Norfolk is a fantastically relaxing choice for a break, and if you’re thinking of going away with a few friends then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a few activities lined up to make your holiday even more memorable. We’ve put together a list of our best activities for grown ups in Norfolk, ranging from boating on the Broads to horticultural excursions to taking in a bit of art to sharpen and inspire your mind. Our range of holiday homes and cottages in Norfolk is equally inspiring, so make sure you take a look if you and your friends are thinking of visiting!
1. Browse art from around the world at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
One of the best art galleries in Norfolk combines engaging touring exhibitions with a vast and beautifully presented permanent collection. The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, or SCVA, is owned by the University of East Anglia and is designed to showcase the creativity of humans from 5,000 years of civilisation. The open planned warehouse creates a light and spacious arena for displaying art from every inhabited continent, as well as displays dedicated to ceramics and contemporary abstract works. Alongside these permanent exhibits, the SCVA also hosts touring exhibitions which can cover a broad range of topics with everything from a spotlight on Art Nouveau to displays on traditional Fijian artwork. As such, there is always something new, interesting and unexpected to see at the galleries.
Location: University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ
Book: Online at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
2. Hop between bars on the Norwich Pub Tours
The old streets of Norwich’s historical centre house a number of excellent drinking establishments, all of which demand to be visited. Thankfully, the team behind Norwich Pub Tours are happy to accommodate this, and can take you round all of the city’s finest watering holes. This is not merely an exercise in boozing, however; the local guides will share anecdotes about the history of the city and spend a whole afternoon regaling you with stories about these old inns. It packs in everything you could want from a tour, with a bit of learning woven in with sightseeing, good conversation and time spent with friends as you sip your way through several locally brewed beers.
Location: 45A Duke Street | Steps of City Hall, NorwichNR2 1NH, England
Book: Online at Norwich Pub Tours or call 07456453632
3. While away hours on the waterways with Norfolk Broads River Trips
Cruise along the network of waterways that wind through the green fields of the Norfolk Broads for a truly relaxing, effort-free afternoon where absolutely nothing will be required of you and your friends except turning up. Live commentary is provided as you drift lazily through the landscape, enjoying a drink from the on-board bar or simply watching the water roll by. For a more private experience, you can hire one of the company’s smaller vessels out for the afternoon so you can explore at your own leisure. Up to eight people can fit in one of their standard boats, so take the opportunity for a group excursion into otherwise unreachable parts of the countryside. Considering packing a picnic to enjoy once you reach your destination.
Location: The Bridge, Wroxham, Norfolk, England, NR12 8RX
4. Tee off at Glen Lodge
Norfolk’s undulating greenery and plentiful waterways are the ideal landscape for evergreen golf courses; Glen Lodge is one of the best. Two different courses – one with 18 holes, the other with nine – suit a wide range of golfing handicaps and feature panoramic views of the Yare Valley. The longer, 72-par course offers hours of relaxing entertainment. For those who don’t take the sport quite as seriously as others, Glen Lodge also offers the Congo Rapids Adventure Golf course for shorter putting sessions. End your day in the stylish clubhouse with a glass of wine or something from the à la carte menu.
Location: Marlingford Rd, Bawburgh NR9 3LU
Book: Call 01603 740404
5. Make feathered friends with Happisburgh Owls
If you’ve ever cooed over a viral video of an owl, then you’ll love this! Happisburgh Owls have an impressive collection of the creatures, ranging from the regal to the strange. The beautiful white plumage of snowy owls will be a familiar sight for many avian enthusiasts, but birds like the Asian Brown Wood Owl and the Northern White Faced Owl will perhaps be less well-known. On a visit to the sanctuary you can have a go at holding the magnificent creatures yourself and learn from the passionate experts about the life and diet of these special birds. Book a private visit for a personal experience with more owl time.
Location: Northwalsham Garden Centre Northwalsham, Norwich Rd, Norwich NR28 0DR
Book: Call 01692-651501
6. Breathe in the smells of Norfolk Lavender
Step into the powerfully scented purple fields of Norfolk’s lavender farms and you’d be forgiven for thinking, for a moment, that you have been transported to an abbey in Provence. The farm is open year-round but summer is prime time as the fields burst into colour. After, your group can whiz around the distillery where the distinctive fragrance is extracted from the plants for perfumes and soaps. Anyone who fancies themselves a bit of a grow-your-own hobbyist can arrange to have a lavender expert teach them about growing and caring for the flowers, and how to make best use of it. On the same site you can also meet miniature ponies and explore different gardens where bamboo, herbs and other colourful flowers sprout.
Location: Caley Mill, Norfolk Lavender, Lynn Rd, Heacham PE31 7JE
Book: Call 01485 570384
7. Float through the city centre with the Norwich Punting Co.
Gather your group of friends for a bout of punting on the River Wensum. This traditional form of boating is one of the best ways to spend a summer’s afternoon. It involves using a long pole to push off from the riverbed and propel you along at gentle speeds. Let a personal chauffeur do all the hard work as you relax in the cushioned seating and enjoy watching the city drift by. Look out for sights like St. James’ Mill, an imposing throwback to the industrial revolution, and the medieval artillery fortress of Cow Tower. Of course, you can’t leave without having a try at punting yourself – just make sure you don’t drop the pole!
Location: 42 St Georges St, Norwich NR3, UK
Book: Call 078 100 478 45
There’s loads to do and explore in Norfolk, and if you’re thinking of visiting you’ll want to talk to our helpful concierge team – they can narrow down your search for you and answer any questions you’ve got about your accommodation! Need more inspiration? Why not take a look at our articles on best family activities in Norfolk, the best family activities in Norfolk if you’re planning a celebration or, if you’re travelling with kids, 7 best family activities in Norfolk.