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The Best Norfolk Beaches

Explore some of the best Norfolk beaches on our wonderful coastline. This is where you can decide which beach is suitable for your particular needs on any given day.

As you may already know, there are so many wonderful Norfolk beaches, it becomes quite hard to decide which one you should choose.  Hopefully the lists below will make your choices easier!

Holkham Beach!Holkham Beach

You can do so many different things on many of the Norfolk beaches, but there are definitely some that are better for various activities than others.  For example, Cley beach is not a child friendly beach and Thornham beach is not suitable for someone who is looking for a beach near a town, but both of these may be excellent for walking or fishing.  

So I have set out below the best beaches in Norfolk for each of the following categories.

Best Norfolk Beaches For Dogs

Lovely Norfolk beaches for dogs

There are a handful of Norfolk beaches that are ideal dog friendly beaches where you perhaps want to go for the whole day with the family, as well beaches that are excellent for a good dog walk.  These usually means that there are no dog restrictions at all on the beaches and I’ve chosen ones where, when the tide is out, you can literally walk for a great distance.  

  • Old Hunstanton on the edge of the North Norfolk coast is one of the best Norfolk beaches for many dog walkers.  Park in the huge grassy car park and wander down to the beach where you can then turn right and have a lovely walk all the way along the beach to Thornham.   If the tide is in, the beach is still a great beach for dogs.  It’s also very pretty with the sand dunes and beach huts backing onto the beach.
  • Holkham beach.  This one will certainly feature on many of these “best Norfolk beaches” because it is probably the most amazing Norfolk beach.  There are no dog restrictions on the beach but it is backed by a nature reserve so you do need to keep them under control if you decide to walk in amongst the dunes during the nesting season (March-August).  However, once on the beach, and so long as the tide it out, the world’s your oyster.  You can literally walk for miles, particularly to the west where you can walk all the way Burnham Overy Staithe (which is another great beach for dog walking due to the length of time it takes to reach the beach, thereby giving your dog a good walk!).  Dogs love this beach as the low tide leaves wonderful hard sand for them to run around on. 
Mundesley beachMundesley beach
  • Mundesley beach.  Although there are restrictions for the length of the promenade (restrictions are on the beach not the promenade), I’ve added this as one of the best Norfolk beaches for dogs because, when the tide is out, you can walk both ways for a very long distance.  You do need to be very aware of the tide here because if it comes in during your walk and you are thinking of walking as far as Trimingham (which is to the left), you could get stranded due to the water level coming very close to the cliff face.  Walking to the right of the beach gives you the chance to get as far as Bacton and Walcott but, but at high tide you would have to walk behind the long continuous line of wooden sea defences that goes to the right of the beach.  
  • Waxham beach.  This particular beach is on the east coast of Norfolk and is yet another very popular dog walking beach.  There is no designated car park so it's much quieter than some of the other beaches which is why dog walkers love it.  There are no dog restrictions on this beach and you can walk either way to Sea Palling or Horsey Gap
Winterton beachWinterton beach
  • Winterton beach.  This is another fantastic beach where you can go for a good dog walk.  In the winter months you’ll see the seals, so you need to keep the dogs under control, but it’s still a lovely walk all the way to Horsey.  The beach is also backed by a large expanse of sand dunes which also makes for lovely dog walking (although again it’s a nature reserve so dog control is important).  You can also walk to the right, taking you all the way to Scratby. 
  • Caister beach also has no dog restrictions and, as with all the best Norfolk beaches, when the tide is out it’s a lovely dog friendly beach where you can walk for a very good distance in both directions.  There is also a large expanse of sand dunes which you can walk amongst, going south from Caister beach.

Brancaster beach often gets mentioned for being one of the best Norfolk beaches for dogs, but I'm not going to feature it here because I don’t think there’s much room to walk either side of the main beach.  On the left you have to stop at Titchwell because you can’t go any further, and on the right you can only get as far as Norton Creek which goes inland towards Burnham Norton and you can’t walk on the salt marshes.

Best Norfolk Beaches for Walks

Walking from Burnham Overy Staithe to HolkhamBurnham Overy Staithe towards Holkham

Not all Norfolk beaches are good for walking, but there are some that many find perfect for this activity, or even just a chance to blow away the cobwebs in the winter months!

