What to visit in Colchester, Essex

by - 6:00 PM

Hello hello there!

It is so weird to think that I have moved to Colchester almost two years ago! During my first year of uni, I lived on campus so I basically rarely visited Colchester as all the facilities I needed were right there, on campus. Nonetheless, during my second year, I lived quite close to the town centre, so I can state that I did experience Colchester way more fully.

Colchester is located near the coast, in the County of Essex. It is situated 1h30 minutes away from the capital, London. With over 100 thousand inhabitants, it is known for being the oldest town recorded in the UK. 

In this post, I will share some of the go-to places if you're ever in town!

Castle Park and Colchester Castle 

Of course, I had to start with Castle Park as it is one of the main attractions in Colchester! 
The Castle, constructed on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius, is the largest example of Norman inheritance in Europe. Not only this, but it can be said that the Colchester Castle is an inspiration for one of the towers in the Tower of London as their designs are fairly similar and the former pre-dates it! The inside has now been converted to a museum
The Castle is located in Castle Park, the biggest garden in Colchester. It is perfect for a picnic or a fun game afternoon. Many festivals and concerts are also hosted here. More historical heritage can also be found throughout the park. Entry to the Park is free.


High street and shopping

High Street is the main street in Colchester. There you can find the Town Hall, the orange tower (really, non-missable). Furthermore, many markets and stalls take place here every Friday and Saturday.
Shopping in town can be a fun experience. From the notorious big chains to smaller independent shops and thrift shops. The main areas are: Lion Walk, Culver Square, Culver Street and Eld Lane.


Natural History Museum

Located right outside Castle Park, the former church now turned into a museum focuses on all the natural changes Colchester has experienced up to today. From biodiversity to climate changes, here you can observe fossils and minerals collected within the north-east Essex area. You can learn all about the devastating 1884 earthquake or the mammoths that used to wander around. Furthermore, admission is free!


Hollytrees Museum

This museum is situated within Castle Park, by the Information Centre. The property used to be the Round family's home. Today, visitors can get a sense of what it was to live in the house by walking through the many rooms, seeing the collections of mediaeval belongings, portraits, clocks and doll houses and listening to recordings of inhabitants' memories. Entry is also free!


Firstsite exhibitions

Not only is the gallery's architecture incredible, but admission is also free! Firstsite offers many events, cinema screenings, workshops and rotating art exhibitions. The main focus is on contemporary visual arts.


University of Essex

My university. The campus is composed of 5 squares where all the facilities (from stores, bars, restaurants and even hairdressers), library, student centre, classrooms and many of the student accommodation infrastructures are located. As it is built within Wivenhoe Park, there is a beautiful scenery with a lake surrounding it. There is also the hex and lakeside theatre, where many plays and events take place.



The perfect place to go if you want to do something fun. From rollerskating to pool tables, to bowlingo (smaller bowling), to arcade games and even quasar laser tag!

Other ideas (places I haven't visited yet but will definitely in the future!):

  • Minories Gallery: art exhibitions and tea room
  • Mercury Theatre: where many national and international plays take place
  • St John's Abbey Gate: the only part of the abbey that still remains intact
  • St Botolph's Priory: remains of the first Augustinian priory church
  • Bourne Mill: watermill with working waterwheel
  • Holy Trinity Church: free entry, burial place of Queen Elizabeth's physician
  • Colchester Zoo: visit species from around the world and learn about the conservation programme
  • Close towns and areas: Wivenhoe (beautiful walk via the path from the University), Tiptree (Wilkin and Sons Jam Museum and Little Scarlet Strawberries), Dedham Vale (known as Constable Country as the picturesque scenes remind of paintings created by Constable; something else interesting to check out is the legend of the Dragon), Colne Vale (East Anglian Railway Museum)

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