This post was written by guest author Debbie Woodliffe
North Norfolk is home to Areas of Natural Beauty (AONB), miles of stunning beaches, and a historic railway, but there are also numerous small towns and villages which offer unique peeks into simple coastal living.
From Hunstanton to Mundesley, read on to discover four unique coastal towns and villages in North Norfolk and the best ways to visit them…
Located inside the North Norfolk AONB, Wells-next-the-Sea is a small port town on the East Fleet Estuary at the top of the North Norfolk Coast. It’s a small town surrounded by stunning landscapes and nature reserves that you may write off as nothing to see, but it’s a bit of a hidden gem.
It has all the hallmarks of a small town; two schools catering for all ages from nursery to high school, a couple of pubs, convenience shops instead of supermarkets and a high street with plenty of mom-and-pop shops. However, what makes this town special, besides the classics and the nature-filled surroundings, are the port, railway and beach.
– Wells & Walsingham light railway
Just outside Wells-next-the-Sea is the world’s smallest public railway. It takes you from Wells to Walsingham in 30 minutes through wildlife-rich fields and is a fun, unique experience for all.
Dogs and children under four can travel free, and there are discounts on single and return tickets for OAPs and families. You can get up-to-date timetable and fare information for the Wells and Walsingham light railway here.
– Wells-next-the-Sea beach
A large sandy beach with cute colourful beach huts and calm waters and shallows to explore. Dogs are allowed if you want to bring your furry friend, but there are restrictions in some parts of the beach. It’s a great option for a non-fussy beach day as it’s about a mile from the nearest shop, and there’s just one café nearby. If you want to explore more beaches, keep travelling along the sand until you reach Holkham Beach with its dunes.
– Wells-next-the-Sea Estuary and Port
The calm open waters of the estuary that runs from the town to the sea are ideal for beginner water sports. From paddleboarding to kayaking, you won’t need a waterways license, and the natural landscape creates a safe haven from the harsh North Sea waters. (Here’s some info on which size paddleboard you might need to give that option a try!) Alternatively, there are hire firms all around the harbour for you to experience paddle boarding or kayaking with guidance from a professional.
Located on the west coast of North Norfolk, the larger town of Hunstanton is a classic seaside town with fairgrounds, seaside shops and two stunning beaches. It’s much more of a family holiday destination with a couple of caravan leisure resorts right by the sea, lots of shops (including a supermarket), and plenty of activities besides the beaches.
– Rainbow Park
Hunstanton’s Rainbow Park is a classic family-owned fairground, which has been in its been at its current site for over 50 years. There are amusements, rides and arcades to enjoy, all with a stunning view of the sea. You can find opening times on the official Rainbow Park website, while pricing is pay-per-ride with watlzers, merry-go-rounds and more costing between £2 and £3 per ticket.
– Norfolk Coastal Path
Did you know you could walk coast-to-coast across North Norfolk? The Norfolk Coastal Path starts in Hunstanton and goes (unsurprisingly) along the coast, past nature reserves, beaches, cliffs and more, until you reach Sea Palling on the Eastern side. It’s an excellent way to see the landscape that makes North Norfolk so appealing.
Blakeney is not a town but a popular village, known for animal conservation and stunning natural environments. Much like Wells-next-the-Sea, Blakeney is surrounded by nature reserves and marshes full of wildlife, but one of the key reasons to visit is the seals.
– Blakeney Seals and Bird boat trips
Over 4,000 seal pups are born on Blakeney Point every year in the winter, and throughout the summer, it’s the turn of the migratory birds to nestle down. Wildlife is the heart and soul of Blakeney, with many local firms conducting boat trips to view these creatures up close without disturbing them. Check out some other places to see the Norfolk Seals here.
– Wildlife Walks
As well as grey seals, you can take careful walks throughout the salt marshes, beaches and nature reserves to explore all the other animals and plant life in the area. Birds you’re likely to spot here include common and little terns, and keep an eye out for wild samphire and sea asparagus growing in the area.
Probably the most well-known town on the Norfolk Coast, Cromer and its stunning pier have been featured in films and TV such as Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Agatha Christie’s “Partners in Crime”, the Bollywood Film “Housefull 3”, BBC drama “Babs”, and an episode of Most Haunted! Other than its IMDB credits, Cromer is a good example of a larger British seaside town with arcades, chip shops, ice cream parlours and a stunning beach. There are a few decent Vegan restaurant options here too! Here are a couple of things to check out if you drop in for a trip:
– Banksy artwork
Cromer Beach was one of the locations Banksy chose to place their work in 2021. “Luxury Rentals Only” is a commentary on the amount of second and holiday homes in the UK and is still visible today on the sea wall.
– Cromer Pier
Cromer is home to a famous Victorian pier that is only one of five UK piers with a proper working theatre on board. Why not head out with an ice cream and watch the sunset from the pier end?
North Norfolk has so much to offer, and these towns and villages are only a few of the lovely local places you can visit. So, why not make a trip to North Norfolk and take a road trip (or long walking trip) along the coast to see all the wonders for yourself?