Welcome to Avis


Beach huts in Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk

Experience the Norfolk Coast

From its golden sandy beaches, pine forests and rolling farmlands, to its fishing villages and seaside towns, the Norfolk coast has it all. There are so many delights for foodie fans in this region which is filled with artisan producers, farm shops and independent cafes – and let’s not forget some of the best fish and chips in the country.


Norfolk is known for its blue skies and lucky for residents, it lays claim to being the driest county in England. All this makes the Norfolk coast one of the top holiday destinations and perfect for a road trip.


So, whether you are looking for a rejuvenating short break or a week off to unwind, driving the Norfolk coast could be the perfect choice. In this guide, we’ll bring you our pick of the top 10 beaches, some of the best seaside towns as well as all the fun activities the Norfolk Coast has to offer.

Car hire Norfolk

Where is the Norfolk coast?

East Anglia’s Norfolk coast, with its beautiful beaches, salt marshes and shingle, stretches out over 90 miles meeting the Wash at the western end and the North Sea along its northern eastern seaboard. The Norfolk Coast Path runs along its entire length from Hopton-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth to Hunstanton. The city of Norwich is not far from the coast and within easy reach of beaches such as Cromer and Mundesley. Look at the map of Norfolk and you’ll see why this is a county for water sports lovers with its famous coastline, criss-crossed rivers and, of course, the spectacular Norfolk Broads waterway.


Want to know which beaches to prioritise on your visit? Check out our top 10 recommendations...

Our 10 best Norfolk beaches

Holkham Beach, Norfolk

1. Holkham Beach

Holkham Beach, not far from Wells-next-the-Sea, is the jewel in the crown of Norfolk beaches and regarded as one of the best in England. Located within Scolt Head Island National Nature Reserve, its appeal lies in its vast, empty stretch of soft golden sand which covers 11 miles of the Norfolk coast. The beach has even captivated film stars - Gwyneth Paltrow was seen walking towards the sea here in the film Shakespeare in Love.


Best for: Getting away from it all - at low tide you may have to walk some way for a dip.

2. Hunstanton Beach

Hunstanton Beach not far from Kings Lynn, is one of the few beaches on the western coast of Norfolk. This makes for great sunsets and more sheltered swimming. Hunstanton has two stretches of beach with a pebbly area closest to town and further out, the best sand is on Old Hunstanton beach.


Best for: Families and swimming in shallow, calm water.

3. Snettisham Beach

Snettisham Beach is an unspoiled stretch of sand and mud flats loved by wading birds, on the west facing coast of Norfolk. Not far from Hunstanton, the beach, like Holkham, appeals to those who want to get away from it all. It is also teeming with wildlife and great for bird watching.


Best for: Peace, tranquillity, and dreamy sunsets.

4. Brancaster Beach

With literally miles of sand at your feet, Brancaster Beach is justifiably popular. It is part of the Brancaster Estate, owned by the National Trust and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has parking and a kiosk.


Best for: Kitesurfing and windsurfing.

5. Sea Palling Beach

The spacious sandy beach at Sea Palling is renowned as a great day out for families with good parking and a range of cafes and an amusement arcade close to the beach. In contrast it’s also popular with wildlife enthusiasts keen to spot seals just out at sea.


Best for: Families.

6. Cromer Beach

Cromer Beach, like its neighbour Sheringham, is famous for its freshly caught seafood, lobster, whelk and of course, Cromer crab. One of the reasons for the sweetness of Cromer crab is reputedly down to the chalk reef – one of the longest in Europe – which lies just off the coast. If you are up early enough, you can catch sight of some of the 30 fishing boats still working this stretch of coast. Attractions at Cromer include a pier and a lighthouse and as well as cafes and restaurants the town is home to an award-winning fish and chip shop.


Best for: A real all-rounder: families, swimming, surfing, and fishing 

Cromer Beach, Norfolk

7. Horsey Beach

Horsey Beach is one of Norfolk’s wildlife gems. Remote and relatively peaceful in summer, this dune-filled area is home to a colony of grey seals in winter when they arrive on the beach to give birth to their pups. Sections of the beach are cordoned off to protect the animals, but viewing is possible, supervised by National Trust volunteers. 


Best for: Sand dunes and seals.

8. Mundesley Beach

Mundesley Beach is one of the top family-friendly beaches in North Norfolk. Not far from North Walsham, you climb down steps to the beach from the cliff top promenade. The narrow sandy beach offers shallow, calm water at low tide, perfect for young families. It can get breezy on this stretch of coast so don’t forget the wind break! For a break from the sunbathing, Mundesley is home to the smallest maritime museum in the world.


