From the seaside to the countryside, Sussex offers the best of both worlds with its mix of historic towns and coastal villages. Sample the delights of quintessentially English town and country with days out in Sussex that bring history to life.
Sussex has something for everyone, whether you want to be part of the action in Brighton or be part of the history with a trip to ancient battlegrounds like Hastings, Battle, and Rye. Take time to explore the national parks and exotic gardens or stroll through the bluebell woods, ideal for romantic days out. To help you choose some of the best, we have compiled a list of top attractions and activities for unforgettable days out in Sussex.
Places to Visit
Experience the excitement of Brighton Pier with rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Formally known as the Palace Pier, Brighton Pier still retains that grand old charm but with several modern-day amusements to keep you entertained. Whether you are a fan of dodgems or roller-coasters, there are several fairground favourites to enjoy. After all that screaming, you are bound to work up an appetite. Luckily, there is plenty to eat and drink. From fish and chips to frozen yoghurt and doughnuts, indulge yourself with a seaside classic.
Hastings and Battle
Sussex has a rich and varied heritage which can be seen throughout its many old villages and towns. The area is also famed as the location of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. The towns of Battle and Hastings are both home to several historic buildings and locations. From Hastings Castle to Battle Abbey, there is plenty to see, do and learn about along the way. Old Town Hastings is well preserved and offers a lively fishing port to navigate. Further inland, the Combe Valley is perfect for a country walk through majestic woodland. With such a picturesque seaside location, it is not surprising that it is a firm favourite with artists and authors.
South Downs National Park
Teeming with life, the South Downs National Park is a haven for British wildlife. Popular with walkers of all abilities, the ancient woodlands and idyllic villages are the perfect place to relax and unwind. You can walk, ride or cycle through the endless rolling hills, past the many historical treasures that the region offers. There are hundreds of locations within the park protected due to their cultural importance, including bronze age archaeological sites, museums and historical buildings still in use for visitors today.
Zoos in Sussex
If you’re going to visit one beach in Sussex, make it Woolacombe. Three miles of clean, golden sands give way to inviting clear blue waters for the ideal relaxation spot. Head down early during hot summer spells to grab yourself the ideal spot to build your sandcastles, work on your tan and even ride the waves if you’re feeling more adventurous. If you’re bringing a pet along with you, Zoos in Sussex is large enough for you and your faithful companion to run around without disturbing anyone else, and nothing beats a stroll along the sandy shore while the sun sets. No matter the time of year, it’s a wonder to behold!
The Royal Pavilion is an exotic palace with a fascinating history, conveniently located in the centre of Brighton’s city centre. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, it was designed as a western interpretation of Indian decadence. The ornate interior and intricate turrets are a mixture of Regency opulence and Eastern elegance. Experience the grandeur of the halls and reception rooms where George, Prince of Wales was host to many guests, entertaining them with balls and banquets. Follow the tour and learn how Queen Victoria helped restore the building to its former brilliance during her reign. End your trip in the gift shop to take home Pavilion-inspired decorations for your home.
The UK’s highest chalk sea cliff, this impressive headland in East Sussex is situated in the South Downs National park, close to Eastbourne and immediately east of Seven Sisters Country Park. Beachy Head is famous for its distinctive white cliffs, so why not walk or cycle along the cliff tops for a stunning view across the coast. If you fancy a rest along the way, you can stop off at the local lighthouse or the area’s infamous cliff-top pub. With boat trips and flights on most days, there are plenty of other exciting ways to see this incredible natural beauty spot. A short walk inland brings you to the village of East Dean, where there are several more pubs in which you can sample the local brewery ale, Beachy Head.
A popular tourist attraction throughout the year, Chichester Cathedral is open every day and entry is free, although donations are welcomed. Having been a part of Chichester life for almost 1,000 years, Chichester Cathedral is a mix of ancient and modern architecture with its striking Victorian spires a distinctive feature of the town’s skyline. Still regularly in use today for worship and community events, there is plenty to see and do all year around. From collages to wood carving workshops and special trails for children, there are regular exhibitions and talks for all ages. If you get peckish you can always grab a snack in the Cloisters Café and, after, enjoy the historic Cathedral Close and Bishop’s Palace Garden, only steps away.
Arundel Castle and Gardens
Set high on a hill in West Sussex, Arundel Castle and Gardens boast spectacular views across the South Downs and River Arun. An impressive restored medieval fortification, Arundel Castle is one of the longest inhabited country houses in England and has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk for over 1,000 years. Immerse yourself in the rich history of the castle by visiting the 14th century Fitzalan Chapel with its impressive Gothic architecture. The extensive castle gardens provide a horticultural wonderland to walk through, with internationally renowned walled gardens.
Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
The Tangmere Military Aviation Museum is home to a variety of historic aircraft and aviation memorabilia. Founded to highlight Britain’s illustrious military aviation heritage, this educational centre has an impressive collection of artefacts from the First World War through to the Cold War. Tangmere was once an operational RAF airfield, which played a central role in the Battle of Britain. With several fascinating exhibits to walk you through wartime and real equipment used by pilots, you can bring history to life exploring the museum. Adults can see what life was like as a military pilot by sitting in one of the many flight simulators on site.
My Perfect Stay
Sussex is a county with a huge amount of variety and offers something for everyone. Most famous is probably Brighton, a hugely vibrant city on the sea with a personality all of its own. I love the Brighton Pavilion, it's fantastically eccentric but so much fun. The Lanes is a unique shopping experience a million miles from the modern high street and always leaves me with a smile on my face.
Sussex is a county of rich landscapes from the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters to the rolling South Downs and Weald the county embraces everything from popular coastal resorts at Bognor Regis, Eastbourne and historic Hastings to the cathedral town of Chichester and Lewes which is still dominated by its Norman castle.
It's such a diverse county that I'm never short of finding something to do, from walking and cycling the Downs to re-living history lessons at Roman Fishbourne and Chichester and Norman Hastings, before relaxing in a cosy country pub with a local beer and some great food.