Top 10 Things To Do In Colchester
The English town of Colchester is found in the southeast of the country, in the county of Essex. A historic Roman settlement, Colchester is packed with fun things to see and do. Zoos, castles, beautiful parks and amazing artwork all combine to make the town one of the most attractive places to visit in the whole of the UK. In this article, we’ll discuss 10 of the best things to do and places to visit in Colchester.
Check out the Natural History Museum
The most interesting thing about Colchester’s Natural History Museum is probably the site in which it is housed. A Norman church has been repurposed and is now home to numerous fascinating exhibits relating to Colchester. Learn about a powerful earthquake which struck the town in 1884 and get to know the stag beetle, a rare species found almost exclusively in the southeast corner of England. Kids will love learning about the creepy crawlies, playing with the interactive microscope and crawling through a replica badger sett.
See the art at Firstsite
The ultra-modern Firstsite building may remind you at first of the Sydney Opera House, with its elegant, curved design. The art museum hosts a variety of exhibitions which change regularly. Prominent artists such as Andy Warhol have seen their work hung in the museum for a time. In fact the only permanent exhibit is an incredible Roman mosaic, which was unearthed at the site during the construction of the Firstsite building.
Explore Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle boasts the largest Norman keep in Europe, even larger than the keep at the Tower of London. Dating back centuries, the site is an incredible place to visit, combining the well-preserved ruins with a world-class museum. The facility displays ancient artefacts dating back to Roman times and charts the history of the castle, which was built on the site of an even older Roman temple.
Discover St Botolph’s Priory
Another exciting historical attraction for history buffs to enjoy in Colchester, St Botolph’s Priory was England’s first Augustinian convent. It dates back to the 12th century and much of the original architecture remains intact, with archways and original columns still standing proud in their original place. You can even see some of the damage caused to the priory during the 1648 Siege of Colchester, part of the English Civil War.
Wander through the Beth Chatto Gardens
The famous gardener Beth Chatto curated these gardens next to her home in the 1960s, and they have been protected and nurtured ever since. A variety of plants call the gardens home and the five acres can easily be explored from top to bottom, uncovering a small woodland, a water garden and more. There’s also an onsite tea room, where visitors can stop for a cup of tea and slice of cake before continuing with their day.
Explore Munnings Art Museum
Just outside Colchester, in nearby Dedham, art enthusiasts will find the Munnings Art Museum, dedicated to one of England’s most notable painters – Sir Alfred Munnings. Known for his equestrian artwork, Munnings’ museum is housed in the house he lived in for the last 40 years of his life. Visitors to the museum can see a vast collection of his work, with hundreds of paintings on display.
Colchester has a great mixture of attractions for all the family to enjoy. Fascinating historic sites, world-class artwork and splendid natural environments have all the makings of a great day out. Colchester Zoo is notable as one of the best zoological facilities in England and the size of Colchester Castle enables it to rival some much more famous sites. However you plan to explore the town, you’re sure to find plenty to see and do in the region.
Visit Colchester Zoo
A charming zoo providing a great day out for the entire family, Colchester Zoo is the home of numerous iconic animal species. African elephants, lions and penguins are all on display, as are lesser known and more curious creatures such as sun bears. Consistently ranked as one of the best zoos in the country, Colchester Zoo has a daily schedule of presentations and feeding sessions as well, so guests can learn more about fascinating animals such as the red panda, orangutan and sea lion. A trip to the zoo tops our list of fun things to do in Colchester.
Unwind in Castle Park
One of our favourite free things to do in Colchesetr, the highlight of Castle Park is the historic Roman Wall which winds through the two sections of the area. The park is extremely popular in the summer months, with people coming for picnics or to play crazy golf, enjoy a boat ride on the lake or stroll through pretty flowerbeds. There’s also a children’s play area and a full roster of events in the summer, with concerts, movie screenings and a food and drink festival at the end of June.
Take a trip to Mersea Island
Just a few miles south of Colchester lies Mersea Island, found in the Colne and Blackwater estuaries. It can be completely cut off from the mainland during high tide but can be reached across the Strood Causeway at low tide. A walk around the island yields pretty cottages and historic monuments, including pillboxes dating back to the Second World War. No visit to the island would be complete without trying some of the local oysters, which have been harvested in the area since the time of the Romans.
See wildlife at Abberton Reservoir Nature Reserve
Keen birdwatchers will absolutely love visiting this biodiverse wetland reserve, which is managed by Essex Wildlife Trust. The reserve is accessible via a circular path and wheelchair access allows everybody to enjoy the pristine scenery of the reservoir and its surrounds. The site is of global significance for water fowl, with more than 40,000 ducks, geese and other birds descending on the reserve each year – these birds can be watched secretly from three permanent hides which have been set up for guests to enjoy.
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