The Broads National Park is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in England, it’s even a strong contender for the best places to visit in the UK There are so many fun things to do on The Broads, and in this blog post I’m going to share some of my favourites with you!
The Broads National Park is one of ten National Parks in England and one of 15 in the UK. It’s the smallest national park in the UK and, despite only covering approximately 303 km2 (117 sq mi) of stunning landscapes in eastern England, it’s also Britain’s largest protected wetland. This man made network of lakes and rivers is mostly in Norfolk, but stretches into Suffolk too. The Broads can be divided into the Northern Broads and the Southern Broads.
The Broads National Park features seven rivers and 63 broads (lakes) with over 200 km of navigable waterways, so it’s a great place to go walking in England and to do water-based activities! If you’re the type of traveller that seeks long hiking trails, stunning coastal views, and plenty of adventure, The Broads National Park is going to be right up your street.
In this Broads National Park travel guide I am going to share with you the best places to stay on The Broads, the best things to do on the Broads and my favourite adventures so far. From going on day hikes and walks along the river to taking a boat tour, or from trying bird-watching to exploring windmills, there is no shortage of things to do in the Broads National Park!
Other blog posts you might be interested in…
- A guide to exploring Norfolk, England
- My 2-day road trip in Suffolk
- Which UK National Park should you visit next?
- Lake District National Park: my guide and the best things to do
- Yorkshire Dales National Park: my guide and the best things to do
- South Downs National Park: my guide and the best things to do
- Snowdonia National Park: my guide and the best things to do
- Northumberland National Park: my guide and the best things to do
- Dartmoor National Park: my guide and the best things to do
The Broads National Park: my complete guide
Where is The Broads National Park?
If you came here wondering ‘where is the Broads National Park’, ‘where are the Broads’, or looking for a map of The Broads, you’re in the right place. The Broads National Park is in eastern England, spread across Norfolk and Suffolk.
To drive to the Broads National Park, it’s about 3 hours from London, 4.5 hours from Bristol, 7 hours from Cornwall or 4 hours Leeds. If you’re using a Sat Nav, pop in the postcode of your accommodation or one of these car parks.
If you want to take public transport to The Broads, you can get a train or bus to Norwich, the main city in the area. Book your train tickets online on thetrainline.com. There are also local train and bus connections all over the National Park for getting around once you are here.
Check out this map of The Broads National Park to see where in England it is:
Where to stay in The Broads National Park:
Where to stay in The Broads National Park really depends on what type of accommodation you’re looking for, and where you want to be based.
For example, if you want to stay in a hostel near The Broads National Park, YHA have hostels in Norfolk and Suffolk. This is the the perfect option for budget accommodation with close access to various locations in The Broads. Book your YHA stay here.
Check out booking.com or Airbnb for more hotels or apartments in the area, or get inspiration and recommendations directly from The Broads National Park website here.
There are also lots of campsites in The Broads National Park. Check out my camping packing list here. Note that wild camping and parking overnight outside of campsites is not allowed. Check out campsites and caravan sites in The Broads here.
The best things to do in The Broads National Park...
1. Experience The Broads from the water on a river trip
Exploring by boat is one of the best things to do in The Broads. There are plenty of companies in the area who offer boat tours or boat hire. Discover the secret places on the magical waterways, find spots to go fishing and marvel at the wildlife you see as you cruise. If you can, make a full day of it and see as much as possible!
Some of the prettiest areas for boating in the Broads include:
- River Bure, Wroxham Broad and Salhouse Broad
- River Ant and Barton Broad
- Hickling Broad and River Thurne
2. Take on one of the many walks and hikes in The Broads.
There are so many walks and hikes in The Broads National Park… it really is one of the best places to go walking in England and even in the UK. with breathtaking coastal views, stunning moorland and river walks, it’s enjoyable come rain or shine!
There are loads of walks and hikes in The Broads for you to try, no matter whether you’re a beginner hiker or if you’re looking for a bigger challenge. (If you’re a beginner hiker, check out my hiking top tips here!).
It’s the smallest national park in the UK, but that doesn’t mean there are a shortage of walking trails. In fact there are hundreds of miles of walking trails in The Broads, and there’s something for everyone, fom short strolls to long distance trails. With so much on offer, it’s no surprise that walking and hiking are some of the best things to do in The Broads National Park.
Some of the best places for hikes and walks in The Broads include:
- Beccles Marsh
- Bramerton Riverside
- Bigod Way
- Burgh Castle
- Coltishall to Horstead
- Fleggburgh to Stokesby
- Herringfleet Hills
- Irstead Staithe
- Ludham to How Hill
- Oulton Marshes
- Potter Heigham
- Reedham Walks
- Surlingham Church Marsh
Long distance hikes in The Broads include:
- Weavers Way: 56 miles from Cromer on the North Norfolk coast, through the northern part of the Broads, to Great Yarmouth on the East Coast
- Angles Way: 78 miles from Great Yarmouth through the Waveney and Little Ouse valleys to Knettishall Heath Country Park
- Wherryman’s Way: 35 miles along the River Yare between Norwich and Great Yarmouth
Remember that if you don’t want to walk the full route, the long distance trails can be completed in sections!
