The 10 Best Things to Do in Colchester, United Kingdom (UK)

September 11, 2017 Flossie Demartino

Colchester /ˈkoʊltʃɛstər/ ( listen) is an historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex.
Restaurants in Colchester

1. Colchester Arts Centre

Church Street, Colchester CO1 1NF, England +44 1206 500900
Excellent
82%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 142 reviews

Colchester Arts Centre

Colchester Arts Centre - the little church with the big attitude deep in the heart of Essex. Well that's how we describe it anyway. It sort of works, it at least gives a flavour of what we're about. Because just how do you describe a venue that can put children's entertainer Palfi the Clown on, on the same day as Cradle of Filth? Where a Farmer's Market in the morning becomes a comedy club in the evening, where folk enthusiasts can sit happily knitting (and they do!) in the exact same spot a ferocious mosh pit of teenage dancing takes place the following night? And where the beautiful historic architecture of St Mary's Church dating back over a thousand years, plays host to some of the newest comics, most modern choreographers, some of the coolest DJ's and some of the freshest talent in Britain. Over the years we've promoted Coldplay, Eddie Izzard, Graham Norton, Harry Hill, Catherine Tate, Jo Brand, The Libertines, Ash, The Killers, The Strokes, Phill Jupitus, Mick Jones, Bill Bailey, Jack Dee, Count Arthur Strong - all before anyone had ever heard of them of course - plus the likes of jazz legend Ronnie Scott and even the late lamented and much loved Brian Johnston the cricket commentator. Our passion to present new work, bring great bands and comics to Colchester burns more brightly than ever. Our business is all about fresh ideas, new acts, new art forms and vibrant new ways of working. We can't stand still. We embrace the new, the quirky the original and yes, the surreal.

Reviewed By pennyrColchester - Colchester

This is one of my favorite venues in Colchester. They host regular local and national bands, have an experimental theatre or cabaret night Wednesdays and a folk club Mondays. They also host comedians, regular comedy and beer festivals, farmers market, clothes swap etc. etc. Whatever your taste you are bound to be catered for.

2. The Munnings Art Museum

Castle House Castle Hill | Castle House, Dedham, Colchester CO7 6AZ, England +44 1206 322127
Excellent
76%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 120 reviews

The Munnings Art Museum

Alfred Munnings' lifetime spanned the late Victorian era through to the Atomic Age and in that epic arc of an increasingly modern world his art and lifestyle held firm to a traditional pastoral and rurally-inspired sensibility. Widely known for his paintings of horses and of horse-racing, the scope of Munnings' talent also produced iconic rural scenes which have the lyrical power to transport those who visit The Munnings Art Museum back in time to a lost world where people worked the land with horses and made time to delight in a lazy drift along an autumnal river. The museum, in the artist's former home and studio, presents carefully curated displays, from its comprehensive collection of Munnings' work, charting the artist's life and career: from his childhood at Mendham Mill in Suffolk, through his training at Norwich School of Art and as a commercial illustrator's apprentice, and finally to the work for which he is globally recognised. The chronological displays are complemented by two galleries, which have been recently refurbished, dedicated to a special exhibition entitled: 'Munnings and the Horse'. This exhibition examines the way in which the artist created his horse pictures, from basic drawings through to painted sketches and fully finished canvases. It also includes examples of his sculpture, a medium in which he rarely worked.

Reviewed By blynda9 - Ipswich

Visited for the first time today, despite living less than 20 miles away. Came specifically for the Munnings at the River exhibition of paintings on that theme. Some fantastic pictures on display which came as a big surprise as we thought Munnings was mainly associated with paintings of racehorses. Great to see photos and memorabilia from the artist himself in the home he occupied in beautiful Dedham. Well worth a visit - the Gardens are beautiful with deckchairs around the lawns so you can sit and enjoy the views over the fields. Don't miss the Garden Cafe which serves delicious food.

3. Mercury Theatre

Mercury Theatre Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT, England +44 1206 573948
Excellent
77%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 824 reviews

Mercury Theatre

Free the fun in you! The Mercury exists to put theatre at the heart of the cultural life of the community it serves and to make work in Colchester that reaches audiences and generates critical attention regionally and nationally.

Reviewed By luckilucki - Colchester

Visited Mercury Theatre to watch Snow White. Wasnt disappointed. Lovely theatre, great staff and superb pantomime

4. Colchester Zoo

Maldon Road | Stanway, Colchester, Colchester CO3 0SL, England +44 1206 331292
Excellent
74%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 4 reviews

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is constantly developing and has won many awards for its work. With over 270 species to see, set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, Colchester Zoo is well worth a visit. As you walk around the zoo there's plenty of play areas to try out including the indoor soft play area Jungle Tumble with a section for under 3s and all new play equipment where the kids can release their wild side! New enclosures include a walk through enclosure with butterflies and another with Rainbow Lorikeets offering visitors a chance to feed them a treat of nectar. Plus there's 'Bears of the Rising Sun', a state of the art enclosure which houses two beautiful sun bears , Jo Jo and Srey Ya. You can also come face to face with Komodo Dragons, see white rhino, giraffes, ostrich and kudu roaming together at Kingdom of the Wild and walk underwater through the 24m tunnel at the Playa Patagonia sealion pool. Learn more about the animals and see them up close by watching one of the 50 daily displays. You even get the fantastic opportunity to feed the elephants and giraffes yourself and take a ride on the 'Lost Madagascar Express' road train! Don't forget to pop into the discovery centre and have a go at handling some unusual bugs or get your face painted and transform yourself into your favourite animal!

