Norfolk Car Hire
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A large county in East Anglia in England, Norfolk is nestled between Lincolnshire to its northwest, Suffolk to the south, Cambridgeshire to the southwest and the North Sea to the east. With a population of 904,000 and an area of 5370 square kilometres, this county is largely rural and has a low population density. The ‘county town’ (capital) is the city of Norwich, while other major settlements include Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn. Norfolk’s proximity to the sea and the scenic cluster of lakes and rivers known as The Broads mean it has a brilliant balance of country and city attractions which are ripe for exploration by car. Prices for hiring a mini-sized car in Norwich like a Fiat 500 start at just £22.61 (€24.87) a day if you book ahead of time and an economy car like a Vauxhall Corsa costs £23.53 (€25.88) per day. Meanwhile, a roomy Skoda Octavia ̶ large enough to seat five passengers comfortably ̶ is £31.21 (€34.32) per day. Alternatively, if you’re travelling in a large group and splitting the costs, a people carrier like a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso seats 7 in complete comfort and starts from £52.71 (€57.96) per day. Enjoy Travel works with a number of trsuted car hire partners here like Europcar and Keddy and packages typically include reassuring components like theft protection and 24-hour assistance. Hire a car in Norfolk with Enjoy Travel and embrace independent travel in one of England’s most magnificent counties.
Guide to Norfolk
A tumultuous history, charming culture, stunning scenery and superb sports and leisure activities mean that Norfolk is worth visiting at any time of year. From its early settlement by the Brittonic tribe the Iceni in the 1st Century BC to the Roman invasion and development which started in 47AD to raids by the Saxons and Picts, and the Roman departure to eventual settlement by the Angles in the 5th Century AD, Norfolk has been prized by those far beyond its borders as well as its own inhabitants.
The early history of Norfolk is worthy of a deeper dig because it features one of the earliest embodiments of female empowerment in the form of Queen Boudicca, ruler of the Iceni and scourge of the Romans. When the Romans first invaded, they were happy to share power with Boudicca and her husband King Prasutagus, but when Prasutagus passed away they couldn’t tolerate his dying wish that half the kingdom should be controlled by Roman Emperor Nero and half by Boudicca, since no female was allowed to inherit her spouse’s property under their legal convention. They promptly confiscated all the lands and allegedly flogged Boudicca, who subsequently led a brave rebellion which defeated the famous Ninth Legion, razed Roman capital Colchester to the ground and decimated London and St Albans before ultimately being defeated an unknown battle site where Boudicca reportedly poisoned herself rather than submitting to capture.
No respectable guide to Norfolk would be complete without mentioning Broadlands and The Broads. This is a man-made National Park with 125 miles of lock-free waterways that snake through beautiful bucolic countryside and it’s peppered with picture postcard towns and villages. Characterised by expansive blue skies, fields of reed-lined marshland and sublime sylvan glades, The Broads has been dubbed ‘the Venice of the East’ and it actually has more waterways than Venice as well as other cities like Amsterdam. Best explored by boat, motor cruises are perpetually popular and pootling along the river then mooring outside the lovely villages and market towns along the way so that you can enjoy a stroll and a tasty pub lunch is one of life’s rare pleasures.
A number of participation sports are popular in Norfolk, so if you’re an active visitor there’s no way you’ll sit twiddling your thumbs. On land, runners and cyclists are in their element tracking along the 45-mile coastal path, which includes fragrant pine woods, a beautiful beach at Holkham and dramatic cliffs between Sheringham and Weybourne. On the water, surfing is very popular at Cromer thanks to incoming swells arriving from the North Sea and you can try Stand Up Paddleboarding as well as traditional surfing. Alternatively, there’s a lively sailing scene here too, especially around the northwest Norfolk coast, while at Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club you can hire dinghies, cruisers, sharpies and all manner of vessels during the March-October season.
What to do in Norfolk?
