Norfolk and Suffolk beaches named some of the best in the UK

With the weather only getting sunnier and warmer each week now, many will be thinking about getting away for the day.

With restrictions having eased significantly last week, many are now heading to the seaside. With socialising still limited to outside only, the beach is a perfect place to catch up with family or friends, and have a day away from the house as well.

Cambridgeshire famously doesn’t have any beaches, but neighbouring Norfolk and Suffolk have plenty. But which ones should you visit? And which are worth avoiding?

We’ve rounded up all of Norfolk and Suffolk’s beaches that were listed in Conde Nast Traveller’s best beaches in the UK below:

Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Aldeburgh, Suffolk
(Image: coastalrunner/iStockphoto)

The fishing village of Aldeburgh is a firm favourite. It’s arguably got the best fish and chips in the UK, there are lots of shopping opportunities (we recommended the Aldeburgh Book Shop and Slate Cheese) and it has beautiful views as well.

The fishing village is absolutely beautiful and alongside the pebble beach has been popular with writers, composers and other artsy types for decades.

You can read more about Aldeburgh here.

Brancaster, Norfolk

Sunlight on the dunes at Brancaster Beach on the North Norfolk Coast with Scolt Head Island in the background
(Image: Getty Images)

Pretty much the whole stretch of the Norfolk coast that faces north across the Wash is beautiful, and in fact protected areas of natural beauty.

Brancaster is popular because it is a little more low-key than other parts of the North Norfolk coast. There is literally miles and miles of flat golden sand at low tide and so is perfect for dog walkers during the summer months.

Brancaster beach is also interesting because of the wreck of S.S. Vina which peeks out of the sand and which the RAF now sometimes use as target practice.

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There’s also the incredible Crab Hut at the car park which has delicious freshly caught lobster and crab, perfect for an evening meal or even a lunch snack.

Keeping an eye on the tides is more important at Brancaster, as it can be easy to get cut off, as often the tides come in through channels behind people, and are notoriously strong here.

Southwold, Suffolk

Beach Huts at Southwold
(Image: Getty Images)

Southwold is the quintessential East Coast beach town, rows of brightly painted beach huts line the promenade, a classical lighthouse stands tall above the town, and directly beneath it, the pier juts out into the sea.

The town is also famous as the home of the Adnams brewery, and locals can tell where the brewing cycle is based on different beer smells close to the brewery. In more normal times there is also a tour of the brewery and the gin distillery.

The town is full of Adnams pubs and quaint tearooms and has some very good fish and chips.

You can read our guide to Southwold here.

Walberswick, Suffolk

(Image: Cambridge News)

South of Southwold is the grassy dune-backed Walberswick beach. It’s popular because it’s sandy and often much quieter than other beaches. The dunes also give it a more wild feeling.

It’s very popular for crabbing and has even been dubbed the crabbing capital of the UK.

You can find more things to do in your local area in the widget below:

There is just a short walk between Walberswick and Southwold that involves getting the ferry across a river. People often like to park in Southwold, make the short walk to Walberswick and then come back at the end of the day for fish and chips before heading home.

Those looking for a meal out during their visit to Walberswick should try the Anchor in the village. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and has lovely views across the sea. The pub also has bedrooms for guests to stay in, once restrictions allow.

Holkham, Norfolk

Holkham Bay Dunes pictured on a summer evening on the North Norfolk Coast

Another huge Norfolk beach, Holkham is famous for the most glorious sunsets that bathe the entire area in warm golden light, from the pine woods and grassy sand dunes behind the beach right down to the shore.

Holkham is part of the Holkham estate, and so is a protected nature reserve which does mean barbeques and fires aren’t allowed here.

The nearest village is Wells-next-the-Sea, which has a lovely beach café.

Dunwich, Suffolk

The view from Dunwich Cliffs looking northwards towards Walberswick and Southwold, Suffolk Coast
(Image: Getty Images / Jon Gibbs)

Surrounded by tall cliffs that hold a dark secret Dunwich is also one of the more wild parts of the Suffolk coast.

Hundreds of years ago the town of Dunwich was a thriving port, but after repeated storms, most of the houses, shops and churches crumbled into the sea after the cliffs collapsed. They say at high tide you can still hear the church bells ring from old Dunwich.

There’s now a tiny museum that tells the tale, as well as a child-friendly café and charming pub The Ship.

Hunstanton, Norfolk

Hunstanton
(Image: Peter Spaxman)

For those looking for a more vibrant seaside experience then ‘Sunny Hunny’ could be your answer.

The town has everything that seaside resorts should have, from a candy-striped helter-skelter and pony rides to crabbing and acres and acres of golden sand.

Of course Covid restrictions have slightly toned down the town’s atmosphere and put a stop to some of its attractions, but the pristine sand stays ever the same.

You can also head a little further north to Old Hunstanton which returns back to the rugged and more low-key atmosphere iconic with the East Coast.

Cromer, Norfolk

Cromer beach with its recognisable pier on the skyline
(Image: Cambridge News / Ryszard Ochotny)

Cromer is a more traditional seaside option compared to Hunstanton complete with puppet shows, a fun fair and the beautiful Cromer beach.

The town sits on the cliffs above the beach, and in the summer firework displays take place over the sea.

The town is particularly famous for its crabs, for both eating and catching in the rock pools. The town is also well known for its fish and chips.

Sheringham, Norfolk

Dawn light shining on a row of beach huts along the seafront at Sheringham.
Dawn light shining on a row of beach huts along the seafront at Sheringham.
(Image: Getty Images/Jon Gibbs)

Much like Cromer Sheringham is a charming little seaside town.

It’s known for its local produce and is also a popular romantic retreat for couples because it retains its traditional seaside town atmosphere.

Like all these Norfolk towns, the beaches are vast, serene and totally pristine.

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