Cromer is a stunning little seaside town on the North Norfolk coast. It is a quaint Victorian-style resort packed with little gems. I am lucky enough to have spent lots of time here as a child due to having grandparents who live nearby. Recently, I spent 3 days here in a hotel and had a totally different experience from my normal family visits. I enjoyed beautiful sunrise walks, visited some local national trust sites, and tried out some of the local restaurants. It is really a place with lots to offer!
From Cromer itself to the surrounding countryside, to nearby towns – I believe there is something for everyone in this beautiful part of the country!
Day 1 – Arrive, settle in, explore
Cromer is typically a summer holiday destination, but I visited in October and it was still absolutely beautiful. Although the weather wasn’t brilliant on day 1, I still found plenty to do!
Firstly, I check into my hotel. I stayed at the Hotel de Paris, which is located right on the clifftops overlooking the pier. I chose the hotel mainly for its views and specifically requested a room with a sea view. The hotel itself was built in the 1820s and is a beautiful example of Georgian architecture. Although some of it could do with a little tidying up around the edges, it still holds a good deal of its charm. All in all, at £100 for two nights including breakfast, and with a stunning sea view, I could hardly complain. Also, the room was a twin room so if you were splitting between two it would be an absolute bargain!
As I said, I mainly chose the hotel for its location. This is because it is right in the heart of Cromer. It is a few minutes’ walk from the high street, pier, and beach, which is really what visiting Cromer is all about. As it was a bit of a gloomy day, once I had settled into my hotel I headed to the Regal Movieplex to catch a film. This cinema is incredibly quaint and the screens still have red drapes covering them which are pulled back for the films, as well as a piano at the front of the auditorium for playing songs to accompany silent films.
There are plenty of other indoor activities to do in Cromer – you could visit the Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum; an interesting and interactive exhibition telling the story of one of Cromer’s most famous lifeboatmen, including a full-size lifeboat. You could also visit the lifeboat station at the end of the pier and view the modern-day lifeboat (if you’re lucky you might get to see it being launched). There are plenty of shops on the high street from standard high street fashion brands to cute boutiques and trinket stores for all your souveneirs. You could also visit the Cromer museum located just around the corner from the beautiful Cromer Parish church in the center of town.
Following a rather soggy potter around the shops, I headed out to find something to eat. There are plenty of great choices for food in Cromer. If traditional is what you’re after then I would recommend Mary Jane’s for fish and chips – eat in or take-away. For seafront views, No.1 Cromer also does brilliant fish and chips, as well as having a sit-down seafood restaurant with views out over the pier. There are a number of restaurants offering different cuisines such as Indian and Thai. The Red Lion, The King’s Head, and The Wellington are all pubs offering decent food and a nice atmosphere. I headed for Lily Mai’s, a relatively new restaurant which was a stone’s throw from my hotel and right on the seafront – so great views once again. The food was decent and well priced, and the staff were friendly and attentive – I would recommend it for a casual dining experience.
After dinner, I went for a quick stroll along the seafront. It really is beautiful with the pier lit up and I managed to get some lovely shots of the hotel from the beach as well. There’s something very calming about the sound of the sea and it brought a lovely close to a lovely first day.
Day 2 – Spending the day in nature
Luckily, the weather brightened up significantly for the second day so I decided to make the most of it and head out to catch the sunrise. Turning right if you are facing the pier, you can stroll along the beach for some distance towards the curve in the headland. This proved the perfect stroll for catching the sun rising over the ocean. At this point, there is a choice to either continue along the beach or climb up to the clifftop where the town leads into Warren woods – a natural area of woodland at the top of the cliffs. Following the edge of the cliff, I made my way towards the headland to watch the sun come up, the views were absolutely breathtaking and I couldn’t recommend a better spot for your morning coffee!
After strolling back towards the town, I had a lovely full English breakfast in the hotel, then headed out for my second walk of the day. Cromer is surrounded by some really beautiful National Trust and English Heritage sites. There are a number of stately homes which you can visit, many of which have stunning gardens to accompany them and many a nature reserve to spot some wildlife. To name just a few: Felbrigg Hall, Holkham Hall, Blickling Estate, Blakeney Nature Reserve, Sheringham Park, and Baconsthorpe Castle.
