17 Spectacular places to visit in East Sussex

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Choosing the 17 best things to do in East Sussex was not an easy task. In truth, there are many spectacular places to visit in East Sussex, and it can be hard to choose only a few. Sure, there is iconic Brighton, but there are also green hills, sleepy seaside towns and historical sites.

Cuckmere Haven walk

East Sussex is a county that will take you back to England’s very foundation.

What is East Sussex famous for?

East Sussex on the southeast coast is famous for its rich history – it’s been the scene of many invasions. But that is not all – this county has not only rich history but also bursting towns and a unique dramatic coastline. It has beautiful rolling hills, stunning beaches and also towering chalk cliffs.

Best places to visit in East Sussex

Here are the best things to do in East Sussex when planning to escape to this beautiful part of England.

 

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Top Places to visit in East Sussex for coastal walks

 

1. Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

places to visit in East Sussex: Cuckmere Haven is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex because it is one of the best spots to enjoy views of the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs. Cuckmere Haven is also a part of Seaford Nature Reserve, which has a rich ecosystem.

Did you know that Cuckmere Haven has been used as a location in numerous movies, including Harry Potter? Yes, that is right, Cuckmere Haven is a beautiful part of East Sussex, and it offers some of the best views of the English landscape. What’s more, Cuckmere Haven is one of the best spots to enjoy views of the iconic Seven Sisters cliffs. But there is much more than that.

Cuckmere Haven is a part of Seaford Nature Reserve, which has a rich ecosystem. Because of that, Cuckmere Haven is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex.

Even though you will not be able to build sand castles here, the shingle beach is perfect for peaceful walking and relaxing by the sea. On one side, you can see the River Cuckmere snaking its way down to the sea. On the other, striking views of chalk cliffs and the sea.

Cuckmere Haven is a beautiful part of East Sussex, and it offers some of the best views of the English landscape. Even though you will not be able to build sand castles here, the shingle beach is perfect for peaceful walking and relaxing by the sea.

Cuckmere Haven is more than an ordinary beach. This unusual beach splits into two; there is an area of flood plains where the river Cuckmere meets the English Channel. One of the most famous views of Cuckmere Haven is looking out over the coastguard cottages toward the Seven Sisters cliffs.

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Park at the South Hill Barn car park and follow the path down to the beach. Bring a pair of wellies if you want to cross to the other side. Alternatively, park at the Seven Sisters Country Park to access the other side of the beach (behind the river). Follow the path alongside the river – it takes about 35 minutes to reach the beach.

 

2. Hike to Beachy Head

things to do in East Sussex: If walking is your thing, then hiking to Beachy Head should be on your list of things to do in East Sussex. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies close to Eastbourne. Beachy Head is an iconic landmark on the Sussex coastline and one of the top attractions on the south coast of England. It is because Beachy Head is the highest chalk cliff in Britain.

Pick up the cliff path at Eastbourne and walk towards Beachy Head

If walking is your thing, then hiking to Beachy Head should be on your list of things to do in East Sussex. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies close to Eastbourne, just after the Seven Sisters. Beachy Head is an iconic landmark on the Sussex coastline and one of the top attractions on the south coast of England. It is because Beachy Head is the highest chalk cliff in Britain, rising to 162 metres (530 feet) at its highest point.

places to visit in East Sussex: Beachy Head is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex because this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an iconic landmark on the Sussex coastline.

Bright white chalk cliffs formed about 100 million years ago when the area was under the sea. Today Beachy Head, with its iconic lighthouse, is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex. From here, you can see the red and white striped lighthouse at the foot of the cliff.

GOOD TO KNOW:

If you feel brave, you can walk from Eastbourne to Beachy Head – it is just about 3 miles away. Alternatively, you can take the 13X bus, which will bring you to the top of the cliff. There are also several car parks around. Don’t walk too close to the cliff edge as white cliffs are very soft, especially after the rain.

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Afterwards, stop at the Beachy Head Pub for a drink and meal and enjoy beautiful views of Eastbourne and the countryside.

