If you’re planning a trip to England make sure you build in time to visit the English Coast. East Sussex, located in southeast England, offers so much to explore that you can easily spend several days. Here’s what to see in East Sussex, England.
Where is East Sussex?
The towns of Rye, Hastings, and Brighton are all along the southern English coast, bordered on the south by the English Channel and to the north and west the counties of Kent and West Sussex. You might consider staying in Rye, where you’ll find the boutique hotel The George. Otherwise, you can stay in a Brighton hotel and make day trips from there. We can book hotels in East Sussex for you, as well as arrange for a rental car. Rye is about 80 miles by car from London, using the A21.
What to see in East Sussex
Be sure to bring your camera, because one of the most photographed streets in England can be found in Rye. You’ll looking for Mermaid Street, picture-perfect with cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses and a pub by the same name.
Walking along Mermaid Street will bring you to little shops and eateries that definitely give you that quaint English feel. You’ll be able to visit several other places in Rye, as well.
- The Lamb House, a national trust property, is a museum and the former home of American writer Henry James. This Georgian house was built in the early 1700’s, and once housed King George I after the king’s ship was driven ashore nearby during a storm. The house has a tea room and a lovely garden.
- You’ll find half a dozen antique shops in Rye if you want to search for treasures.
- The Royal Pavilion in Brighton stands as the icon of that city. Designed by architect Henry Nash and others, it was built beginning in 1787 as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales. It reminds me of the Taj Mahal with its many arches, domes, and spirals. During World War I the Royal Pavilion was used as a military hospital. You can tour the rooms, enjoy tea in their tea room, and afterwards walk down to the beach, not far away.
- If you love English gardens don’t miss out a visit to Sissinghurst Castle. The gardens are world-famous, having been created by Vita Sackville-West and and Harold Nicholson. It’s a beautiful setting, gardeners and photographers will enjoy seeing the old buildings and blooming plants, especially the rose garden.
- Charleston Farmhouse was home to members of the famous Bloomsbury Group (Virginia Woolf, EM Forster, John Maynard Kenyes) and houses wonderfully painted murals still inside the home. Besides the brightly colored murals, Charleston Farmhouse has a garden worth visiting.
- You can attend the long-running Glyndebourne Festival if you’re visiting East Sussex between mid-May to late August. This opera festival has been taking place every year since 1934. It’s a tradition to take a picnic to the grounds and dress in formal attire. If you’re visiting East Sussex after August, you can still come to tour the grounds of this historical house.
- South Downs National Park offers miles of rolling meadows and a view of England’s white cliffs known as the Seven Sisters. The downs inspired many authors, including Jane Austen and Rudyard Kipling. You’ll find bucolic views, ancient buildings, wildlife, and white chalk cliffs. There are many Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) in the area if you would like to stay over a night or two and explore the local farmer’s markets or hike.
- The white chalk cliffs known as the Seven Sisters are located in East Sussex between Seaford and Eastbourne, and are a part of the South Downs National Park.
I recommend spending a few days away from the big cities of England and enjoying the beauty of this part of England’s coast. Make a list of things to see in East Sussex and we’ll help you plan your stay.
Weather in East Sussex
As with all of England, English summers can disappear quickly into cool weather and rain. Be sure to take along a water-proof lightweight jacket during the summer (see below for a good one). In winter, add a sweater, boots, a heavy jacket and a scarf. Summers average a high in the mid-70s, at night it can dip into the 50s. (Our suggested gear are our own affiliate links to Amazon.)