Sprawling between London and the North Sea, Essex centres around the county town of Chelmsford. It’s home to ancient settlements, spectacular gardens and heritage-listed country estates, as well as 560 kilometres of picturesque coastline.
Things to do in Essex
From its lively market towns to the castle-dotted countryside, Essex offers exciting attractions on the doorstep of London.
Discover the rich history of Colchester. Famed for its Norman castle built on the foundations of a Roman temple, Colchester is a must-visit destination in Essex for history buffs. Browse the ancient artefacts on display at Colchester Castle’s museum before admiring the period costumes and decorative arts in the Hollytrees Museum, which is housed in a beautifully preserved Georgian townhouse.
Explore lively Chelmsford. Forming part of the London commuter belt, Chelmsford centres around a medieval cathedral renowned for its stunning stained glass windows and intricately decorated ceiling. Get up close to military weaponry and uniforms at the Essex Regiment Museum, then stroll through the landscaped grounds of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Hyde Hall, which offers sweeping views across the Essex countryside.
Visit one of the finest Jacobean houses in England. Located outside of Saffron Walden, Audley End House is a 17th-century country estate that has long been the family seat of the Barons Braybrookes. Today, you can wander through the elegant staterooms, servant’s quarters and stables before exploring the award-winning gardens remodelled by "England's greatest gardener”, Capability Brown.
See rare and endangered species at the Colchester Zoo. Travelling with kids? They’ll love spending a day at the renowned Colchester Zoo, which is home to ring-tailed lemurs, southern white rhinoceros and Patagonian sea lions. It’s divided into several themed zones, including the Elephant Kingdom, the Dragons of Komodo and the Medellin Monkeys, which is home to a group of Colombian black spider monkeys.
Getting around Essex
London Stansted Airport is the main aviation gateway to Essex and has flights to destinations across Europe, North Africa and Asia. Several railway lines connect towns and cities across the county to London while buses serve smaller towns and villages.