Flying into Stansted takes you into the heart of Essex, a short hop from buzzing seaside resorts, picturesque towns and fascinating historic sites. Discover some of the county's most exciting attractions with this guide to what to do in the area.
Begin the adventure at Southend-on-Sea
Since the Victorian era, Southend-on-Sea has been the go-to destination for British holidaymakers seeking sandy beaches and some good old-fashioned seaside fun close to home.
These days, Southend’s landmark pier serves as Adventure Island, one of the UK’s premier fun parks and among Essex’s most thrilling attractions. With over 38 rides, an indoor play area and miles of beach on each side, a day out at Adventure Island is guaranteed fun for all the family. If hurtling along upside-down isn't your thing, head back in time to the holidays of your childhood with the prize arcades, cute cafés and sideshows dotted around the park.
From classic helter-skelters and pirate ships to the fast-paced thrills of SkyDrop and Vortex, adrenaline junkies and nervous newbies alike will find rides to love. Just an hour’s drive from our Radisson Blu Hotel London Stansted Airport, Adventure Island is a safe bet for anyone craving a bit of excitement by the sea.
Walk the picturesque streets of Saffron Walden
The mediaeval market town of Saffron Walden is the perfect place to rediscover your love of shopping. The town’s marketplace and some of its historic buildings date back to the Middle Ages; visit on a Tuesday or Saturday and you’ll find the square bustling with stalls selling locally produced groceries, cheeses, and flowers. Spend an afternoon following the Town Trail, then visit the popular Cafe Cou Cou (well known for its scones!) for a spot of lunch. Saffron Walden is as accessible as it is idyllic: an hourly bus service runs between the town and Stansted Airport.
The nearby Audley End House and Gardens lets you experience the opulence of a real-life period drama like Downton Abbey first-hand. Run by English Heritage, this stunning Jacobean home, and its surrounding parkland landscaped by Capability Brown, is the picture of serenity and elegance. The garden is dotted with ornate bridges and neo-classical statues, while the house itself is a fine example of a 16th century mansion, once owned by Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Audley.
Explore the history on your doorstep
If you’re in search of some historical intrigue, you won’t have to venture far before Essex reveals its long heritage.
The open-air museum experience at Stansted’s Mountfitchet Castle presents visitors with an authentic reconstruction of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle and surrounding village. The award-winning ten-acre site, complete with ramparts, siege engines and roaming animals, is enchanting for children, but equally well designed to absorb adults with an interest in our Norman, Saxon and Roman history.
If you want to explore some slightly more recent history, the nearby House on the Hill Toy Museum is included in the entry price to the castle. With over 70,000 toys on display, the staggering collection is guaranteed to inspire nostalgia in children of every decade from the '30s to the '90s. You'll see marionettes, Meccano and a huge array of Star Wars memorabilia, including some extra-special props from the films.