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17 Best Beaches in Norfolk

Norfolk has 90 miles of coastline, which has a wide variety of beaches to choose from if you're going out for a day.


Snettisham Beach © Rob Simmonds via Flickr

Whether you'd prefer a traditional seaside beach with a pier, or a desolate wilderness beach, we've found some of the best beaches in Norfolk.

Brancaster Beach

Brancaster Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Norfolk - and with good reason! It has a huge expanse of soft golden sand, whether the tide is in or out, making it perfect for a family day out at the beach.


Brancaster Beach © Martin Pettitt via Flickr

There's lots of room for everyone, whether you want to build sandcastles, sunbathe and swim, play ball games, kite-buggy or kite-surf.

There are toilets, a beach kiosk and a big car park near to the beach. Brancaster Beach is dog-friendly as, except for a small restriction in the summer (in the area nearest to the beach entrance), dogs are allowed on the beach all year round.


Brancaster Beach © Martin Pettitt via Flickr

There is no lifeguard service, so beware if you walk too far from the shore - the tide can come in quickly and cut you off.

Being a popular sandy beach, it is best to arrive early in the day if you want a space in the car park, as it fills up quickly in the summer!


Brancaster Beach © Martin Pettitt via Flickr

Brancaster Beach is very popular with kite surfers. There are specially designated launching and landing zones if you want to experience the exhilaration of kite-surfing or kite-buggying here (you need to be experienced as the tides can be tricky, and you'll need to bring your own equipment).

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/norfolk/brancaster-estate

Cley Beach

Part of the Norfolk Coast Path, Cley Beach is a remote 2-mile stretch of shingle that is surrounded by Nature Reserves. (If you're walking the whole of the Norfolk Coast Path, most people reach Cley Beach around day 4.)


Cley Beach © Andrew Fogg via Flickr

It is perfect for a windswept walk surrounded by nature - you can observe the birds in the NWT Cley Marshes (said to be one of the best places for bird watching in the UK), and it is close to the famous Blakeney Point with its huge wild bird population. If you want to fish, Cley Beach is perfect for shore fishing, as there is a deep drop-off in the sea.

At high tide, there is just a shingle beach at Cley, but at low tide, there is a vast expanse of hard sand to play on.


Cley Beach © Karen Roe via Flickr

There are no facilities at Cley Beach - only a car park. However, you can easily walk to Cley village - just follow the raised bank in the direction of the picturesque Cley windmill. There are lots of independent shops and a tea room in Cley village.

Birds such as terns and oystercatchers make their nests on the shingle beach, so understandably, dogs are banned from the west of Cley Beach (in the direction of Blakeney Point from the car park) from April to August.

https://www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife-in-norfolk/nature-reserves/reserves/cley-and-salthouse-marshes

Cromer Beach


Cromer Beach © Alan Parkinson via Flickr

Cromer Beach is a lovely Blue Flag beach situated on the North Norfolk coast and is part of the historic Victorian seaside resort of Cromer.


Cromer Beach © Leon Brocard via Flickr

Cromer Beach is one of the finest beaches in Norfolk, with a vast expanse of soft sand and shingle, and the facilities of Cromer town close by.


Cromer Beach © Nick Stenning via Flickr

There is a traditional photogenic pier with a variety theatre (the Pavilion Theatre), and many of the other features you'd expect to find on a busy seaside town beach - colourful beach huts, a promenade, fish and chip shops, an RNLI lifeboat station and museum, lifeguards (in the summer months), and lots of independent restaurants and cafes.

If you want to escape from the bustle of Cromer you can take lovely walks East or West along the beach and get wonderful views from deserted beaches.


Cromer Beach © Tristan Ferne via Flickr

Walking to the East means you can climb up the steps in the cliffs for fantastic views near the Cromer Lighthouse.

https://www.explorenorfolkuk.co.uk/cromer-beach.html

Great Yarmouth Beach

Great Yarmouth Beach is the busiest of Norfolk's beaches, so it has everything you need for a great family day out.


Great Yarmouth Britannia Pier © Tom Bastin via Flickr

The sands are soft and golden (the reason why the seafront is called the Golden Mile), with lifeguards in the summer months and deck chairs for hire - ideal for a day on the beach with the kids. The sea is rated as excellent here.

