From the rolling countryside and medieval villages in the East to the serene hills, valleys and remarkable Roman ruins in the West, Sussex is a rural county abundant in charm. Plus a gloriously rugged and beautiful coastline, which is as iconic as they come.
Characterised by striking chalk cliffs and dramatized by the most incredible sunsets, the coastal stretch alone is enough to draw you to this quaint corner of the UK. The treasure of Southeast England and home to some of the prettiest towns and villages in the country, Sussex is well worth a visit.
And with beautiful holiday manors and beach homes available for group hire all year round, it’s the ideal destination for a weekend or week away. Here are some of the things you can do in splendid Sussex!
1. Beachy Head & The Seven Sisters
A visit to Sussex County is not complete without a trip to Beachy Head and The Seven Sisters. This series of chalk cliff drops is the most iconic attraction of the area and provides the most spectacular views of the English Channel. This long stretch of cliffs is really a sight to behold, with lush grasslands and on a warm day, the ocean turns a stunning turquoise blue.
2. Bognor Regis Pier Beach
One of the most famous beaches in Sussex and a great place to come in groups or with your family because there’s so much to do. The beachfront features an amusement arcade, shops and cafes, bars and nightclubs, and awesome fish and chips. Enjoy great views along The Esplanade and soak up the sea air.
3. Wakehurst Botanic Garden
Wakehurst is a spectacular botanic garden in the West Sussex area, owned and managed by the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The site is spread across more than 450 acres, boasting landscaped gardens, woodland, a beautiful nature reserve as well as the impressive Elizabethan mansion set on the estate.
4. Harbour Park
The ultimate kids’ day out! If you’re holidaying with the little ones, don’t miss Harbour Park by Littlehampton Beach. It has everything kids could dream of, including fairground rides, water rides and water chutes, a family arcade, ice cream and sweet treats, and plenty of places to grab a bite for the whole family.
5. Bodiam Castle
One of Britain’s most beautiful castles and a great day out for all ages. Key features of the castle include its spiral staircases and battlements, plus portcullis and murder holes. Climb the towers and take footsteps where kings, queens and knights use to roam. The kids will love Bodiam Castle and there’s also a superb tearoom serving delicious cakes and snacks.
6. Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
The Weald and Downland Living Museum is a fantastic opportunity to experience life in the past. Taking you on a journey of a 950 year period, these rescued buildings will make history come alive. Informative and fun at the same time, with lots to do such as cooking in the Tudor Kitchen or watching demonstrations from the Victorian Smithy.
7. Arundel Castle
This ancient castle and stately home is one of the longest inhabited country homes in the UK and it really is one of the most magnificent estates to explore. The impressive ancient structure is almost ethereal in its beauty, and lives to be a wonderfully restored and remodelled fortress like something out of a medieval fairy tale. Explore the grounds, walk through the many gardens flourishing in colourful flowers and unique plants, take a tour of the castle rooms, and refuel at the on-site restaurant.
8. Borde Hill Garden
A heritage garden filled with rare shrubs and champion trees. Borde Hill is a gardener’s dream and is a great place for enjoying a light stroll and some fresh air for all ages. The display of plants has accumulated over time by great plant collectors and have been tended with passion for over four generations. The perfect spot for a woodland walk or a picnic by the lakes, so don’t forget to pack some sandwiches.
9. The Brighton Pier & Beach
There’s so much to see and do in the county’s biggest city, Brighton. And Brighton Pier is a must for anyone coming here for the first time. Spend the day shopping, playing in the arcades, riding the fairground rides, and strolling along the sea front. There’s so much street food here too, including fish and chips (the seaside classic), hot dogs, ice cream, frozen yoghurt, pizza, shellfish, Brighton rock and much more.
10. Drusillas Park
Take the kids to Drusillas Park to meet all the animals! There’s also a Hello Kitty Secret Garden, a huge outdoor play area, and a Get Wet Splash Pad. So children will be entertained for hours on end. Plus with 4 different cafes / buffets available, the whole family will be fed and watered.
11. A Day Out in Hastings
Travel back in time to 1066 and discover the gorgeous coastal town where the famous Battle of Hastings took place. Visit the Battle Abbey, explore Hastings Castle, and book a tour of St. Clements Caves (the town’s historical underground tunnels)
12. The Village of Amberley
This pretty village and civil parish is one of the must-see chocolate box villages of the region. Renowned for its beauty, old fashioned cottages and timeless charm. Walk around the village and make sure you drop in to the village tea rooms for a cream tea.
13. Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest
The Bedgebury National Pinetum is open to the public all year round, and it is recognised as the famous home of the National Conifer Collection and a central hub for global conifer conservation. The National Conifer Collection is the most complete collection of conifers in one site anywhere in the world, featuring over 12,000 trees in total. Within this huge tree collection, there are rare and endangered species as well as many historically important specimens. Out in the forest, guests can enjoy walking around, cycling and mountain-biking. And other attractions include an adventure play area, nature walks and talks, and a cafe with panoramic views across the Pinetum.