With ample natural attractions, a handful of buzzing towns and cities and a diverse populace that’s always warm and welcoming, Norfolk offers a little something for everyone. There are enough attractions here to keep you satisfied for a week or more, therefore if you’re only in this lovely part of the world for a few days, you’ll have to prioritise so that your itinerary isn’t too packed!
Adventures in Norwich
Norwich is Norfolk’s biggest urban settlement and county town and it’s a brilliant place to perambulate around ̶ in fact, with over 1500 historic buildings within the city walls and 33 medieval churches, this is a bit of a marathon for history buffs! One of the best places to visit is Elm Hill, which is an authentic and charming cobbled street with remarkably well-preserved examples of merchants’ residences and Tudor houses. Meanwhile, the Norwich Lanes are a chic network of pedestrianised streets where you’ll find independent stores selling everything from crafts to fashion and books. Don’t forget that a visit to Norwich Cathedral is an absolute must ̶ it’s an exceptional example of Romanesque architecture and boasts the largest cloisters in England and the second tallest spire in the country. Last but not least, Norwich is the home of fictional TV anti-hero Alan Partridge and if you’re a fan of this classic comedy character (played by Steve Coogan) you should take part in a walking tour which highlights hotspots from his TV series and film adaptation ̶ ahaa!
Gorgeous Golden Mile
Great Yarmouth is one of Britain’s most famous seaside holiday destinations so if you’re yearning for a quintessentially English day out, exploring its iconic Golden Mile (a beachside promenade packed with shows, attractions and entertainment) is thoroughly recommended. Treat yourself to fresh fish and chips and ice cream as you stroll along keeping an eye out for anything that floats your boat, from rides on giant snails to crazy golf, amusement arcades where you can win some cash or while away time playing classic videogames, as well as white-knuckle rollercoasters and cabaret shows. When you’ve had your fill of the beachside hustle and bustle, the area around great Yarmouth has pretty villages like Hemsby, the wonderful Breydon Water and a smaller but lovely seaside resort called Gorleston-on-Sea. The entire coastline around this area is blessed by 15 miles of beautiful sandy beaches so there’s plenty of terrific terrain to explore.
Maritime King’s Lynn
You can’t leave Norfolk without venturing forth into King’s Lynn and West Norfolk for a taste of marvellous maritime history, fenland coastal plains and rural retreats like Sandringham, owned by a certain Queen Elizabeth II. King’s Lynn proper is a medieval port with many museums and beautiful heritage buildings like the Custom House on Purfleet Quay, which was finished in 1683 and now houses the tourist office. You’ll also find the best-preserved medieval merchant’s house in Britain here, the largest chapel in all of England and the biggest medieval guildhall in England, which has been a theatre since 1442. Venture outside the city limits and you’ll reach Castle Rising, which has a large and mainly intact keep set on gargantuan earthworks, as well as the aforementioned Queen’s residence at Sandringham, where the house and gardens are open to public visitors from April to October each year.
Eating out in Norfolk
From some of the finest fish and chips to pub grub elevated to gourmet fare and haute cuisine with farm-fresh local ingredients, food in Norfolk is eclectic and excellent. Let’s take a look at some of the lip-smacking offerings:
Sumptuous Scandi food
With its rustic exterior and chic stripped-back interior, Burnham Market eatery Socius is an uber-cool Scandinavian-style eatery serving small but sublime tapas plates on its sleek, steel mezzanine upper level or ground floor where you can see the chefs creating their magic. 2-4 plates per person are recommended to sample the full range of culinary delights on offer here, which include mains like tender lamb shoulder with confit onions and curry sauce, hake with celeriac puree and salsa verde and stunning sweets like cherry bakewell cheesecake and socius chocolate bar and salted caramel gelato, all washed down with delish cocktails like the trademark Negroni. Prices range from £8-£22 (€9-€24) for mains, which is very reasonable considering the haute cuisine quality.
