The food, accommodation, wildlife and attraction offering in Essex

Short Breaks in Essex - suggested itineraries

Essex has so much to discover and experience, take some time to explore with one of our suggested short break itineraries. 

Follow our routes or pick your favourite elements and create your own - they are designed to inspire!

From coastal and cultural trails to active adventures and fascinating heritage. For drivers and those travelling by train. Whether you are travelling solo, with your loved one, as a family or with friends. We have combined ideas for places to visit, and activities to try with overnight accommodation and eateries along the way - making your perfect short break. 

Seaside Delights only a train ride away

Woman spreading butter on her scone
A woman in a bathrobe talking to a spa worker
A woman having a massage
Three friends pleased to have won an escape room
A train moving along the pier
The back of beach huts brightly painted
Group of friends walking along the pier
Different flavoured ice creams laid out in a chiller
A helter skelter in red and white set against a black sky
A ride in mid air
Lady peering into an aquarium tank
Hotel exterior surrounded by gardens

Travel by train to the Essex Coast for a chilled break in Southend-on-Sea - we have combined the traditional seaside experience (ice cream, fish and chips, rollercoasters) with spa, boutique shops and themed escape rooms. 

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Go Wild in Essex with friends

Two women harnessed to an adventure rope park
Entrance to the brewery with beer tents and people
Group of cyclists and skateboarder
Group on a raft
Group cooking over a campfire next to their tent
Person driving a go-kart

Adventure with friends, from the depths of an escape room to the dizzying heights of a rope park! This trip to Brentwood, Chigwell and Lee Valley will create plenty of buzz among your pals for months to come.

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Discover the Dengie with friends

A chef cooking
Boats with a church in the background
A row of shop fronts
A green boat sailing with red sail
A cafe interior on a boat. Bunting along one side with beams on the ceiling.
A pot of Tiptree jam with a cream tea in the background
A living area decorated with contemporary furnishings
Towels rolled up alongside candles next to a jacuzzi
A group holding a poster to say they had unlocked the hotel
A wooden jetty with boats in the background
A seal laying in the mud
Person picking grapes from the vines

Impress your friends with your culinary skills before making a splash at paddleboarding in Maldon. Have the hotel all to yourselves in Burnham-on-Crouch, before seal watching and wine tasting next day. 

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Idyllic Villages and a Grand Mansion

A row of brightly coloured terraced houses
Maze and Gardens - Birds eye view
Chairs and tables laid in restaurant
A bedroom in an historic building with wooden beams
Juice and croissants laid out for breakfast
A grand house with beautiful red flowers in bloom in the foreground
Three people admiring the flowers in a garden
War memorial in the foreground of a pretty English village
Church and a row of houses
Windmill with crops in the foreground

Visit the pretty villages and historic towns of Saffron Walden, Finchingfield and Thaxted - from thatched cottages to a stately home, discover our heritage.

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Roman Relics and Island Flavours

Two people surrounded by the trees and gardens of Beth Chatto
 A couple looking up at Colchester Castle
A couple riding an interactive Roman chariot
Exterior of Museum with wisteria on left
A hotel bedroom
Exterior of an art gallery
Couple looking at something in a display cabinet
A pot of Tiptree jam with a cream tea in the background
Oysters and beer on the table
The Lady Grace boat with captain
Birds flying
Couple sitting by colourful beach huts

Calling all foodies... sample fresh Mersea oysters and indulge in a world-famous Tiptree cream tea! From Britain's First City, Colchester, to Mersea Island, explore our county of contrasts. 

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Geological Wonders & Maritime Heritage

Row of colourful beach huts against a blue sky
Fish and Chips on a plate
Tower and surrounding countryside
Views of the coastline
Hotel exterior
A bedroom interior
A man buying seafood at a fish counter
A boat moored.
Lighthouse at dusk
A lighthouse out to sea
A couple sitting on the beach looking out to sea

Breathe in the fresh sea air as you explore the beauty of Walton-on-the-Naze from the ground and from the top of the tower. Discover the heritage of historic Harwich

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Family Fun in Chelmsford

Mushrooms growing in front of a country house
Two children running on a play area
A bear in a display cabinet
Swans on a river with restaurants n the background
A lady making coffee
Entrance to a sports centre
Two girls climbing on an indoor wall
Entrance to restaurant with leaves in foreground
Black converted barn set within grass lawn
Two children filling in an activity sheet
Orange butterfly amidst purple flowers
Two children running through gardens
A family sitting on logs in woodland
Two children doing brass rubbings

Roam our parks, gardens and nature reserves. Head to the city of Chelmsford where activities abound, from trampolining and ice skating to museums and shopping.

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Dizzying Heights & Steam Fun for Families

A keep with a flag on the top
Interior of a castle with medieval furnishings
A converted barn
Two girls walking along a wooden bridge
A family sitting on a ridge overlooking the park
Family walking under a tree with historic barn in background
Girl holding an activity sheet
Entrance to a shopping centre

Travel back in time by steam to a land of castles at Hedingham and the Knights Templar barns at Cressing. Switch to outlet shopping in Braintree, leisure parks and high ropes. 

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Family Fun at the Farm, Forest & Fort!

Woman holding a little girl in front of an animal
Children running towards the camera
A prawn starter
Seats around a bar
A man and boy holding a fire hose

Visit Essex residents of the more furry kind before exploring the forest in Upminster. Discover the secrets of a bunker, climb aboard a fire engine in Grays and more in this jam-packed itinerary. 

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Gardens & Gourmet Dining

A keep with a flag on the top
Three people admiring the flowers in a garden
Chairs and tables laid in restaurant
A family sitting on a ridge overlooking the park
This 2-day itinerary introduces you to some of our rich and fascinating heritage. From the gardens of a Jacobean country house, and tea in a 17th century cottage to the tallest Tudor gatehouse in the country.

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Two people surrounded by the trees and gardens of Beth Chatto
 A couple looking up at Colchester Castle
A pot of Tiptree jam with a cream tea in the background
A hotel bedroom
Family walking under a tree with historic barn in background
Explore historic castles, rural vineyards and transformed gardens. This 2-day itinerary introduces you to some truly great attractions around Essex, from picturesque Tudor merchant houses to an estuary island brewery.

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Orange butterfly amidst purple flowers
A pot of Tiptree jam with a cream tea in the background
Two people surrounded by the trees and gardens of Beth Chatto
Enjoy delectable wines at our vineyards, afternoon tea, and a pint in a traditional Essex pub during your 3-day tour of Essex. Stay in quaint accommodation and explore two of our most famous gardens.

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