Wells-next-the-Sea is famous for its beach, and justifiably so! Considered by many to be the best beach in the country, Wells beach has something for everyone.
There are vast, seemingly endless expanses of soft, golden sand to walk on; lovely firm wet sand to make towering sandcastles; raised dunes to lie in for privacy and shelter; space in abundance to fly a kite or play beach games; colourful, whimsically-named beach huts to inspect and judge; crystal-clear water to paddle and swim in; scented pinewoods to explore… the list goes on and on.
On any sunny day you’ll find all these things and more.
Birdwatchers can observe the terns, oystercatchers, avocets and other waders feeding along the foreshore and around the edge of tidal pools, with birds of prey hovering over the pinewoods. Beyond the Corsican pines lie the grazing marshes and saltmarshes of the Holkham National Nature Reserve.
If you’re lucky you can watch seals basking in the sunshine at the water’s edge.
Dog owners have both the expanse of the beach to walk on, plus the added bonus of the cool, shaded pinewoods for dogs to explore. The Norfolk Coast Path runs between the pinewoods and the grazing marshes of the nature reserve and eastwards to Holkham Gap.
The car park is situated right next to the beach, so you don’t have far to walk. At the beach entrance there’s a handy dog-friendly café with a shop selling beach essentials, a Joules outlet in case you find yourself missing a vital piece of clothing, and a toilet block with showers.
Lifeguards are on duty from 10am – 6pm during the summer months. There is a Lifeguard hut some way along the beach and a Coastwatch lookout post at the entrance.
Wells Beach is connected to the town, approximately 1 mile away, by Beach Road. On one side is a raised bank with a walkway that offers gorgeous views over the harbour and the quay, on the other is Wells Harbour Railway, a 10¼” gauge miniature railway that holds a Guinness world record for the smallest train to operate a scheduled passenger service! The beach train is loved kids of all ages, and provides a convenient way for tired toddlers to get back to town after an active day at the beach.
Wells Beach has everything you could wish for, and yet despite its popularity, it’s so big that it never feels crowded.
For further information on Wells Beach, including the Lifeboat Station which is often open to visitors, see our Beach Information page.
There is a large car park at the entrance to Wells Beach, run by Holkham Estate. It is located approximately 1 mile from the town centre. For Sat Nav directions use postcode NR23 1DR.
Opening hours are 6am – 9pm.
Up to 1 hour: £2.00
Up to 2 hours: £3.50
Up to 4 hours: £6.50
Over 4 hours and all day: £9.00
The all day ticket is transferable to Holkham Park during the visitor season, saving £3.00.
A weekly ticket can be purchased for £30.00.
Coaches, caravans and trailers are prohibited and the car park is locked at night with no overnight parking permitted.
For more information visit the Holkham Estate website.
Alternatively there is parking at the new Wells Town Car Park or the Freeman Street car park in town, and you can walk to the beach or take the 10¼” gauge Wells Harbour Railway from the top of Beach Road by the recreation field (Harbour Station) down to the beach (Pinewoods Station).
For more details on parking in Wells-next-the-Sea see our Visiting By Car page.
The Lynx operated 36 Coastliner service drops off on Freeman Street, by the old Ark Royal, which is the closest bus service for Wells Beach. From there you can walk along the raised Beach Walk (running alongside Beach Road) down to the beach, about 1.7km (1.1mi).
Alternatively, during high season, you can catch the 10¼” gauge Wells Harbour Railway from the top of Beach Road by the recreation field (Harbour Station) down to the beach (Pinewoods Station).
Other bus services drop off at The Buttlands in the centre of town, including the Sanders Coaches operated Coasthopper service. This adds an additional 400m to the journey.
For details of bus services in Wells-next-the-Sea and along the coast, see our Visiting By Bus page.
Just before the entrance to Wells beach you’ll find the Beach Café which serves hot and cold food, sells drinks and ice creams, and is very dog friendly. Inside there’s a gift shop selling beach toys and other beach essentials.
A Joules clothes shop is just a few steps away.
Pinewoods Holiday Park, around 400m back down Beach Road, has a well-stocked general store serving the park visitors. There’s an access path leading from the south side of the car park so you don’t need to walk along the roadside.
A toilet block with shower located at the entrance to the car park.
Beach Walk, leading from the town to the beach entrance is wheelchair friendly and has ramps at both ends.
Dogs are allowed on the beach at Wells all year round subject to certain restrictions.
A dog-free zone operates for the first 200 yards of beach from the main entrance so that people can dig in the sand without fear of finding something unpleasant, but there are no restrictions from the pinewoods entrances.
At nesting time areas of the beach are roped off to protect nesting birds and people are asked to keep dogs on leads for the same reason.
Dog should be kept on leads until they get on to the beach. It is your responsibility to keep your dog under close supervision and control and you MUST clean up after your dog and use the dog waste bins provided.
In order to avoid the dog-free zone at the entrance to the beach, you can access the beach using one of the flights of steps that rise up over the dunes and down onto the beach. These can found along the northern edge of the car park and on the path that runs through the pinewoods.
The Beach Café is very dog friendly – water bowls and soft bedding are freely provided. Dogs are welcome inside the café and the shop stocks a selection of dog treats and dog coats.
RNLI Lifeguards and Coastwatch volunteers watch the beach from July to September 10am to 6pm daily.
First aid is available from the Lifeguards when operating.