What to do and see in Colchester, England: The Best Places and Tips

Colchester /ˈkoʊltʃɛstər/ ( listen) is an historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex.

1. Colchester Zoo

Maldon Road | Stanway, Colchester, Colchester CO3 0SL, England Nature & Parks, Zoos & Aquariums, Outdoor Activities
Excellent
76%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 5293 reviews

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is constantly developing and has won many awards for its work. With over 270 species to see, set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, Colchester Zoo is well worth a visit. As you walk around the zoo there's plenty of play areas to try out including the indoor soft play area Jungle Tumble with a section for under 3s and all new play equipment where the kids can release their wild side! New enclosures include a walk through enclosure with butterflies and another with Rainbow Lorikeets offering visitors a chance to feed them a treat of nectar. Plus there's 'Bears of the Rising Sun', a state of the art enclosure which houses two beautiful sun bears , Jo Jo and Srey Ya. You can also come face to face with Komodo Dragons, see white rhino, giraffes, ostrich and kudu roaming together at Kingdom of the Wild and walk underwater through the 24m tunnel at the Playa Patagonia sealion pool. Learn more about the animals and see them up close by watching one of the 50 daily displays. You even get the fantastic opportunity to feed the elephants and giraffes yourself and take a ride on the 'Lost Madagascar Express' road train! Don't forget to pop into the discovery centre and have a go at handling some unusual bugs or get your face painted and transform yourself into your favourite animal!

Reviewed By 266jamiec - Norwich, United KingdomNorwich, United Kingdom

A lovely day

Visited today with my wife. The weather was great and that just topped off the day for us. With plenty to see and so, we really enjoyed our visit. We got to feed the elephants and giraffes, which is a great experience. It is a bit hilly in places so not e

2. The Beth Chatto Gardens

Elmstead Market Clacton Road, Colchester CO7 7DB, England Nature & Parks, Gardens
Excellent
62%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1076 reviews

The Beth Chatto Gardens

Open 7 days a week 7.5 Acres of inspirational Gardens. Entrance fee from £4.50 depending on season (under 16's free except on special event days). Gravel Garden, extensive Nursery and Tearoom all free to gain access. The Beth Chatto Gardens began in 1960. From an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows, using the principles of ecological planting, it has been transformed into 7 acres of informal garden comprising of the Gravel Garden, Water Garden, Reservoir Garden, Woodland Garden and Scree Garden all harmonising with the surrounding countryside. The gardens are an inspiration to anyone who visits them - the art of planting at its best. There is also an extensive Nursery with choice of over 2,000 different kinds of mainly herbaceous plants and bulbs. Light and spacious Tearoom with homemade cakes, light lunches, breakfasts, fresh ground coffee and selection of teas. Closed Christmas and New Year

Reviewed By fcsandy - Walton-on-the-Naze, United KingdomWalton-on-the-Naze, United Kingdom

Will not rush back

We visited this week and will not rush back. We spent about an hour walking around the gardens (a very slow walk as we had paid to view the gardens) and about half an hour around the garden centre part, and we didn't bother eating lunch at the cafe, we we

3. Castle Park

High Street, Colchester CO1 1UG, England Nature & Parks
Excellent
68%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1158 reviews

Castle Park

Colchester's distinctive heritage is nowhere more apparent than in Castle Park. A site of national importance, this Victorian Park contains evidence of 2000 years of history and is a landscape moulded by the people of Colchester over many eras.Castle Park not only encompasses much of Colchester's rich heritage within its boundaries but is much loved and used as a part of present day life. It boasts over 1 million visitors a year. Providing a green oasis in the town centre, you can sit, walk, enjoy music, play games, or picnic amongst wonderful flowers and trees. Its horticulture is award-winning and the park has long been a superb venue for the town's big events.The park itself is designated Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.

Reviewed By Tracey S - Andover, United KingdomAndover, United Kingdom

Beautiful garden, just watch out for the squirrels

Stopped off here whilst walking around Colchester town centre, sadly didn't have time to walk around the museum so enjoyed a quick stroll around the gardens. the gardens are beautiful , well kept and with some stunning flowers. Nice interpretive boards ar

4. Cudmore Grove Country Park

Bromans Cottage Mersea Island Bromans Lane | East mersea, Colchester CO5 8UE, England Nature & Parks
Excellent
55%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 231 reviews

Cudmore Grove Country Park

Reviewed By tickers24 - Folkestone, United KingdomFolkestone, United Kingdom

Bootiful.....

