Guide to Self-Catering Holidays in Essex

Finchingfield duckpond

Thinking of taking a cottage break in Essex?  From the Essex coast to the Essex countryside, find ideas and inspiration for your best possible self-catering holiday in Essex on Country Cottages Online.

Thinking of Booking a Self-Catering Break in Essex?

There are a number of attractive places in Essex, let us guide you on some of the best.  Essex may not be an obvious choice for a cottage holiday but is one of the best in terms of the variety of scenery and entertainment in a relatively small area.

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What Does Essex Offer for Self-Catering Breaks?

From the unspoilt Essex countryside with areas such as the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to discover, to the Essex coast with vibrant seaside towns like Frinton on Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Clacton and Southend-on-Sea, to pretty towns and villages, Essex has lots to offer visitors.


Discover Some of the Best of Essex on a Cottage Break including:


Explore the Essex Countryside on a Cottage Break Constable Country, Essex and Suffolk

Constable Country and the Dedham Vale AONB, is in the north of Essex and merges with Suffolk. Visitors can walk the streets and country lanes in the footsteps of the painter John Constable and admire the same landscapes today. Essex is full of pretty villages and historic market towns with more period houses and thatched cottages than almost anywhere else in England, excluding Suffolk.  Discover Essex's prettiest villages with our guide.  Step back in time in Coggeshall, browse antiques in towns running from the north of Essex to the antique centre in Battlesbridge, go wine tasting in Essex vineyards.

Also near Southend on Sea, is Hadleigh with its country park with excellent walks.


Discover the Scenic Essex Coast on a Self-Catered HolidayEssex coastline

Essex is home to some lovely beaches, which are ideal for paddling and seaside fun in summer time; Frinton on Sea is home a long stretch of sandy beach, Holland-on-Sea is a little quieter and another nice spot, and for hustle and bustle, head to vibrant seaside towns like Clacton-on-Sea or Southend on Sea.

Also worth a visit, is the low lying coastal land in Essex, where the salty waters of tidal rivers blends with freshwater to produce fens and salt marsh habitat, is important for coastal birds and wildlife.  Walk the paths across the fens and along the tidal rivers to see waders, swans galore and pop into riverside pubs for lunch overlooking the water.  Discover coastal gems like Burnham on Crouch with its oldey-worldey appeal and estuary setting.  The town of Maldon is also by the coast and is an Essex gem.  The magnificent barges of Maldon, moored at the quayside make a spectacular sight.

Dotted in between these seaside towns lie numerous yachts clubs and marinas – sailing is a popular pastime in Essex.


Recommended Towns and Villages to visit in Essex Coggeshall Essex

  • Maldon is not alone in offering a wide selection of indoor and outdoor activities for all ages, Chelmsford, Colchester, Braintree and many other towns all have excellent leisure facilities.  Wander Maldon, a town with a charming mix of old and new, independent shops, a ghost walk and medieval buildings. Promenade Park is full of the laughter of children during the summer, splashing in the water park, or playing on the pirate ship in the huge sand pit. One of the largest soft play centres in the south east is housed in the purpose built Madison Heights which also has a snooker hall, ten pin bowling and restaurants. Not too far from Maldon, is the estuary town of Burnham on Crouch, which is popular with keen sailors.  In terms of estuary towns, Maldon is an interesting historical town that has a harbour where London barges are moored. Take trips to see seals or into London.  Burnham on Sea is also to be recommended for its waterside walks. 
  • Chelmsford is the county town which has recently achieved city status. There is a cathedral and very good shopping centre, theatres, plenty of restaurants and nightlife.
  • Colchester is another town to visit with lots to offer holidaymakers.  Colchester is the earliest recorded town in England with much remaining evidence of its Roman occupation.  It has a very good shopping centre and an interesting section with narrow lanes and small specialist shops.  The castle and zoo are both well worth visiting. Coggeshall near Colchester is an incredibly pretty village to visit and with the number of historical buildings you may feel as if you have stepped back in time. 
  • Great Dunmow, which is a picturesque country town worth a visit.  Thaxted further north of Great Dunmow is also a pretty Essex town.
  • Southend on Sea and Leigh on Sea near Southend is a charming place to visit with its cafes and pubs.  Book a family cottage break in Essex and have lots of good days out here.


More Places to Visit and Things to Do on Holiday in Essex

There are plenty of places to visit for days out, a small zoo and open farm with play equipment and tractor rides in South Woodham Ferrers, RHS Hyde Hall open gardens near Hanningfield where visitors come to gaze at the flowers and take tea, fishing from boats on Hanningfield Reservoir.

Cycling, swimming, ice skating, clay pigeon shooting, go-kart racing, horse riding and a mass of other outdoor activities can be enjoyed in Essex. Footpaths cross its pleasant countryside and the scent of bluebells in woodland is something wonderful to experience in early May.

The other bonus of a holiday in Essex is that day trips to London and Cambridge are easily possible. It has excellent travel connections with London and other cities. Stansted Airport is in north Essex, near the M11 and Bishop’s Stortford. There are cottages to rent near Stansted which may be convenient for self-catering breaks in Essex.

Rent self-catering accommodation, a cottage or apartment in Essex for a family holiday with days out in London, at the seaside, shopping and trips to visitor attractions. An exciting family self-catering holiday in lively Essex is highly recommended.

Page last reviewed on 12 October 2023
by Yvonne Dean

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