15 Best Things to do in Colchester UK

Are you living in Colchester or surroundings and not sure what things to do in Colchester this weekend? Perhaps you’re visiting friends and family and you want to have the best time while you’re in this lovely town. Colchester is actually the oldest recorded town in Britain. It used to be the Roman capital of England, therefore the town has a lot of history as well as historical buildings that are still standing today.

15 Best Things to do in Colchester UK

If you want to learn about the history of this town, then you can visit the Castle Park Museum. Although it is a rather small town, there are plenty of activities to do with family and friends. We have gathered the 15 best things to do in Colchester, whether that’s over easter or the weekend, or even at night. Besides having fun within the town, enjoy the seaside and its sandy beaches near Colchester. Let’s get on with the list!

1. Colchester Castle Park and Museum

Do you know how we mentioned that Colchester is one of the oldest towns in England? You can learn all about it by visiting the Colchester Castle Park and Museum. This is just one of the things to do in Colchester this weekend. At the museum you’ll learn about the largest Norman keep in Europe, important historical finds in Britain, or hidden histories such as west African Gold. It’s usually open from Monday to Sunday. There’s no need to book any tickets.

Now, one of the free things to do in Colchester is simply to visit Castle Park. What can you do here? Well, Colchester’s keep is the largest ever built in the United Kingdom and the largest remaining one throughout Europe. The whole park around it is absolutely beautiful. There are so many squirrels to feed, they are quite friendly and go up to you to see if you have some snacks. They love walnuts!

Besides taking a walk, you can also play some mini-golf. If you wish to look it up, the name is Putt in the Park. This is not for free of course, however, if you like golf and you have the time, then why not enjoy it. There’s also a separate area where they hold concerts or live theater. This isn’t all year round, mostly during summer. Lastly, check out the small lake close to the Castle and watch the beautiful swans swim!

Colchester Castle Park location: High St, Colchester CO1 1UG

2. Colchester Zoo

If you’re thinking of things to do in Colchester this weekend, visiting the Zoo is a must. The zoo is set on 60 acres of parkland and lakes and it holds around 180 species. All of the animals are cared for. You’ll find animals like white rhinos, giraffes, ostrich, zebras, and kudu.

This is a perfect way of spending your day with your children or loved ones. Besides looking at all of the beautiful animals, you can book an Elephant or Giraffe feeding experience. If that wasn’t enough, you can even book to be a keeper for the day or a keeper shadowing. This is for all animal lovers. If you do not feel like committing to be a full-time keeper, it’s amazing to try it out once in your lifetime.

The staff at the zoo will help you with everything. Supporting them is important as Colchester zoo has many research studies. They ensure the animals feel safe, and comfortable and live their best life even if they aren’t in their natural habitat.

Colchester Zoo location: Maldon Rd, Heckfordbridge, Colchester CO3 0SL

3. Hollytrees Museum

Are you looking for other free things to do in Colchester? The Hollytrees Museum might be your next stop after Castle Park. The beautiful thing about this Museum is that it’s surrounded by gardens. this Georgian House was built in 1718. It also includes a collection of toys, art, costume, and clocks.

Charles Gray, an attorney used to live in this gorgeous Georgian house since 1719. He was a Justice of the Peace and one of its Members of Parliament between 1742 and 1780. Thanks to him the castle is restored, the gardens are flourishing and due to the trees planted around the house, Hollytrees was how it got its name.

Hollytrees Museum location: Castle Park, Colchester CO1 1UG

4. Bourne Mill

Bourne Mill might be one of the unusual things to do in Colchester, yet it’s a must. This place has a beautiful history and it dates back 500 years. So what can we see at Bourne Mill? Once there used to be a working water wheel with perfect machinery. You’ll learn about the people who built the Mill. It was built in 1591 by Sir Thomas Lucas.

The mill operated for many years as a corn mill, more precisely from 1835 and then it made flour until the 1930s. When you visit, the museum offers you sound effects of what the mill was like back in the day and what it sounded and looked like when they were using it to its full potential. Whoever loves history will surely enjoy Bourne Mill.

