Apartment & house rentals for your holiday in Hunstanton
A beautiful little town along the Norfolk coast, Hunstanton is unique in that it's found on the east of England but it has a west-facing beach, which means it's sheltered from the cold wind and is privy to some great sunshine and sunsets. The town was built during the mid-1800s, and a lot of the original Victorian architecture and charm still remains today. With uniquely striped cliffs, a number of fantastic gardens, hiking trails, and leisure activities, Hunstanton really is the perfect seaside getaway.
Best Time to Visit Hunstanton
Situated in Norfolk along the east coast of England, Hunstanton has fairly evenly split seasonal weather, which means the summer months are the best in terms of temperature. So, if you're looking for a great beach break and a chance to top up our tan, the best time to visit is between June and September. During the spring, the area is perfect for a coastal walk or a hike, with beautiful trails lined with bright wildflowers, and the perfect weather that's not too warm or too chilly to enjoy a brisk outdoor afternoon. If you like the colder weather and you're not a massive fan of big crowds of tourists, then the winter months (anytime from late October until March) can be really pleasant time to enjoy the brisk cold weather of the coast, having a roast dinner in your short term apartment rental with a roaring fire in the background - the perfect Christmas setup.
How to get to Hunstanton
There are a number of ways to reach Hunstanton, whether you're looking to travel by train, car, or plane. On the east coast of England, tucked away on the coast of Norfolk, the easiest way to reach it directly is by car – and there are so many fantastic sites across the whole county that having a car means you're less restricted. If that's your desired mode of transport, then the town is easily accessible via the M1, A1, A17, M11, M5 and more. Basically, wherever you're coming from in mainland UK, you'll be able to get to Hunstanton using one of the main roads – so the drive shouldn't take you too long. For reference, from London it will typically take just under 3 hours, from Devon (the most south westerly point in the UK) it will take about 5 and a half hours, while from Glasgow it will take just over 6 hours. The route across to Norfolk, however, is very scenic, so the drive will never feel as long as it is.
If you don't drive or simply prefer sitting back and relaxing whilst travelling, there are a number of train operators that run to Norfolk, such as Great Northern, Greater Anglia, LNER, Thameslink, and Grand Central, and the best option is to get the train to the Transport Interchange in Norfolk and then hop on the 34 bus to Hunstanton. From London, the best train gores direct from King's Cross, from Glasgow you'll want to get the train to Edinburgh and then the connecting train to Peterborough before going on to Norfolk, and from anywhere south of London the easiest option is to get the train to London first. Alternatively, if you're looking to fly, then hop on a plane to any of the London airports and from there hire a car or get a train over to Norfolk, or do the same from Norwich International, which is closer to Hunstanton but not serviced by as many destinations as the London airports are.
Where to book accommodation in Hunstanton
Hunstanton Town Centre
Hunstanton town centre is a very different vibe to the beachfront, but if you're looking for a traditional, historic, Victorian break away from your daily life then its exactly the right thing for you. The town centre is home to the Heritage Gardens, as well as a number of boutique stores, independent restaurants, cafes and bars, and it still has easy access to the beach and various hiking trails that dot the Norfolk countryside.
Hunstanton is unique in that it's a town on the east coast, and yet it has a west facing beach, which means it spoilt for great weather and beautiful sunsets. Sheltered from the cold easterly wind, the beach can be enjoyed at its best throughout the summer months, so where better to stay then a fabulous self-catered holiday cottage near the beachfront? With easy access right down to the sand itself, as well as fabulous views of the sunset and the ocean, and just a few steps from the number of hiking trails and town centre, there's no better place to enjoy your seaside holiday.
The original village of Hunstanton, before the town grew rapidly during the early 20th century, Old Hunstanton is a quieter little place to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists. Home to the Old Hunstanton Lighthouse, and the ruins of St. Edmund's Chapel that was first built during the late 1200s, old Hunstanton is where you'll find the Grade I listed building that is Hunstanton Hall, and the grounds of which make for a great wander and early afternoon picnic. It was originally built in 1300 by Sir Hamon le Strange and has been restored and renovated repeatedly to ensure that it remains standing. Although you can't stay in the Hunstanton Hall itself, why not stay at the Caley Hall Hotel? Actually a bed and breakfast rather than a traditional hotel like the name suggests, the Caley Hall is set in an old manor house, so you can enjoy luxury holiday accommodation pretending to be in the Hunstanton Hall itself. Just half a mile from the beach, it's the perfect spot for a cosy break away.
Things to do in Hunstanton
Sea Life Sanctuary
Sea life is a well-known rescue and conservation company that operates throughout the UL, and the Hunstanton branch is one of the ones that does extremely well. More than just an aquarium, the Sea Life Sanctuary in Hunstanton looks after most of the seals in the Wash area, rescuing roughly 50 a year since 1989. Take a wander around a have look at the seal hospital and baby pups in the nursery. Plus, of an added bonus, in 2018 the new Penguin Beach was opened specially for the Humboldt penguins, and there are also Asian short-clawed otters in the Otter river.
