Things to do in Colchester

Top Things to Do in Colchester, Essex - Colchester Must-See Attractions

Things to Do in Colchester


Book these experiences for a closer look at the region.

Top Attractions in Colchester

These rankings are informed by traveller reviews—we consider the quality, quantity, recency, consistency of reviews, and the number of page views over time.
Visitor Centres
Visitors can enjoy walks on Essex Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve; with stunning panoramic views across the reservoir and surrounding villages as well as superb views of the water’s edge from three bird hides. The nature reserve has a 900m accessible circular footpath and there are wheelchairs available for use. The Visitor Centre offers a tearoom which is open seven days a week providing a variety of hot and cold food, most of which is locally sourced; easy access toilets & baby changing facilities; and a well-stocked shop which has binoculars, telescopes, bird food, feeders and a range of gifts. Essex Wildlife Trust runs a programme of events throughout the year for all ages as well as children’s outdoor birthday parties and a weekly toddler group available during term time; booking is required for all of our events. On the nature reserve there is a new Brambly Hedge sculpture trail, where you can find seven characters from the classic stories written by Jill Barklem; there is also a wild play area with a zip wire, v bridge, swings and spiderweb net. Essex Wildlife Trust is a charity and relies on donations to carry out its work for the wildlife and people of Essex. There is suggested entry donation of £2 for Adults £1 for children and £5 Family; car parking is free. The huge expanse of Essex & Suffolk Water’s Abberton Reservoir plays host to some 40,000 wetland birds each year all attracted to the shallow muddy margins and large areas of rough grassland, which provide the ultimate habitat for a plethora of wildlife and waterfowl. The Visitor Centre is 6 miles SW of Colchester on the B1026 (a minor road linking Colchester and Maldon) just South of Layer de la Haye - follow the brown and white "Abberton Reservoir visitor centre" signs.
See full details
Art Galleries
Colchester Arts Centre - the little church with the big attitude deep in the heart of Essex. Well that's how we describe it anyway. It sort of works, it at least gives a flavour of what we're about. Because just how do you describe a venue that can put children's entertainer Palfi the Clown on, on the same day as Cradle of Filth? Where a Farmer's Market in the morning becomes a comedy club in the evening, where folk enthusiasts can sit happily knitting (and they do!) in the exact same spot a ferocious mosh pit of teenage dancing takes place the following night? And where the beautiful historic architecture of St Mary's Church dating back over a thousand years, plays host to some of the newest comics, most modern choreographers, some of the coolest DJ's and some of the freshest talent in Britain. Over the years we've promoted Coldplay, Eddie Izzard, Graham Norton, Harry Hill, Catherine Tate, Jo Brand, The Libertines, Ash, The Killers, The Strokes, Phill Jupitus, Mick Jones, Bill Bailey, Jack Dee, Count Arthur Strong - all before anyone had ever heard of them of course - plus the likes of jazz legend Ronnie Scott and even the late lamented and much loved Brian Johnston the cricket commentator. Our passion to present new work, bring great bands and comics to Colchester burns more brightly than ever. Our business is all about fresh ideas, new acts, new art forms and vibrant new ways of working. We can't stand still. We embrace the new, the quirky the original and yes, the surreal.
See full details

Revenue impacts the experiences featured on this page, learn more.
Learn more about this content
Tours, activities and experiences bookable on Tripadvisor, ranked using exclusive Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, popularity, user preferences, price, and bookings made through Tripadvisor.
*Likely to sell out: Based on Viator’s booking data and information from the provider from the past 30 days, it seems likely this experience will sell out through Viator, a Tripadvisor company.
We perform checks on reviews.
Tripadvisor’s approach to reviews
Before posting, each Tripadvisor review goes through an automated tracking system, which collects information, answering the following questions: how, what, where and when. If the system detects something that potentially contradicts our community guidelines, the review is not published.
When the system detects a problem, a review may be automatically rejected, sent to the reviewer for validation, or manually reviewed by our team of content specialists, who work 24/7 to maintain the quality of the reviews on our site.
Our team checks each review posted on the site disputed by our community as not meeting our community guidelines.
Learn more about our review moderation.

