Ask any guy or girl that grew up in London what their favourite childhood holiday was, and the chances are you’re going to hear Great Yarmouth chucked out there quite a lot.
Believe me, growing up in London myself, it is the first place that springs to mind for me.
Great Yarmouth is a historic and bustling seaside town located on the east coast of England and is the absolute definition of a British seaside resort.
Expect charming Victorian piers and picture-postcard villages: golden sand beaches, rolling sand dunes and enough amusements along the promenade to keep any family going for weeks.
Great Yarmouth is way more than just a quaint beach town though. Draped in history and heritage, you’ll find museums, monuments and old merchant houses dotted throughout the area, and with the Norfolk Broads right on your doorstep, you’re going to have all of the green, open space you need to leave even the most avid of nature lovers happy.
Continue reading to discover all of the unmissable things to do in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, from a boy who spent many a summer holidays in this historic part of England.
Today, Great Yarmouth is known for its long stretch of golden sand beach, historic Victorian buildings and lively atmosphere. However, its history is never far away, and there are plenty of opportunities to learn about its rich past during your visit here.
The Varied History Of Great Yarmouth
The history of Great Yarmouth is a long and fascinating one.
Situated on the East Coast of England, the town has been an important strategic port for centuries due to its prime location and natural resources. The area has been inhabited since the Stone Ages, and evidence of Roman and Viking occupation has been found here on many occasions.
In the Middle Ages, it was one of the largest and most prosperous towns in England and played a major role in trade with the Hanseatic League. The town’s fortunes declined in the 16th century, however, and it was bombarded by the Dutch in 1667.
In the 18th century, Great Yarmouth began to develop as a seaside resort where it was one of the busiest ports in Britain. Great Yarmouth was thriving with life and undergoing rapid and never-ending change.
And by the 19th century, it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain and still is to this day. You only have to visit in August to see for yourself.
Whether you’re interested in exploring its medieval origins or discovering more about its role in the Industrial Revolution, Great Yarmouth is sure to educate, inspire and wow just about anyone who cares to visit.
18 Best things To Do In Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
1. Great Yarmouth Beach – Central Beach
Central Beach is the main Great Yarmouth beach. It’s a wide, sandy beach with plenty of space to sunbathe, paddle in the waves or builds sandcastles with the kids.
It stretches for a massive 15 miles and comes with the added benefits of deck chairs that are available to rent and access ramps for wheelchair users.
The promenade is lined with plenty of cafés, shops and ice cream vans, with all of the arcades, parks and playgrounds any kid could wish for.
2. Pleasure Beach Amusement Park
Most of the tourist attractions, including Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach and Central Beach, sit along the Golden Mile of this stretch of Norfolk.
The Golden Mile stretches from Pleasure Beach on the south side, to the Britannia Pier at the north, and is home to most of the attractions and activities on this list.
Pleasure Beach in Great Yarmouth is Norfolk’s only remaining seaside amusement park and is a great day out for all the family. With 26 different rides and attractions, there’s something here for everyone.
The park is home to some of the most iconic rides in the country, including The Wild Mouse, The Scenic Railway and The Big Wheel.
A trip to Pleasure Beach wouldn’t be complete without a spin on the world-famous Great Yarmouth Wheel, which offers stunning views of the town and surrounding coastline.
Pleasure Beach is open from late March to early November, and you need to book a time slot in advance. The 4-hour time slot means it doesn’t get overcrowded inside the park, so the kids spend more time on the rides and less time queueing, and get unlimited rides within this time.
Entrance Cost: £15 for over 2s / Free for under 2s. Book your tickets from the official website.
Opening Time: Check the official website for ticket availability and opening times
How To Get Here: S Beach Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3EH
3. Time and Tide Museum
The Time and Tide Museum is dedicated to the town’s rich maritime history and is one of the best things to do in Great Yarmouth if you’re interested in learning more about the area and its rich heritage.
The museum is spread over four floors and covers everything from the town’s origins as a fishing village during the stone age to its more recent past as a seaside resort.
There are plenty of interactive exhibits, making it a great day out for families with kids, and the museum also hosts regular events and talks so it’s always worth checking the official website to check what is on.
