Things to do in Colchester, Essex

Colchester, located in Essex, England, is a historic town with a rich heritage dating back over 2,000 years. From its Roman roots to its medieval architecture, Colchester offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Visitors can explore ancient ruins, stroll through picturesque gardens, and immerse themselves in the vibrant local arts scene. With its charming streets, friendly locals, and diverse culinary offerings, Colchester is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and foodies alike.

Things to do

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle is a magnificent Norman castle located in the heart of Colchester. Built in the 11th century, it is one of the largest and best-preserved Norman keeps in Europe. The castle offers visitors a fascinating journey through history, with interactive displays, archaeological exhibits, and stunning views from the rooftop. Explore the castle's underground vaults, climb the spiral staircase to the top, and learn about the town's Roman, Viking, and medieval past. Don't miss the chance to see the famous Colchester Vase, a Roman treasure discovered in the castle grounds. Colchester Castle is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and anyone interested in the rich heritage of the area.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is one of the finest zoos in the UK, offering a unique and immersive wildlife experience. Home to over 220 species, the zoo provides a chance to see animals from all around the world. Explore the various themed zones, including the African Plains, South American Rainforest, and Australian Outback. Get up close to magnificent creatures such as lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, and penguins. Colchester Zoo also offers educational talks, feeding sessions, and animal encounters, allowing visitors to learn more about conservation and the importance of protecting endangered species. With beautiful landscaped gardens and play areas for children, Colchester Zoo is a fantastic day out for the whole family.

Beth Chatto Gardens

The Beth Chatto Gardens are a horticultural delight located near Colchester. Created by the renowned plantswoman Beth Chatto, these gardens showcase a stunning collection of plants that thrive in different environmental conditions. Explore the Gravel Garden, which features drought-tolerant plants, and the Water Garden, with its lush foliage and tranquil ponds. The Woodland Garden offers a peaceful retreat, while the Reservoir Garden boasts a variety of colorful blooms. The Beth Chatto Gardens also include a nursery where visitors can purchase plants to take home. Whether you're a gardening enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, a visit to these gardens is a must.

Mersea Island

Mersea Island is a charming coastal retreat located near Colchester. Known for its picturesque landscapes and fresh seafood, it is a popular destination for nature lovers and food enthusiasts. Explore the island's beautiful beaches, go for a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, or try your hand at various water sports such as sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Don't miss the opportunity to taste the famous Mersea oysters, known for their exceptional flavor. Visit the Mersea Island Vineyard to sample locally produced wines and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside. With its relaxed atmosphere and natural beauty, Mersea Island is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the coastal charm.


Firstsite is a contemporary art gallery located in the heart of Colchester. Designed by award-winning architect Rafael Viñoly, the building itself is a work of art. The gallery hosts a diverse range of exhibitions, showcasing contemporary art from both established and emerging artists. Explore the thought-provoking installations, paintings, sculptures, and multimedia artworks. Firstsite also offers workshops, talks, and events for all ages, making it a great place to engage with art and creativity. After exploring the gallery, relax at the on-site café and browse the well-stocked art shop. Whether you're an art enthusiast or simply curious about contemporary culture, Firstsite is a must-visit destination.

Colchester Natural History Museum

The Colchester Natural History Museum is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Located in a beautiful Victorian building, the museum houses a vast collection of specimens, including fossils, minerals, taxidermy animals, and botanical displays. Explore the exhibits to learn about the local wildlife, geology, and ecology of the area. Discover the fascinating history of Colchester's natural heritage and the important role it plays in conservation. The museum also offers interactive displays, educational programs, and special events for visitors of all ages. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply curious about the world around us, a visit to the Colchester Natural History Museum is a must.

Castle Park

Castle Park is a beautiful green space located in the heart of Colchester. Set against the backdrop of Colchester Castle, the park offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling town center. Take a leisurely stroll along the riverside paths, relax on the grassy lawns, or have a picnic with friends and family. The park features well-maintained gardens, a boating lake, and a children's play area. Visit the Hollytrees Museum, located within the park, to learn about the history of Colchester and its people. Castle Park is the perfect place to unwind, enjoy nature, and soak up the history of the town.

Tiptree Jam Factory

The Tiptree Jam Factory is a must-visit destination for food lovers. Located just outside Colchester, this iconic establishment has been producing high-quality jams, preserves, and other delicious products since 1885. Take a guided tour of the factory to learn about the jam-making process, from fruit cultivation to packaging. Discover the history of the Tiptree brand and sample a wide range of jams, marmalades, and chutneys in the onsite shop. The Tiptree Tearooms offer a delightful dining experience, with a menu featuring homemade scones, cakes, and light lunches. Don't forget to stock up on your favorite preserves before leaving. A visit to the Tiptree Jam Factory is a treat for the taste buds.

Colchester Arts Centre

Colchester Arts Centre is a vibrant hub for performing arts and live entertainment. Housed in a former church, the venue hosts a diverse range of events, including music concerts, comedy shows, theater performances, and art exhibitions. Experience the intimate atmosphere of the main auditorium, which has retained its original architectural features. Enjoy live music from local and international artists, laugh along with top comedians, or be captivated by thought-provoking theatrical productions. The arts center also offers workshops and classes for those interested in developing their creative skills. With its eclectic program of events, Colchester Arts Centre is a must-visit for culture enthusiasts.

High Woods Country Park

High Woods Country Park is a beautiful nature reserve located on the outskirts of Colchester. Covering over 350 acres, it offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the town. Explore the network of walking trails that wind through ancient woodlands, meadows, and wetlands. Keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife, including deer, birds, and butterflies. The park also features a large lake, perfect for fishing or simply enjoying the serene surroundings. With picnic areas, a children's play area, and a visitor center with a café, High Woods Country Park is a great place for a family day out or a leisurely stroll in nature.