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One of the most rural counties in England dominated by grassy plains, unspoiled beaches, and gentle rivers

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North Norfolk Coast
The Brecks & Thetford Forest
The county of Norfolk actually has one of the largest populations of any county in the UK. But with an area of over 5,000 square kilometres, there's a lot of space to fit everybody into! The result is one of the most rural of England's counties, dominated by grassy plains, unspoiled beaches, and gentle rivers. For all those people looking to get away from their stressful, busy lives, a relaxing trip to Norfolk is often the number one solution.

The beach at Holkham Bay
The county is particularly known for its Broads, a network of rivers and lakes that is the UK's largest protected wetland. There's an endless choice of boats available for hire, from tiny two-person craft, to huge yachts. Once you've got hold of some transport, you're free to explore the 200 kilometres of waterways. How you do it is completely up to you; you can spend your time watching for the Broads' vast array of wildlife, from river birds to butterflies, or you can simply float gently from one village to the next. Walkers will have plenty to do too, with a similarly large amount of pathways to wander down, including many wooden boardwalks over the swamps and marshes.

Cruising through Horning
Norfolk's coastline is equally popular with visitors. Its most famous destination is probably Great Yarmouth, a town which grew rich as a prosperous fishing port. The main business today is tourism, with a seafront stuffed full of rides, video game arcades, and candy floss stalls. The fish are still here, except now they're covered in batter and served with chips. But don't think that Great Yarmouth is exactly the same as any of Britain's other coastal resorts. The town can actually claim to have the second-most complete set of city walls in the country, losing out only to York. This gives curious visitors a set of real fortifications to explore - rather than just castles made of sand.

Britannia Pier & Theatre in Great Yarmouth
The rest of Norfolk's coast is dotted with smaller, quieter towns, such as Cromer, with its Victorian buildings and huge church tower, and Wells-next-the-Sea, which features a series of colourful shopping streets that don't feel like they've arrived in the 21st century!

Cromer Pier

Wells next the Sea Harbour
The inland landscape is similarly dotted with pleasant towns and villages. Wroxham, for instance, is a popular little place with what claims to be the world's largest village store. Aylsham is another example, featuring a friendly market, and a nearby Jacobean hall which is said to contain the ghost of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's beheaded wife!

Riverside caf├ęs in Wroxham
This hasn't scared the royal family away though, as the Queen herself enjoys regular visits to Norfolk. Her residence at Sandringham House has belonged to the monarchy since 1862, and from then on it has provided four different kings and queens with a beautiful country retreat. It's set in 60 acres of wonderfully well-kept gardens, which the public are welcome to visit. Entry is also available to the house itself, as well as an on-site museum. The manor is surrounded by an even larger country park, an area of woodland and heath that is free to visit on any day of the year.

Sandringham House
The main urban centre of Norfolk is the city of Norwich. As one of the most important settlements in medieval Britain, it still contains all the archaeological heritage you might expect, such as its 900-year-old cathedral. However, this is also one of the UK's brightest up-and-coming cities, with brand new buildings such as The Forum, a sleek glass-fronted structure that contains the local library, as well as the local TV and radio offices. With a forward-thinking city, and more beautiful surroundings than anyone could ever see, Norfolk is arguably one of the best holiday destinations in the whole of England.

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