Standing on the River Wensum, Norwich is the largest city in Norfolk, for which it also serves as the County Town. In fact, with Norfolk being mostly rural, the built-up area in and around the city of Norwich is home to almost a quarter of the county’s entire population.
Historically, Norwich initially thrived as a centre for the textiles industry, thanks in particular to the local wool farming. However, as the Industrial Revolution took hold, the challenge to the wool trade from the cotton mills of the north of England saw the city expand into other areas such as shoe making, confectionery and brewing, all of which remain specialities of the region to the modern day.
Surrounded on all sides by spectacular countryside and beautiful nature reserves, Norwich is an oasis of modern life set within an ancient, seemingly unchanging backdrop. The city itself is pretty, relaxed and welcoming, and is a great choice for a getaway for all of the family.
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Dog Friendly Norwich Must-Sees
If you have read any of our other dog-friendly city guides, you will know the story by now. So prepare to be amazed as we tell you that not only is your four-legged friend welcome to explore Norwich Cathedral Close – the name given to the grounds around the building – but also the Cathedral itself!
It is a spectacular building, too, the largest in East Anglia. Completed in 1145, it boasts some of the largest cloisters of any Cathedral in the UK, as well as a 315 foot (96 metre) tall spire. While we cannot guarantee it will give your dog a spiritual awakening, it is only fair to applaud Norwich Cathedral for its progressive policy. Hopefully more historical buildings (including Norwich Castle!) will one day follow suit.
Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park
The Sainsbury Centre is a must-visit for art lovers, a huge modernist glass warehouse packed full of art and archaeology, as well as exhibits on anthropological and ethnographic themes. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed inside to see any of it.
But there is some good news for culture-hungry hounds, because the grounds around the centre also serve as a sculpture park. You and your four-legged friend can enjoy works by artists such as Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick and Anthony Gormley as you frolic around in 350-acres of parkland and formal gardens.
Bure Valley Railway
Our dog-friendly holiday guides have frequently extolled the virtues of letting a train or bus take the strain, while you and your hairy pal get better acquainted with the local area. And when the local area is as charming, beautiful and peaceful as the land around Norwich, we couldn’t resist doing it again.
The Bure Valley Railway is a heritage railway which runs steam engine services along the 18 mile round trip between Aylsham (about 13 miles north of Norwich city centre) and Wroxham (about 8 miles to the northeast), alongside the banks of the River Bure. In the famously flat Norfolk landscape, on a clear day you will see for miles across some of the UK’s most celebrated and beloved countryside.
A day on the Broads
As unlikely as it may seem, one of Britain’s favourite beauty spots and holiday destinations was originally created by accident, the flooded remnants of the medieval peat farming industry. Today, the Broads are one of the UK’s most treasured attractions and one of the country’s 15 National Parks. If you’re already in Norwich, don’t miss out!
Getting there is pretty straightforward: Salhouse Broad and the Bure Marshes Nature Reserve are a 20 minute car journey northeast of the city centre, or you can head to the southeast of the city and enter via Whitlingham Nature Reserve.
A day at the beach
We admit it: Norwich does not actually have a beach. However, the beaches of Norfolk are some of the finest in the country and dogs absolutely love them, so we had to find a way. Our solution was this: Great Yarmouth, a 33 minute journey by train through the heart of the Norfolk Broads.
Once you arrive in Great Yarmouth, a day at the seaside beckons. The expansive golden sandy beach to the south of Wellington Pier is open to dogs all year round, with the main beach to the north also available between October and March. There’s also the opportunity for you and your four-legged companion to explore the nearby nature reserve at Breydon Water, a large estuary fed from the mouth of the River Yare.
The Best Dog Friendly Walks in Norwich
The 80-acre Eaton Park is one of the most popular green spaces in Norwich, located to the southwest of the city in the Mount Pleasant district. It’s a park that has something for all the family, including rose gardens, bandstands and a lily pond. There is also a great dog-friendly cafe on site, but more of that later.
Situated to the northeast of the city centre, Mousehold Heath is a 184 acre area of heathland, woodland and recreational space not far from the medieval city boundary and just inside the modern-day ring road. If you are able to convince your dog to carry your clubs, Mousehold Heath is also home to a Par 3 golf course.
Found just to the north of Eaton Park and the adjoining University of East Anglia, Earlham Park has plenty of what dogs like best: heavily wooded areas for exploration and sniffs plus expansive areas of open grassland for running around at top speed.
Earlham Park is also one of the city’s most popular areas for large outdoor events and as a result offers extremely plentiful space for car parking.
While unable to compete with the size and scope of some of the city’s larger parks, Chapelfield Gardens has it all when it comes to location: a few minutes walk from the city centre. It’s one of the city’s most attractive places, too, with well-maintained flower gardens, bandstands and play areas for children, plus lots of wide open space for dogs to run around.
Anderson’s Meadow is situated about a mile north of the city centre, in the Heigham Grove district. Like Chapelfield Gardens it offers gardens and wide open spaces but with the addition of the River Wensum, which flows along its entire southern border. There are also two other good-size parks nearby: Wensum Park and Waterloo Park, both ideal for walkies.
Whitlingham Country Park
Although the 38-acre Whitlingham Country Park has ample grassland and woodland, it is dominated by water. At its heart sits a large lake, Whitlingham Great Broad, while the River Yare also wends its way through. Located at the southeastern tip of the city, Whitlingham Country Park is Norwich’s gateway to the Norfolk Broads.
Dog Friendly Cafes and Restaurants in Norwich
18 Wensum Street, NR3 1HY
Situated not far from Norwich Cathedral, Carberrys is locally known as “the cafe with the dog”, due to the regular presence of Toby, the owners’ retriever whose dedication to welcoming guests both human and canine is well-known. On the menu are an array of appealing homemade treats and the always welcome sight of Italian-style gelato.
