Brighton to The Downs: The Best Places to Visit in East Sussex
Frolic on sand dunes, explore the epic countryside and party in the UK’s gay capital – there's many delightful places to visit in East Sussex.
East Sussex. A little bit to the right of West Sussex and just above the English Channel. Just pop that in your Google Maps and you’re good to go. There are many wondrous places to visit in East Sussex, no matter what you’re looking for. Dynamic cities, jaw-dropping countryside landscapes and beaches awaiting frolicking – and we haven’t even mentioned the picture-postcard villages. East Sussex has a rich history of bonkers English traditions, musical heritage (Paul McCartney lives here but don’t let that put you off) and a proud foodie scene. Enjoy my friend, and bring Plum Guide a Sussex Pond Pudding back, please.
Don your best going-out-outfit and head to the bright lights of Brighton. The gay capital of the UK and some say the world, Brighton is a very good time. Find a trove of vintage boutiques, homegrown independent shops and some fabulous cafes and restaurants. If you’re looking to dance, this tops the list of places to visit in East Sussex for partying. Plum Guide bravely went ahead of you and found some outstanding homes for you to call your own during your stay in Brighton – we're particularly fond of moody, modern Cindercomb.
The quiet little sister of brash Brighton, Hove is a tranquil spot. Bright beach huts line the pebble shore awaiting the perfect photo of your thumb. Spend the day in search of the ideal vintage fridge magnet (you’re on holiday after all) in the independent boutiques, hit up the art galleries and then find golden hour entertainment at the open-air theatre. There are plenty of pubs to get a decent pint and restaurants and cafes to work your way around. Happy holidays.
Five Hundred Acre Wood
Whether you’ve always considered yourself an Eeyore or a Pooh Bear - or neither because you are a grown adult human - a walk through Ashdown Forest will bring back childhood joy and refresh the soul. A walk in nature always does, right? Even if it is plagued by small people shouting ‘poohsticks!’ at you. This is the birthplace of the game, so get involved. Walks stretch for miles with fern, heather and woodland as far as the eye can see. Bonus points if you spot a Heffalump.
This 14th-century iconic castle is almost as nice as some of the Plum Guide-approved homes in East Sussex. It was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who knew a thing or two about medieval battles, to exacting standards in order to defend the surrounding lands from baddies. The result is a beautiful example of 14th-century architecture (who doesn’t love a twin-towered gatehouse?) and peaceful lands without evil knights. If you don’t fancy the turrets and the moat is a little too much to navigate then there is a delightful cottage nearby to stay in.
Disclaimer: there are a lot of beaches in East Sussex and we couldn’t exactly pick one. Cuckmere Haven is more than just a beach anyway. It is a fine example of oxbow lakes, which is one of the only things anyone can ever remember from geography lessons. It is a nature reserve with a rich ecosystem with all the animals working together in harmony. It is absolute stonking good views of the iconic Seven Sisters Cliffs (easily one of the best sights in East Sussex). Basically, it's great. Go there.
Windbreaker, blankets, second outfit, snacks, meals, inflatable unicorn, book, speaker, sun lotion, water, beers, and portable BBQ. Just a few extras in the back of the car and you’re ready for a casual day at the beach. Camber Sands is East Sussex’s standout beach with miles of sandy dunes stretching along the coast. Find somewhere to dump all that stuff you have carted with you and take a stroll along the golden sands, and the horror show that was getting here will soon be forgotten.
This town is cuter than a button. Head to cobbled Mermaid Street and spend your hard-earned money on
overpriced beautiful bric-a-brac and old books at the many vintage shops. Pay a visit or two to one of the excellent boozy boltholes, take a brisk stroll to Camber Sands for some beach action and pay your respects to the Castle. This is definitely one of the quaintest places to visit in East Sussex.
The county town of East Sussex means Lewes is where all the important stuff lives; the police headquarters, the fire and rescue services and the Crown Court. We know, this isn’t exactly screaming ‘holiday’ but it being such an important spot also means there is a ruddy great castle, a load of interesting history, pretty gardens and buildings. Visit the Priory, Anne of Cleves' House and Southover Grange. It is pronounced Loo-iss not Lose, in case you didn’t know. You’re welcome.
Home to one of the world’s most celebrated opera theatres, during the summer months the gardens of Glyndebourne are open to impeccably dressed members of the public for a feast of modern performances and shows. The gardens are spectacular and the entertainment guaranteed to be world-class. Better yet, it’s just an hour from the capital if you’re day-tripping from London.