If you live in the south east, or are planning a trip to West Sussex, you might wonder what things there are to do in the county. From visiting historical places and National Trust properties and museums, here are a handful of the best places to visit in West Sussex.
A brief overview of West Sussex
West Sussex is a county in south east England on the English Channel coast. The county has the districts of Adur, Arun, Chichester, Horsham, and Mid Sussex, and the boroughs of Crawley and Worthing. Gatwick Airport is north of West Sussex, bordering Surrey, making it a popular place to visit.
Historical Sites in West Sussex
West Sussex is steeped in history due to historic houses, castles and gardens. With famous castles like Arundel and ruined Tudor Mansions like Cowdray, whether you’re looking for a family day out or a chance to discover something new, West Sussex is the place to be.
Chichester Cathedral is a living church that has been at the centre of life in Chichester for over nine centuries. Here you can explore history, art and music and experience a vibrant programme of events. Chichester Cathedral has been a sacred place of worship since its foundation in 1108. Services take place daily, including Evensong, which offers a beautiful and soothing choral reflection at the end of the day.
Fishbourne Roman Palace
Fishbourne Roman Palace is the largest Roman home in Britain. Stroll around the recreated Roman gardens – the earliest gardens found in the country – and enjoy the largest collection of mosaics in situ in the UK. This vast, excavated villa has floor mosaics and plenty of learning workshops for families to take part in.
Many of the original features of Arundel Castle, such as the Norman Keep, medieval Gatehouse and Barbican, survive. Between the 1870s and 1890s, the house was almost completely rebuilt, and the magnificent architecture in Gothic style is considered to be one of the great works of Victorian England. Learn about the interior with its furniture, tapestries and rare collection of paintings by renowned artists, including Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto. Stroll through the tranquil grounds where you will discover inspiring gardens.
Bignor Roman Villa
Bignor Roman Villa is a large Roman courtyard villa excavated and put on public display on the Bignor estate in West Sussex. It is well known for its high-quality mosaic floors, which are some of the most complete and intricate in the country.
Petworth House and Park
Petworth House in West Sussex displays one of the finest art collections in the care of the National Trust; nestled in a 700-acre deer park, Petworth offers the perfect opportunity for an adventure. Experience ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ with the whole family.
Outdoor Activities in West Sussex
From beautiful gardens to shopping and adventure, West Sussex is great to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
Sussex Prairie Gardens
Surrounded by mature oak trees, the eight-acre Sussex Prairie Gardens consists of interlocking arcs of large planted borders in a naturalistic style. The borders encourage exploration and adventure, and visitors are welcome to roam amongst the mighty plants.
Bishop’s Palace Gardens
Nestling between the south-western edge of Chichester Cathedral and the City Walls lie the beautiful Bishop’s Palace Gardens, a public park maintained by the city. A peaceful lush oasis is almost hidden in the centre of Chichester; the gardens date back to 1147-1148 and have recently been refurbished. The addition of water features, new seating and a pergola walk, along with improved access and the creation of wildlife-friendly garden space, make this the perfect place for fresh air.
Wakehurst is a house and botanic garden in West Sussex owned by the National Trust but used and managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Explore the wild
botanic garden, home to the Millennium Seed Bank, over 500 acres of diverse landscapes and plants from across the globe.
Standen is an Arts and Crafts house located south of East Grinstead, West Sussex. The house and surrounding gardens belong to the National Trust and are open to the public. It is a Grade I listed building.
Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens
Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens have woodlands, a Victorian rock garden, a dollhouse museum, wine tastings, and a wallaby colony. These spectacular and ancient gardens are now open for the public to enjoy with beautiful green spaces and plenty of flowers.
Ouse Valley Viaduct
The Ouse Valley Viaduct carries the London-Brighton Railway Line over the River Ouse in Sussex. It is located north of Haywards Heath and south of Balcombe. Known for its ornate design, the structure has been described as “probably the most elegant viaduct in Britain.” Many people walk under the viaduct, a great spot for photo opportunities.
Culture and Arts in West Sussex
West Sussex has plenty to offer, from museums to stately homes if you fancy a bit of culture.
Weald and Downland Living Museum
The Weald & Downland Living Museum is a hidden gem in West Sussex, quintessentially British in a picture-perfect setting. It’s a museum for those who want to see, touch and even smell what life was like for people living in years gone by. The Repair Shop is filmed at the Weald and Downland Living Museum too!
The Goodwood Estate is in the heart of West Sussex and is home to the world-famous Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival and Glorious Goodwood. The house was built in about 1600 and is a Grade I listed building.
Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre
Travel back in time and explore the South’s working past in a former quarry and lime works located in the heart of the South Downs National Park. With over 40 exhibit areas to discover, including a narrow-gauge railway, historic buses, rural crafts and extensive communications displays, there is something for everyone.
Cowdray is an exceptional area of West Sussex, nestled beneath the South Downs in the heart of the National Park. Cowdray is a dynamic and progressive Estate. As a destination, Cowdray offers a range of premium country pursuits from golf, a clay-pigeon shooting school, fly fishing on the river Rother, walking, cycling, riding,
polo, both spectating and learning to play, to hospitality at the Farm Shop & Café, holiday cottages, wedding venues and the stunning Cowdray House, set at the heart of the Estate, available for private stays and events.
Ropetackle Arts Centre
Situated on the banks of the River Adur, Ropetackle Arts Centre is a multi-award-winning arts venue that attracts some of the biggest stars in the UK. From live music to comedy, children’s shows to films, workshops and talks to literary events, there is something to suit all tastes.
Shopping and Dining in West Sussex
From unique independent boutiques to extensive high street shopping. You’ll be able to while away the hours wandering around the shops of West Sussex. Petworth antique Market hosts an abundance of antique talent all under one roof, displayed over 275 square metres. There is a large shopping mall in Crawley with many high street favourites. One of the biggest seaside towns on the South Coast, Worthing is a lively destination for shopping, eating, entertainment and family fun by the seaside. Chichester combines great shopping with a theatre and art galleries, great museums and myriad bars, restaurants and cafes.
The Glass House Restaurant
Wickwoods, Shaves Wood Ln, Albourne, Hassocks
The Glass House has laid-back modern British and European dishes served in a beautiful setting in West Sussex. Dine in their bright contemporary orangery, with stunning views of the gardens and woodland.
The Parsons Table
Castle Mews, Tarrant St, Arundel
The Parsons Table in Arundel is passionate about locally sourced, seasonal food, classic cooking and incredible flavours. Dine in a relaxed, informal atmosphere with impeccable service.
The Fig Tree Restaurant
120 High St, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks
In the heart of Hurstpierpoint, the picturesque village nestled closely to the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park, The Fig Tree is an elegant dining venue offering fresh and seasonal dishes.
Arundel Road, Tangmere
Cassons Restaurant, Casual and Fine Dining near Chichester and Goodwood, is the ideal venue for innovative and exciting cuisine cooked with flair and imagination by Chefs who are passionate about their food. There are seafood and game specialities, gourmet nights and special events.
Vowels Ln, East Grinstead
Gravetye is a manor house and garden where beautiful grounds envelop the house. Freshly grown produce becomes part of every meal in this Michelin Star restaurant. A place of timeless tranquillity in the Sussex Countryside, where a calm and warm atmosphere brings the perfect relaxation.
As you can see, there are plenty of great places to visit in West Sussex. It is a lovely county to visit for a little staycation or even a day trip. Do you have any favourite places to visit in West Sussex?