Bourne Mill location: Bourne Rd, Colchester CO2 8RT

5. Leisure World Activities

This town is perfect if you have kids and a big family. There are so many things to do with kids in Colchester. One of them is Leisure World Activities. If we look at the section specifically for kids, you have options to book birthday parties, holiday camps, and swimming lessons for kids. The holiday camp for example is a full day of activities for children aged 5-15. These activities include swimming, dodgeball, badminton, short tennis, football games, and more.

The leisure world is also for adults. You can purchase a membership that includes the swimming pool and fitness facilities. Whether you want to enjoy the pool or do some swim fitness, it’s all possible at Leisure World. Besides swimming, there are a number of courts and pitches. For example, badminton, basketball, cricket, futsal, short tennis, table tennis, and more.

Let’s not forget the climbing options. You can book a climbing session starting from just £7.50 and get in a good workout. Of course, there are also options for children. And lastly, you have Aqua Springs. Perfect place to go for a spa time. Book a treatment for massage, facials, saunas, or aroma rooms. They also offer manicures and pamper treatments for moms. The options are endless!

Leisure World Colchester location: Cowdray Ave, Colchester CO1 1YH

6. Tenpin Colchester

Do you like bowling? Or perhaps you’ve never tried it and you’d love to see if it’s for you or not! Tenpin is another one of the fun things to do in Colchester. Besides bowling, you’ll also be able to play arcade games, American pool, and air hockey. Whether you’re with your friends or family, everyone is guaranteed to have fun here. All you have to do is book the slots and arrive in time with your friends!

There are 24 bowling lanes, so don’t be afraid that you won’t have enough room to play. But besides the regular games, you can also book bowling parties! This includes a two-hour package with pizza and unlimited squash. At Tenpin there’s free parking, a fully licensed bar and you can buy yourselves some food as well. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Tenpin location: Cowdray Ave, Colchester CO1 1YH

7. Colchester Funpark

Colchester Funpark is the UK’s largest traveling theme park. It’s a great activity with children and family at any point! There are plenty of options for brave and not so brave people. From my own personal experience, I would probably not go on the very heavy rides (especially not after having some fries)!

The most fun rides include the Daviss Thunderdome which are little cars going in a circle in an already big circle. Your head will spin! There are also some dinosaurs for kids. Don’t forget to check out ”The Buzz” or one of the smaller roller coasters. My personal favorite since childhood has to be the bumper cars. Especially if you’re with a group of friends and you can all bump into each other!

As it is a traveling theme park, their time in Colchester is limited. Do check out beforehand where they are situated, they might just be near you!

8. Restaurants

We’re sure you’ll be hungry from all of the fun you’ve had all day in Colchester. So check out a few restaurants in Colchester. Two of my favorites on the High Street are the El Guaca Mexican Grill and the Wagamama restaurant. If you want to have some Italian then don’t forget to check out Prezzo. For buffet-style English breakfast, the two great options are The Albert Beefeater and Toby’s Carvery.

Of course, we have Nando’s which is a classic. In case you’re not sure what are the things to do in Colchester at night, try out Bill’s or Turtle Bay Colchester. We have to mention Pavilion, which is a beautiful restaurant. This is a high-end lounge & bar with botanical accents. It is a bit on the pricier side, however, you’re guaranteed to have a great time!

9. Colchester bars and clubs

things to do in colchester

Although this town is rather small, it doesn’t mean you cannot have fun at night. There are plenty of things to do in Colchester at night. Preferably on the weekend, the weekdays are not the busiest. So where to head off? The most popular option is ATIK. People stand in long lines to get inside. Yates is also a similar option to ATIK. It’s a bar and club, but you can also enjoy food during the day.

Then there’s Walkabout, another bar/restaurant. Have fun at night, or enjoy a good meal during the day. In case you wish to be at a fancy cocktail bar, check out The Silk Road Lounge & Cocktail Bar. There’s plenty of space for everyone. It features an outdoor garden as well as spacious indoors.

10. Cinema and theater

things to do in colchester

We couldn’t forget to mention the two cinemas. First of all, we have ODEON Colchester which is on Head St. Inside the Cinema there’s a Costa Coffee as well as the opportunity to buy drinks and snacks before the movie. There are a few different rooms and the latest movies are always playing. Lastly, we have Curzon Colchester, however, the more popular option is always ODEON.

