Wroxham – Capital of the Broads

Wroxham is set on the River Bure in Norfolk and is considered to be the Capital of the Broads. Twinned with Hoveton, this bustling little town boasts a variety of top visitor attractions. It’s also a haven for boating and pleasure-craft enthusiasts keen to enjoy the many waterways that meander through the flat and peaceful East Anglia countryside.

So before we take a look at the numerous places of interest in and around Wroxham, here’s a brief guide to the Norfolk Broads with information about its history and geographical make-up.

Norfolk Waterway

History and Geography of the Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads comprise more than 60 broads as well as countless navigable waterways and channels. This extensive network, which not only spans Norfolk but parts of Suffolk too, covers 303 square kilometres.

The broads vary in size, ranging from small pools to large expanses of water such as Barton Broad and Breydon Water. For many years it was believed their formation was the result of glacial movement. However, research has since revealed that many of the shallow lakes that broaden out from the Rivers Yare, Bure and Waveney, were made from man-made diggings for turf and peat. 

For long stretches, the waterways lie below Norfolk’s flat countryside and are only revealed by the sails which lazily drift through the fields and pastures. In most cases, they’re actually less than 4 metres deep – one of the reasons why barges, not to mention wherry boats, are so widely-used.

The Bure, along with its many tributaries, thread many of the Broads’ lakes together. The Yare carries cargo as well as pleasure craft through Thorpe into the heart of Norwich. The Waveney, which has many attractive stretches, links up with the northerly Broads by way of a circuitous route via Breydon Water and the Bure.

Along the way are impressive windmills at Horsey, Reedham and Herringfleet, of which the latter remains in working order. Other navigable rivers include the Rivers Ant, Chet, Thurne and Wensum.

Norfolk Boating

Wroxham Boat Hire

The best way to truly appreciate this wonderful part of the world is by boat. Craft can be rented at centres such as Potter Heigham, Horning and of course Wroxham which has become one of the main destinations from which to hire craft for both short and long-term excursions. Centres include Broads Tours and Barnes Brinkcraft.

Barnes Brinkcraft

Barnes Brinkcraft is one of the most established and trusted operators in the area. Set up more than 40 years ago, it runs a large fleet of craft ranging from traditional barges to modern, state-of-the-art pleasure craft. The company also offers plenty of information to help you make the most out of the region with interactive maps and advice about the best routes to take.

Broads Tours

Guided day-trips of the Broads can also be arranged with Broads Tours. Their cruises take in Wroxham and Salhouse Broads as well as Horning Beach. Full commentaries are provided by the skippers offering plenty of insights into the history of the region as well as the abundant wildlife that inhabits these parts. 1 hour, 1 ½ hour and 2-hour trips can be arranged throughout the week.

Norfolk Broads Windmill

Wroxham Visitor Attractions

As well as boating excursions, Wroxham features an excellent collection of top visitor attractions and activities that should keep you occupied during a short break cottage holiday.


Bewilderwood is an award-winning adventure park that’s based on the popular children’s books penned by local author, Tom Blowfield. Laid out over an expansive forest-complex that comprises tree-houses, zip-wires and a sky-maze, it promises a great day out for the whole family.

In addition to the many attractions found throughout the park, there are numerous events that incorporate the characters found in Blowfield’s books including party parades and guided tours.

Barton House Railway

Barton House Railway offers another exciting day-out and should appeal to both young and old. One of the main highlights has to be its two miniature steam railways. Opened in 1963, Barton House Railway originally consisted of a circular track before a 7 ¼ inch gauge version was added in 1979.

Another 3 ½ inch gauge track was completed in 1992 followed by numerous improvements in the years that followed including working signal boxes and extra platforms. Visitors should also enjoy a large museum which exhibits numerous artefacts celebrating the Midland and Great Northern Railways.

Wroxham Barns

Another acclaimed Wroxham visitor attraction that’s home to a suite of working craft studios which produce boats, stained glass, woodcraft, artwork and even handmade fudge. The studios are open to the public with visitors able to observe and meet the craftspeople who are more than happy to offer insights into their special skills.

Wroxham Barns was set up in 1982 and has expanded considerably since then with the addition of an award-winning restaurant, a variety of gift shops selling local wares, a fun-park, mini-golf, an indoor soft play area and a junior farm.

Wroxham Miniature Worlds

Wroxham Miniature Worlds is another must-visit, should you decide to take a short break holiday in the area. Laid out over 10,000 square feet, it is the largest indoor modelling museum in the UK.

Organised into a variety of different zones, it houses three elaborate and wonderfully detailed model railway layouts as well as an entire city made out of Lego ™. Other highlights include an exhibition celebrating vintage toys, locally made dolls houses and a 400 square foot slot car track. Miniature Worlds is open throughout the week with under-fives admitted for free.

Wroxham Bicycle Hire

It’s also entirely possible to enjoy the Norfolk Broads on two wheels with many of the waterways fringed by paths and cycle paths. There are numerous places from which to hire bikes such as the Norfolk Broads Cycling Centre which also offers free delivery of bikes if you’re staying at a holiday cottage within a 10 mile radius.

Considering a cottage holiday in Norfolk? See our featured properties for some ideas!

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.