Southend-on-Sea Affordable Attractions

7 Things to do in Southend-on-Sea on a budget


Southend-on-Sea is a great place to go for a traditional seaside weekend break. This well known resort on the south coast offers plenty to see and do for all the family, even if you’re holidaying on a budget.

With lots of free and cheap attractions in the local area, you are sure to enjoy an affordable and fun day out.

1. Relax On The Sands


Some of the main attractions in Southend-on-Sea are its many lovely sandy beaches. On a warm day, there is nothing better than soaking in the rays on the sands and dipping your toes in the water.

The area has many wonderful beaches to choose from including the new Three Shells Beach and Lagoon where families can enjoy all of the fun of paddling without needing to worry about the tides, the ever-popular Jubilee Beach in the heart of the action and City Beach with its newly landscaped surroundings and fun fountain where the kids will love to cool off.

Kid sitting in beach chair

2. Get Closer To Nature


Close to Southend-on-Sea is the beautiful haven of the Belton Hills Nature Reserve. Home to many rare species, this wooded reserve is a great place to get away from it all and get closer to nature.

See beautiful wild flowers in this 18.5 hectare paradise that boasts impressive views across Two Tree Island, and see if you can spot any of the 667 species of invertebrates who have made this nature reserve their home.

3. Take A Walk On The Pier


Southend Pier is the world’s longest pleasure pier at 1.341 miles long, and is a great place to head for a budget day out. Tickets cost just £2 per adult and £1 for concessions to enjoy the panoramic views, relax on the sun deck or to try your hand at fishing.

Visit the RNLI station and its gift shop, or drop by the impressive Royal Pavilion for a drink and a snack. The pier is also the ideal place to catch a free show, with events held all year round from puppetry and live music to the Tall Ships and visits with Santa.

Southend on Sea pier sunset

4. Discover Some Local History


For a free and educational day out, pay a visit to the Southend Central Museum. With its exhibits that cover local and natural history, this fascinating budget attraction offers an insight into the growth of this seaside town over the years, reflecting on its fishing heritage and rich natural history.

This beautiful building is also home to a Planetarium where you can take in a live presentation and explore the night sky for an additional charge.

5. Appreciate Some Culture


Southend-on-Sea is home to several art galleries where you can take in some fascinating exhibitions and admire a range of eclectic art to suit all tastes. The Beecroft Art Gallery offers a selection of local and historical works, and also boasts an interested costume display that is sure to fascinate.

If you have more contemporary tastes, the Focal Point Gallery is the place to discover visual art, thematic shows and informative talks.

woman visiting a museum in the UK

6. Go Back In Time


For another fantastic cheap day out, take the short walk from the seafront to Southchurch Hall – a lovely Grade One listed Medieval moated house. Originally built in the late 14th century, the Hall features an open hall dating back to the Middle Ages, a Stuart style solar wing and a magnificent Tudor kitchen, all beautifully preserved. Discover archaeological artefacts found on the site and take an informative guided tour through the suite of period rooms.

Another interesting local historical attraction is Prittlewell Priory, where you can uncover the facts behind the lives of the 13th century monks who used to live and work here. With a gorgeous setting in delightful parkland and gardens, this is another cost effective day out for all the family.

7. Admire Gorgeous Gardens


Holidaymakers on a budget will love the opportunity to explore Southend-on-Sea’s many beautiful parks and gardens. The ornamental splendour of the Churchill Gardens is a peaceful and secluded place to while away a few hours while Priory Park is the ideal place to take the whole family, with its children’s playground, recreation areas, tennis courts and formal gardens.

The stream that runs through the park is a great place for little ones to kick off their shoes and have a great time while you enjoy a picnic and relax in the sunshine. For a park with a view, take the short stroll from the town centre to the Southend Cliff Gardens where you can admire the panorama over the Thames Estuary.

tulips seen at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham

8. Attend A Free Event


Southend-on-Sea hosts a number of free events throughout the year, so there is sure to be something to suit your taste. From complimentary film screenings at The Old Waterworks or Beecroft Art Gallery, to art trails and free lunch time concerts, there is something to entertain every member of the family without having to spend a fortune.

Whether you would enjoy the thrill of seeing vintage cars at the London to Southend Classic Vehicle Run or prefer the electric atmosphere and bright lights of the Southend Carnival, Southend-on-Sea has plenty to offer holidaymakers looking for a cost effective day out.