A short break in the Norfolk Broads is a great way of getting close to nature and enjoying a wide range of activities with your loved ones. There's plenty to see and do, from visiting the beach to spotting rare fauna, so prepare for an action-packed few days away.
There are many great places to visit if you're planning a break in the Broads, but with less than a week to devote to your exploration, choosing where to go and what to see can be a difficult feat. Read on for some of our top picks for making the most of a short getaway in Norfolk.
Begin your canal break at the boating base of Somerleyton, a lovely little village in the southeast section of the Broads. This is where your adventure on the water begins, but it's worth spending some time exploring the settlement before setting sail.
Somerleyton is home to a grand mansion with beautiful gardens, and if you have even a passing interest in history or architecture be sure to call in. Somerleyton Hall is a fine example of Tudor-Jacobean architecture and is a beautiful sight. You can take a tour to look around the interior, which is equally as awe-inspiring. Highlights include the elaborate dining room, which is hung with oil paintings, the beautiful ballroom, and the opulent entrance hall, which is decked in marble.
Outside, the gardens are manicured and a wonderful place for a picnic; admire the rose beds and iron and glass greenhouses, get lost in the yew hedge maze and visit the small gardening museum in the grounds.
From Somerleyton, wind your way down the Waveneny and Chet waterways and keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife that calls the Broads home. Swallowtail butterflies, otters and birds like herons, kingfishers and the crested grebe can all be spotted as you journey along the canals here. The next port of call you'll want to stop at is Lowestoft - a lively town in Suffolk.
Situated on the North Sea coast, Lowestoft is home to some great beaches if you fancy being beside the seaside. Paddle in the water or sun yourself on the sand before taking in the area's other attractions, among which is Kensington Gardens. Here, you can admire the natural landscape and view a wealth of flowers and plantlife. Afterwards, head on to the Lowestoft Arts Centre to admire - and perhaps purchase - the paintings, crafts and jewellery on display.
There are some great parks in the town, such as Fen Park and Normanston Park, where you can enjoy a game of tennis or football, while you might also like to take a tour of the Green Jack Brewery to see how ale is made and sample some of the freshly-produced drink.
One of the most well known Norfolk Broads, Oulton serves as a gateway into the national park and is a top spot for water sports. Once you've moored up, call in at Oulton Broad Water Sports Centre, where you can have a go at a variety of activities such as windsurfing and canoeing. The broad is also the location of the British Royal Yachting Association's Circuit Powerboat Championship races, which take place here every Thursday during summer and make for an entertaining spectacle.
Make time for a visit to Carlton Marches if you're passionate about nature, as the spot is something of a replica of the Broads, albeit in miniature form. The marshes are home to grazing cattle and studded with flowers, with the natural landscape attracting all sorts of fauna like birds of prey, freshwater snails and wading birds. If you've brought your fishing rod you'll find the broad is also a top Norfolk destination for angling, and you can have a go at catching pike, perch, tench, roach and bream for your boat or from the banks of the broad.
Nicholas Everitt Park, located close to the broad, is another attraction you'll want to take in, and not just for the fishing opportunities - although there are many. There's the chance to have a go at water sports, or ride a bike through the beautiful surroundings, and the park often hosts special events. This year, a Dragon Boat Festival is taking place at the end of May to raise money for a local charity. A funfair and stalls selling food will add to the proceedings.
If you're travelling later in the year, head to the park on a Sunday, when you can the Artists Boulevard exhibition. The event is in full swing and entails showcasing various forms of art by local artists and craftsmen weekly until October.