Older children and adults will enjoy the Pleasure Beach funfair at the southern end of the beach, and the promenade with amusement arcades, theatres, fish and chip shops, beach shops and cafes.


Great Yarmouth Beach © Leigh Last via Flickr

Great Yarmouth has two piers - the Wellington Pier and The Britannia Pier. Both piers are great centres of entertainment. The Britannia has a theatre, food stalls and kiosks, an arcade, casino and bars, restaurants and funfair rides at the end of the pier.

The Wellington Pier is smaller than the Britannia, but it still has lots of fun things to do: a 10-pin bowling alley, an amusement arcade and a casino, with an ice cream parlour and a gift shop.


Great Yarmouth Beach © Leigh Last via Flickr

There are lots of car parking spaces along the Marine Parade, either on the roadside or in allocated car parks, and there are public toilets with disabled facilities.

If you want to escape the crowds of the Central Beach and the Golden Mile, you can go to either end of the beach, beyond each of the piers, to the South and North Beaches where you'll find quieter areas to sit and enjoy the sand and sea.


Great Yarmouth Beach © Clare Woolnough via Flickr

Dogs are allowed on these beaches, but not on the Central Beach.

https://www.visitgreatyarmouth.co.uk/explore/the-beach-guide

Gorleston Beach

If you want a beach which is quieter than Great Yarmouth but still has lots of facilities, try Gorleston-on-Sea Beach, which is just next door.


Gorleston Beach © John Fielding via Flickr

The people who want the piers, amusement arcades and a funfair head to Great Yarmouth, leaving plenty of space on Gorleston Beach for those who want to enjoy the sea and lovely soft golden sand.

There are lifeguards patrolling Gorleston Beach in summer, a theatre and pier (the harbour wall!) and lots of free parking. Gorleston has a more traditional seaside town feel than Great Yarmouth, especially near the paddling pool and boating pond.


Gorleston Beach © Jeremy Halls via Flickr

There is a great beach cafe and little seaside shops on the promenade for when you have finished building sandcastles.

Heacham Beach

Heacham is between Snettisham and Hunstanton, and like those two towns it faces west onto the estuary of The Wash rather than east onto the North Sea.


Heacham Beach © Pamela Kelly via Flickr

That means you'll be able to enjoy beautiful sunsets over the sea!


Heacham South Beach © Loz Pycock via Flickr

There are two beaches at Heacham - the North Beach and the South Beach, and they are quite different to each other.


Heacham Beach © Mark via Flickr

Both beaches have a strip of shingle and sandy beach, but when the tide goes out it exposes large mudflats rather than hard sand, as the beaches face towards the estuary of the Wash rather than the North Sea.

Heacham North Beach is the busier of the two - it has a promenade and beach huts.


Heacham South Beach © Jon Bunting via Flickr

Heacham South Beach is quieter - perfect for a long walk with your dog.


Norfolk Lavender © Martin Pettitt via Flickr

Whilst you're in Heacham, it might be worth a trip to the Norfolk Lavender Farm, especially in the summer when you can see fields of gorgeous purple lavender flowers.

Holkham Beach

Holkham Beach is one of Norfok's most unspoilt beaches, where you can really appreciate the wonders of nature. It is part of the Holkham Nature Reserve and is maintained by the Holkham Estate.


Holkham Beach © Brian Toward via Flickr

There are acres of golden sands to walk and play on, birds to watch in the Nature Reserve, and a great place to find solitude, if you walk away from the car park entrance along the sand or in the neighbouring pine forest.

It is a little walk to the beach from the car park (on boardwalks) so it isn't the most accessible of beaches. However, it is worth it for the panoramic views of sand, sea and sky once you reach past the sand dunes onto the beach.


Holkham Beach © Michael John Button via Flickr

There is a visitor centre with toilets and a cafe near to the car park.


Holkham Beach © Tom Bastin via Flickr

If you are a keen bird watcher, you'll be pleased to find that there are two birdwatching hides overlooking the marshes at Holkham Beach. During the winter months, you can see pink-footed geese and brent geese from here.

https://www.holkham.co.uk/visit/holkham-beach-nature-reserve/

Horsey Beach

Horsey Beach is famous for its grey seal colony, and it is a great place to watch and photograph them, especially in the winter.