14. Aldingbourne Country Centre
Aldingbourne Country Centre is open all year round and there’s so much to do. So if you’re travelling in a mixed group, this is a great place to bring the rabble. Take a relaxing woodland walk to soak up some fresh country air, discover the on-site gardens, meet the animals on the open farm, see the birds of prey at Hawking About, play mini golf, or enjoy a pedal tractor ride!
15. Lewes Castle
Lewes Castle is such a fantastic attraction for kids and adults alike. It’s a Norman castle dating back more than 1000 years and it has a series of spiral staircases that lead to its high tower. It’s worth the climb if your legs can take it because the views from the top are just breath-taking. The Barbican House is just next door and features a museum, a mini cinema and much more.
16. Nutbourne Winery & Vineyards
Wine connoisseurs will love visiting Nutbourne Winery & Vineyards, open from May to October every year. Nutbourne is a family-run boutique wine producer and they’re known for their award-winning still and sparkling wines. It’s all a part of the new English wine renaissance, and all wines are made from grapes grown on the estate. Open Tuesday to Friday (2pm-5pm) and Saturdays (11am-5pm).
17. Blackberry Farm
Farm days are so much fun for kids and Blackberry Farm promises excitement for all ages. Home to more than 180 different animals, there’s plenty of chances for meeting, feeding and getting up close to farm creatures. Kids can even enjoy a tractor ride, a pony ride or just go wild on the outdoor play areas whilst parents can enjoy tea, coffee, cakes and snacks in the café.
18. West Wittering Beach
If you’re looking for the most beautiful beach along the south coast, West Wittering is worth a look in. It’s particularly popular with windsurfers, but the low tide also makes it a great location for sea paddling and building sand castles. There’s also a grassy area which is perfect for picnics and wildlife spotting.
19. Devil’s Dyke Circular Walk
The view from the top of Devil’s Dyke has been described as “the grandest in the world” by Suffolk born painter John Constable. So if you’re searching for a picturesque spot to spread your picnic blanket, this walk is ideal. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset if you’re here with your other half.
20. Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Located in the Royal Pavilion garden, the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is the city’s cultural beacon and attracts visitors from all over the country every year. The museum’s collections tell the story of the city and history of the world, and there are new exhibitions to check out every season, with everything from fine art and photography to 20th Century design.
21. Afternoon Tea at West Dean Gardens
Afternoon tea is a great way treat yourself for a special occasion, especially if have a spectacular setting to enjoy your champagne and nibbles in. West Dean Gardens is one of the greatest restored gardens in England and the Garden Restaurant is the perfect place for enjoying your favourite refreshments in style. Home to a 300 ft. Edwardian pergola, an award-winning Sunken Garden, stunning Victorian glasshouses, plus a 50-acre arboretum.
22. Booth Museum of Natural History
The Booth Museum is another museum that is a must-see when visiting Brighton. Featuring collections of birds, butterflies, fossils, and bones to tell the story of living creatures through time. These artefacts were originally founded as a Victorian collector’s private museum, and now they are open to the public and entry is free of charge.
23. Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre
If you visit the beautiful village of Amberley, don’t miss the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre. Set on a 36 acre site in South Downs National Park, this museum is dedicated to local industrial heritage. There’s much to see, including the electricity exhibition halls, the working printshop, stationary engines, lime kilns, the narrow gauge railway and historic bus.
24. Anne of Cleves House
As the fourth wife of King Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves is a significant figure in British and Tudor history. And this house is a fine example of her legacy which lives on as part of the East Sussex in Lewes. Formed as part of Anne’s annulment settlement from the king in 1540, this house is vision of beautiful historical architecture. The earliest parts of the building date back from the 1400s with further additions later in the 17th Century. Take a walk back in time as you wander through the kitchen, the bedroom and parlour, as well as the garden. The café is located in the tea garden, so you can enjoy refreshments in the spectacular Tudor setting.
25. Arundel Wetland Centre
From the annual Giant Duck Hunt at Easter and the LEGO Brick Animals Trail in May/June to free boat rides and 8 wildlife hides, the Arundel Wetland Centre has fun things to see and do pretty much all year round. The Wetlands Discovery Boat Safari can even accommodate wheelchairs, making it one of the most accessible attractions in the area.
26. Herstmonceux Castle, Gardens & Grounds
The magnificent 15th Century moated Herstmonceux Castle is truly impressive, set within 300 acres of carefully managed woodland and stunning formal gardens. This beautiful fort is one of the best examples of a mighty medieval stronghold, whilst also embodying the romance of renaissance Europe. Enjoy the views as you take the Chestnut Tree Walk, order tea and cake at the Chestnuts Tea Room and Visitors Centre, or take a tour of the gardens and woodlands.
27. Blue Reef Aquarium
A great day out for the whole family – the Blue Reef Aquarium is home to some truly spectacular marine life species that are just fascinating to watch. Take a tour through the underwater tunnel and be completely mesmerised by the sea turtles, seahorses, native sharks, giant octopus, and hundreds of colourful fish. There are also daily talks and feeds, making the experience all the more interactive and memorable.
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