Essex is a county east of London and is most notorious for its hit T.V. show Towie where the shows boys and girls act like bumbling idiots and hook up with each other. It is the standard junk reality T.V. that everyone pretends to hate but simultaneously cannot get enough of. However, Essex has a lot more to offer than just fake tan and Vajazzles (if you do not know what a Vajazzle is, I suggest you do not google it). With a gorgeous coastline and vast countryside, Essex makes the perfect place for a road trip. The Essex road trip itinerary below contains all the things to do in Essex including all of the hidden gems of Essex!

For the sake of this road trip around Essex, it is starting in the area of Chigwell, but depending on your location you can drive around Essex in the opposite direction. Alternatively, you can use this ultimate Essex road trip guide as a starting point to planning your own road trip.


In the district of Epping Forest sits Chigwell. Just outside of London, Chigwell is the perfect location to live if you want to be just outside the city but further enough away that there are plenty of places to walk your dog. However Chigwell is not the most affordable area to live. The area is notorious for homing the rich including the billionaire business man Sir Alan Sugar.

For the first stop on your road trip across Essex, you should take a stroll around Epping Forest and then perhaps pay a visit to the Hainault Forest Country Park. There is a boating lake and a small farm inside that is appropriate for the whole family. Or why not browse in envy at all the mansions in the area and dream about how the other half live?


On the next stop on your Essex road trip you should consider visiting the famous Brentwood. Home to the Towie cast and the town in which most of the show is filmed, when visiting Brentwood you can spot some of the places from the show. From Amy Childs Salon to the Sugar Hut, most of Brentwood’s high street will look familiar if you’ve ever seen the show. If you’re spending the night in Brentwood, why not pop in the Sugar Hut for a drink or two. Who knows who you will bump in to!


When travelling around Essex you cannot skip past Southend-on-Sea. It is a very traditional British seaside town and it has everything you need for the perfect day at the beach (if the weather is all good, that is). It has an extremely long pier that you can catch a train to get from one end to the other and along the seafront is a big theme park. So if you’re after a scenic walk, or you much prefer some adrenaline activity, Southend-on-Sea has something for everyone! Southend-on-Sea is also a good place to visit for the weekend as they will have numerous caravan parks at an affordable rate! There is so many things to do in Southend-on-Sea and so you shouldn’t miss this town out of your road trip.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is rated the second best zoo in the United Kingdom and therefore can’t be missed from the ultimate road trip around Essex. The zoo has over 250 animal species to discover and it is praised for its number of interactive activities. Did you know that you can feed both the elephants and giraffes and you don’t have to pay a penny on top of your ticket price? A day is never enough time to spend at the zoo however, if you only have one day in Colchester the zoo will definitely keep you entertained.

Feeding the giraffes at Colchester Zoo
Feeding the giraffes at Colchester Zoo
Feeding the giraffes at Colchester Zoo
Feeding the giraffes at Colchester Zoo

If you have a bigger budget for your road trip around Essex then Colchester Zoo offers many different unique experiences such as being a zoo keeper for the day. All dependent on the animal of your choice, this will include making food for the animals, feeding them and you might even get the chance to cuddle them!

A Day Out at Colchester Zoo
A Day Out at Colchester Zoo

Colchester Castle

Colchester is the oldest recorded town in the country. It is a town you cannot miss on your road trip around Essex because it was the countries first ever city. It is full with a rich history dating all the way back to the Roman era. Soon after the Roman settlement of Britain in AD 43, Colchester (known back then as Camulodunum) became the capitol city of England. You can understand just why Colchester was chosen when you walk around the town. The town centre is on top of a big hill which would have given the Roman’s an advantage in battle.

The Temple of Claudius used to sit where the Colchester Castle sits today. Today it forms the base of the Norman Castle that you can take a look around and learn a lot about the history of not only Colchester but the history of England. So if you’re fascinated by history then Colchester Castle is a must see on your road trip across Essex!

Colchester Castle. Photo Taken by David Merrett

Walton-on-the-Naze beach

If you’re looking for a quieter beach on your road trip then Walton-on-the-Naze is only a 30 minute drive from Colchester. It is the perfect place for beautiful coastal walks and it even has a pier that will keep you entertained. With a little imagination there are plenty of things to do in Walton-on-the-Naze, however I have put together a list of things to do in Walton-on-the-Naze for some inspiration.

Walton-on-the-Naze Beach

Hedingham Castle

Again, if you are interested in history, or you just like walking around pretty places then Hedingham Castle cannot be missed from your tour of Essex. Hedingham castle is a 900 year old Norman Keep and it is a part of an estate of gorgeous woodland. It is a common estate in Essex to get married in as on a sunny spring day, the flowers surrounding the area blossom and the lake glistens.

Other than weddings, medieval themed pantomimes are common shows that you can watch at Hedingham castle. You can also view bird shows on this estate and this is something worth looking into when planning your Essex road trip.

Dedham Boathouse

Dedham is on the boarder of Essex and Suffolk and is a beautiful village with gorgeous countryside. Along the river you can hire rowing boats and row along the river. Alternatively you can bring your own paddle-boards and/or Kayaks and spend the day exploring the riverbanks. When the weather is nice, this makes for a beautiful day out. The last time I rented a rowing boat, a herd of cows came right down to the river for a drink and they came very close to us. It is a lovely opportunity to see some cows in their natural environment.

Dedham Boathouse
Dedham Boathouse
Dedham Boathouse
Dedham Boathouse – Cows in the water

Audley end house and garden

The last stop on this road trip across Essex is to a large 17th century country house outside of Saffron Walden. It is named as one of the finest Jacobean houses in the whole of England and is absolutely stunning. Just like Hedingham castle, there are always events on at this estate. Not only can you admire the interiors of this mansion but you can also walk around the beautiful well maintained gardens of this estate. Therefore, if you are interested in history or you just like walking around beautiful places then Audley End House and Gardens is not to be missed when road tripping around Essex.

There is most likely a million and one more things to do in Essex and places to see in Essex however this is just one proposed road trip itinerary around Essex of many. Comment below any other things to add to the ultimate Essex road trip that you can think of!


  1. Ahhhh you’ve included my local beach! Walton is lovely. Colchester Zoo is also amazing – I think it’s in the top 6 in Europe? I’d also recommend Chelmsford for shopping and Wivenhoe for an arty, boat vibe – some very good pubs there.

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