Posh pub grub
Fancy sampling Great British pub grub at its most gorgeous? If you’re nodding your head enthusiastically then you should definitely make a beeline for The Wiveton Bell on Blakeney Road in Wiveton. A charming refurbished pub with traditional wooden beams, wood-burning stoves and a lovely landscaped back terrace, the seasonal menu here is stunning and if you really want to relax you can even stay over in one of its comfy boudoirs. Starters here include rare treats like twice-baked crab souffle and torched mackerel fillet, while typical mains include an awesome aged Angus steak burger with candied bacon, rarebit and apple, the Henry Randell grilled half lobster with Norfolk peers and lemon butter, or beautiful beer battered line caught haddock. Main courses cost £15-£26 (€17-€29).
Country house classics
For a treat to tempt even the most refined palates, it simply has to be Morston Hall in the coastal hamlet of Morston, where husband and wife team Galton and Tracy Blackiston serve imaginative, inspirational and divine dishes featuring fresh local produce from farms in the vicinity and their own kitchen garden. The 19th Century country house setting is salubrious, and the food is just as fabulous, with a seven-course tasting menu that varies by the day but often includes creations like King’s Lynn brown shrimps, Scottish langoustine with peanut and lime, and wild stiffkey sea bass with whey butter sauce. The tasting menu costs £95 (€105) per person but if you’re a true foodie it’s worth every penny.
Transport in Norfolk
Using county town Norwich as a base, the nearest airports are Norwich International (NWI), London Stansted (STN ), London Luton (LTN), and London City (LCY), which are 18.8km, 100.6km, 128.9km and 145.5km away respectively. Enjoy Travel partners with reliable and time-tested car hire providers like Europcar, Keddy, Enterprise and Alamo at these hubs and with such a wide selection of fleets, you’re sure to find the ideal vehicle for your needs.
Buses, trains and park & ride
There’s a reasonably reliable bus network across Norfolk, particularly in and around the towns and cities. Major bus operators include BorderBus, First, Lynx, Megabus, National Express, Simonds and Stagecoach.
Norwich has a convenient Park & Ride service operated by Konectbus and it’s handy when you want to park on the outskirts and spend the day shopping or sightseeing in the city centre.
Community railways in Norfolk include The Bittern Line, which runs from Norwich through to Cromer and Sheringham, and The Wherry Line, which connects Norwich to Great Yarmouth, with another line from Norwich to Lowestoft.
You should always drive on the left-hand side of the road in Norfolk, as is the case everywhere across the UK. Speed limits are: 70 mph (120 km/h) on motorways, 60 mph (100 km/h) on non-motorway main roads and 30 mph (50 km/h) or 20 mph (40 km/h) if you’re in busy built-up areas, or close to buildings such as schools.
Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers, drink driving is strictly illegal, and mobile phone use is not permitted (unless the system is genuinely hands-free and doesn’t distract the driver).
With such stunning scenery in Norfolk there’s some superb driving available. Here are just a couple of excellent road trips:
Starting from King’s Lynn, take the A148 northwards until you see the exit for the A149 headed for your final destination Hunstanton. You’ll pass the unique Dersham Bog Nature Reserve before passing Ingoldisthorpe and Snettisham and the latter is worth a pitstop to see St Mary’s Church and birdwatcher’s paradise RSPB Snettisham. Follow the A149 further and you’ll pass scenic Heacham Beach before reaching Hunstanton, which boasts its own beautiful beach, a sealife sanctuary, Peddlars Way which unlocks a huge network of hiking trails, and fabulous food at the Steak & Stilton.
If you’re based in Norwich and fancy something a daytrip with a difference, Wells-next-the-sea is only an hour away to the northwest via the A1067 and B1105. This sublime seaside spot has a sweeping white sandy beach with iconic pastel coloured beach huts, verdant pine forests and watersports and charming shops selling ice cream and souvenirs. If you’re visiting in summer be sure to bring your bathing costume as the weather is often pleasant enough to have a dip.
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