Horsey Beach © Caroline Legg via Flickr

Surprisingly, January is one of Horsey Beach's busiest months, as that is when the seal pups can be seen on the beach.

In the summer there are not so many seals, though they can often be seen bobbing about in the sea off the beach.


Horsey Beach © tony Hisgett via Flickr

However, it is a fantastic place to visit all year round - unspoilt, wild and rugged, and it's easy to find a quiet spot to relax and have fun with your family.

There is a car park at the beach, but no other facilities - it really is unspoilt!


Horsey Gap © Vadim Istratov via Flickr

When you walk along the track from the car park to the beach, the break in the sand dunes as you enter the beach is called Horsey Gap - this is a famous place for spotting the grey seals.

Dogs are allowed on the beach throughout the year, but it's probably best to keep them away in the winter whilst the seals are breeding.


Horsey Beach © Jeff Owen Photos via Flickr

Whilst you are in the area, you can also visit the Horsey Windpump, which is owned by the National Trust. You can climb to the top of the building (61 steps!) for some fantastic panoramic views.

https://www.visitnorfolk.co.uk/attraction_activity/horsey-gap-beach

Hunstanton South Beach

The lovely Victorian town of Hunstanton, which was designated as a seaside resort in 1846, has two beaches - Old Hunstanton Beach and Hunstanton South Beach.


Hunstanton Beach © Brian Smithson via Flickr

Hunstanton South Beach is the main town beach, with all the facilities and hustle and bustle you'd expect.

There's something for everyone in the family at Hunstanton Beach - a promenade which stretches along the whole beach; a SeaLife centre; esplanade gardens, with bandstand, to stroll and sit in; a golf and country club; an amusement arcade and funfair;


Hunstanton Beach © Chris Bloom via Flickr

a gently sloping beach (ideal for children) with lifeguards in the summer, and of course, multiple fish and chip shops, beach shops and cafes.


Hunstanton Beach © Joyce M McBeth via Flickr

When the tide is in, the beach is mainly made up of pebbles and shingle, but when the tide is out there are acres of smooth golden sand to play on - it is a favourite with kite surfers and body-boarders.


Hunstanton Beach © Peter Hurford via Flickr

There's a large long-stay car park, with toilets and disabled facilities. Dogs are not permitted on the beach during the summer months (though they are allowed on the promenade with a lead).

https://www.visitwestnorfolk.com/destinations/hunstanton/

Old Hunstanton Beach

This beach is a quieter, more relaxed beach to the north of Hunstanton, at the village of Old Hunstanton.


Old Hunstanton Beach © Chris Redman via Flickr

There are fewer facilities here, but there are also fewer pebbles, with acres of golden sand and sand dunes to explore even when the tide is in.

The sand gently slopes to the sea making it ideal for families, but there is not a lifeguard service.


Old Hunstanton Beach © Loz Pycock via Flickr

Old Hunstanton Beach is famous for its striped cliffs which make an unusual and interesting backdrop to the sandy beach.

Dogs are allowed on Old Hunstanton Beach the whole year round.


Old Hunstanton Beach © Loz Pycock via Flickr

There is a car park, beach cafe, and toilet facilities at the beach.

East Runton Beach

East Runton is a pebbly shingle beach at high tide, but at low tide, lovely golden sand is exposed, ready for sand castle building and beach games. It is one of Norfolk's smaller beaches with a family-friendly feel.


East Runton Beach © Karen Roe via Flickr

There's a car park and toilet block close to the beach - it's just a short walk via steps or a slope to the sands.

There are lifeguards at East Runton Beach in the summer months, and it is very handy for the caravan and campsite at the top of the cliff.


East Runton Beach © Martinrp via Flickr

It's a mile-long walk from East Runton Beach to West Runton Beach along the sands, provided the tide is out. Watch out though - the incoming tide cuts off the headland and you won't be able to get through at high tide!


East Runton Beach © Martinrp via Flickr

If you look eastwards along the beach you get the fantastic view of Cromer Pier which has a theatre and Lifeboat station at its end.

