Perched on the banks of the Thames Estuary, Leigh on Sea is a charming little town nestled between the bustle of Southend and nature.

Once an important stop along London’s shipping route, the town remains a working fishing port today.

Frequently named as the best place to live in Essex, Leigh on Sea is also a great escape from London, with waterside pubs, great seafood restaurants and independent galleries and shops to explore.

Discover the town for yourself with the best things to do in Leigh on Sea, ranked by Tripadvisor.

1 Old Leigh

Many daytrippers will head to Old Leigh and not venture past it, thanks to its estuary views and high street lined with pubs, restaurants and galleries. Here, you’ll find suntrap beer gardens, seafood restaurants, and people in general just soaking up the waterside vibes. One Tripadvisor reviewer said: “A lovely old fishing village, with working boats to see, and fish and seafood to buy and try. Nice little places to eat, the fish and chips at the Mayflower are excellent.”

2 Belfairs Wood, Park and Nature Reserve

Much of the woodland you’ll find here is classified officially as “ancient woodland”, with some of it more than 1,000 years old. This verdant open spaces is a great place for butterfly and bird spotting, as well as for a walk in fresh country side air. There’s a handful of walks which will take you through the woodlands, and look out for the sculpture trail, play area and a café. A Tripadvisor reviewer wrote: “If you like long forest walks and are into bird spotting this is ideal. Also has a nature reserve. Great place to walk the dog.”


3 Leigh Heritage Centre

Found in the old town, Leigh’s heritage centre is housed in a charming little cottage and details the community’s long history with fishing and the Thames, as well as looking at the town’s heritage before that. A Tripadvisor review said: “Tiny centre packed full of heritage. Well worth dropping in. A volunteer steered me in the direction of many things I did not know about Leigh's fascinating history.”

Address: 13A High Street, Leigh on Sea, SS9 2EN


4 Two Tree Island

Another nature reserved filled with birds and butterflies, Two Tree Island lies opposite the Thames Estuary, a short distance away from the town and the station. In summer, spot pollinators and rare insects, while in winter, the reserve is popular with wildfowl,waders and geese, and even owls. A popular walking spot, there are several grass and gravel trails that will take you through the grasslands and mudflats. A Tripadvisor review stated: “Very nice place to go on a sunny day and has a wildlife site for bird watching and good for walks to Hadleigh castle and around two tree island.”


5 Leigh on Sea Brewery

Founded in 1917 off the back of a great idea had on a pub crawl, this working brewery comes with a tap room so you can try the contemporary and traditional beers created on site. The tap room will always have at least six kegs and two cask lines, as well as Essex Dry Gin and cocktails from Tapp’d Cocktails.

This Tripadvisor review sung the venue’s praises, saying: “The tap room welcomes anyone wishing to try new leigh on sea beers, and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. We always have a great time and the bar staff are amazing and make it a brilliant place to be.”

Address: 35 Progress Road, Leigh on Sea, SS9 5PR


6 Leigh Library

The library is housed in an 1838 Grade II listed building that was the rectory to St Clements Church, which is nestled in the very pretty Leigh Library Gardens, which guests are invited to linger in – the gardens even have a secret slide and hosts spring and summer events. One Tripadvisor review said: “Friendly staff welcome you as soon as you enter this building, whose architecture is amazing. It is very near to the library gardens, so you could occupy a huge amount of time between the two.”

Address: Broadway West, Leigh on Sea, SS9 2DA


7 Belton Hill Garden and Nature Reserve

Another one of Leigh on Sea’s expansive green spaces, Belton Hill Garden and Nature Reserve is particularly good for catching a sunset over the estuary. Easily accessed from the station, it is a mix of manicured landscape and wild nature, a stroll through offers great views of the surrounding area. A Tripadvisor reviewer said: “Although not a long walk it's still a lovely visit. Stroll along the parade whilst watching the boats on the estuary or sit for a while on the benches conveniently positioned between the flower beds. Beautiful spot in the summer.”


8 Bell Wharf Beach

Dubbed “Essex’s best kept secret” by Muddy Stilettos, this beach is perched on the Thames estuary and famed for its working cockle sheds, this shingle beach is only a 10-minute stroll away from Leigh train station in Old Leigh.  One Tripadvisor reviewer said that the beach was small but kept nice and clean, adding: “This is the only real beach area in old leigh so it can get busy on a hot day but mostly there is plenty of room to sit.”