In this Budget Travel Guide, escape the popular big cities of England with this Norwich travel guide. See a different side of Britain as you connect with locals and the English culture like a local.
Norfolk may not be the first place you think of when planning a trip to the UK but this pretty county not far from London offers has a lot to offer tourists.
Norwich travel guide for budget travelers
Follow our Norwich travel guide which also covers the surrounding county of Norfolk for useful tips to help you save money and explore the city.
Norwich’s close proximity to London means there are great public transport links from the capital. Great Anglia operates a half-hourly service from London to Norwich with single tickets starting from as little as £8, although £12 is probably more realistic if you want to travel at a more civilised hour!
From Norwich choose a connecting service to Cromer or Great Yarmouth if you’re travelling elsewhere in Norfolk. Train tickets can be booked three months in advance online and this is the best way to get the cheapest fares but the payoff is flexibility as the ticket is only valid on a specific train. Most train companies allow passengers to take a bike and dog free of charge.
If you want to get to Norwich under your own steam a hire car is a good bet as the city is easily accessible from all parts of the UK. If you’re flying into the UK, it’s about a 75 minute or two and a half hour drive from Stansted and Heathrow airports respectively.
There are plenty of car rental companies in the UK such as Hertz, Europcar and Avis and you can pick up a car from major cities and towns across the UK. Whichever company you choose, the longer you hire the car, the better value it becomes. Hiring a car isn’t just a great option for travelling to Norwich it’s also a great way to explore the region of Norfolk during your trip.
Once you arrive in Norwich itself, walking or bus is probably the easiest way to get around town. Buy a First Day bus ticket which gives you unlimited travel around Norwich all day with children under five going free or buy a ten journey card and use the ten single journeys over 28 days. Exploring on two feet is simple thanks to the free walkit route planner which shows you the easiest way to walk around town. Download the app to your smartphone and you’re away!
There’s something for all budgets and tastes when it comes to finding holiday accommodation in Norwich.
Sykes Cottages has a great range of self-catering cottages in Norwich and throughout Norfolk which make a great base for exploring the area. A self-catering property gives you much more space than you would have in a hotel and usually works out much cheaper than booking a hotel for the same length of time. You can also make use of the fully equipped kitchen and cook up delicious meals at a fraction of the price of eating out all the time.
If you’re happier in a hotel then the best way of finding a room is to use a search engine such as LateRooms or having a read of the Visit Norwich guide to accommodation. On average prices start at about £40 a night for a bed and breakfast and you can pay in excess of £130 a night for a five star room; the choice is yours!
If you’re anything like me, food is an integral part of any holiday and it’s a great way of getting to know the local culture. There’s a great choice of restaurants in Norwich itself from big chains such as Pizza Express to Michelin-starred spots for a special treat and independent eateries which are well worth checking out. Using TripAdvisor is probably the best way to choose between them!
If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation, the cheapest way to eat on a daily basis is to stock up at a local supermarket; try one of the ‘big four’ Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda or Morrisons for great value basics.
Norfolk has a proud farming heritage and as such there’s lots of tasty local produce to sample during your holiday. Pick up asparagus and strawberries from a roadside stall during the summer months and excellent meats and game from local farms.
Being just a stone’s throw from the coast means that there is fresh seafood on offer at most restaurants caught just that morning. Look forward to freshly picked samphire, cockles and crab from Cromer; delicious! If you’re a seasoned foodie, travel in September or October each year and visit the annual Norfolk food festival which showcases the best of the region’s food and drink.
Norfolk is also home to number of real ale breweries and you’ll find pubs throughout the county stocked with these delicious local offerings. How better to spend a sunny afternoon than in the garden of a country pub with a refreshing pint of local ale?
Though English wines may not yet grace supermarket shelves across the globe, there’s been a recent revival of home grown wine in the UK and Norfolk is no exception. Try award-winning wines from the Winbirri vineyard just outside of Norwich or wines from Broadlands located halfway between Norwich and the coast in Cawston.
Norwich Castle is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and this Norman building is today a museum and art gallery. Visitors of all ages are kept entertained as sound and music bring centuries of history to life.
Make sure you take the opportunity to visit the Bishop’s Garden at Norwich Cathedral when it opens for a few dates for charity during the summer. Walk through the woodland garden, kitchen garden, and ornate rose garden and then enjoy a cream tea in glorious settings with views of the magnificent Cathedral.
If Norwich is famous for one thing, it’s mustard. Colman’s has been producing mustard in the city for over 200 years and its history is documented at the Mustard Museum in Norwich. Learn how the condiment is made, wander through a replica of a Victorian shop and sample as you go!
Venture out of Norwich and head to the Norfolk Broads, a series of rivers criss-crossing the flat county where you can expect wonderful scenery and an abundance of rare wildlife. Take a boat trip for the best way to explore the Broads and then enjoy a leisurely lunch at a waterfront pub serving local food.
Norfolk has miles and miles of unspoilt coastline with wonderful sandy beaches so a day at the beach is a must during your holiday in Norfolk. There are great public transport links from Norwich by train and bus so you’ll have your toes in the sand before you know it even without a car.
The seaside town of Cromer is a highlight with a lovely pier and sandy beach. To feel like you’ve stepped back in time choose Wells-next-the-Sea where you’ll find old fashioned beach huts and a pretty harbour.
Norfolk is also home to a number of Blue Flag beaches such as Hunstanton and Sheringham. If you want to do something active, the gentle coastline is also a great place for walking or cycling whatever your fitness level.
Connecting with the locals
No matter what you have planned for your trip, connecting with locals will certainly be one of the most memorable aspects of your time in Norfolk.
Life in Norwich and Norfolk is enjoyed at a slower pace than in many other big cities and as you’d expect, the locals are welcoming, friendly and ready to share their favourite places to visit. Find your way off the tourist trail to a country pub such as The White Horse Inn in Neatishead. This pub oozes old fashioned charm and is a favourite with locals thanks to a great atmosphere. Be prepared to get involved with a conversation or two at the bar and you’ll soon be accepted by the locals.
Sport is also hugely popular in Norfolk and catching a Norwich City football match is a great way to get to know the locals. The Canaries play at Carrow Road every other weekend between September and May so grab a ticket and join in the chants. Horse-racing is also popular and there are regular meets at Fakenham and Great Yarmouth. Place a bet and get your heart racing as your horse gallops towards the finishing post!
A good way to meet like-minded locals is to find a Norfolk festival that you’re interested in. From music to food and nature, there’s an impressive programme of festivals and shows throughout the year and you can find more information on the Visit Norfolk website. The autumn Food Festival is a big hit with local foodies or you could try the Garden Show at the county showground in May if you’re green-fingered.
Hopefully reading our Norwich travel guide has inspired your travels to Norfolk and made planning your trip that bit easier! Look forward to great food, activities, and friendly locals on your trip to East Anglia.
Have you been to Norwich? What is your favorite town or city in England?
If you enjoyed this Norwich travel guide, check out more Budget Travel Guides to other European destinations like Germany, Romania, Zurich, and Vilnius.
The Norwich travel guide was written by Katie, a travel blogger who loves exploring the UK and France, preferably on two wheels.