Reviewed By Dave B - Fareham, United Kingdom

The lovely wife and I spent a lovely day here with her parents.
The day started in Penguinis for breakfast, which was surprisingly good. That may seem unfair but I guess I wasn't expecting much....

From there we had a wander round the zoo, and were fortunate enough to see everything we wanted to see.
The enclosures are incredible and it is clear that the zoo have spent a massive amount of money modernizing.
I am looking forward to my next visit already

5. Castle Park

High Street, Colchester CO1 1UG, England +44 1206 282700
Excellent
67%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 991 reviews

Castle Park

Colchester's distinctive heritage is nowhere more apparent than in Castle Park. A site of national importance, this Victorian Park contains evidence of 2000 years of history and is a landscape moulded by the people of Colchester over many eras.Castle Park not only encompasses much of Colchester's rich heritage within its boundaries but is much loved and used as a part of present day life. It boasts over 1 million visitors a year. Providing a green oasis in the town centre, you can sit, walk, enjoy music, play games, or picnic amongst wonderful flowers and trees. Its horticulture is award-winning and the park has long been a superb venue for the town's big events.The park itself is designated Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.

Reviewed By Ramunas U

Council is well looking after park .. Im quite often pass this park.. sometimes stopping to give some nuts for friendly squirrel or some bread for ducks or swans.. river and trees gives a feeling of calmness.. to sit on bench and enjoy summer day for shorter or longer moment is great and relaxing thing to do.. sometimes juts lie on the grass near by some tree and count some passing clouds is all you need to do to feed your soul..

6. High Woods Country Park

Visitors Centre Turner Road, Colchester CO4 5JR, England +44 1206 853588
Excellent
68%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 198 reviews

High Woods Country Park

High Woods Country Park is one of Colchester's beauty spots. The Country Park includes woodland, open spaces (ideal for picnics) a lake and wildflower meadows. Along with marshy areas, hayfields and scrubland, High Woods provides the right habitat for thousands of different birds and mammals. It's free for humans too. The Council's High Woods team looks after this gem throughout the year. Their welcoming approach to visitors and creative management of the park has lead to it holding the prestigious Green Flag Award since 2004. All in all, a place not to be missed by walkers, cyclists and families alike.

Reviewed By EssexLin1 - Colchester, United Kingdom

Set between Ipswich Road and Turner Road and Highwoods to the north, Highwoods Country Park is beloved by local dog walkers and hikers and is a great run around place for kids with a large grassy middle. At the bottom of the slope there is a lake with assorted wildlife.Lots of different terrain. On the Turner Road side there is a visitor's centre, which runs activities and regular walks. And a childrens' adventure play area. The Ipswich Road side has a great slope for sledging when we have a reasonable amount of snow. The grandchildren already experienced it this winter, the first time for a couple of years. As a child, we played on the edge of the woods in a pill box, which was probably removed to make the Asda retail park!

7. Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Abberton Reservoir Wildfowl & Visitor Centre Church Road | Layer de la Haye, Colchester, Colchester CO2 0EU, England +44 1206 738172
Excellent
59%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 186 reviews

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Visitors can enjoy walks on Essex Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve; with stunning panoramic views across the Reservoir and surrounding villages as well as superb views of the water’s edge from three bird hides. The nature reserve has a 900m accessible circular footpath and there are wheelchairs available for use. The Visitor Centre offers a tearoom which is open seven days a week providing a variety of hot and cold food, most of which is locally sourced; easy access toilets & baby changing facilities; and a well-stocked shop which has binoculars, telescopes, bird food, feeders and a range of gifts. Essex Wildlife Trust runs a programme of events throughout the year for all ages as well as children’s outdoor birthday parties and a weekly toddler group available during term time; booking is required for all of our events. On the nature reserve there is a new Brambly Hedge sculpture trail, where you can find seven characters from the classic stories written by Jill Barklem; there is also a wild play area with a zip wire, v bridge, swings and spiderweb net. Essex Wildlife Trust is a charity and relies on donations to carry out its work for the wildlife and people of Essex. There is suggested entry donation of £2 for Adults £1 for children and £5 Family; car parking is free. The huge expanse of Essex & Suffolk Water’s Abberton Reservoir plays host to some 40,000 wetland birds each year all attracted to the shallow muddy margins and large areas of rough grassland, which provide the ultimate habitat for a plethora of wildlife and waterfowl. The Visitor Centre is 6 miles SW of Colchester on the B1026 (a minor road linking Colchester and Maldon) just South of Layer de la Haye - follow the brown and white "Abberton Reservoir visitor centre" signs.