 

3. Birling Gap

places to visit in East Sussex: Birling Gap is a coastal area of extraordinary beauty - because of that, it is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex. It is one of the most beautiful natural sights in the UK and a beautiful stretch of undeveloped coastline. Moreover, Birling Gap is a gorgeous shingle beach and a part of the world-famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. It is in the care of the National Trust.

Many visitors turn back once they reach Beachy Head, but it is worth continuing for a few miles. It is, indeed, a lot of walking, but it is well worth it. Birling Gap is a gorgeous shingle beach and a part of the world-famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. It is in the care of the National Trust. Within minutes, the prime attraction becomes evident – the scenery is breathtaking. Anybody looking on the left will see the English Channel, and on the right will see the rolling meadow and English country charm.

Birling Gap is a coastal area of extraordinary beauty – because of that, it is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex. It is one of the most beautiful natural sights in the UK and a beautiful stretch of undeveloped coastline. To get to the beach, you will need to climb down steps. There is also a metal viewing platform, which offers stunning views of the world-famous Seven Sisters cliffs. During the low tide, walk on the pebble beach and see majestic towering cliffs. Coastal erosion is a big issue here, do not walk directly under the cliffs.

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Parking at Birling Gap car park is another option if you do not fancy walking from Eastbourne to Beachy Head. After exploring the beach, walk up to Beachy Head and see a red and white lighthouse in the distance.

 

Places to visit in East Sussex for castle lovers

 

4. Bodiam Castle

things to do in East Sussex: It is easy to see why exploring Bodiam Castle is one of the best things to do in East Sussex. Bodiam Castle is an iconic 14-the-century moated castle and one of the best castles in Sussex. Also, it is one of the most beautiful English Castles. Because of that, it is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex.

It is easy to see why exploring Bodiam Castle is one of the best things to do in East Sussex. Bodiam Castle is an iconic 14th century moated castle and one of the best castles in Sussex. Even though it is in ruins, it is well worth a visit.

What makes Bodiam Castle unique is its beautiful moat and its grounds. Bodiam Castle protected people from the French invasion during the Hundred Years War. It has hundreds of years of history and perfect opportunities for photography because the castle’s exterior is well-preserved. Once inside, you can explore the remains of the kitchen, great hall, the chapel and also the towers.

Bodiam Castle is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex because it is one of the most beautiful castles in England. It is a popular place for a day trip, and many people come here also for a picnic.

READ MORE: THE BEST CASTLES IN ENGLAND

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5. Herstmonceux Castle

places to visit in East Sussex: Visiting Herstmonceux Castle is one of the best things to do in East Sussex because this beautiful moated castle is one of the best English castles. What's more, this castle is famous because it is one of the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England.

If there is one more castle you should visit when exploring this part of England, it is Herstmonceux Castle. This beautiful moated castle is a Grade II listed building dating back from the 15th century.

Herstmonceux Castle is famous because it is one of the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England. Yes, that is right, brick was an unusual material for that time in Britain. Because of that, Herstmonceux Castle is well-known as the oldest brick build castle. Apart from that, the fortress has beautiful Elizabethan gardens with lovely statues. For those reasons, visiting Herstmonceux Castle is one of the best things to do in East Sussex.

 

6. Pevensey Castle

places to visit in East Sussex: Pevensey Castle is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex because this fortress is the site where the Norman Conquest of England began. Moreover, Pevensey Castle is the very first castle William the Conqueror built in England.

This history of this castle goes back all the way to the Romans.

If exploring fortresses is your thing, then there is also Pevensey Castle. Pevensey Castle is a medieval castle and one of many Norman castles built around the south of England. The history of this English Heritage Site goes back to Roman times when it was a former Roman Saxon shore fort. Yes, that is right, Pevensey Castle survived the fall of the Roman Empire. Later the Roman fort fell into ruins, and the Normans reoccupied it. The remains of the Roman fort of Anderida are still visible today.