West Runton Beach

West Runton is one of the quieter beaches on the Norfolk coast, as it is situated between the towns of Cromer and Sheringham, both of which have their own fantastic beaches.


West Runton Beach © Michael John Button via Flickr

This is a great place to visit if you want a quiet day on the beach, but don't worry, there are still lots of activities - rock pooling, surfing, snorkelling and even kite surfing when the tide is out.


West Runton Beach © Tom Bastin via Flickr

West Runton Beach is famous for its fossils - a huge mammoth fossil was found in 1990 in the cliffs at the Beach, and you can go fossil hunting yourself on the beach - especially if you have kids that are fascinated by dinosaurs!


West Runton Beach © Tomline via Flickr

There is a car park (at the end of a narrow lane), toilets and a beach cafe here so it's not completely isolated!

Sea Palling Beach


Sea Palling Beach © Karen Roe via Flickr

If you want to escape the busy beaches of Cromer or Hunstanton, visit Sea Palling Beach, where you'll find miles of quiet golden sand to explore.


Sea Palling Beach © Michael John Button via Flickr

There is a fish and chip shop, cafe, amusements and a pub in Sea Palling village.


Sea Palling Beach © Michael John Button via Flickr

Just off shore you'll see some large piles of boulders - these are sea defences put there to protect the beach from the worst the North Sea can throw at it!


Sea Palling Beach © Michael John Button via Flickr

This means that the seawater between the defences and the beach is lovely and calm- a great place for all the family to swim.

Sea Palling Beach © John Fielding via Flickr

https://www.visitnorthnorfolk.com/explore/visit/sea-palling

Sheringham Beach

Sheringham Beach is a superb Blue Flag beach on the north coast of Norfolk, next to the Victorian seaside town of Sheringham.


Sheringham Beach © Matt Buck via Flickr

The town has lots of cafes and tea rooms to choose from for your refreshments, and a museum, a lifeboat station, a theatre and a golf course if you want to take some time away from the beach.

The beach itself has a great promenade with beach huts, showers and toilet facilities, and lots of benches to sit on and admire the view.


Sheringham Beach © Steve Walker via Flickr

When the tide is in, you are restricted to the promenade or the rocks and shingle along the top of the beach, but once the tide is out the beach really comes into its own.

The water recedes to reveal rockpools in the boulders, and a beautiful sandy beach beyond, which stretches as far as the eye can see!


Sheringham Beach © Tom Bastin via Flickr

You can hire a beach hut on a weekly basis from North Norfolk Council (starting on a Saturday) at Sheringham Beach, so you'll have somewhere handy to store your beach gear if you're here on holiday.

https://www.north-norfolk.gov.uk/info/assets-and-leisure/prices-for-weekly-let-beach-huts-and-chalets/

There isn't a designated Sheringham Beach car park, but there are a few car parks to choose from - the East Cliff car park (which looks down on the beach from the top of the cliffs), the Station car park in Sheringham next to the North Norfolk railway which is a 10-minute walk to the beach, and, if you're here early, there's the small car park on the promenade next to the Sheringham Museum at "The Mo".

Snettisham Beach

Surprisingly for a beach on the East coast of England, Snettisham Beach faces West!


Snettisham Beach © Alan Parkinson via Flickr

It is one of a few beaches in Norfolk where you can sit on the beach and watch the sun go down over the sea!

Snettisham Beach is one of the quieter unspoiled beaches in Norfolk - possibly because the beach itself is not sandy - it has a single beach at high tide, along with mudflats that are exposed at low tide.

It's not really a place for building sandcastles or playing beach volleyball, but you can watch the wonderful wading birds in the RSPB Snettisham Nature Reserve.


Snettisham Beach © Michael John Button via Flickr

You might be able to see the spectacular sight of tens of thousands of wading birds taking flight as they are pushed off the mudflats by the incoming tide. Check on the RSPB Snettisham events calendar to see when this is likely to happen (from late summer onwards).

https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/snettisham

Snettisham Beach has a few good facilities - a chip shop (serving ice creams as well as fish and chips), a caravan park, a decent-sized car park and there are toilets and a picnic area.


