This 7 day Norfolk Broads boating holiday itinerary is ideal for first-timers and shows the breadth of what the Broads offers. There is plenty of opportunity to explore both on and off the boat, and experiences that will surprise and delight you.
Day 1 – Wroxham and Salhouse Broad
The two villages of Wroxham and Hoveton sit on either side of the River Bure. They are bustling hubs full of places to eat and shop and are often referred to as the capital of the Broads.
Tip:- Visit the Broads Visitor Centre on Station Road, Hoveton, NR12 8UR. It is open from April to October and has information and displays about Hoveton and the Broads.
The restaurant and stunning waterside terrace of the Hotel Wroxham are open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Watch the hustle and bustle of the day as the day boats navigate the bridge and people arrive for their river trips. The best time to book is early and enjoy breakfast on the terrace overlooking the water.
After breakfast, return to the boatyard and follow the River Bure south out of Wroxham, taking in the pretty riverside properties along the way. After about 30 minutes of gentle cruising, you will come across Salhouse Broad, with plenty of moorings available. Salhouse Broad is a place of outstanding natural beauty where you can explore on foot using the natural boardwalks through the woods. Alternatively, you can hire a canoe or paddleboard here for an hour or so. If you do not feel like a walk or paddleboarding, you can take a more relaxed approach and watch everyone else from the boat.
If you’re feeling energetic, you can cruise to Hoveton Great Broad and discover some natural Broadland wilderness at one of Britain’s finest National Nature Reserves. Hoveton Great Broad Nature Trail can only be reached by boat. The trail promises a peaceful hour-long stroll around this isolated island reserve. Note no dogs are permitted on this trail or at the moorings for this trail (except Guide Dogs).
If you are a little hot after your expedition, watch for the ice cream boat. Please give them a wave, and the boat will come to you. As supper time approaches, you might be tempted to sample a pint and a pie at Woodfords Brewery and the Fur and Feather Inn. Their award winning real ales and home cooked food are a Norfolk Institution. Visit early for a brewery tour, and remember to take a torch if you are walking back in the dark after an evening meal.
Day 2 – Head to Horning
After a leisurely breakfast aboard, continue your journey south along the River Bure for about half an hour to the pretty village of Horning. There are several places to moor either side of the river (and a foot ferry you can hail on 07393 458682 for a lift to the other side of the river). https://www.horningfootferry.co.uk/
Top Tip Horning does get very busy at the height of the season, and moorings can be in short supply. Barnes Brinkcraft is a Broads Hire Boat Federation member and has a reciprocal arrangement with other member hire boatyards. If they have room, you can moor in their marinas free of charge. Members in Horning include Ferry Marina and Horning Pleasure Craft.
Horning is full of riverside houses, pubs, restaurants and shops. It’s a stunning iconic Broads waterside location with many places to sit back, relax and watch the world go by. You may also catch sight of sailing regattas held at the weekends from Horning Sailing Club. Book a paddleboarding session with Go Paddle if you’d like to try something a little more energetic whilst at Horning (and you haven’t packed your own or hired one of ours). They provide beginner sessions for adults and children of all ages.
The Norfolk Broads is probably the last place you would expect to find the country’s only original Cold War Operations Room. It’s now a fascinating, award-winning museum providing comprehensive insights into how the Cold War was managed from this extensive underground bunker. The walk from Horning to Neatihead is well worth it. The museum is open from April onwards. https://www.radarmuseum.co.uk/
Day 3 – Potter in Potter Heigham
Potter Heigham is set right in the heart of the Broads. No visit would be complete without a visit to Lathams of Potter Heigham – an Aladdin’s cave, stocking fishing tackle, food and all sorts of things. Heigham Bridge is currently undergoing renovation. This may prevent even smaller boats from popping under the bridge and getting through to Hickling broad this season.
You can, however, enjoy a circular walk around the nature reserve on the “far” side of the bridge towards Hickling, keep an eye out for Cranes and an ear out for the Bittern’s boom. Mooring at Thurn Mill Dyke for the evening might be a good choice. You may even recognise this much photographed white mill. It has featured in some fantastic photographs of Norfolk’s big skies. At the end of the dyke you’ll find The Lion, a very popular multi-award-winning pub.
Day 4 – Meander up the River Ant, experience history and nature in perfect harmony
After breakfast, get your cameras out and ready to grab a picture of the remains of the 9th century and much photographed St Bennets Abby. We’d recommend looking at the Norfolk Archeological Trusts website, which provides a handy guide to this intriguing site. Once you have completed your exploration, travel up the River Ant, where you will encounter a narrower river and your first bridge at Ludham. You can find a reminder of how to navigate a bridge safely in your skipper’s handbook or on your Barnes Brinkcraft App. There is an excellent bakery at the bridge and stores available to stock up on supplies, plus a pump out station and the Dog Inn is a short walk away from the moorings.
Having safely navigated the bridge, you will find Toad Hole Cottage Museum – a tiny house providing information about a marsh man’s life. While there, enjoy a walk through the spectacular secret gardens at How Hill and get beautiful vistas across the Broads.
Returning to the boat, continue past Irstead and into Barton Broad, the second largest Broad in the Broads National Park. It’s a beautiful and wild environment and one of our favourite places to “mud Weight” overnight. Alternatively, Moor up at Gay Staithe or Neatishead Staithe – both are within walking distance of Neatishead’s shop and pub, which are well worth a visit. If you missed visiting the Cold War Museum earlier and are moored at Neatishead Staithe, the museum is just a short walk away.
Top Tip – Mud Weighting is when you drop the mud anchor on the front of the boat over the side. The weight holds the boat in position. Choose a spot away from the main channel and the reed beds, and make sure it is not too windy. It’s a magical way of spending the night afloat away from the shoreline.
Day 5 – Visit Stalham and the Museum of the Broads
Before leaving your overnight moorings, enjoy a walk around the Neatishead Boardwalk, and learn more about this Broad and the environment before taking your boat to Stalham. Stalham is a small market town with interesting shops, including a Tesco and several pubs for evening meals.
At Stalham, you can also pop into the Museum of the Broads, where you can spend a couple of hours learning about living and working in the Broads. Excellent displays tell stories about Vikings, marsh men, boatbuilders, and even early holidaymakers.
Day 6 – Sleep overnight on Barton Broad, ramble around Ranworth
Almost the end of your holiday. We suggest a leisurely start through Barton Broad and down the River Ant, with a stop off for lunch or afternoon Tea at Ranworth Broad. There is a newly opened restaurant called the Granary on the Staithe, and the Maltsters Pub welcomes boating customers. Still, my favourite thing to do here is to burn off some energy by climbing up Ranworth Church Tower and taking in the panoramic views across the broads, a great picture-taking opportunity.
You can also have a good look around the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Broads Wildlife Centre.
You have a choice then – It’s a 2-hour cruise back to our boatyard, so you could get up early to make sure you’re back in the boatyard for 9 am or pootle back that evening, so you are almost within shouting distance of the yard that evening. My favourite spot is mud weighting on Wroxham Broad or on the river moorings by Wroxham or Salhouse Broad – away from anyone who isn’t on the water.
Day 7 – Return to where it all started
Taking those lasting memories away with you forever.
We wish you a bon voyage home.