As far as theaters we have Headgate. This is a small theatre operating since 2002. There are a number of classic and modern dramas as well as musicals or stand-up comedies. The capacity of the studio is about 87 people. Inside you can find a bar for drinks. In case you love watching live shows, it’s worth checking out this small local theatre.

11. Wivenhoe

Things to do in colchester

One of the free things to do in Colchester is visit Wivenhoe. It’s a small town about 3 miles southeast of Colchester. As it’s a historic port town, it was named one of the best places to live in the UK. Why it was so important? Well, it had two prosperous shipyards. It was part of an important port for trade for Colchester. The port developed shipbuilding, commerce as well as fishing industries.

Although you might not be able to do many activities here, it’s perfect for a stroll. The first time I visited Wivenhoe I felt like I was in Denmark. Probably not the best comparison, however, being a port town it just gave off that vibe. The river is peaceful looking and you’ll take beautiful photos!

One day trips from Colchester

1. Mersea

Let’s see some of the one-day trips from Colchester. Mersea is the first option. It’s on the island in the southeast of Colchester. Mersea comes from ”meresig” which means ”island of the pool”. It has a golden sand beach and small colorful cottages. The whole seaside here is aesthetic and picturesque. It’s a gorgeous place in the summer.

There’s both east and West Mersea. The west is known for being a small fishing town while the east is more rural and with wild natural beaches. West Mersea is also one of the best places to live in the East of England. Although we have to mention that the tide gets high sometimes. It’s worth checking when it is safe to visit Mersea!

2. Clacton-on-Sea

things to do in colchester

Clacton is a very popular choice when you live in Colchester or the neighboring cities/towns. It has perfect blue water, a sandy beach, and plenty of options to dine in. The pier is what brings in most of the people. First of all, there’s an arcade full of fun games. You need to pay £1 coins to be able to play them. Beyond the arcade, there’s a smaller amusement park with different rides.

Secondly, you’ll find two Ferris wheels to go on. One is a bit smaller, while the other is taller and you have a better view of the whole town. The view is definitely exquisite up there. Besides the amusement park on the pier, you’ll find a smaller one for children. Plenty of fun rides for your little ones.

So what else is there to do on Clacton-on-sea? Eat fish and chips! A very famous British dish that you must eat when you’re at the seaside. I can recommend the Moon & Starfish restaurant which has excellent food for a low price. You can see that this seaside is amazing and one of the best things to do with kids in Colchester as it’s nearby and low-cost.

3. Frinton-on-Sea

I was pleasantly surprised with Frinton-on-Sea. It has a beautiful sandy beach that is clean and gentle. When I say gentle, it feels so comfortable walking in it. You don’t sink in when you walk, it just massages your feet. Here you’ll find the classical and colorful little beach hits. Owning one is certainly a great idea when you live so close to the seaside.

Frinton-on-sea has a few shops in the town center. There’s a Boots shop, Costa coffee, and many other restaurants. You can enjoy fish and chips or other seafood along the coast. Frinton is also a great place to live at. The houses are so beautiful and the whole town is clean and well-maintained. In case you’re looking for a peaceful life, this is a great option!

4. London

things to do in colchester

I had to include this on the list of things to do in Colchester this weekend. Visiting London is an absolute must when you’re in Colchester. Although we won’t include the things you can do in London, we’ll help you with how you can get there. First of all, you can take the train which is the easiest. There are two stations: North Station and Hythe Station.

From North Station, you’ll get there sooner as there are so many options for London. In case you want to do some shopping, take the train to Stratford. You’ll be there in about 40-50 minutes. If you want to go more central, then the Liverpool Station one is more suitable. You can find affordable ticket options if you buy in advance.

Then you always have the option to drive to London. Although it is more time-consuming, but still an option if there are no trains. I usually park in Newbury car park and then take the metro to the city center. Lastly, there’s also the option to take the bus. Again, this is a more time-consuming journey, however, if you like buses then it’s worth it. Don’t miss out on visiting famous places, such as Big Ben, Notting Hill or the London Eye.

What to do in Colchester? – Conclusion

We are at the end of our list of activities and things you can do in Colchester. As you can see there are options for everyone. You can go clubbing, enjoy a lovely meal at a local restaurant or even visit the seaside. You can even go to London from Colchester, just hop on the train and be in Liverpool Street within 50 minutes!

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