The Best Things to Do in Basildon

Wondering what there is to do in a place like Basildon? The Essex town is a bit of an undiscovered gem, found just outside London.


Basildon House, England | Image by grumpylumixuser, licensed under CC BY 3.0

The UK has so much to offer. Of course, there are the more 'touristy' places places such as York, London, Liverpool, Scotland and the Lake District. However, being the experts we are here at Plum Guide, we know a thing or two about some unknown hidden gems. What if we told you that Essex could be your next destination? Start your search now by taking a look at our homes in Essex.

One such hidden gem in Essex is – believe it or not – Basildon. Sitting just outside the M25, this modest town has a lot to offer. Read on for the best things to do in Basildon.

Day trips to London

First things first, let’s clear the elephant in the room. Given its location, it’s inevitable that yes, one of the best things to do in Basildon is to actually just jump on a train and head into London on a day trip. The town is in a great location, well connected with a regular train service that will have you in the capital in less than 40 minutes. Not bad.

People walking across Millennium Bridge, London

People walking across Millennium Bridge, London

From here, you’ll have the option of touring the Tower of London, going up The Shard, visiting St Paul’s, trawling through Borough Market and... well, you get the idea: there are endless things to do in London.

Wat Tyler Centre

We’re here to talk about things to do in Basildon, not London. So, what has this town got for you? Plenty of open, green spaces. Much better than anything London can offer, in fact. We really like Wat Tyler Country Park - it boasts 125 acres of country walks, a beautiful, rustic village green that makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time and plenty of local wildlife.

Rather than being crammed into the tube like a sardine (not a great idea in 2020), make the most of the great outdoors and its fresh, clean air.

Festival wakeboard and aqua park

If the peace and serenity of spotting some RSPB favourites at Wat Tyler Country Park doesn’t quite cut it for you, ramp things up (pun fully intended) at the festival wakeboard and aqua park. It lies slap-bang in the middle of town and it’s by far one of the best things to do in Basildon.

They’ve got everyone covered here - from beginners learning to wakeboard to the pros looking to perfect tricks and flips (steady on). If you can’t get up on the board, there’s also the aqua park which is basically a giant, floating bouncy castle. At just £20 for an hour session, it’s like being a big kid all over again.

Dengie Nature Reserve

If you’re getting a little hot under the collar just reading that, perhaps Dengie Nature Reserve is better suited? Around a 50 minute drive away from Basildon, the reserve is a large and remote area of tidal mudflat and saltmarsh - 3105 hectares in fact.

With all that space, there are plenty of beautiful walks and fresh, salty sea air to breathe in. Keep your eyes peeled for the huge population of geese, wildfowl and waders.


Salty sea air sound like your kind of thing? Jump on the train in the opposite direction to London and you’ll be at Southend-on-sea within 20 minutes. Alongside Brighton, Southend is seen as one of London’s best go-to seaside resorts. On a sunny day, you can’t beat it.

Take a stroll along the pier that stretches out into the Thames estuary and explore the museum at its shore end. It’s a classic, Victorian-era seaside resort with a small train, arcade and slot machines and plenty of ice cream. Keeping with the Victorian vibe, there’s also the Cliff Lift, a century-old funicular, clinging to the hillside and offering coastal views.

Southend on Sea, Essex, UK

Southend on Sea, Essex, UK

If you’re after something a little faster, you can try Adventure Island - a theme park with rides and attractions for all ages (and levels of bravery). Of course, you could just keep it simple by kicking back on the beach and enjoying a swim in the sea.

Hadleigh Castle

Nothing screams ‘British holiday’ more than the romantic ruins of an old castle. Consider this box checked. Hadleigh Castle overlooks Essex marshes, offering spectacular views and plenty of fresh air.

It was built way back in 1215 by Hubert De Burgh (try pronouncing that one correctly) and had an important economic and defensive role. Set in the green and glorious Hadleigh Country Park, there are plenty of walks to embark on. One particular favourite is to take the train to Leigh-on-Sea station and walk along the sea wall, before crossing the line and heading up the steep hill to the castle ruins. You’ll be able to see all the way over to Southend-on-Sea.

Eastgate Shopping Centre

Opened in 1985, this was, at the time, the largest shopping mall in Europe. While it has since ceded that title, it remains incredibly popular. Your bank balance may not thank us for this recommendation but what’s a holiday without a little retail therapy? Here, you can shop until you drop with all your favourite high street familiars and plenty of eateries that’ll keep you fuelled.

Imperial Bird of Prey Academy

Rounding out our list of best things to do in Basildon, the Imperial Bird of Prey Academy is a unique day out. Something you can really get your talons into.

As the number one falconry centre in Essex, there are plenty of special experiences allowing you to get up, close and personal with owls, hawks and falcons. Our favourite is the ‘hunting days’ package which allows you to see these birds of prey out in the wild, doing what they do best. Expect lots of walking and some exhilarating head-ducking moments. Or, you know, you can keep your safe distance. That’s all the rage these days after all.

Looking for other things to do in other Essex towns? Have a read of our articles covering our favourite things to do in Colchester and what to do in Chelmsford.

A Barn to Remember, Plum Guide home in Essex

A Barn to Remember, Plum Guide home in Essex

And if you’re looking for a place to stay in Essex? Here at Plum Guide, the experts have selected only the best homes. We’re particular fans of A Barn To Remember and A World Away.

A World Away, Plum Guide home in Essex

A World Away, Plum Guide home in Essex

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