The Norfolk Broads

Plan your day out on The Norfolk Broads

Whether you steer your own course or join an organised excursion, the area's seven rivers and 63 broads offer miles of calm, safe waterways for a scenic boat trip. As for other attractions, this historic region has everything from ancient wind and water mills to 'the world's largest village store'.

A typical Suffolk market town, Beccles has a good selection of independent shops, interspersed with a scattering of national chain stores. You can browse for all sorts of items, including antiques, jewellery, gifts, carpets, crafts, cakes and confectionery.

With few resident high street names, Oulton Broad offers a truly independent shopping experience with a reasonable range of stores selling gifts, crafts, jewellery and more. They're mostly located around the Broad and along the main road south of the river.

Opened on 1899 to be strategically located within five minutes' walk of the railway station, this family-run business is a Norfolk retailing legend. Known as 'the world's largest village store', it stocks a wide range of products, including home wares, electrical goods, toys, gifts, toiletries and clothes, as well as gardening and DIY items. The company also has a shop in Beccles.

This well-stocked museum of local history occupies a beautiful house, originally built in the 16th century then renovated in traditional Norfolk style with brick and flint in the 18th century. Much of the collection dates from the Victorian era, but there are also Roman, medieval and Tudor exhibits.

Visit Beccles Museum website

With one of the widest ranges of preserved vehicles in the country, this fascinating museum traces the development of mechanical transport over the best part of a century. It has its own tramline and a two-foot gauge railway, as well as exhibition halls filled with historic vehicles and transport artefacts.

Visit East Anglia Transport Museum website

The setting for this well-presented museum is the Grade II listed 17th century Broad House, situated in Oulton Broad's Nicholas Everitt Park. It's dedicated to the history of the local area, displaying a rich variety of treasures, including 18th century Lowestoft porcelain and prehistoric fossils, as well as archaeological finds from the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods.

Visit Lowestoft Museum website

Named after an 11th century Norwegian king, this Augustinian priory dates from the 13th century. It's mostly ruined, but the 14th century refectory undercroft is wonderfully preserved and its vaulted ceiling, supported on marble columns, is an important early example of English brickwork.

Find out more about St Olave's Priory

Widely acclaimed as one of the most handsome stately homes in the UK, Somerleyton is a magnificent Tudor mansion set in lovely landscaped gardens on a 5000-acre estate. The Hall's stunning interiors include an impressive carved oak entrance hall, a stately ballroom, an elegant library and a sumptuous dining room with signature Crossley family carpeting.

Visit Somerleyton Hall website

Steam power is integral to East Anglia's agricultural and industrial heritage and its memory is lovingly preserved by enthusiasts across the region. This popular museum features a collection of 26 engines, farm machinery, cars and tractors from the golden age of steam, with the earliest exhibit dating from the late nineteenth century.

Visit Strumpshaw Steam Museum website

Originally an Assembly Hall used mainly for balls and civic meetings, this is now a vibrant community arts and entertainment centre which presents a wide range of concerts, plays, musicals, comedy and films, as well as craft workshops and other events.

Visit Beccles Public Hall website

Presenting contemporary art in an attractive gallery space, Riverside represents a wide variety of painters, sculptors, potters and jewellery designers, many of them locally based. It's easy to find, located on the main Norwich Road through the town about half a mile from the station.

Visit Riverside Art and Glass website

This stylish contemporary art space has a main gallery, lifecasting studio and art store, as well as independently-run upper floors exhibiting work by young designers, along with prints, clothing and music. It's located right in the centre of town, just a short walk from the station.

Visit The Upstairs Gallery website

There aren't many railway stations that are more isolated than Berney Arms. Several miles from the nearest road and surrounded by acres of open countryside, it's a great place to visit for a peaceful cross-country ramble or a scenic stroll along the banks of the River Yare. There's also a historic marsh windmill maintained by English Heritage (admission for pre-booked groups only).

A microcosm of the Broads ecosystem, these wonderful wetlands are criss-crossed by dykes and teeming with wildlife, including exotic marsh plants, a rich variety of wildfowl and several types of birds of prey, including marsh harriers and barn owls.

Surrounding an elegant Regency manor house, the grounds of Hoveton Hall Estate comprise 620 acres of parkland, gardens, woodland, arable and grazing land. The gardens are made up of various distinct areas, including the walled Spider Garden, the Old Kitchen Garden, the Woodland Walk and the Arboretum.

View Hoveton Hall Gardens website

This huge green space borders the Broad at Oulton and is a lovely place to enjoy a picnic, a walk or an expedition to spot some fascinating local wildlife. During the summer months, there are regular events, including brass band concerts, art displays and fetes.

Find out more about Nicholas Everitt Park

Managed by the RSPB, Strumpshaw Fen features the complete range of broadland habitats and wildlife. The reedbeds, woodlands and meadows are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including marsh harriers, bitterns and kingfishers.

Find out more about Strumpshaw Fen Nature Reserve

The Broads are as quintessentially British as tea and biscuits. So visiting one of the welcoming cafés has to be a 'must-do' on your day out in this picturesque corner of the country. There are many establishments to choose from in the region's towns and villages, ranging from traditional tea rooms to artisan coffee houses serving cosmopolitan treats. For a scenic waterside setting try the River Kitchen Café in Wroxham or The Quays Coffee Bar in Oulton Broad.

Norfolk is famous across the country for its cuisine and this is reflected in the wide range of culinary offerings available in the Broads region. There are many excellent gastropubs, bistros and restaurants where the menus make good use of the top quality meat, fish, fruit and vegetables available locally. You can enjoy traditional dishes using signature local ingredients such as samphire or go for a continental option, such as Spanish or Italian-themed fare. Of course, dining in the Broads should ideally come with a stunning view, so it's worth seeking out one of the many establishments dotted along the banks of the waterways, many of which have boat moorings next to them or close by. These include the Albion Restaurant at the Wroxham Hotel, Reedham Ferry Inn and the Riverside Restaurant at the Waveney House Hotel in Beccles.

It's unlikely you'll be travelling to the Broads for a burger or a kebab, but there are a few take-away options if you're looking for an alternative to a sit-down meal. Obviously, the larger places like Beccles have the best choice, including fish and chips, Chinese and pizza. In the villages it's more likely to be a sandwich, roll or wrap from the local shop. Waterside establishments such as Acle Bridge Stores cater for the boating and barging fraternity so are relatively well stocked.

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