Along the Essex coastline lies a hive of creative happenings. Artists are creating and performing up and down England’s water gateway. With a rich mix of culture and heritage nestled in tranquil towns and bustling resorts, escape to Essex and discover why these shores continue to inspire artists world-wide.
The sailing mecca of Brightlingsea has the distinction of being the only Cinque Port outside Kent and Sussex.
The county has 35 islands, more islands than any other English county.
Did you know five US presidents hailed from Essex? George Washington, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Itineraries in Essex
Our planned itineraries are the easiest way to discover exciting attractions and places to stay. Explore itineraries by theme, and choose which places fit your budget or length of stay...Browse all itineraries
From expert-guided gallery tours and self-guided sculpture trails, to fabulous food spots and places to rest your head, browse our selection of days out and places to stay, and start planning your cultural escape.Browse all attractions
Rich in sites and scenery, Essex has a creative and coastal surprise waiting for you at every corner.
In Southend-on-Sea, experience the world’s first digital art park, NetPark. Be immersed in the outdoors with 15 outdoor digital artworks and enjoy year-round events hosted by the art organisation Metal, including Village Green Festival and in Estuary 2020 where 60 miles of coastline across this waterway are celebrated with art, music, literature and film.
The diverse coastline of Essex features tidal inlets, estuarine islands and lonely salt marshes showcasing the area's wild beauty and rich wildlife.
Expore 25 hectares of nature and wildlife at Gunners Park in Shoeburyness and Wallasea Island RSPB site, steeped also in history as it was here that HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin’s vessel, found its last resting place and will be celebrated with a series of events in 2020 to mark 200 years since the Beagle’s launch.
If you're looking for stunning sea views off the Essex coastline, you'll want to head straight to The Naze Tower, situated in the charmingly traditional seaside town of Walton-on-the-Naze. Offering a 360-degree panoramic view of coastal Essex, the landmark Tower is now an art gallery, featuring works insoiured by the coast.
At Jaywick, the Martello Tower - once a coastal fort and now an arts and community venue – has been inspiring artists since 2005, including Gavin Turk, Nathan Coley and Rob Ollins. In 2019, artists Close and Remote (Sophie Mellor and Simon Poulter) have used watercolours, sound and virtual reality to create Days Like These, which explores the beauty of Jaywick Sands.
Known to most as an international port, a stop off at the old town of Harwich is a must for visitors. Full of secret alleyways, historic buildings with a tale to tell, small museums, and a replica of the Mayflower. With a calendar of popular annual events including the Festival of Arts and Maritime Festival, you'll want to put a date in your diary for a visit to this historic harbour town.
Sitting on the border with London, Essex is very well connected with major international routes. By air, visitors can arrive into the central London airports, but also Stansted in the west of the county and Southend in the east. For those arriving by car, Stena Line operates a ferry service from Harwich to and from Hoek Van Holland in the Netherlands, which accepts cars, bikes and foot passengers. The port of Harwich has a train station to connect to wider Essex with Greater Anglia Trains. Once in the county, the road network is wide, connecting the larger towns with the little villages, with M, A and B roads.