Everything you need to know when you visit Colchester


Last updated: 15/06/2021



If you’re visiting Britain’s oldest town, why not stay in its oldest hotel?

Located in Essex, Colchester is built on the foundations of an ancient Roman temple, which means there are historical sites at every turn. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to find modern day fun here, as shopping, gastronomy and entertainment are high up on the to-do list too.

Our team of local experts at the hotel have put together this guide for you, as you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Colchester and the surrounding areas.

Visiting a town as old as this requires comfortable shoes so you can really go exploring, but that also means having somewhere comfortable and chilled out to retire to at the end of the day.


If you’re exploring the history and fun of Colchester with children, you’re not going to be short of attractions. There are plenty of free things to do in Colchester with kids, but even the paid activities don’t have to break the bank.

Say hello to wildlife at Colchester Zoo

15 minute drive from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Colchester Zoo
Everyone loves a day at the zoo, right? And Colchester Zoo is one of the best around! If you time your visit right, you’ll be able to watch feeding sessions and talk to the keepers about the different animals calling the zoo home.

Check out the Komodo dragons and head to the Kingdom of the Wild with the huge African savannah, home to giraffes, rhinos and zebras, to name a few. Before you go, be sure to head into the tunnel and watch the sea lions swimming over the top of you.

One of the best Colchester attractions, the zoo is a must if you’re looking for things to do with kids in Colchester. And if you need a hotel near Colchester Zoo, The Rose and Crown Hotel is ideal as we’re just a short drive away.

Bouncing fun at Jump Street Colchester

20 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Jump Street
Packed with fun activities and plenty of trampolining fun, Jump Street Colchester is the ideal spot for active kids and adults who are young at heart!

Colourful, packed with musical fun, and plenty of chances to burn off some energy, this is a great place to head during a rainy day or simply when you want to laugh and enjoy as a family.

There is a cafe on site and it’s also close to many other attractions in central Colchester too.

Splashing fun at Colchester Leisure World

18 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Colchester Leisure World
Pack your swimwear as Colchester Leisure World is one of the best things to do with kids in Colchester!

With pools, water slides, splash zones and rapids, kids will love their time here and adults will too.

It’s definitely going to tire your little ones out for a good night’s sleep too! Check out the shipwreck water cannons of the lazy river for some extra fun during your family holiday.

Travel back in time at Colchester Castle Museum

16 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Colchester Castle Museum
We already know that Colchester is Britain’s oldest town, so why not head to see one of the oldest fortifications, Colchester Castle? There aren’t many kids who don’t love running around a castle and enjoying the historic scenery around them. And even the older children should enjoy learning all about the history.

This is the largest Norman castle in the whole of Europe and it’s actually built on ancient foundations of when Colchester was the Roman capital of the country. The museum has plenty of history and collections to learn about, and you can even learn how to steer a Roman chariot!

The castle should be top of your list for anyone looking for things to do in Colchester.


Do you love visiting places which feel like living, breathing windows to the past? If so, Colchester is the place for you. Historical places usually have plenty of quirky and unusual things to see and do and Colchester is no different.

If you’re keen to fill up your social media feed with weird and wonderful rather than plain and boring, check out these things to do in Colchester town centre and beyond.

Be a little confused at Talliston House & Gardens

40 minute drive from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Talliston House and Gardens
At first, it looks like you’re walking into a regular council house in Essex, but when you venture a little further you enter into a completely different world. No, you’re not in Narnia, but you’re somewhere around the globe which feels a million miles away from Essex, for sure.

Talliston House & Gardens is home to 13 different rooms which all have different themes of time and place. If you want to travel through time and space without actually having to do so, this is the ideal place to go. It’s a truly quirky experience, and a very unusual place to visit during your holiday.

Visit our hotel bar and drink on top of history

Rose and Crown Hotel Bar
Having a drink in The Rose and Crown Hotel’s Tudor Bar Brasserie isn’t just any old experience, you’re actually sitting on top of a 700 year old prison, right beneath your feet!

This is a quaint and rustic bar which is ideal for chilling out and enjoying a few beverages (in front of a real log fire if you fancy it!). You’ll find an eclectic range of chilled beers and ales on tap, plus an impressive collection of premium spirits, liquors and mixers.


Colchester might be historic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of options for night-time enjoyment! Colchester has different types of nightlife on offer; despite the fact that most nightlife is quite laid back and quaint, you will find clubs and cocktail bars too.

Catch a show at Charter Hall

18 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Charter Hall
Charter Hall is one of Colchester’s many event venues and regularly hosts big named artists in music, drama and comedy. Jimmy Carr is one of the big names who has played Charter Hall, so be sure to check out the itinerary of events before your visit to catch one of your favourite artists or entertainment figures.

This is one of the best things to do in Colchester in the evening, for sure.

If you’re looking for a hotel near Charter Hall, The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester is easily within walking distance, making us the perfect place to stay if you’re watching a show.

Fun Times at The Silk Road Lounge & Cocktail Bar

16 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Silk Road Lounge and Cocktail Bar
There are lots of things to do in Colchester at night and plenty of options for your evening’s entertainment, but if you want something a little classy, check out the Silk Road Lounge & Cocktail Bar.

