British Isles

A traditional beachside getaway: 48 hours in Sheringham

Sheringham’s charming coastline, fascinating fishing history and small-town feel make it the perfect place to spend a weekend.

Modest fishing port turned Victorian beachside resort, Sheringham is often dismissed as old-fashioned or faded. Take a moment to wander its charming coastline, listen to its shanty choir or indulge in its seafood offerings, however, and you’ll see pretty quickly that this is a town that never goes out of style.

What to see and do in Sheringham

Take a stroll along the beach

Although Sheringham has its neon-bright amusement arcades and might seem a bit tacky and 1960s in feel, it is a wonderful place for a walk along the beach (don’t miss the delightfully colourful huts that line the promenade).

huts Sheringham
© Jason Wells, Shutterstock

‘Twixt sea and pine’ was the slogan chosen for the post-war British Railways travel poster and in fairness Sheringham today does not look so very different from the scene on the poster during its 1950s heyday – just fewer fishing boats on the beach and more flesh showing on the holiday makers. 

This evocative slogan now features in murals detailing the town’s impressive fishing history that adorn its sea wall. In many ways Sheringham is like a smaller version of its neighbour Cromer, but without the pier and the large seafront hotels. This more laid-back feel makes it the perfect choice for visitors seeking a quieter Norfolk getaway.

Ride the North Norfolk Railway

Right next to Sheringham’s main railway station, the terminus of the Bittern Line from Norwich, is the privately run Poppy Line station of the North Norfolk Railway that runs between Sheringham and Holt, with an intermediate station at Weybourne and a request stop at Kelling Heath.

steam train Sheringham
© Christine Matthews, Wikimedia Commons

Both diesel and steam trains ply this route regularly in summer and there are special events like steam galas and information days held throughout the year. A visit here makes a wonderful day out for budding train-enthusiasts and families alike.

Catch a show at the Sheringham Theatre

For entertainment beyond pubs and strolls, the Sheringham Little Theatre on Station Road is just that: a 170 seat regional theatre that manages to survive by putting on a mixture of repertory plays, blockbuster Hollywood films and live screenings.

While this isn’t the biggest venue (nor does it offer the most modern showings), its delightful small-town feel and warm, welcoming atmosphere makes it well-worth a visit.

Brush up on your history at Sheringham Museum

Sheringham’s museum, known as ‘The Mo’, has interesting displays on the town’s fishing and lifeboat history. Its collection, running over three floors, includes a rich variety of social history items, agricultural and fishing artefacts and a spectacular fleet of boats.

Sheringham Museum
Lifeboat on display at the Sheringham Museum © stavros1, Wikimedia Commons

Boasting a range of historic artefacts from tiny ammonite fossils and the bones prehistoric elephant, to remnants of both World Wars, the history on offer here is as diverse as it is interesting.

There are good views to be had here too, of the North Sea and the town’s narrow streets, from The Mo’s viewing tower.

Hear the Sheringham Shantymen perform

The town boasts its very own sea shanty choir, the Sheringham Shantymen, who perform frequently in the north Norfolk area as well as further afield. The choir does plenty of fundraising work for the RNLI; a proud claim is that they are the only organisation, other than RNLI branches, that is allowed to wear the RNLI badge on their uniform – there’s even a lifeboat named The Sheringham Shantymen in their honour in Wicklow, Ireland.

While this rather niche genre of music might not be topping the charts, hearing these talented local men perform offers a unique and enjoyable insight into the community spirit that runs deep through the heart of Sheringham.

Enjoy one of the town’s many festivals

One of the things that makes Sheringham so special is its penchant for celebration. In August, the town plays host to the Sheringham Carnival. Consisting of street races, colourful parades (with costumes varying from Krusty the Clown to western cowboys) and a grand fireworks finale, this is a wonderful way to spend a summer’s afternoon.

morris dancers Sheringham
Morris dancers line the streets during festival season © Kolforn, Wikimedia Commons

In July, the Lobster Potty Festival hosts enthusiastic Morris dancing in the traditional Norfolk style and in late May, the Crab and Lobster Festival brings together some of the finest seafood the region has to offer.

Get lost among the flowers at Sheringham Park

Just outside of Sheringham, south of the coast road, lies Sheringham Park, landscaped by Humphry Repton in 1812 and with a dazzling purple display of rhododendrons in early summer. It is often considered to be Repton’s finest work – he described it himself as his ‘favourite and darling child in Norfolk’.

Sheringham Park
© Chris Wood, Wikimedia Commons

There’s an exhibition of the landscape architect’s life and work at the Wood Farm Barn visitor centre at the southern edge of the park. The park surrounds Sheringham Hall, which is privately owned and not open to the public, but high above the hall there’s a hilltop gazebo worth the climb for its views along the coast and the wooded country behind it. As well as numerous waymarked walks through the extensive woodland at the south of the park, there’s a Tree Trail taking you past some rare and unusual trees.

Where to eat and drink in Sheringham

The Lobster

This charming family pub located just off the seafront offers traditional pub grub and a good range of beers. Head here in the summer to listen to the live music performed in its picturesque courtyard.

Whelk Coppers Tea Rooms

In an interesting pebble-built building (actually three former fishermen’s cottages built in 1630 and restored in 1934) overlooking the beach, this is the place for tea and cakes with a great sea view from the outside terrace. Inside, there’s an open fire in a wood-panelled room during winter.

More information

For more information on Sheringham, check out Laurence Mitchell’s guide to Norfolk: