Must-do activities in wonderful Wells-next-the-Sea

If you’re visiting Wells and you don’t have these highlights on your To Do list, then you’re missing out. Wells-next-the-Sea has a brilliant beach, fabulous fish ‘n’ chips, a happenin’ harbour and two (yes two) rocking little railways! But the fun doesn’t stop there – check out our Top 10 and make the most of your visit to Wells.

Wells-next-the-Sea beach at low tide overlooking grassy dunes and beach huts below, with a raised dune in the middle distance and some parents and children walking on the sand.

1. The Beach

Considered by many to be the best in the country, the award-winning beach at Wells has something for everyone. Vast, seemingly endless expanses of soft, golden sand that’s great for making sandcastles, raised dunes to lie in for privacy and shelter, space in abundance to fly a kite or play games, colourful, whimsically-named beach huts and crystal-clear water.

Shorebirds can be seen on the beach, including oystercatchers and ringed plovers, and if you’re lucky you can spot common and grey seals basking in the sun. Wells beach is a great place for bird watching and dog walking.

Without a doubt the best beach in Norfolk!

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Three children looking into a pink bucket at the crabs they have caught fishing from the quay at Wells-next-the-Sea.

2. Crabbing on the Quay

If you’re in Wells-next-the-Sea in summer, there’s one activity you absolutely must do – crabbing! Catching crabs by a line is a traditional pursuit on the Norfolk coast, and Wells Harbour is one of the top crabbing spots.

Families line the edge of the Quay on sunny days, lowering their lines, buckets full of crabs beside them. Crabbing (or Gillying) is good old-fashioned family fun, and keeps children – and adults –  entertained for hours.

Watch out for those pesky pincers!

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A portion of fish and chips in a takeaway polystyrene box at French's Fish Shop.

3. Fish 'n' Chips on the Quay

If you ask anyone to name the first thing they associate with Wells, there’s a good chance it’ll be “Fish and chips on the Quay!”

The experience has remained almost unchanged for generations: Sitting on the harbour wall, fending off the seagulls, watching the crabbers and the fishing boats while tucking into a fish supper. They may not be wrapped in newspaper any longer, but surprisingly little else has changed.

Wells has two fabulous chippies overlooking the harbour, with a combined history of over 150 years of service.

That’s a lot of fish ‘n’ chips!

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The Wells Harbour Railway departing from Harbour Station.

4. Wells Harbour Railway

Opened in 1976, the Wells Harbour Railway is a 10¼” gauge railway that takes holidaymakers the mile or so from Wells town (Harbour Station) down to the beach and holiday park (Pinewoods Station).

Trains operate from mid March until October half term and at peak times run approximately every 20 minutes.

The railway is in the Guinness world records for being the narrowest gauge railway to operate a scheduled passenger service!

The miniature beach train is THE way to travel down to the beach, and kids absolutely love it.

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The raised embankment along beach mile at Wells-next-the-Sea.

5. Beach Mile

Wells beach is situated a mile away from Wells town – and connecting them is a raised path with fabulous views across the channel and over the marshes, back to the town and harbour, and across the fields and pinewoods leading to Holkham nature reserve.

There are two parallel paths – one made of crushed stone at the top of the bank, and a smooth buggy-friendly path lower down with ramps at both ends.

It’s an easy walk with wonderful views. What’s more, there’s a day at the beach at one end, and fish ‘n’ chips at the other!

A man entertains children with giant soap bubbles at Wells Carnival while spectators watch from the sidelines.

6. Wells Carnival

Wells-next-the-Sea enjoys a traditional summer Carnival for residents and visitors every year. A week of family fun and events including a Carnival Day procession around the town featuring floats, fancy-dress, pull-and push-along vehicles and much more.

Traditional seaside activities include a sand-castle competition, town crier competition, gillying on the quay and the crowning of the Carnival Royals.

Wells Carnival won the Norfolk & Suffolk Tourism Award 2019 for Family Event of the Year.

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The Wells Ferry boat from Wells Harbour Tours taking passengers on a sightseeing trip.

7. Harbour Tour

Explore Wells Harbour aboard the “Wells Ferry”, and experience the sights and sounds of the harbour, beach and salt marsh.

Beach, marsh and harbour trips each last an hour or you can take a 30 minute mini trip. The boat can also be privately chartered for special occasions.

For an unforgettable evening experience take an hour-long sunset tour, returning to the quay with its lights shimmering on the water.

Tours operate every day from the end of March to the end of October, weather permitting.

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Two narrow gauge steam trains carrying passengers through the Norfolk countryside blowing their whistles.

8. Wells & Walsingham Light Railway

A big day out on the world’s smallest public railway! This unique railway is the longest 10¼” narrow gauge steam railway in the world. The powerful Garratt steam locomotives “Norfolk Hero” and “Norfolk Heroine” were built especially for this line.

The journey takes you from Wells to the village of Walsingham, a famous place of pilgrimage. Sit back and enjoy the nostalgic and atmospheric sights, sounds and smells of steam travel.

The scenic four mile journey through the beautiful Norfolk countryside takes around 30 minutes.

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A sandy path in the pinewoods at Wells beach surrounded by majestic pines and grassland, glimpses of sky through the canopy.

9. Pinewoods Walk

Behind the dunes at Wells beach lies the pine woods – primarily Corsican, with some Scots and Maritime Pine –  planted around 150 years ago to protect the reclaimed marshes behind from floods and tidal surges.

Along the southern edge runs Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path, and you can follow the path to Holkham Gap and back via the dunes and beach – a scenic 6km (3.7mi) circular walk.

Or just wander along the paths between the quiet, shaded pines and enjoy the peace and abundant wildlife.

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10. Maltings & Staithe Street

A brand new £5m arts, heritage and community complex hosting exciting events including music, film, drama, dance, comedy, art, poetry, talks and community activities.

The new Wells Maltings development provides a heritage and learning centre with a state-of-the-art theatre and cinema,  café and bar, visitor information centre, box office and gift shop.

Further along Staithe Street you can find many of the town’s family-run independent shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants.

At the far end is The Buttlands, a leafy square that hosts The Globe Inn and The Crown Hotel.