Great Yarmouth has been a resort getaway for English holidaymakers since 1760. There's a real buzz about its Victorian pier and the lively promenades that dash by the North Sea. Along with fish-and-chips stands and painted beach huts, there's shopping, dining and drinking galore in the winding lanes and streets behind, too.

    Standout attractions come in the form of heart-thumping rollercoasters and intriguing aquariums. On top of that, you've got age-old castles, vintage piers and historic fortifications dating from the Middle Ages. All that and more features on this list of things to do in Great Yarmouth.

    What are the best things to do in Great Yarmouth?


    Norfolk Coast AONB

    Explore one of the UK’s most beautiful coastlines

    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    North Norfolk is home to the Norfolk Coast AONB. This delightful strip of coastline offers tidal salt marshes, broad swathes of sand and charming seaside villages bursting with flint cottages. There’s plenty to do: seal boat trips from Blakeney, steam train rides linking Holt to Sheringham and crabbing off the quay at Wells-next-the-Sea.

    At pretty Cley-next-the-Sea, the water’s now miles away thanks to land reclamation schemes carried out as early as the 17th century. The void is filled with flower-strewn marshes that are perfect for wandering on foot. Stay at the village’s windmill, built in the early 19th century and once owned by singer James Blunt’s family.

    Location: 23 Waterbank Rd, Sheringham, UK


    Great Yarmouth city walls

    The walls that once defended the town from pirates

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The city walls of Great Yarmouth are often overlooked by travellers who come in search of sandy beaches and pleasure piers. But they're hard to miss, as they ring much of the centre of the resort and are widely considered to be among the best-preserved medieval-era fortifications in the UK.

    The walls themselves date back to the 1200s when a proclamation by the King of England said the coast should be defended from pirate raids coming in from the North Sea. The bulwarks, which took more than a century to complete, are still very visible throughout the town, with perhaps the most impressive sections sprouting up down Blackfriars Road.


    photo by Hel-hama (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Pleasure Beach

    Rollercoasters whizzing over the Norfolk coast

    • Families

    Pleasure Beach is one of the most iconic family attractions in Great Yarmouth. Spreading out between the sand and the city on S Beach Parade, it's been entertaining visitors to the Norfolk resort since as far back as 1909. These days, it's all about wholesome enjoyments for the entire crew, along with a few adrenaline-pumping draws.

    Rollercoasters rise overhead in the form of the spinning Disko, the rumbling Dodgems and the gravity-defying free fall. There are spine-tingling ghost hotels, water-spurting log flumes and stomach-churning pirate ships. Little ones, meanwhile, have monorails and enchanting fairytale snail rides to enjoy at a slower pace. 

    Location: S Beach Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3EH, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 844585


    Norfolk Broads

    Laze away an afternoon on a boat

    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Norfolk Broads boasts 125 miles of navigable waterways, without a single lock in sight. It's the only part of East Anglia that's awarded a National Park status. Renting a motor cruiser or a barge is a popular pastime, whether for a few hours or a couple of weeks. Spend your days pootling past reed beds and windmills, before mooring up beside a country pub for an evening meal in traditional surroundings. 

    Though technically manmade, this bucolic landscape feels as natural as any in the English countryside. From the 12th century, local villagers dug out the peat that was abundant here. A couple of hundred years later, they became too treacherous to work and were abandoned. Flooded, they form what we now know as The Broads.

    Location: Thorpe Rd, Norwich NR1 1RY, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1603 610734


    Time and Tide Museum

    Learn about the town’s salt-washed local history

    • History

    The Time and Tide Museum is a place to delve into the rich seafaring and ocean-going past of Great Yarmouth. It's housed in an old herring curing works, which sits in the maze-like old centre of town down Blackfriars' Road, a quick 5-minute walk from the beachfront.

    On the outside, you'll see a traditional 1900s redbrick façade with original company markings. Inside, where the scents of smoked fish still linger in the alcoves, the exhibits reveal the ins and outs of fish curing and packaging as it was done throughout the 20th century. You'll also get to learn the personal stories of some of the hardy fishing folk who grew up on the Norfolk coast throughout the last century.

    Location: Blackfriars' Rd, Great Yarmouth NR30 3BX, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday–Sunday from noon to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 743930


    photo by Jeff Tomlinson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Baconsthorpe Castle

    For 500-year-old history near the Norfolk Coast AONB

    • History
    • Photo

    Baconsthorpe Castle draws you away from the twirling rides and fun-filled piers of Great Yarmouth to the pretty reaches of the North Norfolk Coast. That's a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but also a part of the county that's steeped in history.

    All you can see is the remains of the 15th-century manor house, once owned by the powerful Heydon family – a big name in Norfolk history. These days, you can glance up at the half-crumbled keeps and walls that date to the era of the Wars of the Roses, as well as learn all about the local textile trade that made the Heydons rich.

