Campsites in Essex

33 bookable campsites in Essex Sorted by our favourites

Why camp in Essex?

The Essex coast

Essex is fringed by 350 miles of varied coastline, with sandy beaches, shingle banks and marshy inlets to explore. Most folk heading here will stick to the county’s big seaside resorts like Southend-on-Sea and Clacton-on-Sea, but there’s also a great deal of stunning seascapes that are too often overlooked.

After a spell of classic seaside amusements in one of the resort towns, head out to Essex’s well-preserved rural coast to explore spots like Blackwater Estuary near Maldon or Hamford Water, just to the north of Walton-on-the-Naze

Top towns 

Essex is home to Colchester, England’s oldest town and arguably one of its best. This former Roman capital has over 2,000 years of heritage to scout out, plus top shopping opportunities and family-friendly attractions. Another big plus? All of it in a strategic location that’s both close to the coast and under 90 minutes from London. 

You might also like to base yourself around the quiet countryside near Chelmsford, Essex’s only city (and with an impressive cathedral to prove it). 

And for something smaller in scale? The ancient market town of Saffron Walden and its peaceful agricultural landscape could go down well, while for something on the coast you might like to try Bradfield or West Mersea

Dedham Vale 

Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is in the north of the county, straddling the border with Suffolk. Watermills, the stunning river Stour and pretty pastoral scenes are scattered all around, making this spot one of the best for walks, cycles or boat trips in the Essex countryside. 

Easy access 

With speedy motorways, abundant A roads and excellent rail connections spidering out to London, South East England and East Anglia, Essex is certainly one of the easier English counties to access for outdoor breaks. 

International travel to and from Essex is also a cinch, with a wide range of regular flights touching down at Stansted Airport and ferries that shuttle back and forth between Harwich and the Netherlands

The best Essex attractions


Historic days out 

  • Hylands House, a stately home set in 500 acres of parkland just outside Chelmsford 

  • Mountfitchet Castle, a replica Norman ringwork and bailey fortification between Harlow and Braintree 

  • Paycocke's House and Garden, a popular National Trust property to the east of Braintree

Gardens and green spaces

Unexplored Essex

Essex islands

Essex has a total of 35 islands, more than any other English county. The Essex coast has a wide variety of offshore spots, from remote Northey and Osea in the Blackwater Estuary to more easily accessible Mersea, England’s most easterly inhabited isle. 

For rib safaris, boat hire and paddling experiences around all that tidal terrain, book with one of the several top-rated companies based in West Mersea or Maldon. For seal-spotting excursions, meanwhile, head straight to Harwich Harbour

Epping Forest

A wild green landscape that inspired William Morris’ rural fantasies, yet right on the border with London, Epping Forest is a gorgeous wildlife haven with lots of leisure opportunities. 

Get back to nature and walk the start of the Essex Way, book tickets for the steam train between Epping and Ongar or get set to ride the rapids at the Lee Valley White Water Centre. 

The area makes a brilliant backdrop for a wide range of breaks, especially for guests planning car-free camping trips in Essex – simply catch local transport to the edge of Epping Forest and carry on to your campsite by bike or on foot. 

Hidden gem museums 

As well as its big-name days out, Essex is full of smaller, kookier and more niche attractions – something perhaps linked to the county’s famous entrepreneurial spirit. If you’re looking for something a little under the radar, the small Essex museums listed below are an excellent way to get started:

  • Cressing Temple Barns, an ancient Knights Templar site near Braintree

  • Royal Gunpowder Mills, a 300-year-old gunpowder factory on the river Lea near Walton Abbey

  • Essex Fire Museum, Thurrock

Tasting time

It’s not hard to please the palate in Essex – the county’s array country pubs serve up freshest food, locally-brewed beers and other tasty treats, while down at the coast you can sample oysters – or, if you’re feeling adventurous, jellied eels, a local speciality with roots in London’s East End. 

Visitors with more modern tastes can explore Essex’s burgeoning English wine scene – there are several top-rated vineyards that offer tours and tasting events in and around the village of Althorne on the peaceful Dengie Peninsula.

Here’s how

So what’s it to be – a posh glamping pod in the Essex countryside or a back to basics camping pitch close to the beach? Sort yourself something just right using our tick-box filters to browse by themes, accommodation categories and facilities. Popular options include:

Still looking for your ideal getaway? Check out neighbouring regions like Suffolk or Norfolk, or head south to Kent or East Sussex.

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