  • Without a doubt, Holkham beach is one of the best beaches in Norfolk to walk on.  Particularly if you head west towards Burnham Overy Staithe.  When the tide is out there is nowhere better.  The empty space that pervades is magical.  You can get away from everyone should you wish.  Swathes of hard golden sand, or you can walk in amongst the sand dunes.
  • Burnham Overy Staithe beach.  I suppose this beach and Holkham blend into one because the walk from and to both of these beaches is the best!  The views, the beauty and the huge skies just sum up exactly what the North Norfolk Coast is all about.
  • Holme and Thornham beaches also blend into one. They are also on the North Norfolk coast.  If you start the walk at Thornham village, you have about a half mile walk to the beach, but then you can carry on to Holme, come onto the Holme Dunes Nature Reserve and along the dunes and then, once past Gore Point which is an inlet that you have to come inland for, you can then head back onto the beach all the way to Old Hunsanton.
  • Winterton beach is another great beach for walking.  If you start along the valley floor just in front of the Hermanus holiday houses, then cross over the dunes and onto the beach, you can walk all the way back to Winterton and further on to Horsey and maybe drop back into the dunes again to return to Winterton.

Best Norfolk Beaches For Shell Collecting

Brancaster BeachBrancaster

There are only a handful of good beaches in Norfolk for collecting shells and they feature on the North Norfolk Coast. 

  • Brancaster beach is one of the best Norfolk beaches for shell collecting, and the razor shells are abundant on the high tide line here!   They are very sharp though, so kneeling or bare feet can produce a few painful cuts! 
  • Wells-next-the-Sea beach is also a good beach for shell collecting, particularly when the tide is low as it leaves a tide line of seaweed and copious amounts of  shells.  The best place for this is west of the beach huts and sand dunes.
  • Holkham is another one that is very similar to Wells in this respect.
  • Finally, West Runton, which is best known for fossil collecting.  This is a world renowned beach for fossil collectors and is where the remains of a Steppe Mammoth were found in 1990.

Best Norfolk Beaches For Families

Wells beachWells-next-the-Sea beach

There are lots of lovely beaches for families.  Depending on what you require as a family, there are ones with attractions and there are also ones without and ones which are close to the car parks.  When you have lots of paraphernalia with you such as buckets and spades, rugs, picnics, tents etc, the last thing you want is to walk a long way to reach a good family beach, so I’m concentrating these best Norfolk beaches for families on ease of accessibility

Not all of them have lifeguards so if you're  travelling with a family you may want to be reassured that the beach you choose is patrolled.  You can find out this information, and much more, in the Norfolk Beaches Handbook (below).

Discover The Norfolk Beaches...

Norfolk Beaches Handbook

This Norfolk Beaches Handbook will help you discover many more Norfolk beaches.  It is the most comprehensive guide on all the accessible Norfolk beaches, detailing information such as postcodes, accessibility, whether it's good for children, walking, wildlife or fishing, whether there are car parking charges and much more.

You can read more about the Norfolk Beaches Handbook here.

 The best Norfolk beaches for families are:

  • Hunstanton beachYou can park very close to the beach, there is a promenade and there are lots of attractions to keep everyone amused.   This beach is on The Wash so when the tide goes out, you are left with a little bit of estuary mud rather than swathes of hard golden sand.
  • Brancaster beach.  This is a un-commercial beach which is great if you want to get away from the bustling beaches, although there is a little cabin where you can buy buckets and spades and ice cream.   However, the walk to the beach is very close from the car park and it is very popular with families.  Having a picnic and spending the day here is great.  At low tide you have the added spectacle of the shipwreck of the SS Vina.  There are hidden sandbanks here so you need to be careful about striding out at low tide or swimming and you also need to check tide times before you go - high Spring tides completely cover the road to the beach.
  • Wells beach.  This is a lovely beach and the car park is very close by.  There are some fantastic beach huts, wonderful sand dunes and pine forests to walk amongst.  The beach is dog friendly to the west.  There are no attractions here but there is a wonderful dog friendly beach café in the car park!
Amusements on Cromer beachThe amusements on Cromer beach
  • Cromer beach.  This is great for slightly older families only from the point of view of having a bit of a walk down to the beach.  It has attractions on the promenade, the pier to keep you amused and lovely hard sand when the tide goes out.  There are also fishing boats and tractors to look at and a museum and café on the beach.  There are beach huts that you can rent from the Council.  Car parking though is either on the cliff top (so there is a walk down and up which can be quite exhausting, hence not great for tiny tots) or there are a few smaller car parks a bit closer down the hill towards the pier.
  • Sea Palling beach.  This is a really lovely beach for families.  The purpose-built reefs that are there to prevent coastal erosion have made the beach incredibly sandy and safe to swim in.  There are no attractions actually on the beach, but just before you reach the beach there are a few amusement shops and places to eat like fish and chip shops.  The car park is quite close too
  • Gt Yarmouth beach.  The central beach is the family friendly beach here and is probably one of the best Norfolk beaches for families There are two short piers, one with a fairground and a theatre, the other has a casino (OK, not child friendly!) but also has a bowling alley and amusement arcades.  There are donkey rides to enjoy and deck chairs to hire and you can also take a boat trip to Scroby Sands to see the seals.    The other amusement that children will enjoy is Pleasure Beach which is a small theme park just a short walk along from the beach.