I decided to head to Blickling Estate and have a walk around the grounds. The grounds are free to enter although there is a fee for the car park, if you wish to enter the house and gardens, you will have to purchase a ticket (at time of writing, November 2020, you must book tickets in advance due to COVID-19). The grounds provide a number of routes that are achievable for any level of walker, although some routes would be difficult with a pushchair or wheelchair. Along the walk, you can see the beautiful lake, many woodland areas, and the striking Mausoleum built for the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire and his wives.
After my walk, it was time for a spot of lunch. Again, Cromer has a wealth of coffee shops and cafes, perfect for a spot of lunch. My personal favorite is the Rocket House Café which sits atop the Henry Blogg Museum and has panoramic windows for views over the ocean, and a balcony with seating if the weather is good. It also has an ever-changing seasonal menu full of fresh, local ingredients, and a very friendly staff!
After lunch, I met some family for a spot of Paddleboarding at the Mike Thurston Water Activities Centre. This is a few miles outside of Cromer but offers a whole host of water-based activities. If you’d rather stick to the sea, Glide Surf School also offers paddleboarding as well as surfing and a range of other water activities in the sea!
Following an exhilarating but admittedly wet and cold experience, I headed back to the hotel to dry off and warm up! After a busy and tiring day, I decided to hunker down in my hotel room and order a pizza, because why not?
Day 3 – Exploring nearby Holt
Unfortunately, the weather was once again not on my side for my final day in Cromer. Luckily, I still got up for the sunrise and I had a couple of hours of decent sunshine before the clouds and rain rolled in. Today, I decided to head the other way, and go left along the seafront. This way takes you further into the town, to begin with, and is where such seaside excitement such as arcades, funfairs, and ice cream parlors can be found. Carrying on along the beachfront, there are some quaint beach huts before you must decide to again climb the clifftops or continue along the beach. I decided to climb the cliffs to keep my eye on another stunning sunrise.
Carrying on along the clifftops in this direction, you can join the Norfolk coastal path which continues along the cliffs for approximately 80 miles and reaches as far as Hunstanton. Obviously, I did not venture quite this far but stuck close to the town. As you move out of the town at this end there are some lovely ornamental gardens, perfect to stroll through or take a pew for some quiet contemplation. Right at the top of the cliffs, you can find an interactive mini-exhibition which tells about the pre-history of Cromer and the fossils which have been found here.
Instead of having the hotel breakfast, I decided to jump in the car and head to the nearby town of Holt to find a brunch spot. Holt is a historic Georgian town situated slightly inland from Cromer. It boasts some beautiful architecture and a huge array of quaint courtyards filled with shops and cafes. A good way to see the town is to follow the Holt Owl Trail. This is a series of plaques that lead you on a tour of the town and make sure you don’t miss any of the hidden gems.
Whilst following the owl trail, it really started to rain, so I ducked into the lovely Owl Tea Rooms (supposedly the oldest tea room in Norfolk) for a spot of brunch. This was a lovely little café which also had a delicatessen and bakery attached with an array of takeaway goodies. I enjoyed a rather indulgent brunch of American Style Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Bacon, but it was incredibly difficult to choose from the range of options – I had to talk myself out of having a cream tea for pudding!
Following a little more wandering around the shops, it was time to head home. I really enjoyed experiencing Cromer from a new perspective and it has been further cemented in my memory as a beautiful location in any season. If visiting in the summer, you will have the added bonus of being able to experience some of the vast sandy beaches of the area. Cromer itself has a good expanse of beach in both directions but I would recommend tripping down the coast to Mundesley for a truly beautiful beach, or further, along the coast, Wells-next-the-sea has an equally stunning seafront.
If you have any questions or would like advice on planning a trip to Cromer, let us know in the comments below, or drop us an email at [email protected]