If you enjoy traditional British seaside resorts then you will find Southend-on-Sea a great place to visit. Situated on the north banks of the River Thames estuary, Southend is also conveniently placed for trips into London. It is home to the longest pier in the world, reaching out 1.33 miles (2.1 km) into the sea. When you have finished stretching your legs on the pier, take the hydraulic train back to the entrance. The seafront has plenty of other attractions for visitors of all ages to enjoy. At the pier entrance is Adventure Island, with over 50 rides, and the Sea-Life Aquarium. The town itself perches on a cliff above the seafront, but to save visitors' legs there are two lifts; a modern vertical one and the Victorian funicular railway. Restaurants offering a wide range of food are open all day in the town; there are also several serving the holiday staple of fish and chips. For evening entertainment Southend boasts two theatres, with concerts and ice performances taking place in the Cliffs Pavilion and more traditional productions in the Edwardian Palace Theatre. Nightlife also includes wine bars, cinemas, nightclubs and the casino. Visitors interested in the area's history can explore the Central Museum, Prittlewell Priory or Southchurch Hall. If you are looking to get out into the fresh air, try a visit to the Belton Hills reserve or enjoy the roses at Chalkwell Park. More energetic activities include horse riding, windsurfing and kitesurfing. And don't forget that day trip into London, only a short train ride away.
When to fly to Southend
Southend's coastal location makes July and August the best times to visit for beach activities, however, visitors will find accommodation more expensive at this peak time of the year. The town, however, likes to welcome its visitors all year round with a busy calendar of events. The annual London to Southend Classic Car Rally takes place in July. For people who prefer motorbikes or planes, the Ace Cafe Shakedown takes place in April and the Festival of the Air every May. Annual cultural events include the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival in April and the Leigh Folk Festival which takes place in June. There is even an annual Puppet Festival in August, with several Mr Punch shows competing.
Getting around Southend
The town centre and the beaches with their attractions are all close together and easy to explore by foot, especially if use is made of the cliff lifts. There is a good local bus network and both trains and coaches run between the town centre and London. The tourist information office has leaflets about local attractions, suggested walks and cycle routes.