From castles to gardens to the abundance of coastline and wildlife, Essex is full of beautiful spots, perfect for capturing an Instagrammable photo. We’ve compiled 10 of our favourites for you to visit. Grab your phone or camera and get snapping! Don’t forget to tag us @visitessex

1. Colchester Zoo

If you love animals and wildlife, then Colchester Zoo is a must-visit, proudly listed as the eleventh best zoo in the world and in the top two in the UK! The zoo has a huge variety of species from around the world and regularly welcomes new additions. You can even snap a photo whilst hand feeding the elephants or giraffes. Practise your animal photography and have a great day out!

A girl holding racoons at Colchester Zoo

2. Beeleigh Abbey Gardens

If you’re green fingered and enjoy admiring beauty in the garden, Beeleigh Abbey Gardens is another spot worth visiting. The Abbey was founded in 1180 and the current building is 13th Century. There are three acres of peaceful and spacious gardens in this rural, historic setting, containing mature trees, water features, a rose garden, soft fruits garden, an orchard, a wild flower meadow and plenty of bulbs lining the walkways. The most recent project, completed last year, includes an ornamental glasshouse and herb garden. 

Beeleigh Abbey Gardens

3. Layer Marney Tower

Layer Marney Tower is England’s tallest tower gatehouse with views spanning the Essex countryside – it’s a statement house - the perfect photo opportunity. The use of glass, patterns in the brickwork and its height give it a sense of grandeur. If you fancy a bit of exercise for an even better view, climb the 99 steps to the top of the tower, with amazing views of the River Blackwater and the gardens below.

Layer Marney Tower

4. Clayhill vineyard

Nestled on the south-facing slopes of the Crouch Vale, Clayhill Vineyard offers enviable views of the River Crouch. During the spring and summer months, the river is bustling with sailors, kayakers and paddle boarders. So, why not enjoy a tea, coffee or glass of wine, whilst taking in the views of the glistening river and the vineyard, from the glass terrace or outside seating area. 

Views of the river Crouch from Clayhill Vineyard

5. Essex Waterways

Whether you explore Essex’s waterways by boat, foot or bicycle, there are some beautiful spots along the way. The Chelmer and Blackwater navigation runs through a largely unspoilt part of Essex’s countryside. The 13.8 mile long stretch has 13 locks, an abundance of wildlife, rolling countryside and canal boats – a peaceful trip with plenty of photo opportunities. 

Two kayakers on the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation

6.  Hedingham Castle

The 900-year-old Norman keep stands in 160 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland. Hedingham Castle is an enchanting place to visit, with five floors accessible via a steep staircase. Look out for the intricately decorated stonework and snap a selfie as King/Queen of the Castle!

Hedingham Castle 

7.  Audley End House and Gardens

If you enjoy admiring ancient architecture, take a visit to Audley End and explore what was once one of the largest and most opulent houses in Jacobean England. The idyllic gardens, designed by Capability Brown, feature a serpentine lake, beautiful plants, the restored parterre and an organic walled kitchen garden. Then venture inside and admire the impressive great hall, dressing rooms, the library and the 18th Century gothic-style chapel. Don’t forget to take a stroll to the Victorian stable yard to snap a photo of the horses. 

8.  East Anglian Railway Museum

The railway museum is the perfect place to immerse yourself in locomotive history and get up close and personal with a wide collection of steam trains, vintage carriages, diesel locomotives and historic Victorian buildings. Witness a slice of living history at this working railway museum as you travel back in time and look through all your photos whilst having a drink and snack at the Chappel Station Café.

A train at East Anglian Railway Museum

9. Essex Wildlife Trust

If you love to photograph nature and scenery, then take a visit to one of the Essex Wildlife Trusts Nature Reserves or visitor centres, dotted all over Essex. Immerse yourself in the countryside and admire the unique landscape of our county. We recommend taking a visit to Fingringhoe Wick, Essex Wildlife Trust’s first nature reserve, set in a spectacular position overlooking the Colne Estuary. Be dazzled by the abundance of wildlife: look out for over 200 species of birds, 27 species of dragonflies and damselflies, 24 species of butterflies, over 250 species of flowering plants, badgers and many other animals. Escape from the hustle and bustle of life and fill your Instagram page up with enviable photos for days. 

a dragonfly at Essex Wildlife Trust

10. Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

Who doesn’t find alpaca’s cute? At Hopefield animal sanctuary, a safe home for abused, abandoned or neglected animals, there are 10 Alpaca’s to visit and photograph. Most of them arrived underweight and with multiple issues, but they now live a healthy and happy life here. Discover their beautiful spirits and meet the other residents, including reindeer, donkeys, pigs, racoons, cows and birds. 




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