The town's quiet streets are lined with beautiful timber-framed medieval buildings that are home to small specialist shops and restaurants. History is interspersed with glimpses of stunning 21st century design such as Firstsite, a cutting-edge, multi-million pound art gallery for regional, national and international artists.
Surrounding Colchester is the Dedham Vale area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Mersea Island; the area is better known as ‘Constable Country' after inspiring many famous artists including the landscape master John Constable.
Award-winning Colchester Zoo is one of the best in Europe thanks to an ongoing development programme. The zoo is home to more than 270 species set in 60 acres of parkland and lakes. The land train makes getting around a cinch and there are also adventure and soft play areas for younger children.
Colchester Castle was the largest keep ever built by the Normans and constructed on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius, which can still be toured. There are galleries and exhibits of Roman pottery and visitors can touch and feel Roman armour, medieval hats, shoes and costumes.
The town is surrounded by the oldest Roman Wall in the UK, which has played a key role in defending the town throughout the years. Other family attractions include the massive roller skating rink Rollerworld, the East Anglian Railway Museum, and the Town to Sea Trail which goes from the town centre through hand-forged artworks and to the historic port in Hythe.