rail or by calling +44 8457 484950
Information on all national, regional and local trains and buses can be found on the website of Traveline or by calling +44 8712 002233.
In addition to the principal rail routes detailed in the Get In section above, a number of well supported and popular rail services radiate out along named lines through some exceptionally scenic parts of the county. These include:
- The Bittern Line (Norwich – Cromer – Sheringham)
- East Suffolk Line (Ipswich – Lowestoft)
- Wherry Lines (Norwich – Great Yarmouth / Lowestoft)
- Breckland Line (Norwich - Wymondham - Attleborough - Thetford - Brandon - Cambridge)
All services are operated by National Express East Anglia (NXEA). In addition to the standard range of tickets offered by all train operating companies, NXEA offers a series of 'Anglia Plus' rail passes which allow for one or three days unlimited travel in Norfolk Suffolk or Cambridgeshire. These can be bought on the day of travel from the ticket office or from the conductor on board the train if no ticket office is available.
There is also the Poppy Line, a preserved railway run by the North Norfolk Railway, that runs from Holt to Sheringham, where the Poppy Line station is just a short walk from the regular station that runs services to Norwich. Holt station is a couple of miles from the town center, but a horse-drawn cart connects the town to the station. In peak season, Poppy Line trains run approximately hourly. Some trains are steam powered; some diesel.
Information on all national, regional and local buses can be found on the website of Traveline or by calling +44 8712 002233.
In addition to the National Express routes listed in the Get in section above, First Eastern Counties operate most urban buses in and around Norwich, as well as a number of regional and rural services that connection Norwich with other parts of the county. See their website for timetable and fare information. Sanders Coaches also runs buses throughout the county.
Exploring Norfolk by car is convenient and enjoyable. However, during summer the coastal road, the A149, and roads near the Broads can become congested as large numbers of tourists descend on the picturesque towns and villages. Visiting in the off season can avoid getting caught up in (and causing) this seasonal traffic. The coastal route (and more) is equally easily explored by bicycle or public transport.
By bicycle, or on foot
Norfolk's geography makes it an exceptionally easy place to explore by bicycle or on foot, and the county is a good destination for cyclists and hikers to explore. Trains and buses are also increasingly friendly towards cyclists who wish to travel with their bikes, although it is strongly advised to call the transport operator in advance to check availability of space and, if necessary, to reserve it.
For details of cycle routes, visit the website of Sustrans.
For details of paths, visit
- The website of the Ramblers Association Ramblers Association
- Norfolk short & circular walks
- Norfolk long distance walks
- Norfolk cycle routes
- shown on an interactive map.
- The many stately homes open to the public located around the county, usually owned by the National Trust. The most popular include Holkham Hall nr Wells-next-the-Sea, Blickling Hall nr Aylsham, Felbrigg Hall nr Cromer and Oxburgh Hall nr Swaffham.
- Sandringham, an official residence of the British royal family.
- A variety of historical ruins maintained by the English Heritage organisation.
- Birdwatching at Cley, Blakeney Point, Titchwell, Holkham and Holme.
- Walk along the Norfolk Coast Path.
- Marriott's Way is a 24 mile walking and cycling route. It goes upriver from Norwich to Drayton, Attlebridge, Lenwade, Whitwell and Themelthorpe, then turns east to Reepham, Cawston and Aylsham. It follows the trackbed of the former Midland and Great Northern railway, known in its day as the "Muddle & Go Nowhere".
- Enjoy the traditional British seaside resort experience at Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, Cromer and Hunstanton, as well as many other smaller towns & villages.
- Visit the theme parks at Pleasure Beach in Yarmouth, Rainbow Park in Hunstanton and the suitably different Bewilderwood in the Norfolk Broads.
- Visit seal colonies at Blakeney Point and Horsey (at certain times of year).