This unusual keep with crumbling walls is famous for its strategic location. You are quite right to think that Pevensey Castle is the site where the Norman Conquest of England began. William the Conqueror landed here in 1066. The Normans found the Roman fort and built the first version of Pevensey Castle from timber. In fact, Pevensey Castle is the very first castle William the Conqueror built in England. Because of that, Pevensey Castle is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex.

Over the centuries, Pevensey Castle was modified several times. Even though the oval-shaped castle you can see today is in ruins, it is well worth a visit.

 

Places to visit in East Sussex for history lovers

7. Battle

Two great armies fought for the throne of England where the town of Battle stands today.

If you want to soak up the county’s rich past, then the town of Battle is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex. You might not know it, but this small town in East Sussex gets its name from the Battle of Hastings. Yes, that is right, the most famous fight in British history – the Battle of Hastings, did not take place in Hastings, but actually a little inland at Battle.

The town of Battle grew up on the site of the Battle of Hastings, where the course of English history changed forever in 1066. This is a site where the Normans defeated the Saxons, and William the Conqueror killed Harold, the Saxon king. Afterwards, King William founded the abbey on the site of the fight. He built the monastery as penance for all the violence of the conquest. According to tradition, its high altar is on the spot where Harold died.

Visiting the town of Battle is one of the best things to do in East Sussex for history lovers. It is because this attractive town is a site of the Battle of Hastings. Even though the abbey is in ruins, it is still well worth taking a day trip to the town of Battle. Explore the battlefield and impressive ruins of the abbey. Do not miss the panoramic views of the town and the field from the viewing platform.

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8. Rye in East Sussex

things to do in Rye, East Sussex: Walking down Mermaid Street is one of the best things to do in Rye in East Sussex because it is one of the most beautiful streets in England. The iconic Mermaid Street is a pride of Rye and possibly the most photographed street in England. It is also Instagrammers dream.

If you find yourself in East Sussex, you have to make time to explore Rye. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in England and also one of the most beautiful places in East Sussex. Yes, that is right, Rye is a pretty fairy-tale town which was an important port many years ago. It is perfect for a weekend escape or a day trip. You can find Rye less than two hours drive from London. After exploring Rye, don’t forget to visit Camber Sands, the most beautiful beach in East Sussex.

READ MORE: A day trip to Rye from London

Rye England: things to do in Rye East Sussex

 

Places to visit in East Sussex for a seaside escape

 

9. Camber Sands

places to visit in East Sussex: Camber Sands is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in East Sussex because it's one of the most beautiful beaches in this county. What makes Camber Sands unique is its fine golden sand and dune system. Camber Sands is the only sand dune system in East Sussex. Because of that, the beach is a popular destination, especially during the summer months.

If you prefer to soak up some sun, Camber Sands is a place to go. Camber Sands is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in East Sussex. This dramatic unspoilt beach stands out among the other beaches. It is because Camber Sands is not a pebble or shingle beach like the other beaches in Sussex.

What makes Camber Sands unique is its fine golden sand and sand dune system. Yes, you are quite right to think that Camber Sands is the only sand dune system in East Sussex. Because of that, the beach is a popular destination, especially during the summer months. Camber Sands is the perfect place to catch the waves and try water sports, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. Because of that, visiting Camber Sands is one of the best things to do in East Sussex.

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After exploring nearby Rye, spend the rest of the day on Camber Sands.

 

10. Brighton

places to visit in East Sussex: Visiting Brighton is one of the best things to do in East Sussex because this cosmopolitan city is one of the best seaside cities in England. This vibrant city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Therefore, Brighton is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex.

A visit to a county of south-eastern England would not be complete without exploring Brighton. It is the largest city in the county and one of the most popular cities to visit in England. This English seaside resort is also home to Britain’s largest LGBT community outside of London. Brighton has a vibrant nightlife, alternative shops and cafes. It is a popular day trip or weekend getaway from London. Even though you can drive here, the fastest way to get here from London is by train.

