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"Southend is a dormitory town for London. But it also has this thing of being the playground of the East End, a glamorous holiday town.” Helen Mirren
Southend-On-Sea, more commonly referred to as Southend, is a town and borough, on the Essex coast. Famous for its pier, beaches and other attractions, Southend has a lot more to offer couples and families than just the sea.
Chalkwell Beach is just five minutes' walk from the Chalkwell station, and there are many food and drink stalls located in its vicinity. Quieter than the other beaches, it is brilliant for those who want to escape from the hustle and bustle.
For a more lively coastal experience, it is worth trying City Beach; it has state of the art lighting columns and a fountain for kids. There's a cycle shop here that you can hire bikes from; this is an excellent way to travel around Southend, and there are some great cycle routes.
Southend pier is the most famous attraction in the city, touting itself as the world's longest pier. On it, you'll find a tea room, cafe, and the Royal Pavilion. Entry to the Pavilion is just £5.50; with access to many different activities. The pier is less than ten minutes' walk from Southend Central Station, or you can catch a train to the Southend pier itself.
The Southend Sea Life Centre is located just down the road from the pier and features over 40 different types of animals including sharks, tropical pufferfish, clownfish and mongeese. The last admission to the centre is at 5:15 PM, but it's worth getting there earlier to beat the queues.
The main station is Southend Central station right in the middle of the town. To get to it from London, you would depart from London Liverpool Street. Southend takes just over an hour to reach from here, making it the perfect day trip for city dwellers. Services also head back to London regularly, so you shouldn't be waiting for longer than half an hour. Greater Anglia runs trains to the Airport from Central Station which arrive in under 20 minutes, meaning it's also easy to travel abroad.
Near Chalkwell beach is Netpark Digital Park, the world's first digital art park. You can find year-round exhibits hosting over 15 digital artworks and stories created by artists, writers, illustrators, and school pupils. Each piece of artwork is an app downloadable through your phone and located with GPS coordinates.
There are a few railway stations in Southend, with Southend Central, the largest and Westcliff, Southend East. Southend Victoria is to the north of the town and offers many services travelling across the country. It is worth taking a train to Southend Central and hiring a bike so that you can see all the attractions.
Built in 1905, the Southend Central Museum & Planetarium houses collections of local natural history. The planetarium seats 20 people and its live presentations mean you can ask questions. It's worth booking in advance, especially on the weekends.
The Peterboat restaurant and bistro offers delicious British Pub food in an attractive setting, along the Thames Estuary. Oldham's fish restaurant along the seafront provides classic fish and chips perfect for eating on the beach; if it's a colder day inside seating is also available.
Main stations in Southend
- Southend Airport
- Southend Central
- Southend East
- Southend Victoria
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get to Southend Airport by train?
You can get to Southend Airport by train from Liverpool London Street Station. Trains run regularly and the route also goes via other major cities.
How do I get to Southend Beach?
You can walk to Southend Beach from Southend Central station or Thorpe Bay station.
What is Southend famous for?
Southend is famous for its beaches and also has the longest pier in the World at around 1.3 miles long.