Those seeking Norfolk's regional cuisine should head for the coast. Although the fishing fleets of Norfolk are not particularly large, their crops can be found in any decent pub or restaurant along the coast, especially that of North Norfolk. Ask what's fresh before ordering, and explore the market towns of the region to find local fishmongers who can tell you about the fish and shellfish that they have for sale. Cromer is noted for its crabs.
With prices for wholesale agricultural produce being forced ever lower by powerful supermarkets and bulk purchasers, many farmers are choosing to apply for organic certification and concentrating on producing high quality natural produce. Fruit such as apples and pears are grown in the region, and there is a small but healthy community of organic meat farmers who sell high quality beef, lamb and pork reared on certified organic Norfolk farms. Once again, you'll find the best suppliers hidden away in the small market towns of the county, so if you enjoy a meal in a pub or with your hosts, ask where the ingredients came from and take some local produce home with you.
In some cake shops and coffee shops and bakers Norfolk Shortcake can be found (sometimes called Norfolk Scones). A normally rectangular shaped cross between a scone and shortcake. Often dusted with sugar on top.
Whereas the neighbouring county of Suffolk can boast several nationally recognised brewers (Adnams and Greene King, to name but two), Norfolk's brewing industry is on a much smaller scale. This is no bad thing though, as the large number of locally produced beers cater for a broad variety of tastes and palettes. If you want to sample a variety of different Norfolk ales, then simply head for a variety of Norfolk pubs, noting whether they are free houses or attached to a specific brewery, and when you get to the bar, just ask for something local.
In larger towns you are likely to find at least one 'off license' (a shop licensed for the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises) where you'll be able to buy bottle conditioned ales to take home.
- Look East supplements the national news with short local bulletins during the daytime, with a thirty minute flagship programme on BBC One from 6.30pm every weeknight. A short bulletin follows the BBC One 10pm news.
- Anglia Tonight takes its name from the once proud regional television company that produces it, but whose on-screen identity has been all but erased from ITV1. There are short bulletins throughout the day, with a thirty minute programme at 6.00pm and a short bulletin towards the end of the ITV1 National News at 10.30pm.
Additional programmes focusing on local politics, sport, culture and food are dotted throughout the weekly television schedules, although usually in the graveyard slots not already occupied by national output.
- BBC Radio Norfolk broadcasts a lively mix of locally produced programmes on 95.1FM, 95.6FM, 104.4FM, D.A.B. digital radio and online. Local news, sport and traffic reports are broadcast at least every hour.
- Heart Norwich (Formerly Radio Broadland). A partially networked pop music station broadcasting around Norwich, Great Yarmouth and the Broads on 102.4FM.
- Greatest Hits Radio (Formerly KLFM 96.7). On 96.7 FM. A pop music station broadcasting around King's Lynn and West Norfolk.
- Kiss 105-108 is an increasingly networked dance, R&B and hip hop music station broadcasting across East Anglia around 106FM.
- North Norfolk Radio is a local FM station covering north Norfolk.
In case of emergency at sea, dial 999 (or 112) and ask for "Coastguard". There are lifeguards at Cromer, Sheringham, Mundesley and Hunstanton from June until the first week in September, from 10:00 to 18:00. The patrolled zone is marked by red and yellow flags on the beach. The beach lifeguard station also flies a red and yellow flag. Do not swim if a red flag is flying. Live ammunition and unexploded bombs from World War II have been found on the coast. If you do come across a suspicious item leave it alone and report it to the coast guard. This is a tidal region so be careful, especially with young children.
The next nearest airport to the county is London Stansted, which is at best ninety minutes by car from any part of the county, and the low population density of the county has meant that until now, few affordable flights have been offered from Norwich's own airport.
- London is easily reached from most railway stations in the region, and is an easy day or weekend destination. East Anglia is one of the few regions to have benefited from the rail privatisation process, with new routes and connections appearing to entice travellers onto the trains: Restored through services from London to Bury St Edmunds and Great Yarmouth mean that more people can now get to the capital without an inconvenient change of trains.
- Cambridge is a short train ride or drive from the county, and is an enticing if extremely popular tourist city to visit for the day.