The Unthank Kitchen
117 Unthank Road, NR2 2PE
A cafe along the busy Unthank Road, about half a mile from the city centre, Unthank Kitchen specialise in breakfast, brunch and lunch with a menu full of perennially popular choices. Uncomplicated, hearty and filling.
131 Earlham Road, NR2 3RF
A coffee house located less than half a mile west of Chapelfield Gardens, the achingly trendy Mitre also serves tasty food and offers workspaces – ideal if your dog has any important emails to check.
Eaton Park Cafe
Eaton Park, NR4 7AZ
Based in the Rotunda at the heart of Eaton Park, Eaton Park Cafe offer a variety of hot drinks to sit in or take away, plus homemade sandwiches and hot meals made from the finest local, seasonal produce. A perfect place to visit after a morning spent investigating the park.
22 Tombland, NR3 1RF
A fully vegan cafe and restaurant, two minutes walk from Norwich Cathedral. The menu is full of imaginative and attractive plant-based dishes, with an extensive brunch menu available on Sundays.
Gonzo’s Tea Room
68 London Street, NR2 1JT
Located a couple of minutes walk from Norwich Castle, Gonzo’s combines a cafe and tea room with burgers and cocktails, in an eclectic and relaxed contemporary setting. There’s something for everyone here, although your dog might want to leave before the disco starts in the evening.
St. Mary’s Works, NR3 1QA
An outdoor market dedicated to showcasing the best street food from around the world, Junkyard market combines a fully licensed drink menu with an ever-changing array of pop-up food stalls and entertainments. It can be found just to the north of the River Wensum, not far from Norwich Cathedral.
Dog Friendly Pubs in Norwich
Norwich Playhouse Bar
42-58 St George’s Street, NR3 1AB
As the name suggests, this bar is based at Norwich Playhouse Theatre. It is particularly well-known for its ceiling, an ever-growing three-dimensional cityscape art installation called “Ceilingopolis”. A great way to finally answer the age-old question of whether dogs can look up.
36 Market Place, NR2 1RD
Located in the heart of the city centre, just a few moments away from Norwich Castle. The Garnet has an ever-rotating array of guest ales and lagers, plus a menu of small plates for those wanting to fill a hole.
The White Horse
The Street, Trowse Newton, NR14 8ST
Situated just to the west of Whitlingham Country Park – and not far from Norwich City FC’s Carrow Road stadium – The White Horse is an ideal location for a drink after a day yomping around the Norfolk Broads.
41 Earlham Road, NR2 3AD
Located a few hundred yards north of Chapelfield Gardens, The Earlham – previously known as The Earlham Arms – has sofas and a large beer garden, as well as a menu of their own craft ales and homely food made from locally-sourced ingredients.
The Ribs of Beef
24 Wensum Street, NR3 1HY
A real ale pub which also specialises in classic pub grub, set in an 18th Century building with a riverside terrace. You can find it just south of the River Wensum, within sight of Norwich Cathedral.
The Georgian Townhouse
30-34 Unthank Road, NR2 2RB
A pub, restaurant and hotel set in an old Georgian building on the city’s bustling Unthank Road, not far from Chapelfield Gardens. The food is hearty and varied, with everything from breakfast to Sunday lunch catered for, plus a variety of vegan options.
10 Dereham Road, NR2 4AY
An old-fashioned wood-panelled and candlelit gastropub, a few minutes walk north of Chapelfield Gardens. Their speciality is offal, with an inventive and tasty menu made up from the parts other restaurants might have thrown away. Your dog will approve.
Dog Friendly Norwich: Where To Stay
If you’re looking to stay in a dog friendly hotel in Norwich, here’s our recommendations:
The Maids Head Hotel
20 Tombland, NR3 1LB
A four-star hotel set in an attractive and historic 13th Century building on the doorstep of Norwich Cathedral. Ideally located for anyone wanting to explore the city centre, The Maids Head allows up to two dogs, at an additional cost of £20 per dog per night.
School Road, Drayton, NR8 6EF
A two-star hotel based in a 17th Century building in Drayton, a town five miles northwest of Norwich city centre. What it lacks in central location it makes up for in dog-friendliness: pets of any size or shape are permitted to stay for free!
St. Giles House Hotel
41-45 St. Giles Street, NR2 1JR
A four-star hotel and spa set in a grand building a few minutes walk north from Chapelfield Gardens in the city centre. Dog-friendly rooms are limited, as the hotel will only permit four-legged guests to stay on the ground floor.
The Georgian Townhouse
30-34 Unthank Road, NR2 2RB
Handily located at the heart of Norwich city centre, The Georgian Townhouse has already made our list thanks to its excellence as a pub. Happily, it is just as dog-friendly in its capacity as a three-star hotel.
Norwich City: Carrow Road, NR1 1HU
Norwich: Ipswich Road, NR4 6EP
Holiday Inn boasts two pet-friendly hotels in Norwich. The Carrow Road location is, as the name suggests, based at Norwich City Football Club, not far from Whitlingham Country Park or the city centre.
The three-star hotel in Ipswich Road, meanwhile, can be found to the south of the city, about a mile and a half from the centre.
Holiday cottages and private lets
Considering the vast expanses of beautiful countryside that surround Norwich on all sides, it is definitely also a good idea to check the prices and availability of any private lets in the area.
You may well have to forgo city centre location, but these homes-away-from-home could be ideally placed if you are equally keen to explore the Broads or the many nature reserves that stand beyond the city limits.