Exploring the Norfolk Broads Beyond Boating

Often when we think of the Norfolk Broads, an image of charming waterways adorned with boats comes to mind. But the beauty of this region in East Anglia, England, is not confined only to its famed rivers and lakes. There is a wealth of activities, both on land and off the water, that provide equal if not more, delight for locals and tourists alike. This post is dedicated to those of you who want to explore the Norfolk Broads beyond its boat decks and to delve deeper into its rich tapestry of experiences. Here are some of the most recommended non-boating activities to try:

Explore the History at Norwich Castle
A visit to the Norfolk Broads isn’t complete without experiencing its vibrant history. And what better place to start than at the Norwich Castle? This imposing Norman fortress is over 900 years old and houses a museum and art gallery with extensive collections of fine art, archaeology, and natural history. Explore the battlements, dungeons, and staterooms, then unwind in the Castle’s delightful café.

Enjoy the Wildlife at Hickling Broad
Just because you’re not boating, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the breathtaking natural beauty of the Broads. Hickling Broad, the largest of the Broads, is a wildlife reserve of international importance. A paradise for birdwatchers, you’ll likely see marsh harriers, bitterns, kingfishers and more. For those more interested in terrestrial wildlife, the reserve also houses a remarkable variety of dragonflies and butterflies.

Cycle the Norfolk Trails
What better way to experience the picturesque landscapes of the Norfolk Broads than by cycling? There are numerous bike hire shops across the region and a plethora of cycle routes that take you through peaceful country lanes, woodlands, and along the Broads themselves. For a truly unforgettable ride, try the Three Rivers Way, which runs from Hoveton to Horning and showcases some of the best river views.

A Cultural Trip to the Theatre Royal
If you’re interested in performing arts, be sure to check out the Theatre Royal in Norwich. Known for its diverse programme of performances including ballet, opera, musicals, concerts, and family shows, there’s sure to be something to entertain you. The theatre also hosts regular workshops and events for all ages, offering a wonderful cultural retreat.

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

Walk Through the Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
Spend a day away from the hustle and bustle and lose yourself in the tranquility of Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden. Spanning 131 acres, the garden is a mixture of native and cultivated plants, a private broad, and beautiful woodland walks. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic, or you can enjoy homemade cakes and snacks at the Garden’s café.

Visit the Norfolk Windmills
The windmills of Norfolk are an iconic part of the landscape, and no trip to the Broads would be complete without seeing them. Many are open to the public, like the Stracey Arms Windpump, which offers panoramic views over the surrounding marshes. You can learn about the history of these fascinating structures and their role in managing the unique waterways of the Broads.

Gastronomic Pleasures
Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to treat yourself to some local Norfolk fare. With a multitude of cozy country pubs, farmer’s markets, and high-end restaurants offering locally-sourced and inventive dishes, the Norfolk Broads is a haven for foodies. Be sure to try the Cromer crab, Brancaster mussels, and locally brewed ales.


The Norfolk Broads is a region that captivates with its serene beauty, rich history, diverse wildlife, and vibrant culture. Its appeal extends far beyond the waterways, making it an excellent destination for those seeking varied and fulfilling experiences. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, avid cyclist, or foodie, the Norfolk Broads has something to offer everyone. It’s time to look beyond the boats and discover the Norfolk Broads from a whole new perspective.