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  • Writer's pictureLynne McConway

5 top tips for visiting Cromer, Norfolk

A tranquil seaside town and perfect, easy weekend getaway from London



Cromer, on the North East coast of Norfolk, is described as the ‘Gem of the Norfolk Coast’. Originally a fishing village and now a traditional British seaside resort, it's a quiet, pleasant town with winding old streets lined with pastel-coloured stone fishermen’s houses and a long, sandy beach. Fishing still exists in the area with crab now the main catch for local fishermen. For that reason, crab is a staple of many of the local eateries. 


I spent two nights in an Airbnb in the town in late June travelling around three hours on a train from London Liverpool Street with one change at Norwich- it’s therefore an easy weekend break from London. 


The town is perched above the beach on chalk cliffs with dramatic views the length of the coast and along the pier. Steps and ramps access is available for pedestrians and cars making it really easy to get down to the beach.


Eating

Unsurprisingly, fish and chips dominate the town with the restaurant, No.1 Cromer, perched on the cliff overlooking the pier. It's a popular haunt for tourists and locals alike. Takeaway is available but there is also a casual restaurant with expansive views from the window seats across the sea. 


We ordered cod and chips and scampi and chips - both of which were generous portions. The chips in particular were delicious and both meals were well worth the price of around £16. Service was quick, friendly and efficient too - highly recommended.


Further into the town but only a few minutes walk from No 1 Cromer is their main competitor: Mary Jane’s.  Honestly, there wasn’t much between them in terms of service, quality of food and size of portions but, if you want to sit in and not have takeaway, that’s where No 1 just pips them. Mary Jane’s restaurant is smaller and feels a little more cramped.


You might be stuffed full after fish and chips but you can’t visit the seaside without having ice-cream, can you? I had a few recommendations, including a small shop called Ronaldo’s which is down on the promenade but decided to try Harris & James, across the road from Mary Jane’s. 


They have a wide variety of desserts such as donuts and churros but it was the extensive gelato flavours I was here for. I chose my usual flavour - salted caramel - and was glad I did. I had one scoop which was huge and tasted absolutely delicious.


Drinking

There are a few pubs and bars dotted around the town centre. The Red Lion pub sits on the cliff edge overlooking the sea and pier and has a very wide list of craft beers.


It was caffeine I was most keen to try, though. Again, there are several coffee shop options spread through the centre and along the beachfront. I visited two places that were very different but a stone’s throw from each other.


North Sea Coffee is a takeaway coffee shop at the end of a line of small shops and cafes. Four sets of tables and chairs lined the beach wall for customers and, with a delicious coffee in hand, I sat and soaked up the early morning sun with a view down to the low-tide beach and over to the pier.


Further along the promenade, a large yellow building houses the RNLI museum and, on the first floor, is the Rocket House cafe. With a terrace with seating or a wonderful view at the window tables, the cafe is a lovely spot to sit if you need to hide from the rain as we did. They have a breakfast and lunch menu which is reasonably priced.


Things to do

The main attraction is the beach which stretches East towards Overstrand and West to Sheringham. It’s a mainly sandy beach with a few rows of brightly coloured beach huts. The water is cold but, once you’re in and acclimatised, it's refreshing and lovely. 


You get to appreciate the length of the promenade and the height of the cliffs from the sea as well as the grandeur of the old Hotel de Paris with its prominent position on the cliff above the pier.


If swimming in the North Sea doesn’t appeal, there’s a fun 18-hole mini-golf course called Crabstix near to the No 1 Cromer restaurant. There’s a nautical theme and some knotty obstacles that you can avoid for an easier round! Prices are £7.50 for 13+ and £6.50 up to 12 years old. 


Art galleries and craft shops are dotted throughout the town centre with paintings and crafts made by artists depicting local scenes and sealife. I walked a little further out of the very centre of town to The Gallery Norfolk. It’s a large shop with several options including sketches, ceramics, prints and framed paintings. The prices aren’t cheap but the standard of art is high and well worth the investment. 


I can’t go anywhere without finding a bookshop, of course! In Cromer, Bookworms is the main second hand bookshop in the town centre. It’s a treasure trove of books with many genres available, all at very reasonable prices.


I hope you are feeling inspired to visit this delightful seaside town. If you are, my last recommendation would be to try and stay at the Airbnb we stayed at. 


It’s listed as ‘A Stone’s Throw’ and is just a few minutes walk from the town centre and all the main attractions. It's a large, beautifully decorated two-bed flat and has every amenity available - including beach towels and mat and a pile of buckets and spades for the kids. It really felt like a home from home and, to be clear, this isn't an advert or a sponsored stay. I paid for the flat and, in my smugness at a great choice, am keen to share with everyone!


Let me know in the comments if you go to Cromer and, most importantly, which fish and chip shop you preferred!


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