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Colchester is the oldest recorded city in Britain, and it’s witnessed many of the most dramatic battles in the nation’s history. The city has stood here, in one form or another, since at least the fifth century BC, although rampaging Roman armies burnt most of it to the ground and rebuilt it in their own image. A thousand years later it was captured by invading Norman armies, who built the grand castle you see today.
Colchester is the oldest recorded city in Britain, and it’s witnessed many of the most dramatic battles in the nation’s history. The city has stood here, in one form or another, since at least the fifth century BC, although rampaging Roman armies burnt most of it to the ground and rebuilt it in their own image. A thousand years later it was captured by invading Norman armies, who built the grand castle you see today. Visit Essex’s busiest city today and you’ll find a fascinating area to explore, rich in history but with plenty of modern sights to keep you entertained. And, when you book a hire car in Colchester, you’re free to explore much of southern England, with London, Reading and Camberley all within easy driving distance.
Colchester is served by Colchester Salvaza Airport, which lies about 20 minutes west of the city. If you book your hire car before you depart, you can collect it and be on your way to your hotel or guesthouse in minutes.
There are loads of options when it comes to choosing your rental car in Colchester. Top brands include Interrent, Firefly EU and Hertz. Or, choose a more environmentally friendly option provided by Green Motion.
Colchester’s big attraction is that broad and imposing castle. Completed around 1076, it actually stands on the site of a Roman temple from around 54AD. Visitors here can explore more than 2000 years of history, with interactive exhibitions and historical re-enactments, while younger patrons will love the chance to have a go at building their own Norman archway.
Colchester’s modern side also has plenty to offer. Spend an afternoon at the giant Colchester Zoo, home to almost 300 different species of animal, or enjoy a walk in the lush Beth Chatto Gardens, a horticultural oasis built by Beth Chatto OBE, the award-winning gardener and planting authority. The 94-year-old is a regular presence around the place, inspiring staff and visitors alike with her enthusiasm and knowledge. is more cosmopolitan but equally beautiful, with pale pink buildings that have earned it the name La Ville Rose (the Pink City). Visit Musée des Augustins and explore an art collection that stretches from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
Fancy some culture? Hop in your rental car and set a course for Audley End House, a 17th century pile just outside Bishop’s Stortford. Explore the gardens or head inside and learn all about servant life in Victorian Britain from the staff, who dress in authentic 19th century outfits. Find Audley End House an hour west of Colchester via the A120.
If you’ve ever driven in England or the UK before, Colchester won’t throw up anything unexpected. It is a commuter town, though – so watch out for traffic on the roads heading towards London in early morning and evening.
If you’ve been inspired to add Colchester to your next England itinerary, you’re in the right place. Use the Expedia travel tool to find the best car hire, flight and hotel deals and to research the best attractions and activities.
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