I haven’t included Holkham here because the walk to the beach is quite a long way!  It is obviously a fantastic beach for everyone, but only if you’re prepared to walk! 

Best Norfolk Beaches For Swimming

Sea Palling beach, great for swimmingSea Palling beach

It can be tricky to find good beaches for swimming, particularly on the North Norfolk coast when the tide it out.  Usually the sea has gone out so far you can hardly see it, or there are too many sandbanks that could leave you stranded as the tide comes in, so you do need to be aware of this.  I suppose the best beaches would be ones with lifeguards too which you can find in the Norfolk Beaches Handbook.

  • One of the best Norfolk beaches for swimming is probably Sea Palling.  This is due to the man-made reefs just out to sea.  They have formed a protective barrier where the sea is usually calm and the sand is beautiful.  
  • When the tide is coming in, Cromer is an excellent beach for swimming, as well as being able to have Stand Up Paddle Board lessons and surfing (believe it or not!).
  • Sheringham is another Norfolk beach that is good for swimming when the tide is coming in as you don’t have too far to walk from the promenade.

Best Norfolk Beaches For Towns

Cromer beachCromer beach and town

There are only a few beaches which are actually attached to some of the bustling towns of Norfolk.  If you're wondering why I haven't included places like Hemsby , Mundesley and Gorleston, it's because they are classified as villages!

  • The town of Hunstanton is easily accessible from Hunstanton beach.  The town has a few independent shops and a deli as well as fish and chip shops, restaurants, pubs and amusements such as bowling and the Sea Life Centre.
  • Wells-next-the-Sea is a busy fishing town but the beach is a mile from here.  It’s a 20 minute walk from the beach along the sea wall defence, or during the summer months you can catch the little railway which goes from the beach to the town.
The Cross at Hunstanton looking over the to the seaHunstanton
  • Sheringham.  This town is right on the coastline with the sea being a 3-5 minute walk from the centre of the town.  This is home to the North Norfolk Railway and it also has a little theatre.
  • Cromer is another town that is a few minutes walk to the beach.  There are lots of places to eat in Cromer, museums to visit, pubs to enjoy and a church tower to climb up in the summer months!
  • Gt Yarmouth is a very busy town with a mile of road that goes right the way along the coast.  It has three beaches and is full of amusement arcades and places to eat, as well as having two piers with a theatre, bowling alley, casino and fun fair.  There is also a very pretty historic quarter just inland along the River Yare.

A great way to choose some of the best Norfolk beaches is to have this Norfolk Beaches Handbook with you. 

It’s the most comprehensive guidebook  you’ll find on the Norfolk beaches and will tell you everything you need to know about each accessible Norfolk beach such as which ones are dog friendly, which beaches have lifeguards, which ones are good for children and so much more.

Discover The Norfolk Beaches...

Norfolk Beaches Handbook

This Norfolk Beaches Handbook will help you discover many more Norfolk beaches.  It is the most comprehensive guide on all the accessible Norfolk beaches, detailing information such as postcodes, accessibility, whether it's good for children, walking, wildlife or fishing, whether there are car parking charges and much more.

You can read more about the Norfolk Beaches Handbook here.