Best Norfolk boat trips and tours
Norfolk is home to many rare chalk-fed rivers; a rare thing internationally speaking, with just over 220 across the world. These exceptional ecosystems provide a habitat haven for a large variety of fauna and flora to thrive.
These include the otter, brown trout, starwort, and white-clawed crayfish, as well as the wonderful birdlife such as the instantly recognisable great crested grebe and the bittern, one of the rarest breeding birds in the UK. Norfolk’s rivers feed into the many watercourses of the expansive Norfolk Broads, the River Wensum of Norwich and out to sea via the county’s beautiful coastline. One of Britain’s flatter counties, Norfolk is quite simply a watery place, so what better way to explore all this water than by boat? Whether it’s the grandeur of a southern-style double-deck paddle boat, the elegance of a single-sailed wherry boat, or simply a pub-side canoe that ahem… floats your boat, we’ve got the best Norfolk boat trips for you.
1. Norfolk Wherry Trust, Ludham
With more miles of navigable waterway than Venice, boat trips on the Norfolk Broads are always ones of discovery. The Norfolk Broads National Park is best explored on the back of a boat, and no boat better to do that on than the Broads’ native boat – the wherry. Instantly recognisable from their single large black gaff sails, these boats have wide, shallow bottoms with keels, designed specifically for navigating the Broads.
While many of these wherries were sunk to strengthen riverbanks, there are still some left in operation which are now used as pleasure boats and are available for boat hire in Norfolk. There is nothing quite like the birdlife and beautiful countryside of Britain’s largest protected wetland so as you slip along, listen out for a booming bittern or catch sight of a rare swallowtail, Britain’s largest butterfly. Don’t miss your chance to have a truly unique, nautical experience with a wherry cruise.
2. North Walsham and Dilham Canal Boat Tours
Built in 1926, the North Walsham and Dilham Canal is Norfolk's only sailing canal. Tours of the canal onboard and electric boat embark from Ebridge Mill car park, from where a steerer guides passengers upstream, taking in the wildlife and providing background history of this fascinating waterway.
From its hay day, busy with working wherries, to years left abandoned, to its current period of restoration, the North Walsham and Dilham Canal has a fascinating history that can be discovered on this boat tour. The North Walsham and Dilham Canal Boat Tour is not only the perfect Norfolk boat trip to learn more about the waterway, but also to support the waterway’s ongoing restoration as all the revenue goes towards the trust that restores and operates the canal.
3. Southern Comfort Mississippi Paddle Boat, Horning
Fancy a taste of southern hospitality? Boat trips in the Norfolk Broads don't come much better than this. You'll find bliss on board this traditional double-deck paddle boat purpose built for navigating the waterways of Norfolk.
With a capacity of 100 passengers for public trips or even private hire, the Southern Comfort Mississippi is a luxury river cruiser which runs regular return trips from the beautiful village of Horning, along the River Bure and out to Ranworth Broad. The journey passes lovely, thatched houses, traditional windmills, and gently swaying Norfolk reed beds. On the trip you will receive inciteful commentary on the surroundings and the water birds around at the time.
4. Searles Sea Tours Sea Safari, Hunstanton
The the name is a bit of a tongue twister but this is one of the best Norfolk boat trips out there. Searles Sea Tours run a unique one-hour long seal safari on board an amphibious vessel, Wizzy the Wash Monster. The tour departs from the central promenade in Hunstanton and each tour provides a truly fascinating way of seeing the local seal population.
You’ll also enjoy beautiful coastal panoramic views and discover the local history and fascinating legends around The Wash. The group of Common Seals at the Wash is one of the largest colonies in the UK and possibly even the world with over 3000 animals known to be living there. Don’t forget your camera as this gathering is sure to be a sight to behold!
5. Pub and Paddle, Norwich
Pub and Paddle is a unique way to experience the River Wensum in Norwich. You can find this back-to-nature Norfolk boat trip right in the city centre of the county's capital. Hire one of the Weston Canoes handmade wooden canoes and go for a paddle through Norwich’s beautiful city centre.
There are a number of different routes, depending on how much time you want to spend in the canoe. Paddling through the city centre is an enjoyable and fun experience for a group of friends or it can be a great family day out. There’s no better way to see the sights of historic Norwich and it’s a great excuse to stop at a pub or two on the way!