Explaining terms of boat hire on the Norfolk Broads

Here at Norfolk Broads Direct, we live and breathe boating and cottage holidays on the Broads. Indeed, for some time now we’ve been welcoming plenty of new and returning holidaymakers to the waterways.

We like to think all of this experience makes us experts on the local area. To share our collective wisdom, we thought we’d answer ten of the most popular questions that we come up against.

How Big Are the Norfolk Broads?

Much bigger than you might think! To be precise, the Norfolk Broads spans 117 square miles and has 120 miles of navigable waterways. Made up of 63 broads and seven rivers, there’s a whole world of nature and wildlife to discover when hiring a boat on the Broads.

Interestingly, the Broads are not a natural feature of the landscape, but were something of a happy accident after the ground was dug away for peat during the Medieval period. Used for fuel, the removal of peat from the ground left behind shallow lake beds that were flooded by the 14th century.

Spanning two counties- Suffolk and Norfolk- the Broads now attract around 7.6m visitors each year and have an estimated economic impact of £568m.

Becoming a national park in 1989, the Broads is home to 13 ancient monuments and 28 sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Not too bad for a national landmark that was created quite by chance.

Can You Take Fishing Holidays on the Norfolk Broads?


Each of our cruisers can be fished from when moored up and the coarse fishing season runs from 16th June to 14th March, so there’s plenty of time to book a fishing holiday on the Broads.

There are many species of fish which call the Broads home. From tench to carp, rudd, bream and pike, there’s something for every fisherman to catch, no matter their ability.

Thanks to its National Park status, the lakes and rivers along the Broads are all preserved and protected to provide a remarkable fishing experience.

Do I Need a Fishing License on the Norfolk Broads?

Yes, you’ll need an Environment Agency rod licence to enjoy a fishing holiday on the Broads.  These can be easily acquired at any post office or online.

What is There to do on the Norfolk Broads?

We’re so glad you asked.

Besides cruising at a leisurely pace and taking in your surroundings (a pastime we highly encourage), no holiday on the Norfolk Broads would be complete without:

  • Exploring St Benet’s Abbey. This 11th century landmark was once home to the most expensive Benedictine houses in England. Nowadays the ruins offer a nice insight into the rich history that surrounds the Broads. Just watch out for the ghost that’s rumoured to haunt the place!
  • Walking around the Ranworth Broad Nature Reserve. A floating wildlife centre, this is where you’ll be best positioned to get acquainted with the birds and wildlife which is native to the Norfolk Broads.
  • Riding the Bure Valley Railway. A journey that takes you back in time (as well as back to us in Wroxham), the Bure Valley Railway is an 18-mile trip that takes place on board authentic steam locomotives. Truly a unique thing to do when visiting the Broads.
  • Wondering around Wroxham. We might be a little biased, but we think the village we’re based in is a fantastic place to stroll around and grab a bite to eat.
  • Visiting Norwich. Rightly known as a fine city, Norwich is home to a wide range of independent bars and restaurants which make it the perfect place to spend a day or two during a Norfolk Broads holiday.
  • Heading to the coast. The Broads isn’t just pretty towns and villages (though it does have plenty of these), it’s also a gateway to the coast. Destinations like Winterton-on-Sea and the historic ports of Great Yarmouth are particularly popular amongst holidaymakers who have a taste for the sea.

Are There Locks on the Norfolk Broads?

You may be pleased to know that there are no locks on the Norfolk Broads. This means that you won’t have to wait around or manoeuvre your boat from one level to another and can simply enjoy uninterrupted cruising.

Where Can I go in the Broads?

It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the Broads is very much its own little world. With so much to see and do, you could (and some do) return year after year to enjoy something new every time.

To get you started, we’d certainly recommend the following places to visit in the Broads:

  • The Woodfordes’ brewery tap in Woodbastwick offers a fantastic selection of beers to accompany the meals available in their restaurant. This cozy establishment is particularly perfect place for couples and families.
  • The museum of the Broads at Stalham makes it their mission to ‘Bring the story of the Broads Alive’. Showcasing an impressive collection of boats, photographs, models, and paintings, this is an unmissable stop for history lovers.
  • Roys of Wroxham, otherwise known as the world’s largest village store, is a great place to visit for some supplies and glimpse into Norfolk’s uniquely fascinating history. Yes, we said it, our local shop is both historic and fascinating!

Can you Swim in the Norfolk Broads?

Whilst it might be tempting to plunge into the water on a hot day, there are a few too many risks associated with swimming in the Norfolk Broads for this to be encouraged.

The Broads Authority strongly advices against swimming in the Broads unless you’re taking part of an organised swim event under the appropriate supervision.

What’s the Best Way of Hiring a Boat on the Norfolk Broads?

That’s an easy one. You simply browse and book one of our cruisers online. Our team are more than happy to chat boats, of course, so you’re welcome to get in touch to find out which type of cruiser will suit you best.

What’s the Cost of Hiring a Boat on the Norfolk Broads?

The cost of boat hire on the Norfolk Broads varies depending on the type of cruiser. A large boat that sleeps up to 6 guests, for example, is typically more expensive than smaller boats which are designed to sleep between 2-4 guests.

Do you Need a License to Hire a Boat on the Norfolk Broads?

No, you don’t require a license to a hire a boat on the Norfolk Broads. You don’t need to have had any previous boating experience, either. Our team will provide you with all of the training you need to confidently navigate your cruiser. They’ll also be on hand to call at any point during your holiday should you need their assistance.