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One of the country’s oldest cities, Colchester is steeped in a great deal of culture and history. This is evidence by the many historical sites on offer for travellers to enjoy. While Colchester is definitely capable of keeping its visitors enthralled, the surrounding areas are just as captivating. From delightful fishing villages to examples of the region’s mesmerising natural beauty, the options for independent exploration are endless. All travellers need is a reliable rental car and an updated map. Many rental agencies are present in the city and are more than willing to organised a set of wheels for tourists.
Who to Book With
All of the usual companies have a presence in the city, including the better-known firms of Avis, Hertz, Sixt and Budget. All of these companies allow for online bookings, which is a useful option for those looking to make savings. The offices of most of these companies can be found at the central railway station and at several other locations in the city centre.
Best Time to go
The climate in Colchester can best be described as oceanic, boasting quite wet conditions, although it is much drier than the rest of the country in the summer. Peak season in the city comes during the summer months and at UK school holiday times. Prices during these periods tend to rise a bit, so travellers would do well to make as many bookings in advance.
Need to Know Essentials
All car rental agencies require the following information before releasing your rental car:
- A form of photographic identification, like a passport
- The credit card that was used to make the deposit
- A valid driving license or an International Driving Permit
While driving around Colchester’s outskirts is relatively hassle-free, the city centre can be a nightmare for vehicles. Much of Colchester’s centre has undergone a process of pedestrianisation and is off limits to vehicles. This makes for a very confusing journey for those who aren’t familiar with the city roads. Car rentals should therefore only be invested in if travellers are planning on enjoying the many possible daytrips that the area has to offer.
Parking can also be tricky, as in some areas parking, on the street is prohibited and met with hefty fines. There are many parking garages in the city, however, where drivers can park for the day at a rate of about £1.50 per hour. Car parks closer to the city centre tend to be more expensive. Only residents who have obtained a special permit are allowed to park on the street.
The pedestrianisation of the city centre means that much of it can be navigated by foot. Most of Colchester’s main sites are also close enough together to be visited on a walking tour. There is, however, a reliable bus service in the city for travellers who prefer to use public transport.
All of the buses in the city serve both the city centre and some areas on the outskirts. The buses arrive quite frequently at their stops and operate between 05:00 and 18:00, after which a night bus takes over until 23:00. There is a bus information centre located on Queen Street, where travellers can obtain free route maps and purchase tickets. Tickets can also be purchased on the buses themselves. Single journey fares start at around £1.50, depending on the distance. Travellers who plan to stay in the city for longer should consider purchasing weekly tickets.
Taxis don’t really drive around looking for passengers in the city, and cannot readily be flagged down from the side of the road. They are usually parked at taxi ranks or outside one of the main bus stations. It is often easier, however, to simply phone ahead and book a taxi in advance. Reputable companies include Five Sevens and Towncar Minicabs.
Colchester is a lovely city to visit, but the city’s surroundings should definitely not be ignored. Colchester is neighboured by some of the most charming towns and villages in the UK, more than worthy of a daytrip or even an overnight stay. The roads in the county are in good condition and the scenery between locations is an attraction in itself.
Colchester Zoo - This is one of the best in the country and highly recommended for families with children. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from many different regions around the world, making for an educational experience. The enclosure is located only 10kms outside of the city centre.
Wivenhoe - A developing city that has managed to retain all the charms of a quaint English fishing village. Located to the south of the city centre, Wivenhoe is still filled with tiny shops and locally-owned restaurants – everything travellers look for in a daytrip destination.
Mersea Island - For the best fish and chips in the region, head straight to Mersea Island. The Western part of the island is where the best examples of the famed British favourite can be found. Located about 20kms outside of Colchester, West Mersea is the perfect place to have a day by the ‘seaside’, although the island is actually located on a Blackwater River tributary.