With three bars, a huge VIP spot and huge dance floors with some of the best DJs around, you’ll have a great night here, for sure. There are also great deals on cocktails, made by some of the best mixologists you’ll ever see.

The bar gets very busy during weekends, with a great atmosphere to enjoy.

Sample Seafood at Mersea Island

20 minute drive from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Mersea Island
Mersea Island is famous for its oysters – they’ve been produced there since the days of the Roman Empire, so sampling these local delights is a must-do!

If oysters aren’t your thing, there are countless other delicious seafood treats on the menus of many top-class restaurants and it’s a great night out with a difference.

You can reach Mersea Island in 20 minutes by car, it’s just nine miles away. It’s also a very scenic drive too, so take your time and enjoy the view!

Dance the night away at ATIK

18 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
If you want to enjoy a nightclub experience in Colchester, ATIK gives you a high-end experience with plenty of fun to be had.

Regularly hosting big named DJs and themed parties, ATIK will certainly give you a night to remember and if you check online before your visit you’ll be able to choose a theme which suits your tastes.

ATIK is only 1.5 miles away from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester, but if you need a taxi then you’ll find plenty outside the club and surrounding high street.


There are many romantic things to do in Colchester and downright fun things which don’t cost the Earth, and some are totally free! If you want to enjoy your time in Colchester without breaking the bank, check out these suggestions.

Explore history at The Natural History Museum

14 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Natural History Museum
Colchester’s version of the Natural History Museum takes you from the Ice Age, right up to the modern day. Free to enter, this is a great way to spend an hour or two, and a perfect thing to do in Colchester when it’s raining!

There are also many interactive displays, so you can get a hands-on view of history and really learn something new during your time. There’s even a free garden trail outside the museum for the sunnier days.

Breathe in the fresh air at High Woods Country Park

10 minute drive from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
High Woods Country Park
High Woods Country Park is the perfect way to grab some fresh air and enjoy the weather. This beautiful conservation area is ideal for walking, cycling or simply taking a picnic and enjoying the scenery.

There are fishing opportunities available (you will need a permit for this) and a small cafe and restaurant on site for refreshments. Be sure to spot the wildlife milling around and take plenty of photos during your free day out.

Follow the Family Heritage Treasure Trail

14 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Family Heritage Treasure Trail
There are several different routes to choose from, so put on your warm coat and comfortable shoes then head off on the Family Heritage Treasure Trail. You even get a prize at the end!

The trails take you through some of the most historic and beautiful sights in Colchester, including Roman ruins. Kids will learn plenty of new things to tell their friends, you’ll get some exercise, and everyone will be able to fill up their social media feeds with new photos!

The starting point of the regular trail is Hollytrees Museum, which is only half a mile away from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester.

Head Back in Time at Hollytrees Museum

14 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Hollytrees Museum
Just a short walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel, located in beautiful Castle Park, you will find Hollytrees Museum.  Not only is the building itself very beautiful, dating back to 1718, but inside you’ll find displays with toys and costumes throughout history.

Be sure to check out the clock gallery in particular which shows you some of the businesses that were based in Colchester and created some of the best clocks throughout history.

This is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Colchester for free.


Colchester is about history but it’s also about fun – who says that history can’t be fun anyway! There are plenty of fun things to do in Colchester when it’s raining, when it’s sunny, or even when it’s snowing!

Seaside fun at Walton Pier

30 minute drive from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Walton Pier
What better way to enjoy your holiday than a day by the sea? Walton Pier gives you the old-fashioned seaside vibe with candy floss, fish and chips, and all the fun of the fair.

With amusements, tenpin bowling, promenades and plenty of fun to be had, Walton Pier is the ideal day out for families, couples and groups. And it’s open all year round.

Challenge yourself at Escape Colchester

17 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Escape Colchester
One of the best things to do in Colchester if you love games and puzzles is Escape Colchester. Ideal for families and couples, or simply groups of friends.

As a team, you’ll have to solve problems and puzzles in order to find your way out of the issue that you’ve stumbled your way into.

It’s almost like stepping out of your world and into another, with themes such as wizard and witchcraft and Baker Street.

Travel at speed at Rollerworld

2 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
If you’ve always loved the idea of going to a roller disco or simply love whizzing around on a pair of skates, Rollerworld will be right up your alley.

An ideal thing to do when it’s raining or for a fun evening out, Rollerworld has themed evenings and a huge skating area which means you’re never going to be crowded. Ideal for families, couples and friends.

Chilled Out Fun at Aqua Springs

17 minute walk from The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester
Aqua Springs
There are many fun things to do in Colchester but Aqua Springs is fun with a relaxing twist. If your idea of fun is chilling out, being pampered and enjoying Jacuzzis and lazy drinks, this is the spot for you!

Aqua Springs is a spa that offers many treatments and has great on-site facilities, such as hydrotherapy pools, restaurants and bars. You’ll feel totally blissed out and ready for anything that life wants to throw at you after a day here!


As you can see, there are so many things to do in Colchester which will keep you occupied during your stay.

With several different suites and room options available at The Rose and Crown Hotel Colchester, you’ll find something which suits your needs with ease. With all that exploring to do, you’ll need comfort when the night draws to a close!