Things to do in Brightlingsea

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Brightlingsea is a beautiful town along the Essex coast, just a stone’s throw from our relaxing park at Orchards. Overlooking the creek, the vast space has a distinct maritime feel.

Over 8,000 people call Brightlingsea home, and it’s easy to see why. It’s become known as one of the best places in Essex to enjoy a peaceful life, away from the hustle and bustle. Despite the tranquil nature, there are still a whole host of things to do in this hideaway by the sea. Let’s show you our favourites.

1. Brightlingsea Lido

A swim at the Lido is one of the most refreshing things to do in Brightlingsea. This pool has been here since the 1930s, but it’s far from a dated vibe. It’s run by the community and is a staple of the leisure scene in Brightlingsea.

Open throughout the warmer months, it’s ideal for a day of family fun or a few lengths to keep your fitness up while. There’s also a 50-metre pool to enjoy a workout, and a smaller pool for parents with little ones.

2. Brightlingsea Harbour

2. Brightlingsea Harbour

Brightlingsea Harbour is a brilliant snapshot into the town’s maritime history. Massive fishing and ship building industries illuminate the town’s past, and today the harbour continues to be a hive of activity for the tourism trade. Close to the Colne estuary, several waterways meet here and create a naturally beautiful place to sit back and relax whilst you’re away.

A trip along the River Colne to Colchester is a seven-mile delight, and the harbour is also connected with bigger stops along the Thames estuary. You can enjoy this lovely area from dry land too, with quite a few pubs and restaurants serving the latest catch in the vicinity.

3. Brightlingsea Museum

We couldn’t write our list of things to do in Brightlingsea without mentioning the town’s museum. Step inside this informative place and you’ll quickly realise that Brightlingsea has a history that punches well above the weight of its small size. Founded by Alf Wakeling in 1989, the place exhibits a wide range of stuff that’s placed it firmly within the conversation of the best small museums in the UK.

History buffs young and old will love the learning on offer here, with everything from the agricultural 19th-century to hosting the ANZAC battalions in World War One showcased. The museum is open from Easter to December. Check the museum’s website for specific opening hours.

4. Batemans Tower

4. Batemans Tower

Batemans Tower stands tall in the pretty beach area just outside the centre of Brightlingsea. The location itself is ideal for a stroll from the centre of town, taking about 10 minutes, but there is also loads of parking if you’re heading straight back to us at Orchards by road.

The tower overlooks the River Colne and you’ll see Mersea Island across its water, another holiday hideaway to tick off the bucket list. Built in 1880, the building was used as a bathing house but was originally intended to be a lighthouse for a port that never materialised. Today, strolling to the listed building is one of quirkiest things to do in Brightlingsea. You can step inside it from 9am-1pm on weekdays and there is a lovely café nearby for refreshment or two as well.

5. Sophie Lea Fishing Charters

There are few better things to do in Brightlingsea than go for a ride on one of the fastest catamaran boats on the east coast of England. The waters around the town are some of the best in the region for fishing, and a ride one of Sophie Lea’s Fishing Charters is a great way to maximise the experience. Riders young and old will love a trip out on the water, with a whole host of swims available to catch.

Boat boarding starts at 8am and you’ll be back at the harbour by 4:30pm, making this a great day out away from Orchards. It’s worth noting that if you want to keep things simple, Orchards itself does have provision for fishing on its lake. All you need to do is bring your rod and licence.

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6. Kaimoana Charter Fishing

6. Kaimoana Charter Fishing

Another fantastic charter fishing option comes courtesy of Kaimoana. They leave from Brightlingsea Harbour too, generally departing at 8am and returning at 4pm. These times aren’t dependent on the tide though, with Brightlingsea Harbour being a much coveted all tide place to depart.

Night fishing sessions are available on request and there is a handy fish skinning machine that does the hard work so you don’t have to. You’ll spot some awesome outposts on your journey out to sea, making this a real expedition.

7. Brightlingsea Regent FC

Heading to Brightlingsea Regent Football Club in the heart of the town is a great way to see an authentic game of English football. ‘The R’s’ have a small but loyal following and have been a staple of non-league football ever since their foundation in 1920s.

The club has existed in its current guise since 2005, when the ‘Regent’ name was added to its title. North Road hosts their home games, and with a capacity of just 1,000, is one of the quaintest settings we can think of for some time on terraces.

8. Millennium Park

Millennium Park is one of the most scenic areas in Brightlingsea (which in itself is one of the most scenic towns in Essex). A lovely area for a stroll, the park backs onto Brightlingsea Marsh Nature Reserve and is a peaceful place to get away from it all. Space is no issue here, and the quiet nature of the town means you’ll often have the place to yourself.

There’s a play park opposite for the little ones and a skatepark for aspiring Tony Hawks. We’d recommend a brisk walk around here and the nature reserve, the latter being a great place to stretch the dog’s legs too.

9. Ride the Point Clear Ferry

The Point Clear Ferry is the best way to get from Orchards to Brightlingsea, and that’s brilliant as the ferry is an attraction in itself. A ride on this special service is always a delight throughout the year, and the service provides a key connection between the two communities on either side of the creek. Rides to East Mersea are also available.

The ride from Point Clear to Brightlingsea takes just three minutes and costs a minimal amount. Ferries are frequent and cater for push chairs and bikes, so you can easily continue the adventure when you get onto dry land.

How to get to Brightlingsea from us

Brightlingsea is just across the creek from our park at Orchards, so the journey to this terrific town couldn’t be simpler. A ride on the Point Clear Ferry is the best way to get across to Brightlingsea, but the trip can also be done by road. A nine-mile drive gets you to its heart. Here’s how you get there: 

  • Head east along Point Clear Road until you get to St Osyth 

  • Take a left at St Osyth Park and continue along B1027 for four miles 

  • Turn left at Thorrington onto B1029 heading past All Saints Church 

  • You’re now in Brightlingsea. Keep heading through the town to reach the marina area 

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