Things to do in Colchester

Colchester is one of the best places to visit in the UK if you’re into your history. It’s well known for being the oldest recorded town in Britain. It has more than 2,000 years of history beneath its belt, and even enjoyed a spell as the Roman capital of the country. There are landmarks and attractions from every era, the most popular being the magnificent Colchester Castle, which has the largest Norman keep in Europe. Colchester is the birthplace of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and the home of the oldest hot cross bun in the world (baked more than 200 years ago!) It’s got thriving theatres, as well as some top-class restaurants and cafés in a food scene that larger cities would be proud of. You can stay at any one of our Colchester hotels and find a great day out on your doorstep, whether that’s a trip to Colchester Zoo, which is one of the finest in Europe, or the magnificent Layer Marney Tower that commands captivating views of the local countryside.


Join us on a tour of the town’s historic buildings, beginning with Colchester Castle before taking in the Roman theatres, an Augustinian convent, a Benedictine monastery, the glorious Tudor Layer Marney Tower and plenty more. Plus, we stop off for a picnic in Colchester’s stunning parks.


If the shopping bug bites during your stay in Colchester, there are plenty of good shopping options for you to choose from, ranging from the independent shops of the town centre’s historic lanes to the modern shopping centres full of your favourite high street names.


Take on the clock at a premier escape room, jump around a trampoline park, visit one of the finest zoos in Europe, bowl a perfect game, see the latest blockbusters, test your balance paddleboarding, and dress to impress for the weekend roller disco. And that’s just the start.

Premier Inn video guide to Colchester

Places to eat

Colchester’s food scene is as diverse as it is delicious. Dotted around the town centre you can take your pick from a variety of restaurants in Colchester, tasting your way through Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and the best of British cuisine . Plus there’s a cracking collection of cafés serving everything from vegan-friendly snacks to waistband-busting breakfasts.


People don’t tend to come to Colchester purely for the nightlife, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised that it’s actually pretty good. You can enjoy sophisticated drinks at one of the town’s top bars, or late night dancing in the quirky mix of clubs. Plus, there are some sublime Colchester pubs if you want to pop in for a pint somewhere.

Colchester Castle

Built on the ruins of a Roman temple, home of the largest surviving Norman keep in Europe, and housing one of the finest collections of artefacts in the region, Colchester Castle is right up there at the top of the town’s list of attractions.

Mercury Theatre

Find out why the Mercury Theatre in Colchester is heralded as one of the most important in the country, and why its ‘Made in Colchester’ productions stand out from the crowd, attracting over 130,000 visitors each and every year.

Colchester Zoo

Ogle the orangutans, leer at the lemurs, delve into the Komodo dragons’ lair, say ‘ello to the elephants, but don’t bait the bears! Learn about the wonderful wildlife on show at Colchester Zoo, and why it’s one of the finest in Europe.


Along with the Mercury Theatre, Colchester’s entertainment scene boasts some brilliant options in terms of live music, comedy and sports. Take a look at our guide to find out when and where you can find our top comedy clubs, blues evenings, jam sessions, and gig nights.


Between the stunning multi-million-pound Firstsite contemporary art gallery, the Castle Museum, and a calendar of top-class cultural events, it’s hardly a surprise that Colchester is one of the most important towns in the east of England when it comes to culture.

Getting around

Considering it takes less than ten minutes to make your way from one side of Colchester town centre to the other, the best way of getting around town is by foot. Nevertheless, we’ve gathered together all the public transport information you'll need.

Our Colchester map

Colchester Map

Looking for a hotel in Colchester?

Whether you're coming to Colchester for a trip to the zoo, a tour of the castle, a visit to Firstsite, or an evening at the Mercury Theatre,  stay with us at any one of our three Colchester hotels. They're perfect for exploring this most historic of Roman towns and all of its fascinating attractions.