What travellers are saying

  • Lucille W
    1 contribution
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    We were visiting family in Suffolk and decided to visit Colchester zoo for a day out with our 14 yr old daughter.
    Parking was fine and we got parked near the entrance, it was a windy day so we sat in the car until the zoo opened. Upon arrival we had to scan our tickets which went smoothly but then the confusing bit started….
    I downloaded the app And we had a paper map of the zoo but found it to be slightly confusing, however we had fun regardless looking at the various animals.
    At first many of the animals were hiding so we couldn’t see them but once we did a lap and went back we saw the fluffy animals whom had been hiding away.
    Plenty of toilets along the way and they were always being cleaned so was nice to see that the hygiene was a priority as the zoo was quite busy being half term.
    We had wraps for our lunch which was very overpriced for what it was, but edible regardless, would have been better if there was more selection at the wrap cafe though.
    When we found the goats we bought some food to feed them from the stall there, make sure you take pound coins as they only accept cash and luckily we had some on us but there was some children who’s parents didn’t have anything but cards and got quite upset.
    All in all it was a lovely day out, make sure you wear comfy shoes though as there is ALOT of walking around. There’s plenty of benches along the routes though to sit and admire the animals.
    The lion was absolutely beautiful and my husband loved seeing the elephants, daughter’s highlight was feeding the goats because she adores them!
    The new dinosaur exhibit was really good, daughter liked them too!
    Written 18 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Elizabeth B
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK6 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    So much to see and do! The exhibits were fascinating and the format of the museum varies throughout, with numerous interactive areas and plenty to keep small children interested. Several staff members very patiently and kindly explained different parts of Roman history in a way that kept my four year old nephew engaged, showing him the swords and shields. He was chatting about it for days after. Would highly recommend for all visitors, young and old.
    Written 3 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • NatBow007
    Dedham, UK60 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This is a beautiful escape in the Colchester area, and definitely worth a visit. Just because Beth Chatto is down the road, don't be fooled in to missing out on a little gem. The gardens are beautiful and very natural. They have a great nursery so you can pick up some of the plants you see in the gardens. The nursery is very well stocked. I would also recommend the home made cakes - the victoria sponge was very tasty. GO and visit you won't be disappointed.
    Written 18 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Josh E
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Priceless little gem for kids - the staff clearly have a deep passion for what they have created! A lot to be said when your children state they would rather go here than somewhere like Chessington or Thorpe park when given the option!

    Advice for parents; SEN friendly, wear good footwear, pack a strong buggy, get your best camera, don't be afraid to let the tykes dress up as a princess or pirate, pay attention to the activity timings (don't want to miss the magic), don't forget suncream!

    The wife and I have taken our 2 children (aged 3 & 6) a few times and every time they are practically back flipping into the car when we spring the news on them that we are off to Wyvernwood.
    Where to start? The grounds are massive and they are immaculately spotless - a lot of thought has gone into the various play areas they have constructed (pirate ship, bouncy pillow, wishing well, teepees, maize maze, go karts, woodland walk, etc). Wood carvings are beautiful btw.
    Rich story and lore to the place that is pitched perfectly to the kids - absolutely magical.
    The price (which, I feel, is reasonable considering it's for the whole day) is the price for the day and there are no hidden expenses or nasty little ride ons that cost £2 a go (which I feel cheapen a facility) - none of that tat.
    The character actors or performers are brilliant with the children and engaging - they never break character and go the extra mile to entertain the children (Sprocket is our favourite - poor lads voice must take a hammering by the end of the season but he always makes a fuss of the children) even the stewards never break character - brilliant!
    The various activities that occur are just long enough to engage the children and give mum and dad a quick breather and they always get something magic at the end of it (even if that something is a brand new stick that has been morphed into a magic wand).
    Face painting is good - not just some trivial attempt at a flower or eye patch.
    Today I watched a staff member (whose job it was to police the ruffians on the bounce pillow) play 'Tag' and 'Bulldog' with about 20 kids in the middle of the blistering hot sun for over 40mins (with both the staff member and the kids loving every minute of it). Now if that were another establishment, you'd have a young college kid standing there showing little-to-no interest, waiting for their break, whilst your kids got jostled unnecessarily by other kids that don't know how to play nicely - not here. Jorm (sorry if I spelt this wrong) was the lads name; 11/10 for effort bud - I had to buy him a cold water as he was baking; massive props).

