Mini guide to Colchester
The jewel of Essex and England's oldest town, Colchester is a delightful city
with magnificent architectural heritage, excellent cuisine and a lively nightlife.
Moreover, the town is an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding
Built on the site of a former Roman temple, Colchester Castle was constructed
between 1070 and 1085, about the time of the Norman Conquest. The keep was the
largest in Europe when it was built. For a time it was used as a prison but
after it fell into disrepair it was partly demolished in the late 17th century
before eventually being restored in the 18th century. The castle has been named
as one of England's top tourist attractions, winning the 2000 Heritage Building
of the Year. Take the time to enjoy the excellent Roman and Norman exhibits
of the castle museum, which itself dates from 1860.
Exploring the town's ancient streets is very rewarding. Discover the remnants
of the 17th century Dutch Quarter, the Georgian Hollytrees Town House, All Saints
Church (housing the Natural History Museum) and the Tymperleys Clock Museum.
For modern culture, try the Colchester Arts Centre, situated in a converted
Victorian church, or the nearby Mercury Theatre. Families will love Colchester
Zoo and Beth Chatto Gardens.
For accommodation, Colchester has some comfortable old hotels as well as a
scattering of pleasant, well-located bed-and-breakfasts. The town's surprising
array of quality restaurants stems from its famous oysters and vineyards, with
an ever-increasing range of international cuisine complementing the more traditional
English restaurants. Colchester's town centre is crowded with pubs, with three
of the best being the Red Lion, the Foresters Arms and the Goat & Boot.
To the north of Colchester lies Suffolk, whose undulating southern reaches,
straddling the River Stour, are home to a string of picturesque, well-preserved
little towns such as Lavenham and Kersey. Elsewhere, Bury St Edmunds can boast
not just the ruins of its once-prestigious abbey, but also some fine Georgian
architecture on its grid-plan streets. The north Suffolk coast is breathtaking,
with the elegant Georgian resort town of Southwold providing excellent seaside
recreation and entertainment. Further north is Norfolk, which boasts Norwich,
renowned for its Norman cathedral and castle and for its high-tech Sainsbury
Centre, and Blakeney Point, one of England's top nature reserves. Cambridge
is also within easy reach, famed for its world-renowned university town and
the cathedral town of Ely.
Colchester is conveniently located on the A12 from London. The town has two
train stations with services from London, Ipswich and Harwich arriving at the
mainline Colchester North Station. The bus station is off Queen Street and caters
to both local buses and long distance coaches. London Stansted is the nearest
airport, serving domestic and international flights.
Selection of hotels in this region:
The Red Lion Hotel
Holiday Inn Colchester
Click below for a
full list of hotels and online booking