Things to Do in Colchester

8 months ago Wed 16th Aug 2023

Colchester is a hub of history, shopping, activities, and of course, things to do. ‘Britain’s first city’ has beautiful architecture to feast your eyes on as you stroll through the historical centre. Whether with family, friends, or taking a solo day trip, Colchester has so much to explore. Read our list of some of the cultural, artistic, and exciting attractions the city has to offer.

You can hop aboard one of many services to the city for affordable travel, delivered by our friendly drivers. For buses to Colchester, Hedingham & Chambers have you covered!

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Colchester Zoo

One of Colchester’s most famous tourist attractions, the city has one of the country’s best zoos just on the outskirts. For over 60 years, this zoological garden has thrilled visitors, and is now home to elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, monkeys and more. There is also a petting zoo and animal encounters for a more immersive experience.

An easy way to fill up a day, Colchester Zoo is a fantastic place to learn about animals, while seeing them in person. Featuring birds, insects, aquatic and exotic land animals alike, Colchester Zoo is a great place to take the kids, and it even has play areas!  

Close up of colourful flowers in front of Colchester high street

Colchester High Street on a Lovely Sunny Day.

Shopping 

Colchester is host to a great shopping scene, with high street and local stores across the city centre bound to fulfil your retail desires.

Culver Square is a popular area to wander around, with shops such as Flying Tiger, H&M and TK Maxx being some big names. Fancy a bite to keep you going? The square also has a variety of food stands and stores.

Lion’s Walk shopping centre is another shopping destination with a lot of footfall, with favourite stores such as Primark, River Island, Fat Face and The Body Shop in the mall. Ideal for clothes and gift shopping, this is a place you’ll want to include in your shopping schedule.

One of the UK’s most beloved department stores, Colchester is home to the luxurious Fenwicks. The shop has several floors sporting designer goods and the latest in beauty, fashion and homeware for you to peruse and buy.

Moving on to the quaint, friendly little streets known as Colchester’s South Lanes, these streets are home to some fantastic boutiques and vintage shops. Gems such as Darcy’s Traditional Sweet Shoppe, quirky gift shop The Cusp and clothing, homeware and accessories store Frippery are highlights of the lanes. Another popular shop, Best Days vintage has unique clothes and vinyls up for grabs.

For fans of markets, Colchester Farmers’ Market is held on the first Saturday of every month outside the Mercury theatre, with local produce and homemade goods on display.

Plan your Shopping Trip to Colchester by Bus

Things to Do with Kids

There’s so many things for kids to do in Colchester, with fun-filled activities all over the city!

Jump Street Colchester is a popular activity that keeps kids entertained, with this trampoline park also offering sessions for toddlers. For other more active things to do there’s Go Bananas and Jungle Adventure, both offering soft play areas ideal for younger children.

Tenpin Colchester is a fantastic place to take the kids, with the location offering bowling, laser tag, and karaoke! Suitable for individual games as well as parties, this is the perfect place to get some energy out and have a bit of fun.

When the weather is nice and you’re yearning to be outside doing activities in the sun, Putt in the Park is ideal. This mini-golf course features a Roman-themed course, with delicious snacks on offer for when you’re ready for a bite!

Leisure World is ideal for keen swimmers, with the Crazy River, slides, waves, spa pool and fitness pool all giving kids the space to splash around and build their swimming skills.

Colchester Town Hall on a sunny day

Colchester's Historic Town Hall 

Museums and History

History and heritage are what Colchester is built on, so for any history buffs interested in learning something new and browsing artefacts, this is the place for you. From the Roman Wall to St. Botolph’s Priory and St John’s Abbey Gate to the Roman Circus Walk, there’s some incredible architecture to wander around that’s been standing for centuries.

If museums are your cup of tea, there are several locations in Colchester that can teach you something new. The Natural History Museum offers up collections from local history and interactive displays. Learn about wildlife from the past and present - plus it’s free admission! Another free, fun, and informative place, the Hollytrees Museum in Castle Park is a Georgian town house with cabinets of artefacts to browse.

To get the full experience, Colchester History Tours offer guided walks around the city whether you’re looking for a Roman Tour or a Ghost and Witches Tour, you can enjoy an immersive, educational guided view of Colchester. Learn something while getting some steps in!

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Colchester Castle and Park 

Colchester Castle is of course the place to go for amateur historians, with this impressive building standing since the 11th Century. You can wander the castle and enjoy the collections from Gladiators to fossils. A huge attraction for the East of England, this piece of history has plenty to explore.

And it’s not just the castle, there’s some dreamy greenspace too. As well as having plenty of events on, the Castle Park in Colchester is idyllic to take a walk or sit down for a picnic. Open every day of the year, this beautiful park is a popular spot.

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Theatre and Art

Fancying a bit of theatre? The city has several venues with amazing shows on. 

The iconic Mercury Theatre puts on shows from dance to magic, with big names on the British circuit making an appearance. This venue always has plenty on, so be sure to check the calendar! 

Open-Air theatre is new to the city, with Castle Park Theatre offering up some fantastic live performances, including spellbinding Shakespeare classics. 

Charter Hall puts on a range of events, and is host to some fabulous variety, with music cover acts being a popular feature. Some big name comedy acts show up at Charter Hall too, so if that’s your thing be sure to check out their website.

The Headgate Theatre offers a wide range of stage productions from children’s theatre to classic tales, in addition to workshops and gigs. 

For shows put on by local students, located at the University of Essex the Lakeside Theatre introduces some amazing up and coming talent. 

For those with an interest in art exhibitions, the Firstsite Gallery puts on free exhibits with a variety of media, and there’s a cafe too. 

To keep up to date with the latest big events, check in with the Colchester Arts Centre, as gigs, comedy, and workshops are regularly held.

Escape rooms

Puzzle lovers, there’s several places for you to challenge yourself. 

Escape Colchester pushes you into creative problem solving, so bringing along a group of friends is a good way to work on team building. With a range of fun and spooky themes, booking in a game is a great way to be transported into another reality for an hour (or less, if you’re quick!).

For an apocalyptic experience, Doomsday Escape rooms have you sorted. Save humanity by working out the clues within the time limit!  

Explore Colchester and more of Essex by Bus for just £2.

With so much on in the city, it’s worth a trip! Hop on board a bus to Colchester to see how this iconic historical city can entertain!

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