Insider Tip – Arrive in the last hour and you can nab your entrance ticket for just £2.50
Entrance Cost: Adults £7 / Concession £6.70 / Child (4 – 18) £6
Opening Times: Open daily 10am until 4.30pm
How To Get Here: Blackfriars’ Rd, Great Yarmouth NR30 3BX
4. Hippodrome Circus
The Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth was built back in 1903 and is one of only a handful of surviving Edwardian circuses in the country.
It’s such a unique experience and very in keeping with the retro beach town vibe. The shows vary depending on when you go, but all of them are just as magical.
Don’t just take my word for it though – over 2,700 people have reviewed the Hippodrome Circus where it has a rating of 4.9 out of 5.
The circus still hosts regular shows and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for something a bit different to do. You can learn what is on, timetable and ticket bookings from the official website.
The shows are suitable for all ages and there’s also a bar and restaurant on-site if you fancy grabbing a bite to eat.
Entrance Cost: Prices start from £24 for adults and £15 for children, depending on where your seat is located
How To Get Here: St George’s Rd, Great Yarmouth NR30 2EU
5. Elizabeth House Museum
Sitting on the River Yare, the Elizabeth House Museum is located on the city’s quayside and delivers all of its marvels within a traditional Quaysde house dating back to the Victorian times.
The museum is spread over three floors and covers the history of how things would have been during the Tudor and Victorian times.
Each room is decorated as it would have been in this era, from the bedrooms to the scullery and the kitchen.
It’s not a large museum but there is still plenty to see, so it should take you a little over an hour to get through it all.
There is parking at the rear of the museum if you’re thinking of driving (Pay and Display)
Entrance Cost: Adults £5.40 / Concessions £5.15 / Children (4 – 18) £4.60. Free entry for National Trust Members.
Opening Hours: 10am -4pm Monday – Friday / Closed on weekends. Check opening hours on the official website for more details.
How To Get Here: 4 S Quay, Great Yarmouth NR30 2QH
6. Merrivale Model Village
The Great Yarmouth Model Village & Marine Parade is a popular tourist attraction located in the heart of the Norfolk seaside town right beside the beach.
The model village features a number of miniature replicas of historic buildings and landmarks, as well as a working model railway, waterfalls and little roads.
The model village is open all year round (weather permitting) and makes for a great day out, especially if you have kids.
There’s also an on-site café serving light refreshments (and a mean cup of tea)
It’s one of my favourite things to do in Great Yarmouth, and I still come and visit even now that I am older, whenever I’m around the Norfolk area.
Insider Tip: The best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when it’s not so busy.
Entrance Cost: Adults £8.99 / Disabled £7.99 / OAPs and children (3 – 12) £4.99 / Under 3s go free
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm but times vary. Check the official website opening hours
How To Get Here: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3JG
7. Walk Along Marine Parade
The Marine Parade is home to a number of traditional seaside shops and cafes, as well as an amusement arcade and funfair.
The parade stretches for almost a mile along the seafront, making it the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and soak up the atmosphere of this traditional beach town.
If you want to make a day of it, there are plenty of places to stop for an ice cream or fish and chips along the way to really keep things in line with traditions at this popular English seaside resort.
8. Tolhouse Museums
The Tolhouse Museum is understood to be one of the oldest civil buildings in the UK, and you can find it just to the rear of Great Yarmouth’s central library.
The Tolhouse Gaol dates from the 1200s and began as a home for a wealthy merchant before being taken over by town officials and used as both a court and jail.
The site has seen pirates, smugglers, bandits, witches (accused), and killers over the years, and if the walls could speak, they would be able to tell us some crazy stories from the past 800 years.
Take the audio tour to get a sense of what life was like in England’s historic prisons, and discover some gruesome facts from this haunting building.
You can book your tickets from the official website in advance or you can pay at the door
Entrance Cost: Adults £4.60 / Concessions £4.40 / Children £4
Opening Times: 24th July – 4th September (school holidays)
How To Get Here: 12 Tolhouse St, Great Yarmouth NR30 2SQ
9. Joyland Retro Amusement Park
If you fancy travelling back in time, come and visit this old-school amusement park located just beside Britannia Pier. Joyland was built in 1949, and you can even find some of the original rides and machines inside.
