Top 10 Things to Do in Essex

Adventure Island Theme Park, Southend

Adventure Island Theme Park, Southend

1. Walk to the end of Southend Pier

It’s a family favourite walk on the Essex Coast (and you can always pick up the Pier Train on the way back!). Southend Pier stretches just over 1 mile out into the Thames Estuary and is one of Britain’s best loved piers. Don’t miss a tour of the Pier Museum at the Pier reception where you can find out all about the pier’s history and visit the great onsite souvenir shop.

Family walking on Southend Pier

Family walking on Southend Pier

2. Explore Constable Country around Dedham

Book a cottage in Constable’s quintessential English country landscape around Dedham on the Essex/ Suffolk border. Walk in the footsteps of England’s famous landscape artist and experience scenes in Dedham Vale & the Stour Valley little changed since Constable’s time.

Dedham Vale AONB & the Stour Valley near Dedham

Dedham Vale AONB & the Stour Valley near Dedham

3. Sail Away to Burnham

Those in the yachting and sailing ‘know’ are more than familiar with the spectacular sailing waters of the Essex estuary coast. To experience a taste of it, book a short break in Burnham-on-Crouch during Burnham Week annually in August. It’s one of the East Coast’s premier sailing regattas!

Yachting centre Burnham-on-Crouch

Yachting centre Burnham-on-Crouch

4. Family Fun on Clacton Beach & Pier

You’ll love Clacton Pier with its many traditional fairground style rides, bowling, cafes and amusements perfect for families. The family friendly sandy beach adjacent is recommended by the Good Beach Guide – perfect for classic seaside weekends this warm summer!

Clacton Pier & Beach

Clacton Pier & Beach

5. Tour Colchester Castle’s Norman Keep

Colchester Castle has the largest Norman Keep in Europe and was built on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius. It’s one of Britain’s great heritage sites not to be missed on any tour of the country.

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle

6. Explore Napoleonic Forts & Martello Towers

Napoleon never arrived on the shores of Britain in the end, but the remains of the mighty Napoleonic Forts and Martello Towers built to defend against potential invasion are numerous along the Essex Coast. The most magnificent of these is the circular Redoubt Fort at Harwich built between 1808 and 1810 to defend the great port of Harwich.

Redoubt Fort, Harwich

Redoubt Fort, Harwich

7. Hop Aboard a Boat Trip from Maldon

Take your pick of boat trip choice from the ancient Essex coastal town of Maldon overlooking the Blackwater Estuary. Some great replica historic boats sail from Promenade Park and lunch, afternoon tea and evening barge cruises are all on offer sailing towards Osea Island and back!

Boat trips from Maldon around the Blackwater Estuary

Boat trips from Maldon around the Blackwater Estuary

8. Browse & Buy at Saffron Walden Markets

Visit one of England’s most beautiful medieval market towns – Saffron Walden in Essex, which has had a market here since 1141. Markets are held twice weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays (except on Bank Holidays) through the year in the stunning setting of Market Place.

Saffron Walden Markets in Market Place

Saffron Walden Markets in Market Place

9. West End Shows & Best Ice Cream at Westcliff

On the outskirts of Southend towards Westcliff-on-Sea the coastal scene is more relaxed with spectacular views across the estuary towards Canvey. Two seaside gems not to be missed are here. You might have to join a queue on sunny summer days at Rossi’s Ice Cream parlour on the seafront, but no visit to Southend is complete without sampling Rossi’s delicious ice cream. Just above it sits beautiful Cliffs Pavilion where you can catch an award-winning West End hit musical.

Rossi's & Cliffs Pavilion

Rossi’s & Cliffs Pavilion

10. Walk in Coastal Heaths & see a Georgian Lighthouse at Walton-on-the-Naze

There’s so many hidden treasures along the Essex coast to discover this summer. The unspoilt headland coastal heaths around Walton-on-the-Naze near Frinton-on-Sea are a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Enjoy spectacular views towards Harwich on coastal walks here and look out for old World War Two bunkers along the way. An icon in the area is the famous Naze Tower constructed by Trinity House in 1720 to help guide shipping into bustling port Harwich.

The Naze Tower at Walton

The Naze Tower at Walton

Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.