Britain’s oldest recorded town – with the ruins and architecture to prove it – Colchester may ‘tell Britain's story’ better than anywhere else.

Colchester is a historic town – small, but full of nice little pubs and bars (with excellent jazz nights every week), as well as museums and other cultural institutions. There is a lot of nature to enjoy, and it is not far from the sea, which is great for study breaks. It is easy to get around and meet people (friends and friends to be) – a great advantage of a smaller town. (University of Essex student)

What Colchester's famous for...

The original capital 

Before London, ‘Camulodunum’ was the first Roman capital of Britain. Rebuilt after Queen Boudica’s rebels burnt it down in AD61, it's seen plenty more since then.

Colchester nightlife, according to students

The University of Essex itself has two clubs: Sub Zero and Base. Sub Zero is the bigger one and the main one for a night out. Each night has different themes, from drum and bass to indie rock. Base is smaller, but provides an alternative if the Sub Zero night isn’t for you – with non-drinking events and a weekly LGBTQ+ night. If you want a different night out, Atik in town is only a 10-minute taxi away from campus, and has three different music rooms, so you can mix between them and have a different experience. There are plenty of pubs in town all around the high street. (Second year student, University of Essex)

The Walking Woman

The 2.2m bronze statue – and her 1.4m friend, ‘Man with Cup’ – have become staples of the high street. Grab a selfie, and ponder their meaning. 

Colchester nightlife, according to students

While the University of Essex campus has amazing nightlife on site, some students choose to venture out into Colchester town, with the most prominent venues being Atik and The Silk Lounge. I have heard mixed reviews, but it depends on who you are as a person. If you are looking for something different entirely, Rubix specialises in 80s music and weekly LGBTQ+ nights. (University of Essex student)

Colchester Zoo

As well as its museums and ruins, Colchester Zoo is one of the most popular in the country, with highlights including Elephant Kingdom and Vulture Valley.

Student life in Colchester

Local gems, tips, and things to do, as recommended by students.
Low on cash
Castle Park is free, and lovely for a picnic or a walk. There is a bowling alley not too far from campus which charges only £3 per person. (Third year student, University of Essex)
Treat yourself
I’d recommend Curzon Cinema. It’s a classy yet ambient atmosphere, with some of the more obscure movies on show. I saw Portrait of a Lady on Fire there, and it was an experience I won’t forget. (University of Essex student)
Friday night out
Fridays are split between the campus club Sub Zero and Atik in town. If you’d rather a more relaxed vibe, the SU bar has karaoke on Friday nights. (Second year student, University of Essex)
Sunday chilling
Just a short bus ride away is Wivenhoe: a quiet little seaside village which has a lovely pub down by the waterfront. The Wivenhoe Trail which runs from there is a great long walk or bike ride. (Third year student, University of Essex)
When family visit
Colchester Zoo is not too far and affordable for the whole family. It’s so big, it’s great for a proper day out. (Second year student, University of Essex)
Feeling cultural
Essex Book Festival in the spring comes to various venues in Colchester, most notably Firstsite, the local art gallery. (University of Essex student)
Catch up with mates
Muffin Break is a great coffee shop in the town centre. The muffins and scones are huge. (University of Essex student)
Grab a bite
Moto Pizza, a pizza buffet place. [It’s] around £10 for lunch, and they just carry trays of pizza around for you to pick a slice. (Third year student, University of Essex)

Central Park Lake

(Jenny, third year student at Anglia Ruskin University)

Living in Colchester, according to students

Greenstead is one of the main places students live off campus. It has several shops like One Stop and Tesco Express, as well as takeaways. There are plenty of takeaways that deliver right to your door, and it's only a 15-minute walk from the Tesco superstore. It is about a 25-minute walk from campus, and there are regular buses into town. The only negative is that there is no longer a direct bus to campus, so it's either a 25-minute walk or two buses. However I would (and will) live here again. (Second year student, University of Essex)

Living in Colchester

Housing, travel, and budgeting tips.

Where you'll find students
  • Greenstead
  • Hythe
  • Quayside
Local transport
  • Weekly ticket: £24.50
  • First Essex Zones 1 and 2 Week ticket – University of Essex students only
  • Bus

Student money tips

Living in the centre of Colchester can be pricey. It’s better to look around the Hythe area for accommodation, [which is] around five – ten minutes from the town centre. (Third year student, University of Essex)

The cost of living as a student soon adds up, us our budget calculator to find out roughly how much you'll need each month.

​Discover more savings on student life in Colchester with UCAS student discounts. Find the latest deals, from fashion brands and eating fresh, to big discounts on tech and travel.

Living in Colchester, according to students

Hythe – I live one minute away from the Extra store in town, and ten minutes away from campus on foot. The area is mostly student accommodation, but is fairly quiet. Rent isn't the cheapest, and the rooms are not too big, but the location is worth the price. (Third year student, University of Essex)