Situated north-east of London, Essex is a county of contrasts and a wellspring of intense moments. Its mesmerising landscapes speckled with scenic towns and villages have been the source of inspiration for renowned artists, while the gardens scattered throughout the county are a poem by themselves. Essex is a largely rural county with tiny hamlets, traditional villages, and small market towns. In a nutshell, Essex is the place that has it all, from nature reserves and country parks that words are hard to describe, to vibrant seaside towns with fantastic, isolated beaches and a vast coastline of 350 miles that contrasts sharply with the luscious countryside. Run by a network of estuaries and sprinkled with rivers, undulating farmland, woodlands, and views interrupted by majestic ashes and oaks, presided over by the ever changing East-Anglian skies, Essex is full of surprises and treasures waiting to be discovered.
Tourist Attractions with Historical Interest
Essex has been influenced by several European cultures, some of the most impressive examples of which include the Roman capital of Colchester with the oldest town hall in the UK (of its kind). The recently excavated Romano-British town of Heybridge in Maldon is another Roman settlement found in the area, but the most spectacular discovery made in the last 60 years is undoubtedly the 7th century chamber grave discovered completely undisturbed in 2003 in Southend on Sea, speculated to belong to one of the Kings of Essex.
The Norman invasion, on the other hand, has also left Essex with an abundance of castles; one of the finest is the Norman Keep of Hedingham Castle (also serving as one of the county's most favourite & romantic wedding venues) and the reconstructed site of Mountfitchet Castle should definitely not be missed. On the western boundary of the county lies the most distinguishing and heart-stopping example of Norman church architecture, the Waltham Abbey.
Just a breath away from London, Essex has many perfect towns and villages to base yourself, allowing you to explore the richness of the county. Offering a broad range of places to stay, it literally has something for every budget and taste, from luxury accommodation to traditional bed & breakfast, cosy self-catering cottages, and prestigious, mid-priced hotels for a romantic getaway, ideal for the bargain hunter that also wants to be pampered.
That aside, accommodation in Essex also includes a superb variety of family value holiday parks, as well as campsites and hostels for those travelling on a budget.
Things to Do & Places to Visit
Infused with unique treasures and steeped in history, Essex is waiting to be explored bit by bit. With a wealth of treasures to be found and a countryside that is a walking heaven, you will definitely have your hands full. You can cross the county using the Essex Way or challenge the explorer within and pick the coastal walks and countryside trails that will offer you views beyond imagination.
Despite its proximity to London, the coastline offers remarkable opportunities for relaxing escapes with hidden gems patiently waiting to be unearthed. Nature lovers will find seductive rugged coves shaped by the elements vanishing in the sea, quiet cliff top walks with breath-taking views, quaint ports, vast salt marshes, and gently shelving sandy beaches, among many more, that they can walk through or cycle. As for passionate golfers, there are plenty of golf courses to test your skills. Horse riding is another of the exciting things to do while in Essex, and the same applies to sailing, kite-surfing, fishing, climbing, archery, white-water rafting, and numerous adventure-based activities that don't fit on a page.
Don't forget to visit one of the finest zoos in Europe located in Britain's oldest recorded town, Colchester, and the world's longest pleasure pier at the seaside town of Southend. A visit to Mersea Island will definitely reward you, and resorts like Clacton on Sea and Frinton on Sea will steal your heart with their picturesque scenery and Blue Flag beaches.
For some family fun, you will find much to do at Walton on the Naze, the seaside resort with the charming narrow streets and fantastic seafront gardens offering sea angling and an unspoiled headland of salt marshes and heath and 70ft high cliffs eroded away to the north. It is also the site of a gallery that houses 3 exhibitions a year and spreads across 6 floors. For even more adrenaline-pumping activities, Adventure Island in Southend on Sea is your end destination, with over 40 rides.
Nightlife, Dining & Shopping
Essex has some of the best venues in the UK, ranging from superclubs and stylish lounge and wine bars, visited by a host of celebrities, to please every desire and need, packed week in and week out.
Hungry and want to grab a bite? Essex will tick all your boxes and satisfy your culinary quenches with a vast array of both experimental and traditional restaurants and cafes. From fine dining establishments to boutique, quirky restaurants, you won't leave disappointed for sure.
Finally, those looking for first-class shopping, designer, and high-street shopping will fly sky-high at the Chelmsford City centre, Clacton Factory Outlet, Freeport Braintree, Intu Lakeside, and The Victoria Shopping Center, in Southend, to name a few!
Check out what's on in Essex today and take a look at our Essex events calendar.