Once here, explore the legendary beachfront, which is famous for its pier. It is a seaside landmark with an amusement arcade and fairground attractions where you can walk more than 500 metres out to sea. Afterwards, do not miss the Upside Down House, the British Airways i360 viewing tower and the ruins of the West Pier. If you have spare time, find the Royal Pavilion with minarets and onion domes and get lost in the South Lanes.

Visiting Brighton is one of the best things to do in East Sussex because this cosmopolitan city is one of the best seaside cities in England. This vibrant city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Therefore, Brighton is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex.

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BEST THINGS TO DO IN BRIGHTON

best things to do in Brighton

 

11. Hastings

Hastings is, by all means, one of the most popular places to visit in East Sussex. This attractive seaside town gave its name to the Battle of Hastings. But you already know that the most crucial event in English history happened about six miles away from here. In spite of that, its legacy still colours this charming town.

Centuries ago, Hastings was one of the medieval Cinque Ports.

Even though the old town of Hastings is small enough to explore on foot, it has rich history and heritage. Smugglers dug networks of tunnels for storing contraband in Hastings in the past. Today, they are one of the top attractions in the town.

Once here, take a funicular at East Hill Cliff – it’s the steepest funicular railway in the UK. On the top of the west hill, see the ruins of Hastings Castle. It is one of the first still-standing English Castles built by William the Conqueror. Do not miss the Smuggler’s Adventure cave, where you can learn more about 18th-century smuggling.

 

12. Eastbourne

things to do in East Sussex: Visiting Eastbourne is one of the best things to do in East Sussex if you are looking for a seaside escape. It's because Eastbourne has a beautiful seafront location, miles of promenade to walk along and miles of pebble beaches. Moreover, Eastbourne is one of the sunniest UK towns, with more hours of sunshine than most places in the UK.

Visiting Eastbourne is one of the best things to do in East Sussex if you are looking for a seaside escape. This charming coastal town between Brighton and Hastings is a perfect destination for families. Eastbourne has a beautiful seafront location, miles of promenade to walk along and miles of pebble beaches. What’s more, Eastbourne is one of the sunniest UK towns, with more hours of sunshine than most places in the UK.

Eastbourne might not be as big and famous as Brighton, but it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in East Sussex. Eastbourne sits on the eastern side of the South Downs National Park and is famous for nearby Beachy Head.

With direct trains running from London Victoria just under 90 minutes is Eastbourne one of the best day trips from London. Take a stroll along the Victorian boardwalk and see the elegant Victorian pier. Shingle Royal Parade beach is popular between windsurfers and kite surfers. There is a wide promenade behind the beach – it is perfect for cyclists, runners and skaters. If you head to Holywell, you will find well-manicured gardens and rock pools when the tide goes out.

 

13. Seaford

Want to spend a day on the beach and do some hiking for a few hours? Then Seaford might be an excellent place for you. Seaford might not be familiar to your eyes, but his small seaside town lies between Brighton and Eastbourne.

In medieval times, Seaford had one of the most active ports on the south coast. Today Seaford is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex if you are looking for seaside escape. Seaford is famous for its gorgeous long pebble beach – it is ideal for sunbathing and walking. It is also a perfect place for kayaking and swimming during the summer months.

In just a few minutes, you can climb high from the beach to the cliffs and see breathtaking views of the Seven Sisters. The cliff path that starts at Seaford leads to Cuckmere Haven. It offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars – this area is a nature reserve, and you can see a lot of butterflies and birds here.

Visiting Seaford is one of the best things to do in East Sussex if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of life. Walking to Seaford Head with views of impressive chalk cliffs and relaxing at Seaford beach is a must when in Seaford.

 

Other things to do in East Sussex

14. Bluebell Railway

things to do in East Sussex: A trip to Bluebell Railway is one of the best things to do in East Sussex because it offers a step-back-in-time experience. Moreover, the Bluebell Railway is the oldest preserved standard gauge railway in the United Kingdom. Because of that, the Bluebell Railway is one of the top attractions in East Sussex.