Snettisham Beach © Rob Simmonds via Flickr

There is a great circular walk from Snettisham Beach which allows you to enjoy the shoreline, the green fields and the lovely surrounding woodland:

https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/out-and-about-in-norfolk/norfolk-trails/coastal-treasures/walking-routes/snettisham

Waxham Beach

Waxham is a beautiful, unspoilt beach in North Norfolk, which is hardly known about.


Waxham Beach © John Walker via Flickr

In fact, it is so much off the beaten track that it doesn't even have a car park - you just park on the road leading to the sandy beach.

There are no facilities at the beach, but there is the nearby village of Waxham, which has an amazing restored 16th century tithe barn, where you can find refreshments.


Waxham Beach © Martinrp via Flickr

There are acres of golden sands to play on - perfect for a family day out away from the hustle and bustle of the seaside towns.


Waxham Beach © Tom Bastin via Flickr

Waxham is a truly dog-friendly beach - there are no dog restrictions at any time of the year.

A little less well-known than Horsey Beach, grey seals can also be seen on Waxey Beach in the winter breeding season.

https://www.visitnorthnorfolk.com/see-and-do/waxham-sands-beach-p1657431

Wells-next-the-Sea Beach

Wells-Next-The-Sea Beach is actually a mile out of the town of Wells-Next-The-Sea, but it's easy to get there.


Wells-Next-The-Sea Beach © Paul Stephenson via Flickr

You can enjoy wonderful views whilst you walk along the raised walkway from the town between the sea and the marshes, you can take the Wells Beach Bus, or you can drive along Beach Road and park in the large Wells Beach Car Park.

There are lots of facilities at the car park - toilets & showers, a shop, a beach cafe and a lifeboat station.

The beach itself is a vast expanse of wonderful golden sands backed by sand dunes and pine woods.


Wells-Next-The-Sea Beach © Russell James Smith via Flickr

You are not allowed to use drones, kite buggies, surfboards or sand yachts on Wells Beach, so it is very safe and peaceful for young families to play on.

There are lifeguards on duty from July to September. If you're swimming, make sure you stay within the yellow buoys so you stay well clear of boat traffic.

https://wellsguide.com/about-wells-next-the-sea/wells-beach-information/

The Norfolk Coast Path

If you want to sample many of Norfolk's gorgeous beaches, how about walking the Norfolk Coast Path?


Cley Windmill from Norfolk Coast Path © Its No Game via Flickr

The route begins in Hunstanton in the east and ends in Hopton-on-Sea in the west, 84 miles later.


Sheringham from Norfolk Coast Path © Freddie Phillips via Flickr

The Norfolk Coast Path takes about 8 days to walk, and you'll be rewarded with the best beaches, marshes, cliffs, wildlife and seaside towns that Norfolk has to offer.


Norfolk Coast Path © Its No Game via Flickr

Some of the walk (especially the cliff-top sections) can be quite exposed, so make sure you are suitably dressed for the weather.

https://www.aboutbritain.com/articles/peddars-way-and-norfolk-coast-path.asp

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Norfolk

If you want to bring your dog to Norfolk, there are lots of great beaches where you can play with your four-pawed friend.


Waxham Beach © Martinrp via Flickr

Some of the beaches such as Cromer, Sheringham and Brancaster have restrictions during the busy summer months, but you can always go to Waxham or Old Hunstanton Beaches where there are no dog restrictions all year round.

In the winter, you are free to walk your dog on all of Norfolk's beaches!

Here's an article from North Norfolk Council showing their dog-friendly beaches:

https://www.visitnorthnorfolk.com/beaches/dog-friendly

Tide Times in Norfolk

Some of the beaches in Norfolk do not have much sand when the tide is in but are transformed into a huge stretch of sand when the tide is out, so it's handy to know when to visit.


Cromer Beach © Orangeaurochs via Flickr

It is also wise to know the tide times when walking far away from the shore on a huge beach as the tide can come in quickly and cut you off. 

Here's a website showing the tide times for the beaches in Norfolk:

https://www.tideschart.com/United-Kingdom/England/Norfolk/

 

We hope you've found our guide to the best Norfolk beaches useful. Norfolk is known for its "big skies" as the landscape is very flat. Where better to enjoy them than from the beach?

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