The park has a bit of a nostalgic feel to it and is the perfect place to take the kids for an afternoon of fun. Expect your typical pirate ship rides, rickety rollercoaster, Ferris wheel and not forgetting a ghost train ride
There are plenty of rides to suit younger kids as well as an American diner serving hot food and drink for everyone else not participating.
Insider Tip: Purchase your tickets online in advance to save money. You can also buy a wristband that will give you unlimited rides for the day.
Opening Hours: Open daily from 11am
How To Get Here: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 2DL
10. Explore Great Yarmouth’s Piers
Great Yarmouth has three piers: the historic South Pier, the modern Britannia Pier and the recently-built Wellington Pier. Each pier has its own unique history and identity.
South Pier is the town’s oldest pier, dating back to 1854. It was originally used as a landing stage for steamboats and later became a base for fishermen. Britannia Pier was built in 1858 and was originally used as a landing stage for cross-channel ferries. In recent years, it has been refurbished and now houses a number of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Wellington Pier is the town’s newest pier, having only been built in 2003. It offers a variety of leisure facilities, including an indoor bowling alley and a cinema.
Great Yarmouth’s piers are all unique in their own way and you can’t make a visit to this retro holiday destination without checking out each of the piers. Definitely one of the best things to do in Great Yarmouth whilst you’re here so make sure you get them added to your list.
11. Great Yarmouth Minster
The Great Yarmouth Minster is the Parish Church of Great Yarmouth. The church is dedicated to St Nicholas and is one of the largest parish churches in the country.
The Minster has a long and rich history and has been a place of worship for over 800 years. The current building dates back to the 14th century and was constructed on the site of an earlier church which was destroyed by fire in 1315.
The Minster is a Grade I listed building and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in East Anglia.
The church contains a number of important historical artifacts, including the 15th-century misericords (wooden seats used by monks during services) and the 17th-century pulpit.
The Great Yarmouth Minster is open to visitors all year round and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.
How To Get Here: Church Plain, Great Yarmouth NR30 1NE
12. Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads is a network of rivers, lakes and waterways located in the county of Norfolk, England and is truly a magical place packed full of beautiful spots.
The area covers over 200 square miles and is home to a variety of wildlife, including otters, kingfishers and water voles, so make sure you bring your camera if you’re a keen photographer.
The Broads are popular with tourists and there are a number of ways to explore the area, including by boat, kayak or on foot.
There are a number of boat hire companies located in the Broads which are great fund and makes for a fantastic day trip from Great Yarmouth.
Slowly make your way along the waterways, enjoy the pretty windmills dotted around and moor up at a waterside pub for a spot of food and refreshments.
If you are looking for fun things to do in Great Yarmouth that are active and outdoors, then a visit to the Norfolk Broads is most definitely be on your travel itinerary.
13. Gorleston-on-Sea Beach
Gorleston-on-Sea is a town located just south of Great Yarmouth. The town has a long sandy beach which stretches for over two miles.
The beach is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun in the summer months. The soft golden sand between your toes feels great, so throw out a beach blanket and get settled in for a day of beach fun.
It’s a lot less touristy than its neighbouring Great Yarmouth, making it the perfect beach for when you want to escape the madness for something a little more tranquil.
If you’re getting hungry, you’ll want to check out Jay Jays Cafe just off the beach. There is a long-running tradition of snacks from Jay Jays with every beach day here, it’s pretty famous for it.
How To Get Here: 6 Pier Gardens, Gorleston-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth NR31 6BU
14. Hirsty’s Family Fun Park
Looking for something a little more active for the kids? Hirsty’s Family Fun Park is just 10-minutes north of Great Yarmouth and is the perfect day out for families with young children.
All of the action takes place on the working farm here, where the events are always changing with the seasons. So you might be picking and carving pumpkins in Autumn, or playing around the Mega Maze in the maize field by the time summer comes around.
Hirsty’s Family Fun Park is all interactive and engaging for the kids, with puzzles and mysteries to solve. Not only will they love rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in, but they’ll also come away learning a few things too.
How To Get Here: Hirstys Family Fun Park, Yarmouth Rd, Hemsby NR29 4NL
15. Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens
The Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens are a great place to see a variety of different animals from all over the world and a great place to come and see in Great Yarmouth.
