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Colchester locals will proudly tell you that their city is Britain’s oldest recorded Roman town. Its history actually goes back much farther than that, but it was the Romans who shaped “Camulodunum,” as they called it. Today, you can still see the remains of a Roman wall in the city center.
More than two millennia of habitation have left the city other impressive historic sites as well. The imposing Colchester Castle and churches such as St. Botolph’s Priory are examples of more recent architecture. Modern attractions abound too, so visit galleries and indulge in some shopping in the lively town center after your tour of the heritage sites.
Part of Colchester’s appeal is that most of the major attractions are located within walking distance from the city center. Start at the VisitColchester Information Centre and pick up all the maps and information you need. Head to Colchester Castle Park and you’ll find the Castle Museum and Hollytrees Museum within its grounds. On and around High Street you can choose between the Colchester Natural History Museum, contemporary art galleries such as Firstsite and The Minories, and architectural feats such as the Colchester Town Hall.
On a sunny day, enjoy a walk around the Beth Chatto Gardens or a visit to the Colchester Zoo where you can feed elephants and giraffes. Also explore the nearby countryside, which the famous English painter John Constable captured so well.
Start your evening in one of the many fine restaurants in the city center and end the night attending a performance at the Mercury Theatre or mingling with locals in one of the many pubs.
Nearby attractions in the Essex countryside include the splendid Tudor structure known as the Layer Marney Tower.
Colchester is just over 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of London. The nearest international airport is at Stansted, which is located 34 miles (55 kilometers) west of Colchester. You’ll need to wear warm clothes for a winter visit to Colchester, but it is one of the driest places in the U.K. With so much to see and do, you’ll enjoy your stay in Colchester whatever the weather.