Take some time to explore Colchester and its surrounding area. Delve into the hidden corners of Britain’s oldest recorded town and then cast your eye further afield towards the coast, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, or any one of several quaint villages.
Britain’s Oldest Town
With over 2000 years of history, there’s always something close by to discover in Colchester. Investigate the wide range of artefacts on display in Colchester Castle Museum, or get out and about and discover the remains of Britain’s only known Roman Circus. Find parts of the Roman Wall wedged between shops, or built into the very fabric of pubs and restaurants. Why not take a guided walking tour of the town to find some of the most well-hidden secrets.
Colchester is a central, convenient base to explore the sights and sounds of East Anglia with several wonderful destinations just a short drive from the town.
The picturesque Dedham Vale is an area of outstanding natural beauty and has long been an inspiration for artists, not least John Constable whom the area is now affectionately named after. Visit the National Trust owned Flatford Mill, or take a trip to the Munnings Gallery to see the work of another artist inspired by the region: Sir Alfred Munnings
Divided into the rural East Mersea, and small town of West Mersea, Mersea Island is a fantastic place to explore. The wild beaches in the East make way for sandier shores as you head westwards, with pastel coloured beach huts a sight to behold. Famous for its Oysters, you can find acclaimed restaurants serving seafood with the waves practically lapping at their doors. Be careful though, if you don’t check the tides you may find yourself cut off from the mainland for an hour or so!
A small town on the outskirts of Colchester situated on the banks of the river Colne, Wivenhoe has a healthy student population and a strong creative community. There are several wonderful pubs and restaurants, and some beautiful walks in the nearby area, not least the Wivenhoe trail which leads back to Colchester Town Centre.
Great places to visit in Colchester
The Colchester Roman circus (chariot-racing arena) was discovered in 2005. It was built in the early 2nd century AD and seems to have been in use for about 150 years. It is the only known Roman circus in Britain.
Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius. The Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors.
Colchester Zoo is home to over 260 species set in 60 acres of parkland and lakes and are proudly listed as in the top 2 zoos in the UK as part of the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Attractions.
The Minories Galleries is a professional contemporary art gallery run in conjunction with Colchester School of Art & Design and Media.
Colchester's Roman Wall is the oldest and longest surviving town wall in Britain.
Colchester's Castle Park provides a perfect setting for a huge range of events including shows, festivals and concerts.
A highly respected regional theatre, home to the critically acclaimed Mercury Theatre Company, staging a broad mix of classic plays and new writing as well as working extensively within the local community.
Discover and interesting 'hands-on' perspective on the local natural environment from the Ice Age right up to today. Explore the garden trail and stag beetle exhibition, free entry.
An important part of Colchester's rich history with three centuries of fascinating toys, costume and decorative arts displayed in an attractive Georgian town house from 1718.
Over 50 years ago, John Wilkin began collecting the paraphernalia of preserve making and Essex village life.
370 acres of woodland, grassland and wetland with path network, including circular walks and easy access trail. Visitor centre and interactive displays, rangers organise a range of activities throughout the year.
The first English Augustinian priory church, founded at the end of the eleventh century from the Anglo-Saxon minster community of Colchester. Only the ruined remains of the nave survive today, under the care of English Heritage.
National Trust property, the mill was originally built as a fishing lodge in 1591 and features stepped "Dutch" gables. There is a millpond and some of the machinery, including the waterwheel which is still intact and working.
2.5 hectares (6 acres) of gravel, water and woodland gardens, a large modern tea room and plant nursery.
Culture & Heritage things to do
Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town, with a colourful history dating back over two thousand years. It's a history you can share by visiting the town's award-winning museums where you can see collections of international importance.
From a Roman Temple to cutting edge 21st century design, via Victorian splendour and medieval timber frames, panoramas of beautiful buildings reflect the town's history and contemporary appeal.