Ruff Guide to… Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft

The seaside resort of Great Yarmouth is renowned for its rollercoasters and amusement arcades and there are plenty of attractions to keep dogs and their owners busy, too. The 10-mile stretch of coastline between Yarmouth and Lowestoft – Britain’s most easterly town – is packed with things to see and do, from beautiful beaches to Banksy artwork and the famous Broads National Park. There are also some fantastic dog-friendly places to eat and drink. Read on to see our recommendations….

The Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth
The Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth

Dog-friendly Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft: the must-sees

Start with a trip to the Venetian Waterways, which will show you Yarmouth’s more genteel side. The winding network of canals, just north of the ‘Golden Mile’, hark back to a golden era and are lovely to walk around. Once upon a time, gondaliers used to transport people around the waterways as classical music played. And today, you can still hire rowing boats and pedalos – both of which are dog-friendly. At the time of writing, it cost £10 to hire a boat for 45 minutes.

Pets are also welcome to walk along the town’s Britannia Pier. They can even join their owners in the arcades to play the penny slots and grabber machines. Another great dog-friendly attraction is the Merrivale Model Village, where fantastic photo opportunities abound. The model village spans just over an acre and depicts a town centre as well as a zoo, castles and much more. Adult tickets cost £8.99 and include a game of crazy golf. Both the pier and model village are seasonal attractions so be sure to check the latest opening times before you go.

Ernie and Stan test their sea legs on the Norfolk Broads
Ernie and Stan test their sea legs on the Norfolk Broads

If you’re keen to explore the Norfolk Broads, day boats can be hired all year round. Martham Ferry and Maycraft are among the companies that welcome dogs. But we booked with Herbert Woods because it was one of the only firms we found that rented boats by the hour. This was perfect for us because we weren’t sure how sturdy the boys’ sea legs would be! We picked up our boat from Herbert Woods’ HQ in Potter Heigham and paid £22 for the hour’s hire. You can take boats out for much longer though, or even book pet-friendly cruisers to sleep on.

Fans of vintage vehicles will enjoy visiting the East Anglia Transport Museum, too. The attraction, in Carlton Colville, is the only place in Britain where you and your dog can view and ride on all three principal forms of public transport from the early 20th Century – trains, buses and trams. Dogs are welcome throughout the site, but are not allowed in the shop or Terminus Tearoom. Adult tickets to the museum – which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022 – cost £9. All rides are included in the entry price.

Ernie and Stan enjoy a run on Lowestoft beach
The boys enjoy a run on Lowestoft beach

Dog-friendly Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft: the best walks

Head to the beaches – many of which are lovely and sandy. While a number of beaches in the area have dog restrictions during the summer months, plenty of others are pet-friendly all year round. Great Yarmouth’s main beach is only accessible to dogs from October to May, for example. But its southern beach – to the south of Wellington Pier and the Pleasure Beach – is dog-friendly 365 days of the year. Click here to find out about beach restrictions in Norfolk (for Great Yarmouth and Gorleston), or click here to find out where dogs can go in Suffolk (Lowestoft area).

Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve is a great place to visit with your dog – although pets must be kept on lead at all times. The marshes, which are maintained by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, are the southern gateway to the Broads National Park. The network of marsh, fens, meadow and dykes is a paradise for birds and cattle graze on the land during the summer months. More than 25 different species of dragonfly have also been spotted here, which is impressive! There are several walking trails around the 405-hectare site ranging from 30 to 90 minutes in length. To see a map of the routes, click here.

Banksy's We're All In The Same Boat at Nicholas Everitt Park in Oulton Broad
Banksy’s We’re All In The Same Boat at Nicholas Everitt Park in Oulton Broad

Nicholas Everitt Park, next to Oulton Broad, is also a great place for a dog walk. The park has a large green where you can see boats sailing past, a play area and a shady wooded section. If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll be able to spot an authentic Banksy portrait, too. The famous street artist left a little calling card on a bridge when he visited the area as part of his 2021 ‘Great British Spraycation’. To see the other locations Banksy ‘tagged’ in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft, click here.

Visitors to Lowestoft should also follow the Red Herring Trail to learn about the Scores – a series of narrow lanes unique to the town. The paths in the cliff were created to improve access between the historic High Street and the Beach Village. There are 14 Scores in total but only 12 can be accessed, and it’s easy to spend a couple of hours wandering amongst them. Every September, runners flock to Lowestoft to take part in the 4.75-mile Scores Race. If you’re feeling energetic, you can always try to recreate it on foot! The Lowestoft Mile also has some great walk suggestions that take in local landmarks such as Ness Point – the most easterly place in the UK.

The Doggy Diner in Gorleston
The Doggy Diner in Gorleston

Dog-friendly Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft: the best pubs and cafes

You can’t come to this area and not visit the Doggy Diner in Gorleston. This quirky cafe, just moments from the beach, serves everything from breakfast rolls to curries and handmade art and gifts. There is also a special doggy menu and handy items such as toys, coats and balls for sale. Be aware that the diner only accepts cash though, so go prepared.

