In Explore

The man-made Broads winds its way through the stunning Norfolk countryside. The Norfolk Broads is a National Park with over 125 miles of lock-free waterways with pretty towns and villages along the way and is home to over quarter of the rarest plants and animals in the UK. With attractions, nature reserves, boat trips, railways and paths, there’s plenty of ways to enjoy these incredible waterways and countrside. Here’s our top things to do on the Norfolk Broads.

About The Norfolk Broads

The unique man-made Norfolk Broads were created in the 14th century when more than 200km of peat was dug out to provide fuel and a sellable commodity after woodland timber and fuel supplies were drained in a densely populated Norfolk. The holes left behind from the peat extraction began to fill with water with the rising sea levels, forming the beginning of the Norfolk Broads and with it, channels for commerce throughout the 16th century.

Norwich was the second largest city in England after London and its tradable goods of wool, weaving and agricultural produce were exported throughout the world from the port of Great Yarmouth. 

It was only in the 1950s that it was realised the Broads were man made, when research revealed that the sides of the deep lakes were vertical and not gently sloping as would be expected of a naturally formed lake.

Since the Victorian times, the Broads National Park has become an increasingly popular holiday destination and is the only National Park with a city in it! The tranquil setting of the Broads is like no other. Big skies, stunning landscapes of marshland, woodlands and reeds that change with the seasons, is a unique holiday. Here’s our top things to do around the Broads.

Boats on the Ranworth Broads
Out on the water. From novice boaters to experienced sailors and everything in between, the Broads is the perfect place to get out on the water. There are plenty of places to hire days boats for a leisurely trip along the beautiful waterways and a stop at one of the many villages along the route.

If you prefer to sit back while someone else takes the helm there are skippered boat trips and for the more energetic, you can hire canoes, stand-up paddleboards or kayaks to get that little bit closer to nature (there are also guided trips for these). And if you fancy a longer trip, why not take a boating holiday and hire your own fully equipped cruisers and stop off at a different place each night.

Electric boat on the Broads
Family fun days out. The nature-themed park Bewilderwood in Hoveton, will keep the family amused for a day. This award-winning outdoor adventure park in the forest will fuel children’s imagination and well as providing plenty of space to run, jump and picnic. There are treehouses, zip wires, big slides and stories of the Twiggles and Boggles who share the woods with visitors. Families can also create their own dens in a wooded area to add to the fun. The park is based on the best-selling Bewilderwood books by park owner Tom Blofield. 

Treehouses at Bewilderwood
Farm and fun fair. Head to Wroxham Barns and visit the junior farm where there are activities every day such as grooming horses, feeding the rabbits, collecting eggs from the henhouses and in the Spring, bottle feed lambs! You can also take a look around the independent shops, see local crafts and enjoy delicious food and drink. There’s all the fun of the fair too with rides, slides, train, remote controls and ride-ons and even an 18-hole adventure mini golf course.

Wroxham Barns
Get on board. As well as the mainline station on the Norwich to Sheringham line, Hoveton and Wroxham has two smaller scale railways to get on board. The Bure Valley Railway runs between Hoveton and Aylsham, where you can hop off and walk back along the track or take a return trip. Both Aylsham and Hoveton have plenty of places to refuel, including cafes, pubs and shops.

Barton House Railway is a miniature ride on railway located in a spacious garden alongside the River Bure in Wroxham. It recreates a traditional railway atmosphere where the whole family can enjoy the nostalgia of the golden age of steam with two ride-on railways, a working full-size signalling system and authentic tickets. A visit can be combined with a boat trip.

Train on the Bure Valley Railway line
Broadly private. Head to Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden and enjoy a beautiful natural woodland garden with ancient trees, more than 3.5 miles of paths, stunning gardens and a private broad where you can take a boat trip. The boat trips run daily (weather permitting) from Mothering Sunday until the first weekend in November. The 20-minute trip is perfect for children, or take a relaxing 50 minute cruise, great for wildlife watching. Stop off at the tearoom for delicious cakes, visit bird hides and enjoy a busy events programme.

People on a boat at Fairhaven Garden
Nature reserves. All along the Broads, the RSPB and Norfolk Wildlife Trust has nature reserves with the chance to spot all kinds of water and marsh-based birds and animals. Many have boardwalks through reedbeds, wildflower meadows and woodland, giving the prefect chance to spot wildlife from deer to kingfishers and the elusive otter. Take a picnic or visit nearby villages to stop for refreshments.

There are plenty of sites all offering different experiences of the local flora and fauna. The reserves are excellent for birdwatching all year round. In the summer, keep an eye out for kingfishers and marsh harriers. There are 11,000 wildlife species and 230 nationally important invertebrates in the Broads, such as beetles and moths including the fenn's waistcoat and reed leopard. Keep an eye out for the darts of colour of dragonflies and damselflies, the flash of yellow and black of the swallowtail butterfly, and you may even spot an otter.

Moth Mornings
Walk on the wild side. Weavers Way, Wherryman’s Way and Angles Way all pass through the Broads. There are quiet lanes, undulating countryside and breath-taking views of the Broads from the banks. There’s also the Broads by Bike network, made up of 14 circular rides; nine in the northern Broads area, five around the southern Broads and more in between, which range from 5.5 to 25 miles long. 

Walkers on the Broads
Hire a bike. Hire a bike and take a trip along the quiet cycle ways, paths and the Broads’ villages such as Salhouse and Ranworth; at Ranworth, take a detour to St Helen’s church, the ‘Cathedral of the Broads’, where you can climb to the top and be rewarded with a superb view of the Broads. With miles of peaceful country lanes, exploring the Broads by bicycle and walking means you can enjoy some of Norfolk's most stunning scenery. Hire a bike from cycle hire centres in the Broads, many of which are close to moorings and there are plenty of cycle routes suitable for all ages and abilities.

Family cycling on the Norfolk Broads
History of the Broads. Learn more about the Broads and its history the Museum of the Broads at Stalham Staithe. You can take an electric or steam boat trip out onto the water from the museum.

Exterior of the Broads Museum


Theme Park
Zip Lines at BeWILDerwood Norfolk

A huge, award winning forest of family fun and outdoor adventure in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. Treehouses, Wobbly Wires, Slippery Slopes, Crocklebogs, Twiggles and Boggles, storytelling, boat trips, marsh walks and really yummy food!

Wroxham Barns
Arial view of Wroxham Barns

There is so much to see and do at Wroxham Barns, including shopping in craft studios, gallery, delicious food from the onsite café and coffee shop, and seasonal fun on Junior Farm and Fun Park.

Bure Valley Railway
Narrow Gauge Railway
Bure Valley Railway

Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge steam railway runs between the old market town of Aylsham and the bustling Broads town of Wroxham and is within easy reach of Norwich and the coast.

Barton House Railway
Steam Railway
Barton House Railway

A 3.5-gauge miniature steam passenger railway and a 7.25-gauge steam and battery-electric railway. Full-size M and GN accessories including signals and signal box.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

Visit the tranquil 130 acres of ancient woodland with over 3.5 miles of paths and take a boat trip. We have a tearoom, gift shop, bird hide, children's nature trail and plant sales area. Dog friendly.

Museum of the Broads
Museum of the Broads

Welcome to the only museum of Broadland life. Discover stories of the Broads, its people, wildlife and landscape. Take a boat trip and enjoy the riverside setting at Stalham Staithe, the northern gateway to the Broads National Park. Dogs and families are very welcome.



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