Colchester Castle: A Must-See Historic Landmark in Essex

This museum of archeological treasures is a must visit for history enthusiasts whatever their age. Delve into some of the most significant events in British history at Colchester Castle in Essex, whilst being fully immersed in the surroundings of this magnificent castle.  Visitors have the opportunity to handle a chain mail vest, try on a medieval helmet, make a replica stained glass window, put on a puppet show and if you are feeling brave enough you can even explore the eerie jail cells that remain.

A castle with grass grounds surrounding and visitors walking on the paved paths

Visiting Colchester Castle Museum

Why Colchester Castle Museum Is A Good Place To Visit With Children

  • There are lots of interactive exhibits for children to get hands on with history.
  • The changing exhibitions mean there is regularly something new to see. 
  • Children can try on a range of historical outfits including the traditional clothes of a Iron Age Briton or a soldier's helmet
  • Interactive exhibits and a tablet can be hired for an additional £1 which includes games, photos and augmented reality showing how some of the castle would have originally appeared.
  • In school holidays there are additional events and trails for families.
  • The castle is in Colchester Castle Park which has a great playground, fish pond and lots of grass areas to play.

What Is There To Do at Colchester Castle Museum?

Colchester castle became a museum over 160 years ago and today it has plenty of interactive displays and exhibitions to entertain and educate children about the rich history of Britain's oldest town. As would be expected there are lots of displays depicting what life was like for Roman soldiers and Norman invaders.
The castle was used as a jail for a period of time, walking into the jail cells is a very creepy experience! Perhaps too scary for some of the younger visitors though. 

Changing Exhibitions

Colchester Castle Museum regularly have new exhibitions. At the time of visiting we got to enjoy a temporary exhibition about Thunderbirds and puppetry.

Activities for Children 

There are lots of hands on activities for children throughout the Castle. On our last visit these included:
  • Making a replica stained glass window with coloured plastic shapes on a light box.
  • Building a Norman archway with large foam bricks.
  • Putting on a performance with a selection of animal hand puppets in a puppet theatre.


As well as normal entry you can visit the castle to take part in Escape Room style experiences. There is a family friendly one and one for players age 10+. These cost £80 to £100.

In the Summer holidays this year they have an activity room with colouring, games and books (included in the entry price) and a Space Trail which costs an extra £5 per child and includes a prize. This is linked to Gaia which is a 6 metre globe which is at the Castle from mid July to mid September.

An exhibit of three stoneware pots with a sign saying 'Please smell' the pots contain the scent of cooking spices that the Romans would have used
Interactive exhibits at Colchester Castle Museum

A view of a child looking at an exhibit and holding a tablet which enables them to access bonus content
You can hire an interactive tablet for bonus content for an additional £1

A Thunderbirds exhibit showing a number of puppets displayed in a glass case
The Thunderbirds exhibition of puppetry (ran Spring 2024)

A child uses foam bricks to construct an archway with the help of an adult
Using teamwork to build a Norman archway

A child walks along the castle ruins in front of the castle building
Exploring the ruins at Colchester Castle Museum

What age children will enjoy visiting Colchester Castle Museum?

Whilst my 4 year old daughter tells me she rated the museum a 10/10, I would say it is best suited for 8 years and up as younger children may not find there is enough interactivity to hold their attention. 
We hired the interactive tablet for my daughter but she wasn't particularly interested and also found it difficult to spot the tablet signs around the museum to indicate that there was bonus content available. 

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

Yes, it was easily accessible with a pushchair. The museum is spread across two floors and there are two lifts. 

What You Need To Know Before Visiting Colchester Castle Museum

  • Colchester Castle is open 10am to 5pm 7 days a week (with a later opening of 11am on Sundays).
  • Admission is £12.75 per adult and £7.50 for the first child (aged 4-16) with all additional children costing £3.75 each. 
  • If you want to visit on more than one occasion you can upgrade to a Museum Pass which gives you a years access. This costs an extra £10.75 for adults and a few pounds extra for children, although this is reduced if you live in Colchester with a child annual pass costing the same as one off entry. The Museum Pass also covers entry to Hollytrees Museum.
  • Guided tours run throughout the day. These cost an extra £4.25 for adults and £2.50 for children. As part of the your you get access to the Roman vaults and up onto the Castle roof but we didn't do the tour as I didn't think my young children would have the attention span for it. They advise it isn't suitable for children under 4.
  • The castle is a popular venue for school trips so in term time it may be busy until around 2.30pm.

Is it dog friendly?

Only service dogs are allowed. It is also worth noting that dogs are not permitted in the surrounding Upper Castle Park but they are allowed in the Lower Castle Park. 

Toilet facilities/baby changing facilities

The museum had arguably some of the best baby changing facilities I have used in a while! A spacious and clean toilet with a wall mounted changing mat. They had a roll of hygiene paper to spread over the changing mat and even had a supply of nappies and scented nappy sacks for customer use.
There are also toilets available in the castle for visitors.

What to take with you when visiting Colchester Castle Museum

Unfortunately, there is no cafe or restaurant facilities at Colchester Castle Museum so you may wish to bring a packed lunch or refreshments. There is a designated picnic area on the ground floor of the museum with tables, benches and bins. There are also plenty of options for food in the town centre which is a few minutes walk away. 

We didn't get a chance to look around the gift shop but it is worth noting that there is one there if you are in the market for a replica roman object or memento of your visit and you want to bring some money to spend.

A child eats a packed lunch in a room full of benches and tables
The museum has picnic tables for when you are ready for a packed lunch break

How to get to Colchester Castle Museum and where to park

Address: Colchester Castle Castle Park, Colchester CO1 1TJ. 

Parking: The castle does not have it's own car park so you need to use one of the City Centre car parks. They do have some nearby street parking for disabled badge holders in Museum Street and the High Street.

We parked in the Priory Street car park which was about a 10 minute walk to the castle. Download the MiPermit app and this car park is location number 737822. We paid for 4 hours which is discounted to £3.20 via the app and that gave us enough time to do the museum, lunch and a play in the Colchester Castle Park playground.

What to do near Colchester Castle Museum?

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