Rainbow Park Fairground
It's not a traditional seaside break if there isn't a trip to a fairground – and Hunstanton is no different. Rainbow Park can be found right next to the Sea Life sanctuary and its free to enter – you only pay for the rides you want to go on. This variation of the fairground park has been on the same plot for the last 50 years, although the fairground tradition ion Hunstanton dates back to at least 1880. It's home to a number of old-time amusements games such as penny falls, grabbing cranes and more, as well as rides suitable for older children and adults.
The Hunstanton Cliffs are exquisite: the bright red and white chalk contrasts with the orange-brown sandstone, creating a sunset effect across the cliffs. Just north of the Hunstanton town, the walk down to the beach by these cliffs is almost as great as the sight of the cliffs themselves: wander past an abandoned lighthouse and a ruined chapel, past St. Edmund's Point. Also, here along the cliff face is the sight of 100-million-year-old Late Cretaceous fossils, and the storms that Hunstanton is sometimes victim to bring with them ammonites, prehistoric fish, brachiopods, sponges, and belemnites.
Hunstanton's beach is west-facing, which means it's perfect for watching the beautiful sunsets. Plus, this means it's fairly sheltered from the really cold wind that can blow over the North Sea. The beach itself is pebbly rather than sandy, which is great for walking along the shore, although when the tide goes out there is a massive section of sand there as well.
Norfolk Coast Path
One of the best ways to spend your day in Norfolk is going on one of the many coastal trails and hikes, and the Norfolk Coast Path goes straight through Hunstanton. In fact, it's right at the point where the 93-mile-long walk doubles back on itself, and walkers can choose to head towards Cromer or Swaffham. Of all the National Trails across the UK, this one through Hunstanton is one of the easiest thanks to the low-lying style of terrain found at Norfolk. Head east towards Cromer if you want to hike along beaches and cliffs, or south towards Shaffham for an easier, countryside walk. Plus if you get tired, the path is on a bus route, with buses every half an hour to pick you up to take you to the nearest pub.
Hunstanton is famous for its incredible lavender fields, with over 100 acres of the beautiful flower growing across the area. The best time to see it is during July and August when it's in full bloom, and during the peak summer month of August there are actually up to four tours a day into the fields for avid photographers and social media gurus to get some amazing pictures. There's also a local shop near the lavender farm that sells a collection of oils, soaps, scents, and cosmetics made from the lavender.
Just a few miles away from Hunstanton Beach is the Holme Dunes, the little slice of heaven in Norfolk's northwest corner. The area is vital for the environment, with sand dunes, salt marshes, pastures, and pools all here to maintain the wildlife. The entire area is 470 acres, maintained by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and a breeding and resting area for a number of different species of migrating birds such as thrushes, finches, warblers, and even the pied avocet. If you take a walk through the entire area, you might be lucky enough to stumble upon the old railway that was used for target practice during the war.
Old Hunstanton Beach
Hunstanton is home to a number of fantastic beaches – not least Old Hunstanton beach. Named for the village nearby, Old Hunstanton, the beach is a stunning stretch of golden sand – far different from the main Hunstanton beach where most of the tourists' flock. There's a selection of old fashioned, brightly coloured beach huts with the stunning cliffs as a backdrop, and various little pools for children and toddlers to go paddling.
Hunstanton Heritage Gardens
Hunstanton is home to a number of exquisite coastal gardens that are so highly valued that in 2016 they were awarded more than £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Funds – hence the name, Hunstanton Heritage Gardens. When the weather is nice, there are a number of concerts that take place on the weekends – all for free – and during the summer there are movies screened on the Green. There are also the ruins of St. Edmund's Chapel, some beautifully preserved Victorian shelters, and the Esplanade Gardens, where travellers can see colourful flowerbeds, fountains, and more all looking over the sea.
If you're visiting Norfolk, one of the things you'll spend a lot of your time doing is walking along the number of trails and hiking oaths around the quaint area of England – and the Ringstead Downs is one such area. One of the last surviving pieces of chalk downland in the whole of Norfolk, the Ringstead Downs Nature Reserve covers roughly 17 acres of dry chalk valley, which was created thousands of years ago by glacial meltwater. As a result of its status as a Nature Reserve, the area has never been damaged or cultivated, so avid hikers can still see native plants such as the dwarf thistle, squincywort, and rock rose. Plus, birdwatchers will be able to spot rare bird species that are hard to find anywhere else, such as the yellowhammer.
Hunstanton Heritage Centre
Technically a very small museum, the Hunstanton Heritage Centre is an exhibit all about the local town's history. It's only open on Wednesday afternoons and the weekend, as its run exclusively by volunteer staff, but it's worth setting aside a portion of your day to have a look around. The museum includes tales of the landowning le Strange family, the history of Old Hunstanton, and the geology of the fantastic cliffs along Hunstanton's cliff edge. Plus, there are a number of artefacts and details found form the Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in the surrounding areas.