The Bluebell Railway is by all means one of the top attractions in East Sussex. You may not know it, but the Bluebell Railway is the oldest preserved standard gauge railway in the United Kingdom. Yes, that is right, you can see the finest collection of vintage steam locomotives and carriages here. Moreover, you can even explore the Sussex countryside on a steam train.

A trip to Bluebell Railway is one of the best things to do in East Sussex because it offers a step-back-in-time experience.

Explore the traditional station and a ticket office in 19th-century style, and see staff in period uniforms and vintage suitcases stacked on the platform. If you arrive early, take time to visit a small museum. Also, see steam trains pulling in or out of the station from the bridge. Heritage railway line runs between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead and stops at Horsted Keynes and Kingscote.

GOOD TO KNOW:

Downton Abbey fans may recognise Horsted Keynes train station known as Downton Station.

 

15. Devil’s Dyke, East Sussex

places to visit in East Sussex: The Devil's Dyke is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex because it's the longest, deepest and widest' dry valley' in the United Kingdom. This unique valley is a popular area for walking because it is a part of the South Downs National Park.

Those interested in walking should find time to hike to the Devil’s Dyke. It is an attraction popular with the Brightonians who want to get out in the countryside. You can find it north of Brighton.

The Devil’s Dyke is famous because it is the longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the United Kingdom. This 100-metre deep V-shaped dry valley is a part of the South Downs National Park. This National Trust site is a popular area for walking and model aircraft flying.

But that is not all – the Devil’s Dyke is the largest chalkland dry combe in Britain. This spectacular cutting in the South Downs is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is home to rare plants, orchids and butterflies. Because of that, hiking the Devil’s Dyke is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex.

Scientists believe that the last ice age formed this area about 10,000 years ago. The legend has it, that the Devil’s Dyke is the devil’s work. The story goes that the devil decided to dig a trench through the South Downs so that the sea would drown the Christian people of the Weald. He tried to dig it over a single night because he didn’t want the locals to discover it. However, the devil woke a woman, and she lit a candle during the night. This woke her cockerel, who began to crow. After seeing the light and hearing the cockerel, the devil thought it was daybreak and left the Dyke unfinished.

GOOD TO KNOW:

The Devil’s Dyke loop trail is about 4 kilometres long, and it takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete it. 

 

16. Lewes

We would also recommend that you check out charming Lewes. Lewes is the county town of East Sussex built into the steep slopes of either side of the Ouse Valley. Because of that, there is a joke in East Sussex that you need to have one leg longer than the other if you want to live in this town.

But there is more to Lewes – it was here the Battle of Lewes (one of the two main battles of the Second Barons’ War) was won. The main attraction in Lewes is, of course, nearly 1,000 years old Lewes Castle – constructed right after the Battle of Hastings. Today Lewes Castle’s ruins and the townhouse of Anne of Cleves remind us that this town has historical importance. Yes, that is right, after King Henry VIII divorced his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, he gave her several properties. One of them was a townhouse today known as Anne of Cleves House. Even though she never lived here, the museum showcases the Tudor and Elizabethan ways of life.

Afterwards, see the interpretation panels in the Priory of St Pancras and imagine how this building looked when monks lived here. Today you can see only the ruins because Henry VIII destroyed them during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

 

17. Drusillas Park

things to do in East Sussex: A family day out at Drusillas Park is one of the best things to do in East Sussex if your little ones are interested in animals. It is because Drusillas Park is one of the best small zoos in the country.

If your little ones are interested in animals, then a family day out at Drusillas Park is one of the best places to visit in East Sussex. Drusillas Park is one the best small zoos in the country, and you can find it less than 10 miles from Lewes. Here you can see over a hundred exotic animals, such as sloths, monkeys and penguins. Aside from the animals, kids can enjoy an interactive maze, the rainforest adventure with rides and a playground with a splash pad. Exploring Jurassic Jungle is also popular because kids can walk back in time and discover Jurassic giants.

Now you know what are the best places to visit in East Sussex!

things to do in East Sussex

Have you been to East Sussex? Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments below. If you like our post, please save it to Pinterest.

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