The Gardens are home to primates, reptiles, birds, and mammals, and there is also a butterfly house where you can see some of the most beautiful butterflies in the world.
Maybe you prefer big cats like a Sumatran tiger or many different species of leopard? Yep, they have these too.
The alligators are a particularly popular attraction, and you can even feed them if you’re brave enough.
The staff at the Gardens are very knowledgeable and they’re always happy to answer any questions you have.
The Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens are a great day out for all the family.
Entrance Cost: Adults £16.95 / Child (4 – 16) £12.95 / Seniors £15.95
Opening Times: 10am – 5.30pm
How To Get Here: Filby Rd, Thrigby, Great Yarmouth NR29 3DR
16. Sea Life Great Yarmouth
For anyone that loves the underwater world and marine life, then of course they are going to love a visit to Sea Life in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
The main feature is the Atlantis-themed Ocean Tunnel, which takes visitors through a 250,000-liter tank housing the ocean’s mightiest inhabitants.
Sea Life also has a small colony of Humboldt penguins and a pair of African dwarf crocodiles, in addition to the numerous fish, molluscs, and crustaceans.
At the rockpools, kids will be able to interact with creatures such as sea anemones, crabs, and starfish, learning about species that call the UK’s seas home.
Insider Tip – Buy your tickets online before the day you visit and save money compared with paying on the day!
Entrance Cost: Online price £17.05 / On the day £18.95
Opening Times: 10am – 4pm most days (Check online)
How To Get Here: Marine Parade, Great Yarmouth NR30 3AH
17. Hemsby Beach
Trade the action-packed golden mile for something a little more remote and peaceful.
Hemsby is just a 15-minute drive north of Great Yarmouth. The fine, golden sand beach stretches north as far as Winterton Beach with sweeping sand dunes towering over the beach from the rear.
I remember I used to come to these dunes with snow sledges as a kid and it was so much fun.
Hemsby has all of the amenities you would hope for too, with a cafe just set off the beach and plenty of other bars and restaurants dotted around the town, making it the perfect place to come and see in Great Yarmouth.
18. St George’s Theatre
This is one of the most entertaining things to do in Great Yarmouth if watching live shows and theatre is your vibe.
And even if it’s not, this place might just make it so!
You’ll find all kinds of shows here from pantomime to musicals, and comedy. You can see what’s on here and plan your visit accordingly.
With plenty of variety and all set in a fantastic setting, its a great way to enjoy an evening whilst you’re visiting.
Best Things To Do In Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (England)
- Central Beach
- Pleasure Beach Amusement Park
- Time And Tide Museum
- Hippodrome Circus
- Elizabeth House Museum
- Merrivale Model Village
- Walk Along Marine Parade
- Tolhouse Museums
- Joyland Retro Amusement Park
- Explore Great Yarmouth’s Piers
- Great Yarmouth Minster
- Norfolk Broads
- Gorleston-on-Sea Beach
- Hirsty’s Family Fun Park
- Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens
- Sea Life Great Yarmouth
- Hemsby Beach
- St George’s Theatre
How about an unmissable road trip in the UK?
How is the Great Yarmouth weather?
The weather in Great Yarmouth is usually mild, with temperatures rarely dipping below freezing in winter or exceeding 25 degrees Celsius in summer. However, like all of the UK, the town can be subject to occasional extreme weather conditions. Being on the east coast of England means it sees less rain than those on the west coast, but it can still get quite wet and overcast from Autumn up until the start of summertime.
When is the best time to visit Great Yarmouth?
The best time to visit Great Yarmouth is during the summer months when the weather is warm and sunny. However, there are plenty of things to do in and around Great Yarmouth throughout the whole year but you just may not have the weather on your side.
What are some of the best things to do in Great Yarmouth?
There are plenty of great things to do in Great Yarmouth, from visiting the Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens to exploring the Sea Life Centre. There are also plenty of activities for families and children, such as Hemsby Beach and St George’s Theatre.
What is there to do in Great Yarmouth at night?
There are plenty of things to do in Great Yarmouth at night, from bars and clubs to restaurants and live shows. There is something to suit everyone’s taste, so you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained.