Things to do in Essex

Few counties blend the old with the new like Essex. From the ancient Roman town of Colchester with its castle, cathedral and cobbled streets to Southend-on-Sea with its modern funfairs, theme parks and buzzing nightlife scene, the county is loaded with activities, attractions and entertainment. That diversity extends to the food and restaurant scene, with everything from simple-but-tasty fish shacks to fine dining with a contemporary twist. Impressively, Essex has the most extensive coastline of any English county and has some stunning beaches, nature reserves and sea life centres. And our hotels in Essex are on hand across Chelmsford, Harlow, Colchester and more to make sure you’re never far from the action.

Show more
Show less

Activities

There’s something for everyone in our Essex activities guide covering everything from a world-class zoo and aquarium to serene beaches, ancient forests and the longest pleasure pier in the world.

Show more
Show less

Entertainment

A quick pit-stop at the banger racing, an evening catching balls at the T20 cricket, a day at the races and a quick stop off for a musical and rollercoaster ride on the way: there’s plenty to discover in our action-packed Essex entertainment roundup.

Show more
Show less

Places to eat

There’s something for every budget and taste in our Essex cafe and restaurant roundup. From rustic seafood shacks to fine dining Mediterranean restaurant and classic afternoon tea spots to bottomless pizza joints, you’ll never go hungry in Essex.

Show more
Show less

Nightlife

From traditional English country pubs to bling-friendly nightclubs made famous by TOWIE as well as cocktail bars, seaside sundowners and gastropubs, we’ve got all the best nightlife spots in Essex covered.

Show more
Show less

Shopping

On the northern banks of the River Thames opposite Dartford and 21-miles east of London, intu Lakeside Shopping Centre is one of the largest shopping areas in Europe covering over 200 acres. Home to over 250 stores and more than 50 cafes, bars and restaurants, the shopping centre also boasts a trampoline park, modern cinema complex, bowling alley and mini-golf course.

The Water Gardens in Harlow is a stylish, open-air shopping centre with a wide range of stores, big-name chains and eight food and drink outlets. The other shopping centre in Harlow is the Harvey Centre, a large indoor, multi-storey centre which also boasts a six-screen Cineworld complex.

If you’re staying at one of our hotels in Chelmsford, your closest retail centre is High Chelmer. The large shopping mall in the town centre has nearly 80 stores covering everything from fashion and jewellery to health and beauty and lingerie.

Lastly, Southend-on-Sea shoppers should head to The Royals Shopping Centre, a compact but action-packed mall with 30 stores and nearly 500 parking spaces.

Show more
Show less

Getting Around

Stretching from London to nearly Cambridge and out to the edge of Ipswich, Essex is a sizeable South East county. If you’re driving to the region, Essex is well-served by motorways including the M11, the north and eastern edge of the M25 and the A12 which connects Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester.

If you’re flying into the region, Stansted Airport is the major terminal in Essex. One of the busiest airports in the UK, you can fly to over 200 destinations across the UK, Europe and Africa and is the main base for low-cost flier Ryanair. The airport is less than an hour’s drive from the larger towns in Essex, with a strong bus service and regular direct trains into London. Alternatively, make your travelling even simpler by staying at one of our hotels near Stansted Airport before you travel.

With miles of coastline, Essex is also home to several ports, the biggest of which for travellers is Harwich International which runs daily services to Hook of Holland near Rotterdam.

Show more
Show less
Shopping in Essex

Shopping in Essex

Show more
Show less
Getting around Essex

Getting around Essex

Show more
Show less