    Location: Castle Lane, Holt NR25 6LL, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)3703 331181


    Britannia Pier

    A true symbol of Great Yarmouth

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Britannia Pier has jutted out from the edge of the Great Yarmouth coast since the second half of the 1800s, making it a veritable symbol of the town and the resort as a whole. You can't miss it – just head for the shoreline and there it is, poking hundreds of feet out into the North Sea from the hubbub of Marine Parade.

    The pier has been many things in its long life, from a romantic strolling spot to a fishing pier to a WWII defence point. These days, it's mainly about the great theatre and pavilion that adorn the boardwalk. They host regular comedy and dance shows to entertain the summertime crowds of Great Yarmouth. It's wise to book tickets ahead of time if you're eager to join them. 

    Location: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 2EH, UK

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 842914


    photo by Leigh Last (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Caister Castle

    Crumbling keeps and purring engines

    • History
    • Photo

    Caister Castle's mighty stone tower shoulders its way above the oaks and beech trees of the Norfolk countryside some 3 miles from the resort of Great Yarmouth. Even the drive there is pleasant, as you pass through farm fields and by the remains of 2,000-year-old Caister Fort.

    The site itself is a fine place to transport yourself back to the medieval age. It showcases a half-ruined Gothic keep and the remains of a great hall, still scarred by a siege laid by the Duke of Norfolk in the 1460s. Head inside to find one of the UK's largest privately-owned collections of classic motor cars.

    Location: Castle Lane, Caister-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth NR30 5SN, UK

    Open: Sunday–Friday from 10 am to 4.30 pm (closed on Saturdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1664 567707


    photo by John Fielding (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Hippodrome Circus

    A spellbinding show in one of England's oldest circuses

    • Nightlife
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The Hippodrome Circus and its grand Art Nouveau towers loom high above the bustle of St George's Road, just a few steps back from the main beachfront promenade in Great Yarmouth. The building alone is now an icon of the town. It's stood since 1903 when it was designed and raised by the showman George Gilbert.

    Inside is a vast auditorium with space for thousands of spectators, along with a unique ring that descends into a pool of water. That's the stage for all sorts of legendary circus acts, including gymnastics, spooky Halloween shows, festive Christmas spectaculars, and mind-boggling magician performances. It's an excellent spot for families, especially when the rain is coming down in Great Yarmouth.

    Location: St George's Rd, Great Yarmouth NR30 2EU, UK

    Open: Daily from 2 pm to 8.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 844172


    photo by Tanya Dedyukhina (CC BY 3.0) modified


    SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth

    Snapping sharks and sea anemones

    • Families
    • Photo

    SEA LIFE Great Yarmouth sits right on the South Beach Parade, only a stone's throw from where the waves roll in. Get ready to tour a medley of different marine exhibitions, ranging from small coral tanks to completely submerged glass tunnels surrounded by natural saltwater.

    Meetings with the likes of jellyfish, miniature rays, and crocodiles are all in a day's work, not to mention hair-raising encounters with black-tipped reef sharks and zebra sharks. There's also an onsite restaurant and children's soft-play zone.

    Location: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3AH, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 330631


    Jurassic Journey

    Where kids can have fun learning about pre-history

    • Families
    • History

    Jurassic Journey transports you back to a time when great beasts roamed the planet. With a prime location on the seafront promenade of Marine Parade, it's an attraction that magnetises families with the promise of a hulking animatronic T-Rex and fibreglass models of velociraptors and stegosauruses.

    The little ones are sure to love the hand-on exhibits, especially with a palaeontologist boot camp and a scavenger hunt experience waiting in the wings. There are up to 14 total enclosures along with a fantastic gift shop aimed at dinosaur lovers to get through. Allow about 2 hours for the lot.

    Location: Tower Complex, Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 2EW, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 852239


    Hirsty's Family Fun Park

    Get outdoors and muddy in the Norfolk countryside

    • Families

    Hirsty's Family Fun Park is the place to go to burn off any excess energy when the Norfolk sun's a-shining. It's within a short 20-minute drive through the pretty countryside north of The Broads and Great Yarmouth itself, spread over countless acres of farmland near the charming village of Hemsby.

    Mud and grass stains are to be expected, what with alfresco play equipment, jungle gyms, trampolines and bouncy castles all part of the offering. You can also challenge yourself to navigate a sprawling maize maze. Look out for special events to get the goosebumps going on Halloween, along with festive shindigs around Christmas time.

    Location: Great Yarmouth Rd, Hemsby NR29 4NL, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 1 pm to 1.15 am, Friday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)77 7160 5797


    Merrivale Model Village

    Feel larger than life at this miniature model village

    • Families

    Merrivale Model Village is a miniature attraction located in east Norfolk suitable even for families with little children. Housing various landmarks such as the award-winning Merrivale Garden and Majestic Theatre, you can interact with the models through a push of a button.

    For locomotive enthusiasts, Merrivale Model Village boasts the famous Merrivale Garden Railway, which stretches approximately 350 metres across its gardens. Before you leave for the day, don’t forget to also have a go at Crazy Golf, a 9-hole miniature golf game section at no extra costs.

    Location: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3JG, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1493 842097


    photo by Steve Sea (CC BY 3.0) modified

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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