    Summary:
    Clearly, there has been a lot of thought, love and effort that has gone into the whole thing - and it shows. It is facilities like this that should be cherished and supported by the community as little gems like this are few and far between nowadays WITHOUT the ugly side of "any-cost profit" and "cheap money spinners" spoiling the whole experience. It really is an enchanted, magical day and the look on the kids face when they get attention from the truly brilliant performers is a priceless memory which is worth the ticket price a hundred times over - they don't forget that stuff.

    Constructive feedback for staff: DO NOT loose that focus and passion for your site that is clearly present currently! You have created something wonderful for families - keep going and build on it!!!! My children (and I'm sure hundreds like mine) will have fond memories that will last a lifetime!

    10/10 cannot recommend enough!!!
    Written 14 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • ABG
    Chandigarh, India167 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    It’s a beautiful place to just walk around or to just sit and relax and see the world pass by…lovely for a morning stroll.
    Written 30 September 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • corokia
    Deal, UK10 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Was surprised how varied the garden was. So much to see and so attractive. I was looking forward to the dry garden, which did not disappoint but there was so much more. The water area was welcome , it was a hot day.
    Written 18 October 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • SussexBloke
    Bognor Regis, UK527 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Splendid. It’s clear that everyone who works/volunteers there is an enthusiast and keen to put on a good show. The house is a most comfortable place in which to spend a couple of hours. The paintings are beautifully displayed along with excellent descriptions. Amongst them are snippets from newspaper cuttings and also letters that offer context for the lives lived in the house. Two additional things that I enjoyed – one was the way that the floor creaked ever so slightly under the soft carpet; and when I asked whether I could perhaps sit in one of the armchairs the answer was “yes – we’re not the National Trust you know!” And I’d say all the better for it. We had paid for a single entry, but hoping that we’d return to Dedham, we made the decision to ‘upgrade’ to an annual pass. It’s that sort of place – makes you feel good.
    Written 18 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Russell M
    Basildon, UK11 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Woke up Saturday morning and wanted somewhere to go in the evening. Came across this theatre online and saw a show which cost £10 so it was a done deal. Having never been there before we didn't know what we were looking for and it's not your usual theatre. Walked in and was warmly welcomed by the staff. Made our way to the bar area where they had a selection of drinks. The main theatre was small and intimate giving a very good atmosphere being so close to the performance. The show was about an hour long of improv storytelling. Had a lovely evening and looking forward to returning to this hidden gem of a theatre.
    Written 4 February 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • me
    25 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lovely place to stroll...pretty good for a robust wheelchair or buggy. Nice coffee shop and pond...lots of birds to see
    Written 10 October 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Angel57
    Essex UK1,950 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    It's been a while since we last visited the Arts Centre but I decided to treat myself to tickets to "Lady Nade Sings Nina Simone" for my birthday. Didn't realise it would be a seated concert but we managed to get 2 fairly decent seats just over halfway back & fairly centrally. As others have said the seating is pretty cramped but that's the nature of the venue really.
    There were a few sound issues at the start of the concert & again a little later on but that didn't really detract from what was a great show. The band was terrific & Lady Nade has a great voice. Set choice was good & I was happy they included "Gin House Blues".
    Overall a great evening.
    Written 10 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Peter B
    72 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The wildlife was amazing, I took so many photos. Yovones pond is a favourite. The visitor centre is brilliant The staff all smile and are very helpful.
    Written 4 October 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Noya6281
    Colchester, UK10 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Went to this museum with friends as we are studying History related subjects in college and it was a very informative and relaxing visit. It's a quiet museum and you are able to view it at your own pace. It has many interactive displays that would be great for kids, and also very fun for all ages.
    Written 16 March 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions about Colchester



The most popular things to do in Colchester with children according to Tripadvisor travellers are:See all kid friendly things to do in Colchester on Tripadvisor

All Colchester HotelsColchester Hotel DealsLast Minute Hotels in Colchester
All things to do in Colchester
RestaurantsFlightsHoliday RentalsTravel StoriesCruisesCar Hire