Great Visitor Attractions in Colchester

Colchester is full of fantastic visitor attractions waiting to be discovered.

  • Explore 2000 years of history from ancient ruins all the way through to items you might remember from your own childhood in Hollytrees museum.
  • Take in some culture in the town's galleries, theatre and arts centre. There's always a great programme of events on.
  • Explore the local scenery, from Constable Country and the Essex coast to beautiful parks and gardens - often right in the middle of town.

Don't forget to look at some of the great activities available in town too. 


Explore attractions on a weekend retreat

Featured Attractions

Colchester Zoo

Leopard at Colchester Zoo. Photo: Scott Davey
Colchester Zoo is regarded as one of the top zoos in the country, and hosts a large array of animals in its expansive grounds. You can easilly spend a day walking aroudn the site, and there are plenty of food stops, play parks, and interactive features to keep the whole family entertained.

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Museums and Historic Attractions

Colchester Castle is a must-see for anyone visiting the town for it's history. A Norman keep built on the foundations of a Roman Temple destroyed by Boudicca, it now houses Colchester Castle Museum, home of many nationally important treasures including the recently discovered Fenwick hoard. It is also an excellent starting point for discovering the many other historic sites around town.

Hollytrees Museum, home of the Visitor Information Centre, is a social history museum exploring a wide range of local curios, including a collection of longcase clocks and a fabulous dolls house replica of the museum itself. Just over the road you can also discover some of the local wildlife in Colchester Natural History Museum

Further afield you can be transported back to the golden age of steam at the East Anglian Railway Museum, discover the history of the town at Mersea Island Museum, or even explore the history of Wilkins and Sons Ltd at the Tiptree Jam Museum & Tea Room.

Gardens and Parks in Colchester

Browse Parks & Gardens in Colchester

Take time out from the bustle of the town centre with a visit to the classic Victorian Castle Park at the end of the High Street, awarded a Green Flag for its high standards. Castle Park is also the start of many of Colchester's Guided Tours, a great way to discover the stories, history, characters and future of Britain's oldest recorded town.

Any gardening fan must visit the world famous Beth Chatto Gardens - inspirationally transformed over four decades with plants suited to the conditions. Don't miss the opportunity to take home some plants as souvenirs from the nursery, a favourite haunt of television gardeners!

At High Woods Country Park (once a Royal hunting forest) on the edge of town, you can take a marked walking trail through the greenery. You can then soak up even more nature at a Local Nature Reserve: Fingringhoe Wick has a full events programme including children's activities related to its grassland, heathland, estuarine and freshwater habitats while Abberton Reservoir is a major place for bird watching and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Arts and Cultural Attractions

Firstsite is the town's contemporary art gallery, housed in an impressive golden building designed by award-winning architect Rafael Viñoly. With regular exhibitions, a cafe, cinema screen, and children's activities there is always something going on. It is conveniently situated next door to the smaller Minories Gallery, which has a busy programme of equally engaging exhibitions.

The Mercury Theatre leads the way for plays and stage shows, producing original work as well as hosting nationally touring productions. It houses a smaller studio theatre as well as its main stage, and in combination with the small Headgate Theatre in town and Lakeside Theatre on the University campus means the town is spoilt for choice in this department.

Colchester Arts Centre
also hosts theatre productions, but is equally at home with live music, stand-up comedy, performance art, as well as completely unclassifiable events! Regarded as something of a treasure by the locals it is well worth keeping an eye on their programme of events and taking a chance on something a bit unusual if it catches your eye. 


The information on our site has been supplied by third parties. Colchester Borough Council will not be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of inaccuracy or error within these pages. We advise you contact the venue/event organiser in advance of your visit.