Reviewed By roger_ashcroft - Witham, United Kingdom

First visit for many years,what a difference,wonderful new visitor centre.I am not a dedicated bird watcher I just enjoy wildlife in general.Wonderful walks and a vast number of birds to see.After a good walk round visited the tea room,clean,bright and great food.Seats by windows have...MoreDear roger_ashcroft Thank you for taking time to review your visit and it's lovely to hear that you enjoyed the nature reserve as well as the tearoom. We look forward to seeing you again very soon. Regards Jo Wray

8. Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum

Marks Hall Marks Hall Road | Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1TE, England +44 1376 563796
Excellent
63%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 219 reviews

Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum

The Gardens and Arboretum at Marks Hall form an unmissable attraction in the Essex countryside. Marks Hall combines many English traditions with beautiful formal Gardens, a stunning Arboretum with an enviable collection of mature trees from across the world, woodland and leafy paths to walk on for miles. A visit to Marks Hall will inspire a need to return time and time again seeing new things as they happen throughout the year.

Reviewed By pennyk299 - Colchester, United Kingdom

Lovely Gardens, wonderful at this time of the years with all the autumn colours. The area is so well kept, you can do a short or long walk. Friendly peacock, who posed for photos. We had coffee, a walk and went back to the cafe for lunch where we were served by a polite and charming young man, that was a real pleasure.

9. The Beth Chatto Gardens

Elmstead Market Clacton Road, Colchester CO7 7DB, England +44 1206 822007
Excellent
59%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 902 reviews

The Beth Chatto Gardens

Open 7 days a week 7.5 Acres of inspirational Gardens. Entrance fee from £4.50 depending on season (under 16's free except on special event days). Gravel Garden, extensive Nursery and Tearoom all free to gain access. The Beth Chatto Gardens began in 1960. From an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows, using the principles of ecological planting, it has been transformed into 7 acres of informal garden comprising of the Gravel Garden, Water Garden, Reservoir Garden, Woodland Garden and Scree Garden all harmonising with the surrounding countryside. The Gardens are an inspiration to anyone who visits them - the art of planting at its best. There is also an extensive Nursery with choice of over 2,000 different kinds of mainly herbaceous plants and bulbs. Light and spacious Tearoom with homemade cakes, light lunches, breakfasts, fresh ground coffee and selection of teas. Closed Christmas and New Year

Reviewed By markwilkinson86 - Northampton, United Kingdom

The Gardens were quiet on the day we visited in mid-February. It was cold but sunny and there were very few visitors in the Gardens. We enjoyed the small flowering plants such as aconites, snowdrops, crocuses and helibores. Also the many textures of grasses, shrubs and leaves. Some of the trees looked grand as they stood tall against the blue sky. After viewing the Gardens and woods we enjoyed a meal in the restaurant (good choice of soup, pie, cake), then purchased some plants from the nursery shop.
The only bad thing, and it was bad, was the lake of mud we had to drive through to access and exit the place. At present they are re-making the driveway and we had to drive 100 yards through liquid mud in the field next to the drive. I spent a long time after we returned trying to clean the car which was plastered in mud underneath and even splattered on the windows. It will require pressure-washing beneath as it is caked in a thick covering of clay and grit and I couldn't remove it from the wheel arches with a brush and sponge. Some of it was so thick I could knock it off with a stick! It is the worst mud I've ever had on a vehicle in 50 years of driving, including dirt roads in a third world country of Asia.
I was also a little concerned that the exit onto the A133 is on a bend to the right. Cars were coming along quickly even on a quiet winter afternoon. Summer-time must be much busier as traffic comes from Clacton towards Colchester. Drivers be careful if turning right onto this road.

10. Green Island Gardens

Green Island Park Road, Ardleigh, Colchester CO7 7SP, England +44 1206 230455
Excellent
64%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 240 reviews

Green Island Gardens

Recommended in Great British Gardens 2015 and Essex Days out as well as visit Essex. Featured on front cover of Homes and Gardens 2012 and Ma Maison Ma Jardin 2013. 20 acres of professionally designed Gardens within woodland destroyed by the 1987 Hurricane. Now laid out with Terrace, japanese garden, seaside garden, water Gardens, gravel garden and extensive woodland Gardens. It is a plantsman's paradise with a host of unusual plants in all seasons often of borderline hardiness thriving in the unique island microclimate. Special highlights include, snowdrops, Bluebells and Azaleas in May and spectacular Autumn colour.

Reviewed By nikndel - Benfleet, United Kingdom

After getting a TravelZoo voucher we called in on our way home from Norfolk we would have never known it was here. Luckily it was a clear day and dry. Our first welcome was from two friendly dogs can't remember their names . Luckily it...MoreThank you so much for taking the time to leave us a review, it is really appreciated. Very glad you enjoyed your visit...do come back and see us again in another season

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