When you think of Norfolk, you almost certainly picture the Norfolk Broads, over 125 miles of lock-free waterways which owe their existence to medieval peat works and their national park status to a passionate campaign that succeeded in 2015.
The beautiful network of channels is one of the most popular reasons to go glamping in Norfolk, but there's plenty to do even if you don't fancy picking up a paddle. Crumbling Norman castles and ravishing stately homes, timeless end-of-the-pier entertainment, seal spotting, and beautiful beaches are all part of Norfolk's subtle weave. Here’s our run down of the best things to do in Norfolk, Britain’s most wild and wonderful wetlands.
Unspoilt, beautiful Holkham is often voted one of the best beaches in Norfolk, if not the UK, for its spectacular lagoon and abundance of marine life. If glamping in Norfolk has taken you nearby, it's well worth a visit, as is National Trust jewel Brancaster a little further west, with the latter dog-friendly year round. If you're a classic lazy beach day, Hunstanton is the only resort town in East Anglia that manages the curious trick of facing west on the east coast, making for a well-sheltered beach and calm waters. Renting a day chalet during the summer provides a perfect base for some rock pooling and paddling.
Further east is the famous Cromer, which has drawn many to its pier for a bit of classic waterfront fun on holiday glamping in Norfolk. It's a great all-rounder with the distinctive Victorian pier reasonable surfing and safe swimming. You can go rockpooling or even try angling for cod and bass, with more than a couple of chip shops on hand if you don't catch anything.
Located in the pretty village of Blickling, north of Aylsham, Blickling Estate was the birthplace of Ann Boleyn and makes a historic, genteel stop while you're glamping in Norfolk. You can work up an appetite with a brisk walk around the lake, tour the house and then head over to the sort of gift shop we'd love to see more of - a cosy on-site pub.
The Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier is best known as the host of the world’s only surviving ‘end of the pier’ show, with audiences entertained by a lineup of traditional variety acts throughout the summer, while the magnificent Norwich Castle houses an outstanding museum and galleries that include both fine and contemporary arts. The castle runs plenty of workshops for adults looking to take home a skill souvenir while they're glamping in Norfolk, along with a catalogue of fun activities for kids throughout the year, making it a firm favourite for visiting history buffs of all ages.
One thing you should make sure to factor in while you're glamping in Norfolk is time to stop and try the local produce. Norfolk is famed for its traditional country pubs, and the Gunton Arms at Thorpe Market is one of the finest. Set in a 1000-acre deer park, it’s known not only for its local venison and seafood, caught just four miles away on the glorious Norfolk coast, but for the decor, which reflects the owner’s passion for artists like Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst (yes, they’re originals and yes, they're well secured). At The Fur and Feather Inn at Woodforde, a brewery and shop, the finely crafted beer travels mere metres to reach the pumps and the restaurant menu is packed with fresh, seasonal ingredients that perfectly complement the brews.
If you're at the other end of the day, look out for Grey Seal Coffee Roasters, who serve their ethically sourced coffee across three sites - Sheringham, Cromer, and their very own roastery in Glandford, which doubles as a vegan restaurant and bakery. Finally, the award-winning Bakers and Larners Food Hall at Holt has a long and exceptional reputation for quality, often described as the Fortnum and Mason of East Anglia. Treat yourself to delights from the deli, build your own luxury hamper, and stock up on luxurious groceries and cap off your glamping in Norfolk with an unbeatable beach picnic.
Norfolk is great walking country, with a variety of difficulty levels provided by the flat trails along the broads and the rougher paths around the coast. Even Peddar’s Way and the Norfolk Coast Path can be taken on in sections of their 45- and 84-miles lengths, winding through history, heathland, sand dunes, salt marshes, and nature reserves.
Among our favourites are the Sheringham circular walk, a six-mile meander over undulating clifftops and through sweeping parkland, taking in ancient oak woodland and the famous rhododendrons of Sheringham Park. For a section, it runs alongside the steam trains on the adorably named Poppy Line railway. Little Ouse Path, at nine miles, is a gentle route that follows the old towpath from Thetford to Brandon, while a wander round Halvergate and Berney Marshes takes in the RSPB nature reserve, ideal for any twitchers glamping in Norfolk. Lastly, the Cromer Lighthouse circular walk takes in beach, cliff, and heathland, with breathtaking views of the beautiful Norfolk coast.
What is glamping?
Glamping combines all the fun of sleeping in the great outdoors with the luxuries you’d expect to find in a plush hotel, from gorgeous interior decor to wood fired hot tubs - plus a few indulgent little touches that sweeten the experience, from foraging workshops to welcome hampers packed with local delicacies. Glamping in Norfolk is a cost effective, eco-friendly way to explore Norfolk’s natural beauty and attractions, whether you’re into adventurous outdoor pursuits, or simply want to snuggle down in a cosy cabin for some rest and relaxation. Whatever the weather, glamping allows you to connect with the wild, without waking up in a soggy sleeping bag.
How do we choose our places?
At Canopy and Stars, we offer an unrivalled range of unique, memorable spaces including treehouses, shepherd’s huts, gypsy caravans, yurts, and even a covered army van (!). All are set in beautiful natural spaces like meadows, woodlands, wetlands, and farmland. We don’t accept the bland, and personally visit all of our accommodation for an overnight stay before deciding whether to add it to our roster (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it). Our spaces are truly special, packed with thoughtful and luxurious touches that both woo and wow our guests. Prepare to be blown away...
About Canopy & Stars
Canopy and Stars is a small, independent travel company that’s part family-owned and part owned by its employees. We’ve also established a charitable trust that sees a percentage of our profits siphoned off causes working to combat climate change. Sustainability is close to our hearts, and we strive to make a positive impact with all that we do. A booking made through us is ethical, eco-friendly, and 100% guilt-free. Check out our story on the about us page to find out more about the Canopy & Stars experience.
We're majority employee owned, which means we all get a say in how the business is run.
Our Charitable Trust uses 24% ownership of the company to support environmental causes
We're committing to raise £50,000 by 2027 to help protect nature in our national parks.