• Phebean Walters

Colchester: A Hidden Gem in England

Updated: May 12

If you enjoy slow traveling with scenic country views and small-town vibes, Colchester, England is a less traveled non-tourist attraction that will provide you with such an experience.

Sitting two hours southeast of England, Colchester is a cozy town surrounded by epic English country scenery and history.

I knew very little about Colchester apart from the fact that I would be teaching and staying at the University of Essex located outside of the town. Arriving by bus, I quickly realized this traditional English town wanted to preserve it's culture and resist the crowds that London attracted.

Firstly, it's main form of transportation in and out of the town is a small bus/couch station that runs on a strict schedule.

Secondly, people were not very welcoming to strangers. They gave odd looks and probably guessed that I was headed to the university. Plus, on a day outing with my students we witnessed first-hand icy behavior from frustrated townies. England was in heated political tensions about the United Kingdom’s exiting the European Union and reducing immigrant entrance into the country. Being black with a group of Polish students we stood out like a soar thumb. Nevertheless, we met more charming Colchester natives than the icy ones.

Thirdly, being that it is a small-town Colchester does not have as many options for activities like bigger cities. That is a part of its charm. The town is mostly quiet, pretty but humble, and has everything at an arm's reach. The town's center is where all major shops are located including its main transportation service that funnels people through the area.

Additionally, patience is a virtue when looking for things to do in Colchester. Most locals thought that Colchester was boring and could not give us any enthusiasm when asked about things to do. I was stunned by how unaffected the local people were about the beauty and tranquility of their town.

Hence, my friends and I went exploring the town for ourselves. We didn’t have to walk very far before we got into all times of excitements that we appreciated even if the locals did not.

  • 1) Colchester Zoo (I didn’t go but it was the only thing locals suggested)

  • 2) Colchester Castle- We stumbled on the castle because of its beautiful gardens. The castle also presented me with a surprise Game of Thrones tribute that made me jump for joy.

  • 3) Traditional English gardens and countryside- My love for nature has never been more alive than while walking and driving through magnificent natural views. Most of Colchester's landscapes looked as if someone had painted it. Oops, someone did….God or God directing very talented landscapers.

4) Shopping, shopping, shopping- I will not embarrass myself by going into details about my shopping habit.

  • 5) Unique restaurants and shops - you can only find in a such a town.

  • 6) Pub Life- A significant aspect of English culture is the Pub. With rare and sometimes funny names, the pub is a staple location where people eat meals, have a quick drink, or hang out for the night like a social club. Most pubs have music, televisions, pool and other games that entertain customers around the clock. Its more of a social scene than a simple bar that people go for drinks. Also, pubs have lodging for visitors similar to inns and bed and breakfast accommodations. Living up to its original name, public house, pubs are a favorite way to pass the time and get the latest tea or gossip.

Overall, my time in Colchester was peaceful yet exciting because of the rare treasures I found. Well, rare to me. I recommend Colchester depending on what YOU want as a traveler and the vibes YOU are looking for on your trip. The town is suited for slow sophisticated travel with an appreciation for nature and history as well as elegant relaxation with a twist of fun.

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