When most people think of the UK, their minds immediately jump to the black cabs and red buses of London. There is far more to this country that its capital though. Just a three hour train journey away is the Norfolk Broads National Park, one of the most idyllic areas in the country. Offering an easy escape from the London frenzy, here is everything you need to know about visiting the Norfolk Broads from London!
How to get to the Norfolk Broads National Park from London:
The easiest way to get to the Broads National Park is via train. Trains run every half hour from London Liverpool Street to Norwich on weekdays. If you are living in the UK, you could benefit from investing in a railcard to save money on your train fares.
A return ticket from London to Norwich can cost somewhere in the region of £30 to £60, depending on the type of ticket selected and any additional discounts applied. Once you arrive in Norwich, catch the train going in the direction of Sheringham and depart at Hoveton and Wroxham. The total travel time will be around two and a half hours, although there will be a slight wait at Norwich for the connecting train. Tickets are cheapest if purchased in advance from Trainline, however, there is usually availability for these routes on the day as well.
National Express coaches also serve Norwich and depart from most UK airports and major cities. If you are lucky enough to own a car, then you can drive up to the Broads in around 2 hours 30 minutes!
What is the Norfolk Broads National Park?
The Broads National Park is a network of waterways which branch across the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. It is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts, landscape lovers or simply those who are looking to escape the bustle of the city for a while.
Although, there are several access points for the Broads National Park, two of the most beautiful are the adjoining settlements of Hoveton and Wroxham in Norfolk, known as the ‘Capital of the Broads’. They boast plenty of amenities, lots of things to do and a stunning backdrop.
For other beautiful places to visit in Norfolk, check out this post!
Things to do in the Norfolk Broads National Park
Although the Broads provide the perfect opportunity for a day trip from London, weekend trips also make for a pleasant break away. If you are returning on a Sunday, always make sure to check the train times in advance as departures are less frequent.
The Broads National Park is an excellent choice for families, couples or even solo travellers. Here is my pick of the best things to do there:
Rent a boat and cruise the waterways
The perfect way to explore the Norfolk Broads is by boat. It is easy to arrange a self-drive experience. Follow directions to the riverfront from the train station to find all of the boats moored up.
In peak times, it is advisable to reserve your boat in advance, although it is possible to get one on the day if you have a little time flexibility in your schedule. The going rate for a self-drive boat for four hours is £70 – £80, depending on whether you are in peak season.
There are only two directions you can head via boat when leaving Wroxham and both of the nearest towns in either direction are between an hour and a half and two hours away. My favourite place to travel to, and the quieter route, will take you to the countryside town of Coltishall. They have a beautiful pub named ‘The Rising Sun’ which is located on the river with plenty of free mooring spots.
Visit Hickling Broad for wildlife spotting opportunities
This is the largest of the Broads and one of the areas that attracts the most wildlife. It is possible to see Marsh Harriers, Kingfishers, Herons and Barn Owls during a trip. Even more exciting than the birds, are the animals that live there. Keep an eye out for deer and if you’re lucky, you could even spot an otter!
Get up close to cute animals at Wroxham Barns
Wroxham Barns is a great way to spend an afternoon. Along with a petting zoo where you can bottle feed lambs from around the middle of February to July, there is also a coffee shop, restaurant and various craft workshops. There are also a number of cute shops there, including the Norfolk Cider Shop and Courtyard Confectionary which sells mind-blowing fudge!
Wroxham Barns is open everyday except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. There is no entrance fee and visitors pay instead based on the activities they partake in. Check out the junior farm timetable to see what animal activities are happening during your visit.
Ride the miniature railway
Barton House Railway is located next to the River Bure in Wroxham. It is a miniature ride-on railway and makes for a novel way of seeing some of the surrounding countryside. Tickets for adults are just £3.00 a person which is great for those on a budget! Ticket price includes travel via the railway from one station to the next and entrance into the related museum.
Explore Hoveton Hall Estate
This beautiful historic house comes with stunning gardens which is open for visitors to explore. A truly idyllic area for walking, the setting of Hoveton Hall is the epitome of colour and perfection. They hold regular events in the gardens, including outdoor theatre sessions of some of the nation’s favourites!
Where to stay in the Norfolk Broads National Park:
If you have got the time, then turn you trip to the Broads National Park into a weekend break for a truly relaxing getaway from the city!
Hoveton Hall Estate, Hoveton
For a touch of class, head to Hoveton Hall Estate. Not only are the vistas charming but the accommodation provides a luxurious home away from home. Please note: a minimum of a two night stay is required during weekends and bank holidays.
Delaware B&B, Hoveton
This clean and comfortable B&B is a favourite among visitors to the Broads. Breakfast is provided inclusive of the price and rated very highly. It is only a five minute walk from the Hoveton and Wroxham train station which makes it a great base for exploring the area.
The Kings Head, Wroxham
This centrally located country pub is a great hub for exploring the village and the surrounding waterways. Known for its spotless rooms and friendly service, the hotel sits atop a pub with a spacious beer garden on the riverfront.
Where to eat in the Norfolk Broads National Park:
The Old Mill Restaurant and Cafe Bar
Located just metres away from Wroxham Bridge, the Old Mill offers a beautiful riverfront setting from which to watch the world go by. The food is consistently rated as the best in the village and the English breakfasts are raved about all over! As well as offering lunch and dinner, they also do a delicious afternoon tea!
The Rising Sun, Coltishall
The food here can be a little pricey but it is well worth the splurge. As well as a beautiful and easily accessible location, they offer a fine selection of real ales.
The Kings Head, Wroxham
If you happen to be in Wroxham on a Sunday, do not miss the carvery lunch at the Kings Head. It is reasonably priced and with no shortage of food served up, you will feel stuffed when you’re finished!
Best time to visit the Broads?
You can of course visit any time of the year, and chances are you will have a great time! Summer will always be more favourable weather, however it usually brings more crowds. Shoulder seasons like May and September are nice choices. Weather will be mild, and there will be fewer people. If visiting in winter, just be aware you may not be able to rent a boat. Many boat rental companies close for the winter. Although, it is nearly always cheaper to go in winter!
About the author:
Sheree is the socially awkward British Wanderluster behind the site Winging the World. As an anxious traveller herself, she tries to encourage everyone to follow their travel dreams, regardless of their fear. You can usually find her running away from angry birds, getting stuck in squat toilets and extensively researching for her next trip!