Top things to do near Southend Airport
Southend has been a seaside resort down for over 100 years and there's a good reason people flock to this sunny corner of the UK on their holidays. While it might not be as bustling with holiday-makers as it was in its 19th-century heyday, Southend has retained many of its olden-day charms if you know where to look and Londoners who want to escape for the day still make a bee-line for the beaches and the amusements.
Fish and chips on the beach
Only a seven-minute train ride away from London Southend Airport is the seaside town of Southend-on-Sea. Treat yourself to some fresh fish and chips, play the 'tuppenny-pushers' and win prizes in the arcades, relax on the beach or stroll along the town’s world-famous pier which, at 1.3 miles (2 kilometres) in length, is the longest in the world and even has its own railway.
Southend expertly combines modernity with nostalgia, so you can find yourself hurtling along on a pink and yellow rollercoaster one moment, before indulging in the time-honoured tradition of fish and chips on the pier the next. It's about as quintessentially British as seaside towns get.
Learn about life under the sea
Located just off the beach at Southend-on-Sea, the Sea Life Adventure Centre is one of the country’s premier aquariums, featuring over 40 displays with sea life from all over the world. After a £1 million renovation project was completed in February 2017, the centre has become more accessible, educational and entertaining than ever and offers a great range of family discounts and deals all-year-round.
History in the making
Having been an essential base of operations in both World Wars and the site of incredible growth as a commercial airport, there are plenty of signs that point to SEN’s rich aviation heritage. Many of the pillboxes built to defend the airfield from attack in World War II are still standing and the old terminal is still in use today. Just a two-minute walk around the perimeter of the airport, the former terminal building is now predominantly used to house and maintain executive aircraft, but also contains a café with a particularly great view of the runway.
Explore Essex’s coastal heritage
If you’ve got a while to wait for your flight, you can get a taxi to the picturesque town of Old Leigh, only a 15-minute drive south of London Southend Airport. With many of the old fisherman’s cottages and cobbled streets carefully preserved and fresh cockles and fine ale available in the local pub, Old Leigh is a charmingly authentic alternative to an afternoon in the departures lounge.
Medieval market life
One train stop towards London – or just a two-minute taxi ride north of SEN – is the medieval market town of Rochford. Its rich heritage can still be seen today at Rochford Hall, which was built by King Henry VIII and bequeathed to Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne, when he became the 1st Viscount of Rochford. The town’s famous medieval market is thought to be the oldest in existence, dating back to 1247, and is still held every Tuesday in the Market Square.
A day in the city
If you find yourself with a day to spare before flying or are travelling to London Southend Airport from elsewhere, then it’s useful to know that Central London’s Liverpool Street Station is less than an hour away on the train. London city centre is packed with things to see and do, with world-famous art galleries like Tate Modern and the National Gallery, unique collections and exhibitions at The British Museum and The V and A and the iconic architecture of buildings like Big Ben, The Globe Theatre and The Shard.