Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town, with a colourful history dating back over two thousand years. It’s a small city and the centre is walkable from campus, so you can see a lot within a fairly small area. There are many tourist points such as The Castle, the Natural History Museum, the Firstsite Art Gallery, and all of them are absolutely amazing places to visit, but today’s post will show you that there is so much more to Colchester and the nearby areas than you have ever imagined.
I have selected my top 3 places near to Colchester that you should definitely pay a visit to and why.
Wivenhoe (15 minute bus ride from the University)
Wivenhoe is a very small yet picturesque town on the banks of the River Colne. With its distinctive narrow and quaint streets, leading into each other and ending at the quiet waterfront, fishing boats and small sailing crafts bob at their moorings. There is a perfect little pub right on the river shore where you can enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or your favourite fruity cider. Then, you can go shopping for a vintage dress and retro sunglasses as carefully-preserved rare pieces are on display at the local vintage boutiques. And if you are very lucky, you can also find fresh homemade bread, cheese, and butter at the market store by the road. At first sight, Wivenhoe will steal your heart!
Colchester Zoo (20 minute bus ride from Town Centre)
Colchester Zoo, listed as the second best zoo in the UK, has plenty of delights to charm its visitors. It is home to many rare and endangered species, some of which you can see from a very close distance or even feed from your own hand! I strongly recommend the brand new Australian Rainbows walk – you can purchase a little tub of nectar and feed the beautiful lorikeets. This is an up close and personal animal interaction experience, you don’t want to miss out on! Many of the animal enclosures are undercover and you can spend ages watching the animals inside or out, including the Orangutan Forest, underwater sealion tunnel at Playa Patagonia, Sun bears, Chimp World, Iguana Forest and Amur tigers. The 24 meter underwater sealion tunnel is so much better than any other aquarium I’ve ever been to. It’s truly amazing to watch them swim right over your head!
Then, you can go to the Sensation Station where you can use your super senses to touch, smell, listen and ultimately discover the differences between the animals that you meet there. Don’t forget to get your face painted and transform yourself into your favourite animal! There are a number of different animals to choose from – monkeys, leopards, snakes or butterflies!
Clacton-on-Sea (1 hour bus ride from Town Centre)
Even though Clacton was just an hour bus ride from Colchester, it felt a million miles away from my normal life here. I vividly remember the last time I was in Clacton-on-Sea. As soon as I got out of my not-so-comfy bus seat, I could smell the humid sea air. It only took four steps when I saw the beach. The atmosphere was truly breath-taking; waves crashed against the shore, children giggled when their sand castles were overtaken by the waves, parents relaxed lazily on the sandy seashore reading their books, and the shimmering sunlight made the sand sparkle like a thousand tiny jewels. Within ten more steps, I was sitting next to the hundreds of people who were sunbathing. I listened to the sea’s song, watching the calm waves flowing around my legs, I could even see tiny fish flipping into the air like crackling popcorn. The rhythm of the traffic behind my back, the shushing of the waves and the pulsing heart of the sea made me close my eyes. Is there anything quite as blissful as an amble by the seashore? Definitely not! The peaceful serenity of the beach is the perfect getaway.
An hour later, I was walking through the gates of Clacton Pier. Even though the nosy pier was less than 10 metres away, it was in total contrast compared to the calm sea shore. Children were laughing while playing arcade and video games, others were queuing up to see the aquarium and meet a wide range of sea life creatures from the deep, while others were reaching new heights on the bungee trampoline. So many people were enjoying the amusement machines and the bumping cars, from toddlers to their young-at-heart grandparents.
If you are in search of the traditional pleasures of the seaside with a modern twist, then I strongly recommend visiting Clacton-on-Sea. A combination of sunny beach, soft golden sand, beautiful green parks, fun activities and lovely restaurants by the sea, Clacton is the perfect place for anything you may fancy!
So, next time you are wondering what to do for a fun Saturday, or lazy Sunday afternoon, just grab your best friend, pick a destination, travel and make memories that will stick with you forever. Take every chance you have in life to have some fun, because you really don’t want to miss out on anything when it’s just an hour or less bus ride away.