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Whether you enjoy wildlife watching, walking and cycling, or simply sitting back and relaxing, this attractive part of East Anglia can provide it all.
The real feature of the Broads is the stunning network of waterways that interlace and interlock. There are seven connected rivers in this system of waterways, with 63 lakes and broads forming areas of still water in between them. These lakes and broads are the result of peat digging that took place from approximately the ninth up until the 14th century. As the digging came to an end, the water levels rose and created the beautiful landscape we have today.
Most of the area is navigable by boat, which makes it ideal for low pressure, laid-back sailing and boating holidays. The waterways lead through the pleasantly flat and mellow lands of Norfolk and travellers can navigate all the way to the coast. No wonder then that the area attracts something like 7m visitors each year.
In order to properly explore the natural attractions of the region, it is best to head to the Broads National Park, conveniently located within reach of the city of Norwich. This is the largest protected wetland area and the third largest navigable waterway in the United Kingdom. Hickling Broads is another area of natural beauty where visitors can enjoy both scenery and wildlife.
Wildlife watchers can see a huge range of resident and migratory birds in the area, with interesting species visible all year round. Particular highlights include the swallowtail butterfly, which can be found nowhere else in Britain. Birds that can be seen include the bittern and the marsh harrier, whilst otters are amongst the mammal species that can be found lurking among the Broads. At Hickling Broads, waders, ospreys and spoonbills can be seen.
There are also buildings in the Broads, though, with many medieval churches still standing in the villages and market towns that dot the area. Wroxham is a pleasant market town located right in the middle of the Broads and is a real hub for boating holidays. Located just over the River Bure from Hoveton, the two towns together are seen as the capital of the Broads.
A Norfolk Broads hotel? Surely we mean a boat? Well no, not always…
Norfolk Broads hotels are often more likely to be found aboard a boat rather than on land and booking a boat trip remains the best way to properly explore the Broads. There are hotels and guest houses located in the villages and market towns and also a number of high quality, self-catering apartments and cottages. If you do not want to stay in Norfolk Broads hotels themselves, the city of Norwich has a great range of accommodation on offer.
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With more than 120 miles of navigable waterways, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty to see during a holiday in the Norfolk Broads...
Top five attractions
The bustling town of Wroxham is considered by many keen sailors to be the capital of the Norfolk Broads. Sitting on the meandering River Bure, historic Wroxham is a good place to stock up on supplies.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Wroxham, enjoy the contrasting tranquillity of beautiful Woodbastwick. A regular frontrunner of the Best Kept Village Award, this delightful little place is an ideal spot for putting your feet up by the river.
Museum of the Broads
Head for Stalham and enjoy a day at the Museum of the Broads – it chronicles the lives of the people and the changing landscape of this fascinating part of the world. Entry is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children (under-fives enter at no cost).
Close to the splendid town of Aylsham you’ll find the magnificent Blickling Estate and Blickling House – a stately home often labelled as one of the most opulent residences in England.
Many people exploring the Broads stop off at the village of Ranworth to gain an exclusive view of this gloriously flat wetland. A lung-bursting climb up the spiral staircase in St Helen’s Church at Ranworth will reward you with a splendid vantage point across the waterways.
Tranquillity may be the order of the day on the Broads, but you’ll also find some lively annual events on the calendar here...
Horning Boat Show; May: Offering a great insight into life on the water, the annual Horning Boat Show is like a mini-festival of everything that’s great about the Norfolk Broads. You can admire the luxury boats, learn some boating skills or just enjoy the atmosphere.
Norfolk Food and Drink Festival; August-October: A series of events are held across many towns and villages near the Broads to celebrate – and consume – local produce.
Sandringham Game and Country Fair; September: The Royal estate puts on a feast of fishing, falconry and all manner of country pursuits.