If you’re a dog owner, you know how important it is to have your furry companion by your side, even when you’re on holiday. But finding the perfect destination that caters to both you and your furry friend’s needs can be a challenge. Well, we’ve got great news for you!
Norfolk is the perfect dog-friendly holiday destination. This beautiful county located on the east coast of England has everything you need to make your next vacation a memorable one for you and your four-legged friend. From stunning beaches to picturesque countryside walks, Norfolk has it all.
So, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure with your furry friend, as we take you through some of the best dog-friendly holidays in Norfolk.
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Norfolk is the northernmost county in East Anglia, England. It is bordered by the North Sea and The Wash to its north and east, by Suffolk to its south and Lincolnshire to its west.
What Sort of Landscape and Natural Features are There in Norfolk?
Norfolk is famous for being one of the flattest areas in England, however its landscape is anything but boring. The county has 90 miles of coastline, sandy beaches and dunes; as well as boasting both deciduous and pine forests, salt and reed marshes, and both natural and man-made waterways. Virtually its entire northern coast is a dedicated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the east and southeast of the country has National Park status.
What are the Notable Parks, Beaches or Wild Areas in Norfolk?
Norfolk is one of the most rural counties in England. With a relatively low population density, much of the 2,704 square mile area is given over to natural habitats. While this can be a boon for a dog-friendly holiday, bear in mind that it is also a recipe for a great abundance and diversity of wildlife, particularly birds. As such, you may find your four-legged friend’s levels of access restricted at certain times and in certain places.
The most famous places in Norfolk are its coastline – a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the north of the county – and the Broads in the east, a National Park. The Broads – mostly contained within Norfolk but with parts also in Suffolk – are an extraordinary array of waterways set amongst verdant meadow, marsh and swampland. They were originally created by human endeavour, albeit accidentally: the result of medieval peat cutting and harvesting which became flooded by subsequent changes in the sea level. They are now one of the British Isles’ most popular and celebrated holiday destinations.
Eight Things for You and Your Dog to do in Norfolk
Bure Valley Railway
The Bure Valley Railway is a miniature 15 inch-gauge railway which wends its way between Aylsham and Wroxham, stopping three times in between, with options of both diesel or steam locomotives. It’s a great way to enjoy the best of the Norfolk countryside, with big skies and views across the meadows, as well as parts of the Broads. Your dog will love it.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary
Redwings combines a day out in the glorious Norfolk countryside with a good cause – Redwings deal with the rescue, care and rehabilitation of horses and donkeys. They have centres across the South East and Midlands and three separate locations in Norfolk, at Aylsham, Great Yarmouth and Norwich.
Wroxham Barns is an all-encompassing family day out, set right on the edge of the Broads. It offers camping, grounds, a junior farm, maze and family fun park. Your dog’s access to some of these activities may be restricted but there is plenty for everyone on two or four legs.
Fairhaven Water Gardens
Set in 130 acres on the edge of the Broads, near South Walsham and Upton Fen, Fairhaven is a botanical gardens which offers plenty of scope for both walks in the countryside as well as boat trips on their own private waterway. Dogs must be kept on a lead and are charged 25p each for entry.
North Norfolk Railway/Wells & Walsingham Light Railway
If your pooch enjoyed exploring the Bure Valley and the Broads by miniature railway, here are two more alternatives which serve the Norfolk Coast AONB. The North Norfolk Railway runs between Sheringham and Holt, while the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway runs between the enormously popular seaside resort of Wells-next-the-Sea to the picturesque village of Walsingham, a popular site for Christian pilgrims since the Middle Ages.
Dad’s Army Museum
One of British television’s most popular and enduring television series was partly filmed in Norfolk. At Thetford there is a commemorative museum and, while dogs aren’t allowed in the tea rooms they should be able to visit the main exhibit on a lead. So don’t panic.