In the heart of Yarmouth’s Golden Mile, you’ll find The Marine. Dogs are allowed in the bar at this family-friendly pub, which has live music at weekends. And pets are very welcome in the bar area of The California Tavern, a short drive from Great Yarmouth. The pub is just steps from the lovely sandy beach and while food is served all week, I can thoroughly recommend the Sunday carvery – it’s the stuff of legend.

One of the enormous burgers at The Smokehouse Ormesby
One of the enormous burgers at The Smokehouse Ormesby

Meat lovers will enjoy a trip to The Smokehouse Bar & Grill in Ormesby where huge portions are the order of the day. You can tuck in to everything from buckets of wings to burgers at this American-themed diner. Veggies and vegans are well catered for too. Well-behaved dogs are welcome throughout the restaurant and there is plenty of outdoor seating. There are also regular bike meets and live music in the summer months and lots of midweek offers on food.

The Copper Smokehouse on Oulton Broad also serves epic portions of US-style dishes. The restaurant prides itself on serving fine BBQ food and also makes a real fuss of visiting dogs. It’s just over the road from No.142 Cafe & Bar, which is a great place to grab a coffee and a cake – or even tapas in the evening. Dogs are not allowed inside but are welcome in the quirky courtyard garden.

Dean's Beans Coffee Hut at Pakefield
Ernie and Stan join the queue at Dean’s Beans Coffee Hut at Pakefield

Anyone visiting Pakefield should pop in to Dean’s Beans Coffee Hut. You can’t miss this little blue hut, overlooking the beach, which serves a wide range of hot drinks and snacks to go. For bumper breakfasts, head inland to Dean’s Beans Pitstop Cafe, on Harvest Drive, where dogs are allowed in the garden and on the outdoor terrace. Pakefield pubs The Jolly Sailors, The Trowel & Hammer and The Oddfellows Arms are also well worth a visit. All serve excellent pub grub.

Dogs will get lots of fuss at The Stanford Arms in Lowestoft, which specialises in craft beer and real ale. Depending on what day of the week you visit, you can enjoy wood-fired pizza – or a free bowl of chilli if you take part in one of the popular music quizzes. Lowestoft’s Harbour Inn is also a treat for foodies. The waterfront pub has recently been revamped and has regular special offers. There’s also a takeaway hatch if you’re in a hurry.

Room at The Coach House Suffolk
One of the bedrooms at The Coach House Suffolk

Dog-friendly Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft: where to stay

The Coach House Suffolk, in Carlton Colville, is incredibly dog-friendly and pets get their own monster breakfasts. The hotel has recently been refurbished and is just a five-minute drive from the sandy beaches of Pakefield. The East Anglia Transport Museum is also right next-door. Pets are also welcome at The Hog Hotel in Pakefield and in Great Yarmouth, dog owners should check out the family-run Furzedown Hotel and the Imperial Hotel.

If you prefer self-catering accommodation, check out the apartments and cottages offered by Suffolk Coastal Escapes. They are all located in Pakefield, on the outskirts of Lowestoft, where the beach is dog-friendly all year round. The majority of its properties, such as Avocet and Seagull Cottage, also have enclosed gardens. Alternatively, try Brig Cottage in Scratby, a 10-minute drive from Great Yarmouth. It can be booked via East Ruston Cottages, which specialises in pet-friendly holiday accommodation in Norfolk.

Ernie explores Great Yarmouth beach with Britannia Pier in the background
Ernie explores Great Yarmouth beach with Britannia Pier in the background

How do I get to Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft?

The region is approximately a three-hour drive from London and can be easily accessed from all parts of the UK. From the South East, you simply need to get on either the M11, A11, A47 (previously the A12) or A14. And if you’re coming from the Midlands or the North, look for the A47 or A14.

Greater Anglia trains serve both Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft with journey times of around 2hrs 20mins from London. National Express coaches regularly call in to the towns, too. If you’re travelling by air, Norwich International Airport is the closest place to fly in to, being just a 35-minute drive from Great Yarmouth.

Where can I find out more?

For further tourist information, check out the Visit Great Yarmouth and Discover Lowestoft websites. More ideas for things to see and do in the area can also be found on The Suffolk Coast and the Visit Norfolk sites.

2 thoughts on “Ruff Guide to… Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft

  1. This article was very helpful i live in Belton near Great Yarmouth & we have a new puppy & was looking for some places to take him with us. I did not know some of these places existed or excepted dogs so this was very helpful & informative, thank you very much for sharing 👍😉 helped us alot 😀.

    1. Thank you so much for this great information. Britain is supposed to be a nation of dog lovers but so many places ban dogs like they are some sort of vermin. All pets are not just animals, they’re part of our families. I am with our dog virtually 24/7, so why can’t she enjoy the things that we do? I understand places like food stores etc but when they say that dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches, this angers me.
      We live near a beach which at most times of the year is invaded by those humans, who leave tons of beer cans, hot food wrappers and all the contents of their unwanted packed lunch items.
      ‘They’ don’t clean up after themselves but responsible dog owners like us ensure we do; we even have our own dog bins to throw the waste away, unlike the humans who look at the rubbish bins and drop whatever rubbish they have in the hands on the sand.
      Once again, thank you so much much for this helpful information.

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