Essex is a historic county in England that offers tourists a wealth of attractions to enjoy. From the stunning seaside views of Mersea Island to the fascinating medieval villages, you won’t find a more idyllic location.
In this article, Girl About Travel takes you to some of the top spots you have to visit when you’re in Essex. So pack your bags and get ready to explore!
Essex: A remnant of Roman Britain
Essex is a historic county in the East of England that offers tourists a wealth of attractions to enjoy. From the stunning seaside views of Mersea Island to the fascinating medieval villages, you won’t find a more idyllic location.
The first inhabitants of Essex were the Celtic Britons, who arrived in the area around 500 BC. The Roman Empire soon expanded into Britain, and by 43 AD, they had conquered Essex. The Romans remained in control of Essex until around 410 AD when they withdrew from Britain altogether.
After the Romans left, the area was overrun by the Anglo-Saxons. Essex then became an influential kingdom in its own right, and by the 11th century, it was one of the wealthiest and most powerful counties in England.
The Best Attractions in Essex
Essex’s rich history is reflected in its many historic sites and attractions. Here are some of our most highly recommended spots you have to visit:
The first spot on our list is Mersea Island, a beautiful island off the coast of Essex. The island has a long history dating back to Roman times when it was used as a garrison town.
In fact, during that time, the island was known as Mons Eburacum, which means ‘island of the wild boars.’
Mersea Island is a popular tourist destination for its stunning beaches and picturesque views. There are also several fun activities to enjoy on the island, such as windsurfing, sailing, and kayaking.
Maldon is a historic market town located in Essex. The town dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and was once an important port. Maldon was the site of the Battle of Maldon.
The town is also home to many interesting historic buildings, such as Maldon Palace, built in 1171.
Maldon is a great place to visit if you’re interested in history or just want to enjoy a charming market town. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore, as well as a number of beautiful parks and gardens.
If you want something more iconic, nothing beats Colchester Castle. The castle is one of the largest and most impressive in England and has been standing since the 11th century.
The castle has played an important role in English history, serving as both a fortress and a prison over the years. It was also used as a Royal Mint during the reign of King John.
Today, Colchester Castle is a popular tourist attraction and hosts regular concerts and fairs. There’s even a museum on-site that regularly tells the story of the castle’s long history.
Yet another classic landmark in Essex is Hadleigh Castle. The Normans initially built the castle in the 12th century, and much like other castles has been used as a fortress, palace, and prison throughout the years.
In more recent times, Hadleigh Castle has been used as a filming location for movies such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Gladiator.
The castle is open to visitors all year round and offers some great views of the surrounding countryside. There’s also a museum on-site that tells the castle’s long history.
Audley End House
Famous for its grandiose architecture, Audley End House is one of the largest country houses in England. The house was once a royal palace and has been home to a number of wealthy families over the centuries.
Today, Audley End House is open to the public and offers tours of the lavish State Rooms as well as the stunning grounds. There’s also a working farm on-site which is great for kids!
The first stop on our tour is Chelmsford, the county town of Essex. Chelmsford was once a strategic settlement for the Roman army, and you can still see some of their ruins today. The impressive remains of a Roman temple and bathhouse can be found in the city center and an excavated section of the old Roman road. If you’re interested in history, this is definitely one place you don’t want to miss!
Chelmer Valley: A haven for nature lovers
Next up is the beautiful Chelmer Valley, which offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. From gentle walks along the riverbank to more strenuous hikes through the hills, there’s something for everyone here. You can also go horse riding, cycling, or even fishing in the river.
The valley is also home to rare plants and animals, so it’s undoubtedly worth a visit if you’re interested in wildlife.
Coggeshall: A medieval town full of charm
For those on a historical quest, Coggeshall is a must-see. This medieval town is full of charm and character, with half-timbered houses and winding streets.
Coggeshall was once an important market town, and you can still see the remains of the old market square. The town is also the location of many historic buildings, such as the 12th century Abbey Gatehouse.
Coggeshall is one of Essex’s hidden gems with its picturesque setting and fascinating history.
St. Nicholas’ Church
In Coggeshall, you’ll also find the beautiful St. Nicholas’ Church. This Grade I listed building is one of the oldest in Essex and is well worth a visit.
The church has been standing since the 12th century and is famous for its intricate carvings and stained glass windows. It also boasts interesting historical artifacts, such as an ancient stone coffin and a Saxon cross.
If you’re looking for some fun on the coast, Southend-on-Sea is the place to go! This seaside town is packed with amusement parks, arcades, and restaurants. There’s also plenty of opportunity for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
Continuing on our tour of Essex’s coastline, we come to Northey Island. This island is a nature reserve and is a wildlife wonderland.
The island is also perfect for birdwatching, with over 200 different species of birds having been spotted here. If you’re lucky, you might even see an otter or two!
In the past, Northey Island didn’t have such a tranquil reputation. It was once used by Viking raiders and was even the battle site during the English Civil War.
Our final stop on this tour is Tilbury Fort, which dates back to 1539. The fort has been used as a fortress, palace, and prison throughout its long history and is now open to visitors.
The fort is particularly famous for its role in the Spanish Armada, where it was used to defend England against the invading Spanish fleet. You can still see some of the original cannons and defenses today.
You can also find plenty of exhibitions in Tilbury Fort, which tell the story of the fort’s long history. There’s something for everyone here, so be sure to visit this fascinating landmark before you leave Essex!
Dedham Vale Vineyard
Sometimes you just need a drink. And what better place to enjoy a glass of wine than at a vineyard?
Dedham Vale Vineyard is located in the heart of Constable Country and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The vineyard produces a range of red, white, and rosé wines and sparkling wine and cider.
And if you’re feeling peckish, they also offer a selection of cheese platters, which are perfect for enjoying with a glass of your favorite tipple.
So there you have it, our tour of Essex! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of the county’s most exciting places. If you’re ever in Essex, be sure to check out these fantastic sites for yourself! Thanks for reading!