If you live in the south east, or are planning a trip to East Sussex, you might wonder what things there are to do. From visiting castles to seaside towns and National Trust properties, here are a handful of the best places to visit in East Sussex.
A brief overview of East Sussex
The county of East Sussex is in south east England on the English Channel coast. It borders the counties of Kent to the north and east, West Sussex to the west, and Surrey for a short distance to the north-west. East Sussex is 1066 Country. The most famous battle in British history, the Battle of Hastings, took place here in 1066, in Battle. Battle Abbey was built by William the Conqueror on the spot where Harold is reputed to have died. East Sussex is home to the city of Brighton and Hove and the towns of Lewes, Eastbourne, Wealden, Rother and Hastings.
Historical Sites in East Sussex
East Sussex has a huge range of historical sites, from its leafy countryside to its seaside. The medieval port town of Rye has an impressive history and, of course, not forgetting Brighton’s Royal Pavilion.
Anne of Cleves House
This historic Tudor house in Lewes, East Sussex, was once the property of Anne of Cleves, one of the wives of Henry VIII. Owned and operated by the Sussex Archaeological Society, the beautifully restored Anne of Cleves House highlights the history of Tudor England.
Rye is a historic port town in East Sussex that was an important member of the Cinque Port Confederation during the medieval period. Rye has a long history of shipbuilding, royal visits, thriving trade and violent smuggling. Notorious locations include the Norman church, The Mermaid Inn, The Olde Bell Inn and the Ypres Tower.
Pevensey Castle is a Norman castle built upon the 4th century Roman fort of Anderida, the substantial remains of which are still visible today. Pevensey Castle mostly dates back to the Norman invasion of 1066. Now a picturesque ruin. It is open for visitors to explore its grounds. The exhibition details the castle’s ancient and medieval history and its role as a World War Two observation and command post.
The Royal Pavilion
The royal residence at the centre of Brighton was built as a seaside pleasure palace for George, Prince of Wales, who became King George IV. The palace’s exterior is informed by Mughal architecture in a style that became common in the 19th-century British Raj. It is now a Grade I listed building. Visitors can explore elegant rooms within the palace and its gardens.
Monk’s House is a 16th-century weatherboarded cottage in Rodmell, near Lewes in East Sussex. The house is the home of author and Bloomsbury Set member Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard Woolf. Monk’s House is today owned by the National Trust and is a historic house and museum open to visitors.
Perhaps one of Britain’s most picturesque castles, Bodiam Castle in East Sussex was built in the 14th century as a grand medieval stronghold. Though ruined during the English Civil War, it was partly restored in the 19th and 20th centuries and is now a popular tourist attraction operated by the National Trust.
Outdoor Activities in East Sussex
East Sussex is a great place to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, from hiking and biking to shopping and adventure.
Brighton and Hove
The city of Brighton is such a vibrant place to visit. You are spoilt for choice from its quirky shops, the Brighton Lanes, the beach, and Brighton Palace Pier. The pier has plenty of funfair rides, or stroll down to the harbour and have a bite to eat. The British Airways i360 is a 162 m observation tower on the seafront of Brighton. Visitors can experience 360-degree views across Brighton, the South Downs and the English Channel from the fully enclosed viewing pod.
Beachy Head, Birling Gap and Seven Sisters
Birling Gap and Crowlink, near Eastbourne in East Sussex, are part of the world-famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. These cliffs offer panoramic views, walking paths and a 19th-century lighthouse. You can walk underneath the cliffs at Beachy Head and see them from a different vantage point.
Camber Sands is a beach in East Sussex, in the Camber village near Rye. It is the only dune system in East Sussex and is east of the estuary of the River Rother. Camber Sands is one of the region’s stand-out beaches as it’s one of the few to have a sandy beach, with many of its neighbours being stone and shingle beaches.
Hastings Old Town
Set between two cliffs serviced by funicular railways, Hastings Old Town blends a seaside vibe with Tudor styling and a lively arts scene. Tourists are drawn to Hastings Fishermen’s Museum, the Bluereef Aquarium, a seafront funfair, and a pebble beach featuring tall, wooden fishermen’s huts. George Street is lined with quaint shops and lively pubs, while High Street is home to art galleries.