Beans Boats, Morston
Perhaps the best way to see Norfolk is by boat, and although the most popular place to do this is in the Broads, the coastal area also has plenty to offer. Beans Seal Trips at Morston, a village near Blakeney Point and Blakeney Nature Reserve, run boat excursions around the wetland area to admire the seals who call the area home.
Broads Tours River Trips
Seeing the Norfolk Broads by boat is such a popular choice that many holidaymakers will choose to stay on narrowboats rather than on dry land. Broads Tours are based at Wroxham, on the western edge of the National Park, and have a variety of different options for boat tours and trips. Dogs are welcome but will cost £1 extra.
Seven Walks for you and Your Dog to Enjoy in Norfolk
The village of Brancaster sits between Hunstanton and Burnham Market and offers a huge sandy expanse for your dog to explore without many of the restrictions that can affect your furry friend elsewhere on the Norfolk coast.
Salhouse Broad sits on the edge of the Broads, about 3 miles east of Norwich. It offers a variety of excellent places for you and your four-legged friend to explore, on the banks of the river Bure.
Thetford Forest Park
At the south of the county, on the border with Suffolk, you will find the expansive Thetford Country Park, a large area of grassland and forest. There are many activities and walks to discover. However, it is also an area with a heavy military presence due to nearby RAF Lakenheath, so make sure to obey any warning signs you may find!
The vast sandy beach at Holkham, just to the west of Wells-next-to-the-Sea, is a must-visit spot for dog walkers and horse riders alike. The dunes are also framed by a pine forest, another great spot to sniff around in.
Holt Country Park
100 acres of mixed woodland sitting just to the south of the Norfolk Coast AONB features a variety of different walks, variously focusing on the local wildlife or insects. There is also an ampitheatre, picnic area and play area in addition to a variety of different sculpture installations.
A 70 acre country park on the outskirts of the city of Norwich. An ideal spot to give your dog a run guaranteed to wear them out if you have chosen a city break rather than a countryside holiday.
Sandringham remains an active residence for the royal family but the impressive grounds are open to the public and dogs, while not permitted inside any of the buildings, are welcome on the paths and trails. You might even bump into a corgi.
Where to Stay in Norfolk
Exactly where you want to base yourself for your stay is obviously dependent on exactly what activities you and your dog plan to get up to. However, here are some suggestions.
An ideal base for anyone planning a holiday on the Broads, the pretty village of Wroxham also finds itself at the centre of many of the best dog-friendly activities in the east of the county – you’ll be able to ride the Bure Valley Railway, visit Salhouse Broad or book a boat trip without needing to travel far.
A perennial favourite for holidaymakers in Norfolk and a great place to base yourself if your dog just loves to play on the beach. It’s also near popular resorts like Sheringham and Cromer, as well as many of the country’s best-loved nature reserves such as Salthouse Marshes at Cley or Holme Dunes.
Hunstanton stands on The Wash, the part of the North Sea that separates Norfolk and Lincolnshire, meaning that this seaside resort on the east coast of England entirely faces west. Unfortunately its beach is not dog-friendly, but there’s plenty for them to explore in the village of Old Hunstanton. It is also ideal for visiting the nearby Sandringham Estate or King’s Lynn, Norfolk’s third-largest town.
To the south of Norfolk, Thetford is near the sprawling woodland of Thetford Forest Park and also close to the border with Suffolk if you’d like to keep your East Anglian options open.
Standing between Wells-next-the-Sea and Cromer, Holt sits on the edge of the Norfolk Coast AONB, a great base for holidays featuring the beaches, marshes and reserves that it has to offer. It is also the starting point for the North Norfolk Railway and is roughly equidistant from both Norwich and the Broads National Park.
People who prefer city breaks to rural holidays aren’t enormously spoilt for choice in Norfolk, but the city of Norwich is at least an enduringly popular one. It is an ideal spot for people planning several trips to the Broads but who’d rather spend the night sleeping on dry land. It’s also a good base for anyone wanting to visit the east coast seaside towns of Caister and Great Yarmouth.