Best for: A good old-fashioned family beach day along with kayaking and canoeing.

9. Sheringham Beach

Sheringham Beach in the town of Sheringham is one of the best beaches for families on the North Norfolk coast. With a great choice of cafes and restaurants nearby it combines stretches of sand with rock pools, perfect for exploring at low tide. It is also one of the best beaches for swimming on the North Norfolk coast with sand and chalk reef creating crystal clear calm water.


Best for: Families and swimming.

10. Winterton Beach

Winterton Beach is renowned as a peaceful, wide stretch of sandy beach, backed by a huge network of sand dunes. It’s not far from Great Yarmouth but rarely attracts huge crowds despite its beauty - so you’ll always find somewhere to park and picnic.


Best for: Unspoiled and great access from the Norfolk Broads.

Norfolk coastal towns


Wells-next-the-Sea is a big draw if you are driving the North Norfolk coast. This gorgeous port town has a lovely quayside, stunning Georgian architecture, great places to eat and plenty of events for locals and visitors alike.



No visit to Cromer is complete without a visit to its Victorian pier which has its own theatre, the Pavilion, which holds a variety show in winter and summer as well as plays and concerts. If you are feeling peckish, the town has several eateries including, right by the pier, the award-winning No1. The restaurant is renowned for both traditional fish and chips and seafood platters that are so good it’s rated one of the best places to eat by the sea in England.



Hunstanton in West Norfolk is famous for its stripey cliffs layered with red and white chalk, and its sunsets. A train runs in summer to take you from the bustling Hunstanton to its more traditional and peaceful neighbour, Old Hunstanton.



Sheringham is a lovely old seaside and fishing town with terracotta rooves and brightly coloured beach huts. The town has a great atmosphere and plenty to do. There’s a steam railway if you want to see the coastline from a different perspective and the town plays host to the annual crab and lobster festival each May.



Blakeney’s location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a huge part of its appeal. This is a centre for bird and seal watching which feels more like a village with its brick and flint cottages and relaxed coastal vibe.

Activities to do on the Norfolk coast

Visit the Sandringham Estate

In a county filled with historic homes, this is the pinnacle – the country home of the Royal family. The ground floor rooms are open to the public, there is a museum and an incredible 60 acres of grounds to explore.


Walk the Norfolk coast path

The Norfolk Coast Path National Trail is an exhilarating 83-mile trail where you can experience the sensation of walking between sea and sky. The route is well served by public transport with a Coasthopper bus service.


Indulge in some retail therapy

The Norfolk coast offers a plethora of shopping options. With art galleries, farm shops and independent stores aplenty, you’ll never be too far from your next shopping experience. Norfolk retailers are full of imagination with shops in converted farm buildings dotted along the coast, including the grounds of Creake Abbey and the courtyard at Alby. 


Try out some watersports

There are activities galore wherever you go along the coast. Offering paddle-boarding, kayaking, windsurfing and more, there is something for everyone in Norfolk.


Go seal spotting on a boat trip

Seal watching is an experience that makes a road trip to Norfolk that little bit more memorable. There are three places to see seals depending on the time of year. In summer, head to Hunstanton in the west of Norfolk and in the winter, marvel at the seals with their pups in Horsey. For unforgettable year-round sightings of seals take a boat trip from Morston Quay to Blakeney Point.

Planning your Norfolk coast road trip

Consider the weather

The best time of year to visit the Norfolk coast depends on what you want to do. If it’s a beach holiday you are after, then aim for July and August – the beauty of Norfolk is that you’ll find your own space even in peak season. Norfolk is just as special in spring and autumn if you are planning on walking, cycling, or getting active in the water. Winters can be bleak and the wind off the North Sea is usually bitter, but the region often gets snowfall. You might enjoy a new perspective of this special landscape while ending the day tucked up in a coastal cottage with a roaring fire.


Pre-book your rental car

With great rail and air links, getting to the city of Norwich is easy from within the UK and Europe. There are daily flights to Norwich International Airport from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and an hourly train from London’s Liverpool Street. Once there, pick up a hire car in Norwich from our friendly Avis team.


Book your accommodation

Taking a Norfolk coast road trip? You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation. From stays on National Trust properties to quaint coastal cottages – whatever you’re after, you can find it here. There are even some unusual options too like the medieval tower in Great Yarmouth and the lighthouse in Hunstanton.

Beyond the Norfolk coast

So hopefully that’s inspired you to head off on your great Norfolk coast road trip. If the open road appeals to you, we’ve got more great drives compiled by experts. And if mountains are more your thing, why not check out our guide to the best road trips in Scotland?


New to driving in the UK? we’ve the latest advice on road rules in the UK.