West Norfolk has a truly diverse landscape, from rolling countryside and woodlands to acclaimed gardens and flat salt marshes, classic sandy beaches and more.
West Norfolk’s countryside offers wide-open spaces, panoramic views, and quintessentially English villages with farmland, greens, ponds, and pools. Distinctive rural landscapes include the inland marshes of the Fens to the plantations of the Brecks, one of the driest places in England.
West Norfolk landscapes
The coastal landscape of west Norfolk continues to provide something for everyone to enjoy. The Wash, shared between Norfolk and Lincolnshire, is the home to a rich range of wildlife and the single biggest colony of common seals in Europe.
Renowned for its unique red and white striped cliffs, the traditional seaside resort of Hunstanton is the ideal base to enjoy west Norfolk’s outstanding coastline. It provides fine sands, breath taking sunsets and fun-filled family activities.
The vast proportion of the west Norfolk coastline is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So it has legal status to ensure its preservation. To find out more about west Norfolk’s stunning beaches and glorious coastline, visit Norfolk Coast.
The history of our three towns
West Norfolk is brim full of history with a magnificent heritage of buildings and stories.
Originally named Bishop’s Lynn, King’s Lynn was first established as a free borough in 1204 following a charter from Bishop John de Grey of Norwich. Henry VIII later granted the town two charters in 1524 and 1537, renaming it King’s Lynn. The town’s geographical position and extensive inland waterway system made it ideal for European trade from Baltic and English coastal harbours. By the 13th century, King’s Lynn was one of England’s leading ports. King’s Lynn’s rich maritime history continues to live and breathe throughout the town centre today. It has fine old merchant’s houses and the magnificent Custom House overlooking the original medieval harbour.
Situated by west Norfolk’s spectacular coastline, lies the coastal village of Hunstanton. It was purposely built by Henry Styleman Le Strange in 1846 in response to sea bathing becoming the latest Victorian trend. Under the patronage of his son, the village expanded into a popular Victorian seaside resort and a pier was erected in 1870.
Downham Market is one of Norfolk’s oldest market towns, dating back to Saxon times. Some of the town’s historic past is still in evidence today. Thanks to the town’s array of local carrstone cottages, the brownness of the buildings led to Downham Market gaining the nickname the ‘Gingerbread Town’. Another distinctive feature includes Downham Market’s iconic black and white town clock, standing tall in the town square.
Stretch your legs and explore west Norfolk on foot. With hundreds of walking trails, footpaths and circular routes, every walker can enjoy west Norfolk’s stunning unspoilt landscapes.
West Norfolk offers many different walks suitable for all ages and abilities. Easy access routes developed by Norfolk Coast Millennium Project can be found within Sandringham, Titchwell, and Holkham.
For the avid hiker, enjoy west Norfolk’s long distance trails including the ancient Peddars Way that joins the Norfolk Coast Path or Nar Valley Way which starts from King’s Lynn, tracks east, and terminates at Gressenhall Museum. On the Fens Rivers Way route, go on a journey through the distinctive Fens landscape. If you are looking to explore the coast, walk along the Peter Scott Walk trail that follows the old sea bank wall along the Wash from King’s Lynn to Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire.
Discover miles of short and long distance walks throughout beautiful west Norfolk on the Walk West Norfolk app.
Travel to west Norfolk by car via the A1, A10 or M11 from the South or A47 and A17 from the Midlands and the North. National Express offer coach services from London Victoria via Peterborough, and First’s Excel bus service X1 links King’s Lynn to Norwich and Peterborough.
With individual and family day tickets available, visitors can use bus services Lynx and Coastliner to explore the west Norfolk landscape. The Coastliner bus service gives travellers the opportunity to truly embrace the west Norfolk coast and travel through quaint surrounding villages. Further details can be found on Travel around west Norfolk.
Notable coastal and rural hotspots
Whether you are on holiday, a weekend break or day trip, there is plenty to see and do in west Norfolk.
Travel back in time and delve into west Norfolk’s rich history, heritage, and culture. With its Norman castle ruins, Bailey Gate and 12th Century priory, the charming village of Castle Acre has a lot to offer to history enthusiasts. Castle Rising Castle, a medieval fornication, hosts battle re-enactments and brings local history vividly to life. For further details, visit the Explore West Norfolk website.
Her Majesty’s much-loved country retreat, Sandringham Estate, attracts hundreds of visitors each year. The house, museum and gardens are a highlight of any trip to west Norfolk. Nearby is one of England’s finest Palladian houses, Houghton Hall. Home to the Bedingfield family for over 500 years, Oxburgh Hall is a fine example of a late medieval Tudor house situated within a square moat.
Get closer to nature at Welney Wetland Centre, RSPB Snettisham, or RSPB Titchwell. From salt marshes and sandy beaches to mudflats, wildlife lovers can visit unspoilt habitats and observe west Norfolk’s diverse wildlife.
To discover more exciting things to do in the area, take a look at west Norfolk’s attraction listings.