Guide to country cottage holidays in Essex for weekly rental and short breaks

Essex is a south eastern county of England, that merges with Greater London around the A12, A13  and Epping Forest.  The Queen Elizabeth the II Bridge marks the border with Kent. Not far from the bridge and the Dartford Tunnel is the extensive Lakeside shopping centre and retail park which offers ‘retail heaven’.

There are a number of attractive places in Essex, let us guide you on some of the best.  Essex may seem a relatively strange location for a holiday but is one of the best in terms of the variety of scenery and entertainment in a relatively small area.  There are several seaside resorts in Essex ranging from the quiet sands of Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze in the north east of Essex, south to Clacton and further south to the noise, razzmatazz, and bright street lights of Southend-on-Sea.  Also near Southend on Sea, is Hadleigh with its country park with excellent walks.



Dotted in between these seaside towns lie numerous yachts clubs and marinas – sailing is a popular pastime in Essex. The magnificent barges of Maldon moored at the quayside make a spectacular sight. 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.

Recommended Towns and Villages to visit in 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.  Not too far from Maldon is the estuary town of Burnham on Crouch which is popular with keen sailors.
  • 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 for an interactive tour of its castle and gardens, the splendid zoo, theatre and more shopping. A discount shopping outlet is just outside Braintree. It is evident that Essex ladies like to shop and enjoy bargains and the county welcomes shoppers from around the world. It is not only new items that draw the crowds; car boot fairs around Essex encourage people to recycle their possessions on early mornings at the weekend, mainly from Easter to the end of October. 

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 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.

Fens in South Woodham Ferrers Essex

Constable Country 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.

Coggeshall in north Essex, an olde worlde village

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.