Essex is the perfect place to get away from it all. Situated on the doorstep of London the county offers a vibrant coastline and picturesque countryside.
Escape to Essex to explore, experience and enjoy our county. We invite you to discover the county that has Britain’s first city, is the birthplace of radio and home to the world’s longest pier, as well as over 40 vineyards. With over 200 attractions there is plenty do. Did you know Essex is also the driest county?
If you are looking at making more than a day of it, and you really should, then book yourself into a room at a castle, a luxurious tree house, a room literally out of a story or a stay in the middle of a lake. If you want something a bit more conventional we have great holiday parks with entertainment, boutique hotels with gourmet dining or spa and golf hotels that impress.
2023 is the year of the coast and boasting the one of the longest coastlines at 350 miles there is plenty to do on the Essex coast.
Best places to visit on the Essex Coastline
Further down the coastline is Mersea Island, famous for its oysters and a popular holiday destination.
Aside from the seafood you can find Cudmore Grove, a perfect place for fossil hunting and finding the odd sharks tooth. There is plenty of activity at Mersea with watersports and a number of holiday parks, Waldegraves is a great family run holiday park that offers its guests entertainment and fun.
The Maldon District
The Maldon District coastline is a great place for a walk, famous for its mudflats and salt marshes, the landscape is dramatic. At Bradwell-on-Sea you can find St Peters on the Wall, England’s oldest church dating back to the year 660 which makes it one of the oldest buildings in England. With many islands and rural locations the area is a haven to nature and wildlife.
Maldon has been producing wine for hundreds of years and with five vineyards in the area that you can visit you will be able to sample award winning wines that rival France. What not combine a tour, wine tasting and overnight stay at Crouch Ridge Vineyard.
In Maldon you will find some of the last remaining Thames Barges, where you can set sail for an afternoon tea or sunset cruise, or to get on the water the area is great for paddle-boarding.
For all the action and entertainment head to Southend-on-Sea, easily accessible from London by train Southend offers family fun and a great night out. With award winning beaches, the thrills of the rides at Adventure Island and Sealife Adventure children will be entertained for hours.
The fun continues for adults with casinos, bars, restaurants and theatres, not to mention the quaint Leigh on sea with is boutique shops and rustic cockle sheds situated on cobbled streets lined with pubs and restaurants. There is also a cultural vibe with galleries, events, museums and art spaces. A must for everyone visiting Southend is a train ride or walk down to the end of the world’s longest pleasure pier. Stay in the Park Inn Palace hotel dating back to 1901 where you can have breakfast overlooking the sea.
The best towns in Essex to visit
Historical Harwich feels like you have taken a step back in time, there is a reminder of its history around every corner. Home to where the Mayflower was built, you can visit the Captain, Christopher Jones’ house. Harwich is also home to England’s first purpose -built cinema, the Electric Palace.
The Redoubt Fort which was built in 1808 to defend the port from Napoelonic invasion is an interesting place to visit. The Pier Hotel offers modern boutique accommodation and fantastic food overlooking the harbour with stunning views.
Whilst visiting the town you can go on a seal watching boat trip, an experience not to be missed. Just down the road from Harwich you will find sandy beaches at Frinton on Sea and Walton on the Naze.
For a heritage break the Roman City of Colchester is perfect, whilst Colchester got city status last year it is fact England’s first city making it the capital before London. Whilst in Colchester you can visit roman remains, explore Europe’s largest Norman keep, Colchester Castle, and its underground vaults or take in some culture at Firstsite Gallery, currently awarded UK’s Museum of the Year.
Wivenhoe House is a boutique hotel with first class dining. Dedham is a stunning area made famous by John Constable, you can take a rowing boat through the countryside on the river Stour and stroll through the fields. Tiptree Jam is one of Essex’s most famous exports and one of their tearooms is in Dedham where you can watch the world go by over an afternoon tea.
Saffron Walden is a delightful medieval market town and home of the magnificent Jacobian house, Audley End House and Gardens which is owned by English Heritage, a great day out for all. For those with younger guests they can go on a quest to find fairies at Audley Miniature Railway or step back in time to 1066 Norman England at Mountfitchet Castle and Toy Museum.
Gardens in Essex
Essex has many Gardens and open spaces including the 100 year old Beth Chatto Gardens, Gibberd Gardens, and RHS Hyde Hall which offers an experience all year round. Why not combine a trip to gardens with one of the many vineyards or a privately owned stately home like Ingatestone Hall which has been in the Petre family since 1566 and continues to be so, Layer Marney Tower, England’s tallest tudor gatehouse, or Hedingham Castle, where you can stay the night, take part in an escape room or simply have a tour.
Must see and do in Essex
- White water rafting, at Lee Valley Regional Park, this was the white water rafting venue for the 2012 Olympics.
- Chelmsford City Racecourse, England’s newest racecourse for year- round racing.
- Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, See what life was like for the military during the Great war.
- Colchester Zoo, this 60 acre site of parkland and lakes is celebrating 60 years.
- Galvin Green man, experience an English pub and food cooked by Michelin star chefs all in one place. Voted the UKs best pub it’s a favourite.
Top 5 Accommodation spots in Essex
- Talbooth House and Spa, for a stunning 5* boutique hotel experience with spa and heated outdoor pool situated in the picturesque Dedham.
- Colemans Farm, stay in a luxury treehouse close to Epping Forest set in 200 acres of working farmland.
- Lee Wick Farm, named by The Times as one of the UKs best glamping sites complete with your own hot tub.
- Talliston House, a house based on John Tarrow’s book Talliston, here you can stay in one of the themed rooms from the story, pick from the haunted bedroom or room of dreams.
- Down Hall, stay in an elegant, historic mansion complete with spa facilities and close to many attractions.
Escape to the English coast and countryside minutes from London, but far away from the crowds. Come and make your memories here in Essex where you can sample a little bit of all things English all in one place.
For further inspiration check out www.visitessex.com