Car-free adventures aroundKing’s LynnNorfolk

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Fine old merchants’ houses stretch down to the river between cobbled lanes and the elegant Custom House overlooks the harbour. Perhaps the only thing keeping King’s Lynn from being crowded by tourists is its lack of direct motorway access. No problem for car-free visitors, who can arrive on the hourly trains from London and Cambridge to find a network of buses heading off to the wild west Norfolk coast and countryside. Here are some of the many adventures on offer around King’s Lynn. And if you think it sounds like a great base for a staycation (you'd be right!) scroll down to the bottom for more tips on transport and places to stay.

  • County: Norfolk
  • Great for: architecture | boat trip | churches | history | scenic bus | walking |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 3. Lynn Ferry, waterside walks and pontoons

    The grand buildings near the River Great Ouse are part of the town’s rich maritime heritage. As part of the Hanseatic League, King’s Lynn was once a key medieval port and the classic merchants’ houses that line the cobbled lanes near the old docks show how much wealth was generated by trade. Today, turnstones forage on the mudflats and small boats bob on the tide.

    • For a bracing four-mile walk, you can head south along the waterside walkway in King’s Lynn with the river on your right, cross the bridge and walk along the other side to the West Lynn Ferry.
    • For a great view of the riverfront, simply catch the Lynn Ferry over the Great Ouse to the village of West Lynn. The ferry has operated here since the twelfth century and still helps people avoid the long drive round between this riverside village and King’s Lynn.
    • The boat leaves frequently, six days per week.
    • Back in King’s Lynn, walk along Ferry Lane and turn left to see the Guildhall of St George, Corn Exchange, the St Nicholas Chapel and True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum a short walk away.
    • For much longer hikes, you could follow the Fen Rivers Way towards Watlington and Downham Market (trains back from both) or the Nar Valley Way, through wide-skied fens 13 miles to Narborough with very regular B Excel or C Excel buses back.
    • If you are an avid leisure sailor, you can visit by boat from the Wash and moor-up in the town!
  1. 4. Roydon Common

    Sandy paths wind through the purple heather of Roydon Common. Scarlet dragonflies hover round yellow gorse flowers while birds of prey wheel over the birch trees. You can take a walk from Roydon’s village pub around this beautiful, little wilderness not far from the town. Bus 48 runs regularly from King’s Lynn bus station (Monday to Saturday with limited Sunday service) and stops opposite the Three Horseshoes.

    • You can follow a track through clumps of trees past an area known as Grimston Warren, with an unusual observation tower, built to help with training during World War II.
    • A winding, sandy path with waymarks leads across common, past lonely trees and a small pond. With a map, you can easily find your way back to Roydon, where there are buses to King’s Lynn.
    • The Lynx Coastliner buses (see 2 above) also stop near Castle Rising, where you can explore the well-preserved English Heritage stone keep (one of the most famous twelfth-century castles in England).
    • There are lots more adventures just a bus ride from the town, whether you’re looking for history, wildlife, good food, fresh air, or a combination of them all.
  1. Bikes, buses, places to stay and eat

    With all this on the doorstep, King’s Lynn is a great base for a staycation, whether you’re travelling by bike, boat, bus, on foot or a combination.

    • Cyclists who need to hire bikes might contact Wheel Travel who can deliver a bike to you at a station or hotel or wherever you need it.
    • A PlusBus ticket can take you all around town on the day you arrive for a very small extra fee on top of your train fare (very handy, for instance, if you want to stay at the Travelodge, a little way out of the centre but come back into town for a riverside supper).
    • Lynx buses have different tickets for multiple journeys or a whole week of travel or a Day Coast Pass for the 36 bus and others.
    • There’s a range of hotels and guesthouses in King’s Lynn, from the fancy harbour-side Bank House Hotel to some bargain bedrooms at the Globe via some comfortable choices like the Duke’s Head Hotel.
    • Plenty of places for eating and drinking too: the town centre includes the riverside Marriot’s Warehouse restaurant with sunset-facing tables on the cobbles by the River Ouse or Cobbles Tearoom round the corner.
    • Don’t miss the Riverside restaurant down Ferry Lane near the Saturday Market Place, where you can sample elegant tarts made from leeks and King’s Lynn brown shrimps with a view out over the water from the converted fifteenth-century warehouse.