Sheffield Park Gardens
Sheffield Park Garden is a landscape garden five miles east of Haywards Heath, East Sussex, that the National Trust owns. It was originally laid out in the 18th century by Capability Brown. It is a beautiful place to visit with vibrant plants and flowers, a lake and waterfalls.
Culture and Arts in East Sussex
There are many options for those looking for cultural and arts experiences in East Sussex. Brighton is one of the most cultural cities in Europe. Oozing creativity, Brighton entertainment offers a hotbed of festivals, museums, film, nightlife, comedy and theatre.
Towner Eastbourne is a colourful art gallery with temporary contemporary shows and displays from its modern British collection.
The Bluebell Railway
The Bluebell Railway was one of the first preserved heritage lines in the country, resulting in one of the finest collections of vintage steam locomotives and carriages – many of which were preserved straight out of service from British Railways. You can ride a steam train and take some lovely East Sussex scenery.
SEA LIFE Brighton is an aquarium attraction in Brighton. Opened as Brighton Aquarium in 1872, it is the oldest operating aquarium in the world. Sea Life bought the attraction in 1991 but inside is all of the original Victorian architecture lit up by colourful lights.
Glyndebourne is a country house and the site of an opera house that, since 1934, has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The house near Lewes in East Sussex is about six hundred years old and listed as grade II.
The Brighton Dome is an arts venue in Brighton that contains the Concert Hall, the Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre. All three venues are linked to the rest of the Royal Pavilion Estate by a tunnel to the Royal Pavilion in Pavilion Gardens and through shared corridors to Brighton Museum.
Shopping and Dining in East Sussex
From local farmers’ markets to upscale restaurants, there are plenty of great shopping and dining experiences in East Sussex.
The Lanes in Brighton, once the hub of the old fishing town, is a lively neighbourhood packed with upmarket restaurants, quaint tea rooms, and traditional pubs. There are narrow alleyways with independent jewellers and tiny, high-end antique shops. There are also market stalls and plenty of shops along Brighton.
North Laine area boasts the largest selection of independent retailers on the South Coast. You will find shopping centres in Eastbourne, Hastings and Brighton. Perhaps best known for its vintage shops and kooky kitchenware, Rye is the perfect place for picking up antiques. On Mermaid Street, you’ll find quaint shops like Crock & Cosy, Merchant & Mills, and Mccully & Crane.
Restaurants in East Sussex
125 Western Rd, Brighton
Baqueano is a family-run Argentine steakhouse in the heart of Brighton. Offering Argentinian, grass-fed and 45-day wet-aged premium Angus beef.
Monellis Sourdough Gourmet Pizza
3A George St, Hastings
Monellis Sourdough Gourmet Pizza in Hastings specialise in traditional sourdough. The pizza dough is made after at least 72 hours of slow-rising and fermentation and then baked in stone ovens.
16 Marine Parade, Kemptown, Brighton
Photos line the walls of this cool, snug kitchen, it is the first photo design cafe in the UK. It is owned by web designers and graphic designers who also love to cook.
Devonshire Rd, Bexhill-on-Sea
Bentleys Smokehouse has a trendy western feel, with an amazing playlist that’s sure to get your toes tapping. Enjoy smoked chicken, baby back ribs, and the best wagyu beef brisket in the south east.
Yaaze Bistro Cafe And Meze Bar
15 Denmark Pl, Hastings
Yazze Bistro’s speciality is delicious cuisine created with the ingenuity and passion inspired by the fantastic flavours of Mediterranean itself. They take great pride in improving upon meze dishes in new and creative ways.
46 Sackville Rd, Bexhill-on-Sea
Sobremesa is a modern Latin American Restaurant, serving locally sourced fresh food, a seasonal menu and farm to table. They offer private catering and cooking classes.
5-6 East St, Brighton
Artbox Cafe is a unique Japanese cartoon–themed venue offering imaginative desserts and snacks, plus coffee and shakes. The theme changes every few months and the food is based upon popular characters.
As you can see, there are plenty of great places to visit in East Sussex. It is a great region of the UK to visit for a little staycation or even just for a day trip. Do you have any favourite places to visit in East Sussex?