Visit Essex has created its own ‘bucket list’ of attractions to visit across the county. Here are seven ideas to inspire a future trip. 

1. Visit Southend-on-Sea

Thrill seekers can ride a rollercoaster at Adventure Island at Southend-on-Sea, or those who enjoy a slightly slower pace can catch a train to the end of the world’s longest pier (pictured above) for beautiful views of the coastline. Visitors can also take in culture at the Focal Point Gallery and enjoy an ice cream at Rossi’s Ice Cream Parlour on the seafront.

2. House and gardens galore

Take a trip to Audley End House and Gardens, near Saffron Walden, and step back in time. Wander around the grounds, experience life upstairs and downstairs and discover more about Essex’s history. The county is also home to historic gardens at RHS Hyde Hall near Chelmsford which boasts ornamental horticulture, wild woodlands and majestic meadows, or visit Beth Chatto’s inspirational 1960s dry garden near Colchester. All of these offer discounts for groups of a certain size.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

Source: RHS / Richard Bloom

The Dry Garden pictured in winter at RHS Garden Hyde Hall.

3. Explore Essex’s 350-mile coastline and estuaries

2023 is the Year of the Coast, so why not explore Essex’s vast coastline? Visit the county’s seaside resorts or head off-the-beaten-track and wander around its estuaries. Groups are spoilt for choice on the Maritime Walking Trail in Harwich where they can see Grayson Perry’s ‘House of Essex’ in Wrabness, go fossil hunting on Mersea Island or take pictures of traditional beach huts. There are also paddle board options along the coast for those in search of quiet inlets and creeks or a unique view of the lightship at Tollesbury.

4. Roman Colchester

Colchester was Britain’s capital in Roman times and there’s lots of historic artefacts to see around the city. Walk by the Roman walls that run through the city and are lit at night and take in historic mosaics, or tour the Roman Circus visitor centre. Colchester Castle, the largest Norman Keep in Europe, is built on the grounds of a Roman temple and has many items inside, including coins, paintings and  the famous Sheepen Cauldron - a huge and mysterious vessel from the Bronze Age.

Colchester Castle, Essex

You’ll find a whole host of ancient artefacts inside Colchester Castle.

5. Take a trip to Lakeside and city centres

With over 250 shops, restaurants and leisure attractions, Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock is a good place to bag a bargain for any shoppers among your group. Or, Chelmsford is home to Bond Street Shopping Centre where you’ll find lots of retail outlets, restaurants and entertainment complexes, whereas Colchester boasts big brands and a range of independent shops, plus a Fenwick’s in the High Street.

6. Visit Colchester Zoo

A must for animal lovers, Colchester Zoo is home to over 160 species across 60 acres of parkland and lakes. Visitors can enjoy feeding the giraffes for a small extra fee, getting up close to animals in the Familiar Friends Section, riding the train to visit the ring-tailed lemurs and watch the tigers roam behind their glazed enclosures.

Colchester Zoo, Essex

Get up close to a range of animals at Colchester Zoo, including giraffes and elephants.

7. Picturesque towns and villages

Dedham is located in the heart of Constable Country and offers independent shops, pubs and walks by the river. Finchingfield is another nice spot with its picturesque duck pond and the ancient Flitch towns of Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Thaxted are famed for their spired churches, medieval architecture and market squares.

For more information and inspiration in the county of Essex, go to