What a lovely place to visit... Parking ex pensive, only down side.. Great cafe area, stunning walks to the sea via a open park area... Big play area for kids, plenty of bikes and balls everywhere.. Bbq allowed as well.... Great sea walks looking across t

5. West Mersea Beach

Colchester CO5 8DE, England Nature & Parks, Outdoor Activities, Beaches
Excellent
52%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 122 reviews

West Mersea Beach

Reviewed By LInda G - Colchester, United KingdomColchester, United Kingdom

Very Unspoilt part of Essex Coast

Mersea Island is a unique place. It still has a busy fishing industry which is famous for its oysters. The beaches are clean and great for walking and popular with dog walkers.It is also very popular in the summer with several caravan parks attracting man

6. Colchester Castle Museum

Castle Park, Colchester CO1 1TJ, England Sights & Landmarks, Museums, Castles, History Museums More
Excellent
54%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 996 reviews

Colchester Castle Museum

Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius, built when Colchester was the first Roman capital of Britain, the Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors. Archaeological collections of international quality covering 2,500 years of history are beautifully showcased, including of the most important Roman finds in Britain

Reviewed By genibre69 - London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom

Expensive but still enjoyed my visit

Ok whilst I think £10 is still too much to pay for entrance and there’s no way you should have to pay extra for a tour (I declined), I found enough interesting information over two floors to satisfy me (sans kids). There’s interesting artifacts and lots o

7. Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum

Marks Hall Marks Hall Road | Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1TE, England Nature & Parks, Gardens
Excellent
61%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 260 reviews

Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum

The Gardens and Arboretum at Marks Hall form an unmissable attraction in the Essex countryside. Marks Hall combines many English traditions with beautiful formal gardens, a stunning Arboretum with an enviable collection of mature trees from across the world, woodland and leafy paths to walk on for miles. A visit to Marks Hall will inspire a need to return time and time again seeing new things as they happen throughout the year.

Reviewed By John P - BraintreeBraintree

Jewel In The Essex Crown

A hidden gem of a place with so much to see.Yes you have to pay but wow is it worth it with acres to explore. Formal gardens, lakes,wild areas, woodland and walks in the surrounding countryside. The Restaurant is lovely with seating outside when weather i

8. Mercury Theatre

Mercury Theatre Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT, England Concerts & Shows, Theaters
Excellent
76%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 885 reviews

Mercury Theatre

Free the fun in you! The Mercury exists to put theatre at the heart of the cultural life of the community it serves and to make work in Colchester that reaches audiences and generates critical attention regionally and nationally.

Reviewed By MichelR894 - Tours, FranceTours, France

Nice theatre for a very good musical

We attendez with Friends the musical Ain't misbehavin'. This musical was well played, danced and sung. The musicians and actors' performance was outstanding as they never stopped. No down time during nearly 2 hours.The armchairs of the theatre are very co

9. The Munnings Art Museum

Castle House Castle Hill | Castle House, Dedham, Colchester CO7 6AZ, England Museums, Shopping, Art Museums, Art Galleries More
Excellent
75%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 164 reviews

The Munnings Art Museum

In 1918 Alfred Munnings was appointed as a war artist in France for the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and later for the Canadian Forestry Corps. At the war’s end his paintings from France were bought by the Canadian government and are now in the collection of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. In the centenary year of their first exhibition at the Royal Academy, London in 1919, the Munnings Art Museum is privileged to have on loan from Canada forty-one of these war paintings. It is a rare opportunity to see these works, alongside sketches and paintings from The Munnings Art Museum’s own collection. The museum also has on display another 150 life’s works by Sir Alfred Munnings from its own collection. Cafe open from 10am-5pm, Weds-Sun serving coffee, lunch, tea and cake. Plenty of free parking.

Reviewed By Wendy R - Colchester, United KingdomColchester, United Kingdom

The Munnings Art Museum

We spent a couple of hours walking around Castle House and the Art gallery, garden and studio looking at the works of Alfred Munninfs. All beautifully displayed.

10. Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Abberton Reservoir Wildfowl & Visitor Centre Church Road | Layer de la Haye, Colchester, Colchester CO2 0EU, England Nature & Parks, Traveler Resources, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Visitor Centers More
Excellent
59%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 233 reviews

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Visitors can enjoy walks on Essex Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve; with stunning panoramic views across the reservoir and surrounding villages as well as superb views of the water’s edge from three bird hides. The nature reserve has a 900m accessible circular footpath and there are wheelchairs available for use. The Visitor Centre offers a tearoom which is open seven days a week providing a variety of hot and cold food, most of which is locally sourced; easy access toilets & baby changing facilities; and a well-stocked shop which has binoculars, telescopes, bird food, feeders and a range of gifts. Essex Wildlife Trust runs a programme of events throughout the year for all ages as well as children’s outdoor birthday parties and a weekly toddler group available during term time; booking is required for all of our events. On the nature reserve there is a new Brambly Hedge sculpture trail, where you can find seven characters from the classic stories written by Jill Barklem; there is also a wild play area with a zip wire, v bridge, swings and spiderweb net. Essex Wildlife Trust is a charity and relies on donations to carry out its work for the wildlife and people of Essex. There is suggested entry donation of £2 for Adults £1 for children and £5 Family; car parking is free. The huge expanse of Essex & Suffolk Water’s Abberton Reservoir plays host to some 40,000 wetland birds each year all attracted to the shallow muddy margins and large areas of rough grassland, which provide the ultimate habitat for a plethora of wildlife and waterfowl. The Visitor Centre is 6 miles SW of Colchester on the B1026 (a minor road linking Colchester and Maldon) just South of Layer de la Haye - follow the brown and white "Abberton Reservoir visitor centre" signs.

Reviewed By shark939 - Luton, United KingdomLuton, United Kingdom

Chance to see rare birds

Abberton Reservoir is basically divided into 2 parts. the reservoirs that extend beyond the site and the nature reserve run by the Essex Wildlife Trust which tacks onto one of the reservoirs. I found the reserve very good with hides and opportunities to v

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