Car-free guide to the Broads

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For somewhere that feels so remote, the Broads is surprising easy to get to by public transport, particularly on the train via Norwich. Once you're there, the best way to see the Broads is from the water. It's also a great place to go walking and cycling thanks to the relentlessly flat terrain and manageable distances to the most scenic spots.

Getting to The Broads without a car

By Train: The Broads' proximity to the city of Norwich puts it within easy reach of mainline destinations across the UK. Services from London run directly to Norwich via Ipswich and Colchester, and various other mainline services from the rest of mainland Britain run to the city, sometimes requiring a change in nearby Peterborough. There are also some services from London (Liverpool Street) to Great Yarmouth in the summer. The main gateway to the Broads themselves is Hoveton and Wroxham station, barely 10 minutes from Norwich on a branch line which also links the North Norfolk coast. The stations between Lowestoft (also linked to London Liverpool Street) and Great Yarmouth and Norwich are also handy for various destinations within the Broads. Greater Anglia's clear route map of the region shows how the destinations all connect up.

By Coach or Bus: There are regular National Express services from various UK destinations to Norwich, plus Great Yarmouth and Acle, from where you can take local services to destinations across the Broads. This is complemented by Megabus services to Norwich from London.

Getting around without a car

By Train: There are two branch rail lines running through the region - the Bittern Line, which runs from Norwich to Cromwer and has stations at Salhouse, Hoveton & Wroxham and North Walsham, and the Wherry Line from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, stopping at Brundall, Acle and Reedham. Other stations include Buckenham, Cantley, Haddiscoe, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad North, as well as limited services to the remote Berney Arms. For an overview of trains in the Broads, see Greater Anglia's network map (the Broads area is in the top right-hand corner).

By Bus: The Broads' bus network is somewhat limited, but with a bit of forward planning it is certainly still a viable option for getting around the area. Anglian Bus runs the A47 from Norwich to Great Yarmouth via Brundall, Blofield, and Acle; the 146 from Norwich to Beccles via Loddon; and the 001 from Norwich to Surlingham and Loddon. First Norfolk & Suffolk runs the X2 Norwich – Lowestoft service; the 12/12a from Wroxham to Stalham; and various services in the Norwich and Lowestoft areas.

By Boat: The most interesting way to travel around the Broads is of course, to travel on them. Exploring the Broads by boat allows you not only to get around but to see what makes the area so special. Many places are indeed only accessibly by boat. You can hire a boat (and sometimes canoes) from most of the towns and villages along the Broads. For a full list see Greentraveller's Guide to Boat trips on the Broads. The Broads' website also offers a map featuring scheduled and chartered boat operators to help you plan your travel by boat. Perhaps the best-known and most useful is the hourly 'Electric Eel' service, run by the Broads Authority, which includes a guide pointing out local wildlife.

Cycling: The Broads' backcountry is gentle and flat, offering mile after mile of quiet country lane perfect for cycling. There are a few main roads to content with, but with a little local advice and a good map, cycling can be one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get around. Most mainline train services have allocated spaces for bicycles, however these are limited so you should always reserve your spot in advance, by calling up the train operator, or heading to your local railway station ticket office. Few local bus services allow you to take bikes on them, but some boat operators will – contact them in advance to check.

If you want to hire a bike once in the Broads, there are several fantastic providers who will give you local advice, information, maps, accessories and more, as well of course as your new two-wheeled friend. Broadland Cycle Hire, less than a half hour's walk from Hoveton and Wroxham station, is an ideal place to rent a bike and get a whole host of useful maps and friendly advice, and there are a range of other bike hire centres across the Broads:
- Cycle Hire at Outney Meadow Caravan Park
- Cycle Hire at the Blickling Estate
- Sea Palling Cycle Hire
- Waveney River Centre Cycle Hire
- Cycle Hire at Clippesby Hall
- Cycle Hire at Riverside Tearooms
- Salhouse Broad Cycle Hire
- The Canoeman

There are few dedicated cycle routes in the Broads, but the Broads by Bike provides a range of clear, colour-coded downloadable route maps to help you make the best of the area. The long distance Wherryman's Way cuts a swathe across the Broads, whilst to the west, the Bure Valley trail offers a cyclable route from Hoveton & Wroxham station. You can get more route ideas and information for cyclists in the Broads and beyond from Sustrans.

Maps and further information: For downloadable maps of the Broads, and links to buy further maps and publications, head to the Broads maps and publications page. Alternatively, you can grab a map, as well as getting the best local advice and information at one of the Broads' visitor information centres. They are located in Hoveton (close to Hoveton & Wroxham station), How Hill, and Whitlingham. There's also a huge range of information on Enjoy the Broads, and Greentraveller is currently working with the Broads Authority to produce the Broads App: a downloadable application to help visitors get the most of their time in the Broads.