3. Hire a canoe and explore the rivers.
One of the best things to do on the Broads is to have complete freedom on the water and hire a canoe. Seeing the Broads from the water will offer you a unique perspective on the beauty in the area, and you’ll see stunning views, wildlife and more. Anyone with any level of experience can join in the fun, with everything from the freedom of canoe rental, to half day tours or multi-day tours.
You can also try kayaking or paddling on the Broads, and even buoyancy bikes! Find out more about canoeing, kayaking or paddling on the Broads here.
4. Cross the chain ferry at Reedham.
The Reedham ferry crosses the River Yare, and is the only crossing point between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The ferry crossing has existed since 1949, and the current ferry was built in 1984. The chain ferry, one of the most unique things to do in the Broads, can carry three cars at a time!
The ferry runs:
- Monday – Friday 6.30am – 10pm
- Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays 8am – 10pm
There are also places to camp, fish and eat in the area. Find out more here.
5. Marvel at Thurne Mill and all the other windmills.
Windmills are one of the most iconic features of the Broads. Build to grind corn or pump water, seeing the windmills is a must-do when you visit.
Thurne Mill is one of the most famous windmills in the Broads, and home to a museum. It’s the perfect place for anyone who wants to learn about the history of windmills on the Broads. The museum is only open on the last weekend of the month.
Other windmills worth visiting include:
- Hardley Windmill
- Stubb Mill, Hickling
- Horsey Windpump
- Stracey Arms Drainage Mill
6. Take in the views from St Helen’s church, Ranworth
If you’re looking for things to do in The Broads and you don’t mind a climb, then head to Ranworth and climb the winding, spiral staircase of the medieval St Helen’s Church, known as the ‘Cathedral of the Broads’. From the top you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view across the Norfolk landscape.
7. Explore the towns and villages in The Broads.
If you’re looking for places to visit or places to stay in The Broads, make sure you don’t miss out on the cute villages and market towns. Soak up a bit of English culture as you wander around the streets, have an afternoon tea or a pub lunch, and chat to some of the locals. The communities are full of variety, culture and character.
The best towns and villages in and near The Broads to visit include…
- Great Yarmouth
- Hoveton & Wroxham
- Ludham & Ludham Bridge
- Potter Heigham
8. Go cycling in the Broads.
If you enjoy cycling, one of the best things to do in The Broads is to rent a bike and enjoy the cycle paths. Whether you want to cycle along the quiet village roads and stop for a cup of tea, to have a quiet day in the countryside or forest, or the ride a bike along the English coast, The Broads offer something for every avid cyclist.
Some of the best cycle paths in The Broads include:
- Bure Valley railway route – 19 miles/31km
- Grand Estate cycle route – 11 miles/18km
- Horsey to Bastwick – 19 miles/31km
- Loddon to Gillingham – 17 miles/27km
- Marriott’s Way – 21 miles/40km
- Reedham cycle route – 12 miles/19km
- Southern Broads loop – 37 miles/60km
- Stokesby loop – 8 miles/12.5km
- The Three Rivers Way, Hoveton to Horning – 2.5 miles/4km
- Thurne to Somerton and back – 15 miles/24.5km
9. Take the Bure Valley railway
If you’re looking for unique things to do in The Broads, take a trip on a steam train along Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway. This 18-mile train ride runs from the market town of Aylsham through the Bure Valley countryside, along the River Bure and through the picturesque villages of Brampton, Buxton and Coltishall, all the way to Wroxham, the “capital” of the Broads.
10. Explore Fairhaven Water and Woodland Garden
Exploring the water is one of the main things to do in the Broads, but you can’t forget the woodland too! Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens are open year round and can be explored in all seasons. With nearly 4 miles of woodland pathways to explore, there are also guided warden walks, SUP courses, wildlife photography courses and Katakanu adventure tours!
Find out more about visiting Fairhaven Water Woodland Garden.
11. Look out for the ghosts at St Benet’s Abbey
Said to be haunted by ghost of The Shrieking Monk, Essric, a monk who betrayed the Abbey so as to become Abbot, St Benet’s Abbey is one of the best places to visit in The Broads. The ruins of St Benet’s Abbey lie on the banks of the River Bure, near Ludham. Visiting the 14th-century gatehouse, with its 18th-century mill is one of the most iconic things to do in the Broads.
You can visit all year and there are plenty of free moorings, but there is limited car parking. Free guided tours run at 3pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays from the beginning of May to the end of September. On the first Sunday of every August the Bishop of Norwich leads a service in the ruins.
What are your favourite things to do in The Broads National Park?
Where are your favourite places to visit in The Broads? Anything you’d add?
Love as always and happy adventuring…
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