Have you visited all of Norfolk's top tourist spots and hidden gems?

PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:05 06 September 2016

A view over Norwich city from Britannia Road. Norwich Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Cathedral with City Hall.

A view over Norwich city from Britannia Road. Norwich Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Cathedral with City Hall. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

Tourists travel miles to explore the region's treasures. But, as Lauren Cope reports, people living closer to home are also making the most of what's on their doorstep.

Visitors from the capital

Though the spoils of the county are desirable to locals, Londoners keen for an escape to the country are most enticed by the region.

Online hits from the capital are the most common on Visit Norfolk’s website, followed by those from Norfolk, Cambridge in third, Peterborough in fourth and Leicester in fifth.

Mr Waters said: ‘London continues to be our biggest target market and that will only increase in the coming years as billions of pounds of housing investment goes into the East End. Those people will look to the most convenient coast to visit, and we should be able to capitalise on that.”

From its medieval architecture and thriving towns to its idyllic beaches and woodland, there’s plenty to discover across Norfolk and Suffolk.

And while it is often those closest who overlook what’s nearby, a survey by this newspaper has revealed the vast majority of people living locally have explored the area’s best-known landmarks.

Out of the 900 people living in the two counties that we surveyed, 93pc have visited the city’s medieval Castle, while 86pc have taken a trip to the spectacular Norwich Cathedral.

The unspoilt stretches of north Norfolk coastline are a favourite among many, with a massive 99pc having spent time exploring the coastline.

How can more visitors be encouraged?

A lack of time and unreliable public transport links were some of the top answers when we asked people what stopped them visiting local attractions.

Many respondents said money-off vouchers for residents would encourage them to take a trip out, while others said greater advertising for local events held throughout the year would enable them to plan.

A handful said dog-friendly attractions were a must and others said free parking would be an incentive.

Pete Waters, executive director of Visit East Anglia, said: “It doesn’t surprise me that so many Norfolk people wisely choose to enjoy the wonderful coast, countryside and visitor attractions that are on their doorstep - they’re amongst the best in the country. Why would you need to go anywhere else?”

He said one of Visit Norfolk’s biggest website audiences was from people living in Norwich, “suggesting that city dwellers treat the county as their weekend and day trip playground”.

Of those surveyed, 87pc have been lured to the bright lights of Great Yarmouth’s golden mile, with just 3pc yet to visit and 10pc calling the seaside town home.

The city’s cultural draws scored the lowest percentages, with just over a third of respondents having visited the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, one of the oldest surviving arts festivals in the country.

But just over half of those surveyed, 50.3pc, have whiled away time at the Sainsbury Centre, and 45.3pc have visited the city centre Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell.

And though just a quarter of people have taken a guided tour somewhere in the county, for those that have, Norwich was top of the list.

Celia Deeley, general manager at Holkham Enterprises, said she was not surprised to hear that many were making the most of the county’s gems.

“The north Norfolk location is undoubtedly a huge draw and the area is becoming increasingly recognised for its beautiful coastline, natural landscape and wildlife,” she said.

“There is also a growing number of places to visit and things to do in the vicinity for all ages, making it popular.”

The expense and lack of time were among the main reasons for those who haven’t made it to local attractions - and some said they simply forgot what was on offer.

Mr Waters said while people living in Norfolk and Suffolk were well-versed in its offering, people from neighbouring counties were also regular visitors.

“We also still reap the benefits of a ‘factory fortnight’ legacy, when industries in the Midlands closed for two weeks and the workers decamped to the east coast,” he said.

“People from Leicester, Peterborough, Nottingham and Derby have been coming here for generations, because Norfolk is close and easily accessible, and our visitor offering has only got better.”

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