Great Yarmouth has been a seaside resort since 1760 and remains a popular holiday destination more than 250 years later. This is largely thanks to its unique location at the mouth of the River Yare, sandwiched between the huge golden sand beaches of the east coast and the idyllic waterways of the Norfolk Broads.
The River Yare is the gateway between the Broads and the North Sea, meaning Great Yarmouth can offer both the jaunty amusements of seaside and Golden Mile on one side and the pastoral tranquillity of the Broads’ lakes and marshlands on the other.
In summer, the classic Victorian resort comes to life and its promenade and beaches are awash with visitors keen to make the most of the sunshine.
There is a huge range of family-friendly activities to enjoy. We thought we’d help you start planning the school holidays by offering our top tips for summer fun in Great Yarmouth.
Explore the beaches
As well as Great Yarmouth central beach, overlooked by the town itself and buzzing with activity, there are more than 15 miles of less populated sandy beaches stretching uninterrupted, the length of the Greater Yarmouth area. The wide clean beaches extend from Winterton-on-Sea in the north, past sand dunes and esplanades to Hopton-on-Sea in the south, with each area boasting its own distinct character.
The gently sloping sands create a huge expanse of shallow water, perfect for family-friendly swimming with the clean bathing waters rated ‘excellent’ by the Environment Agency. If you are really lucky you might even find some amber around the high tide mark, carried onto the beaches by currents from the Baltic.
The Imperial Hotel is perfectly located above the soft sands of the North Beach with stunning views out to sea, making it an ideal place from which to explore the coastline.
All the fun of the fair
No trip to a British seaside resort would be complete without a fairground ride, some candy floss and crazy golf. Happily, Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile has it all, from the white-knuckle rollercoasters of the Pleasure Beach and the gentler kid-friendly rides of Joyland to garish amusement arcades, food stalls, crazy golf and even a model village set in an acre of landscaped gardens with a model railway running through it.
The Golden Mile runs between the town’s two piers, Britannia Pier in the north with its traditional end of the pier funfair, stalls and theatre while Wellington Pier in the south offers a family entertainment zone with a ten-pin bowling alley and a large amusement arcade.
Meander down the magnificent Victorian promenade that stretches pier to pier and soak up the atmosphere, sights and sounds of this historic resort.
Seal spotting and bird watching
Boats take visitors from Great Yarmouth out to Scroby Sands, a sandbank just 1.6 miles off the Norfolk coast in the North Sea, which is home to a large grey seal colony. Boats can motor very close to the basking seals, offering amazing views. Up to 4000 seals have been recorded on the sandbank which is also home to a huge population of cormorants, making it a real wildlife haven.
For bird enthusiasts, the Norfolk Broads National Park is the largest protected wetland in the UK and is teeming with rare birds such as booming bitterns, bearded tits, crested grebes and marsh harriers. Go for a walk, cycle or boat ride to Breydon Water, just downriver from Great Yarmouth and have your binoculars ready.
If you need to get the kids expending some excess energy why not have a go at one of the many water sports on offer from rowing, canoeing and paddle boarding to sailing and motorboat hire – or just enjoy a swim. With the sea on one side and the winding inland waterways of the Norfolk Broads on the other, Great Yarmouth is the perfect place to take to the water in whatever style suits best. If the weather turns against you, don’t worry, you can head to the seafront Marina Centre for a dip in the tropical pool.
If you prefer more land-based fun, you can rent a bike and go for a cycle, try out horse riding or have a laugh while roller skating, trampolining and bowling. Alternatively, dig out your racket for a game of tennis or head to the beach for some volleyball. Whatever your favourite sporting activity, Great Yarmouth has something for everyone.
For those after a more relaxed pace of activity, Great Yarmouth sits at the centre of a network of wonderful walking routes enabling visitors to explore the Broads and the amazing Norfolk coastline on foot with plenty of lovely rural pubs to stop for refreshment.
A day at the zoo
Just 15 minutes’ drive from Great Yarmouth is Thringby Hall Wildlife Gardens, a 250-year-old landscaped garden that is home to an exotic array of Asian mammals, birds and reptiles including tigers, snow leopards and crocodiles. A network of raised walkways over the enclosures offers visitors amazing views of the beautiful creatures below.
For those more captivated by the aquatic side of life, Great Yarmouth Sealife Centre provides an incredible insight into the mysterious underwater world with its great variety of wildlife from starfish and seahorses to sharks and Humbolt penguins. There are talks and feeding demonstrations throughout the day, so you can even learn a thing or two about life in the deep.
Walk back in time
Great Yarmouth has a rich and varied history with the second most complete medieval town wall in England, with 11 out of 16 of the original towers still standing. The town’s architecture itself represents a diverse mix of eras, some dating back hundreds of years, while Roman ruins can be seen at nearby Burgh Castle and at Caister-on-Sea.
There are six museums to explore in the town including the Time & Tide Museum which tells the story of Great Yarmouth to the present day and the National Trust owned Elizabethan House Museum as well as guided heritage walks which explore the town’s maritime history and past industries. Norfolk born Admiral Lord Nelson was a frequent visitor to Great Yarmouth and the town’s Nelson Museum is dedicated to telling his life story.
Clustered around Great Yarmouth are several picturesque villages with Medieval churches and historic pubs where you can combine history with a refreshing pint in the sunshine. Perfect.
At the end of a long day of sight-seeing, sun worshipping, sea bathing and more, return to the luxurious comfort of the Imperial Hotel. Here you can reward yourself with a delicious dinner at our AA Rosette restaurant Café Cru or admire the sea views from The Terrace before collapsing into bed and falling asleep to the sound of the sea.