Holt – a guide for visiting this Norfolk town in 2023


A haven for independent shops and a hit with tourists, the town of Holt is beautifully compact and is well-known for its Georgian buildings and proximity to some of the best outdoor spaces in Norfolk. However, we still feel that as a place to visit in Norfolk, Holt is very underrated. For this reason, we wanted to write a guide about this town for 2023, with a breakdown of the best things to see and do there. Let's get into it:

Where is Holt?

We should start by specifying where Holt actually is - the town is about 22 miles north of Norwich and is within the North Norfolk council area. It's just under an hour from Holt to King's Lynn, a town we've written about previously. It's about a 10-minute drive from Holt to Salthouse Beach, which is part of what makes the town such a popular holiday destination.

What is there to see and do in Holt?

Despite the relatively small size of the town, you've got quite a bit to see and do in Holt. Here are some of the highlights:

Holt Country Park

Perched right on the edge of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you'll find Holt Country Park, a Green Flag award winner and an excellent place to visit for a walk. This park is a peaceful woodland home to thousands of Scots pines trees and native broadleaves. You'll almost certainly see some interesting wildlife during your time in Holt Country Park, with goldcrests, greater spotted woodpeckers, and deer regularly spotted here. It's the perfect place to spend a few hours, and the routes you can follow are varied in distance, so you can follow whichever suits you best. The Purple Trail is about 2 miles long and takes you past some interesting sculptures, making it a great walk for kids. Learn more here -

Muckleburgh Military Collection

If your idea of a good day out involves getting up close and personal with impressive war machines then a trip to the Muckleburgh Military Collection is highly recommended. The tanks here form part of the UK's largest private display of guns and military vehicles, and it's incredibly impressive to see. But if looking at these machines isn't enough for you, you can actually book to drive a tank! It's not cheap but we've heard it's an incredible experience. You'll also find guns here and more. At £12 for an adult ticket, we feel it's very reasonably priced given how much there is to see and how enthusiastic and knowledgable the staff are. A must-visit location for military nerds for sure, learn more here -

Langham Dome

This interesting-looking build was once used as a wartime gunnery training centre where people would learn to shoot down enemy aircraft. Nowadays, the building is used as a museum, where you can find WW2 displays and films about what the building was used for. It's small but there is plenty to see, and the volunteers here are wonderful. It's closed until the Spring, but make sure you visit when it's open. Learn more here -

Cley Marshes

There are some amazing nature reserves in Norfolk, but it's widely accepted that Cley Marshes is probably the best of them all. It also happens to be the oldest. This is a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts and is an excellent place to head to for the chance to see rare birds. Over the years, very rare species like white-crowned sparrows and red-necked stints have been spotted at this reserve. This place attracts more than 100,000 keen birdwatchers per year and there are only 6 hides, so it might be a little busy when you visit. But a ticket is only £5.50 and if you spot a rare bird, a visit is well worth it.
Learn more here -

Baconsthorpe Castle

Visiting a ruined manor house might not seem like a must-do activity during your time in Holt, but we think that Baconsthorpe Castle is a bit special. Considering that this manor house is more than 500 years old, the fact that it's still standing is seriously impressive. This is free to visit and the history attached to the building definitely makes it worth a visit. Learn more here -

Follow the Holt Owl Trail

If you're looking for a route to follow which takes you around the best that Holt has to offer, the Holt Owl Trail is an excellent route to follow. The route is marked by a series of 24 bronze pavement plaques depicting an owl. The reason this route is called the Holt Owl Trail is in reference to a story of when local men caught an owl and kept it in the Town Pound, but it managed to get out. We love this trail because of the hidden gems it helps to uncover, including the yards and other points of interest. It shouldn't take much more than an hour to complete and it's very easy to follow. You can either get a free map from the tourist information centre or you can follow the route on the official website, which you can find here -

Salthouse Beach

As we mentioned earlier, part of what makes Holt such an excellent holiday destination is that the town is just a stone's throw from the coast. Salthouse Beach is about 10 minutes away by car, and is well worth a visit if you have the time.
It's a shingles beach which gives it a distinctive look and makes it excellent for long walks. The views across the marshes and the rest of the Norfolk Coast are to die for. It's very dog-friendly too!

Spout Hills

One of Holt’s hidden gems is Spout Hills which sits in very close proximity to the High Street. It’s concealed site is a natural valley comprising of 14-acres with natural springs which once provided water to the town from a pumping station linked to a water tower on Shirehall Plain. A spring discharges water into a walled pond which remains as a most attractive focal point. A series of steps lead down to a disused railway line which offers an alternative footpath to the village of Letheringsett which boasts an unabridged ford and the chance to visit the working watermill, the last remaining watermill in Norfolk to produce flour.

North Norfolk Railway – The Poppy Line

The North Norfolk Railway’s ‘Poppy Line’ is East Anglia’s premier heritage railway line running between nearby Sheringham to terminate at Holt Station based in High Kelling. The line travels through some of the county’s most stunning coastal scenery and attracted nearly 150,000 enthusiasts and visitors during the railway’s 2021-22 financial year. The Holt terminus is approximately a 1-mile walk into Holt town centre.

Things to be aware of before you visit Holt

Holt isn't a big place, so if you're staying for more than a few days then you'll have plenty of time to explore the rest of North Norfolk. Cromer is probably the place we'd say is definitely worth heading to for a day - it has a lovely old-fashioned feel to it and is a proper British seaside town. It can get busy in the summer months but is still a joy to visit, plus its only 20 minutes away by car.
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant town. If you're interested in visiting other locations in Norfolk, check out our guide to the Marriott's Way and King's Lynn.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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