Today I want to bring you my list of the best places to visit in East Sussex. There are a lot of great local attractions and travel destinations in this coastal county in southeast England. Whether you love city breaks, country escapes, or seaside fun on the English Channel, there’s somewhere in East Sussex that will fit your style. If you’re looking for your next day trip or weekend getaway from London, my list will help you find the ideal location for you. I’ve included a map as well.
Places to Visit in East Sussex
My guide to places to visit in East Sussex features a variety of locations. From the English countryside to the seaside, the vibrant cities to the lovely lighthouses, there’s somewhere you’ll want to go.
East Sussex is famous for its history, coast, castles, and more. It’s one of the best places to visit in the UK for its wealth of things to do and see, from urban areas like Brighton to rural retreats in the South Downs.
Whatever your preference, you’ll find something on my list to tempt you to travel to East Sussex.
1. Brighton, East Sussex
First on my list of places to visit in East Sussex is Brighton. Down on the south coast of England, Brighton is one of the best day trips from London.
Along with neighboring Hove, this city is known for its pebble beaches, historic pleasure pier, and Royal Pavilion. Narrow streets in The Lanes and North Laine burst with colorful cafes and shops, too.
You can stay longer, too. With 2 days in Brighton you can see everything from the English Channel to the shopping streets and main attractions. You’ll have time to hit the beach and take in the city’s famous nightlife and street art scenes, too.
If you want to take this trip, you can book a hotel in Brighton here. I’ve stayed at the Brighton Harbour Hotel and Spa and I love its maritime decor and location directly on the seaside. You can book a room here.
2. Rye, East Sussex
Rye comes next on my list of the best places to visit in East Sussex. This beautiful spot is graced with cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, haunted hotels, and idyllic cottages. It’s one of the prettiest towns in England.
There are lots of fun things to do in Rye, too. From climbing the bell tower of the local church to touring the former home of writer Henry James and exploring the colorful shops, this town has a lot to experience.
Rye is also a short walk from Camber Castle, a historic number with Henry VIII connections. It’s one of the top castles near London. There’s a fortress in town, too. The 13th-century Ypres Tower is one of the oldest buildings in Rye.
And that’s to say nothing of the town’s proximity to beaches on the south coast. It’s fun to combine a trip to Rye with a visit to some of the local seaside areas.
Rye is an easy train ride from London, so you can do it as a day trip or a two-day getaway. It’s one of my favorite weekend trips from London, and I’ve done it many times.
3. Camber Sands, East Sussex
Not far from Rye, Camber Sands is another of the top places to visit in East Sussex. It’s known for its sand and shingle beach and the beautiful dunes that back its shoreline. In fact, it has the only sand dune system in the vicinity.
Camber Sands is one of the best beaches in East Sussex. Its long stretch of white sandy beach is unique in the area, and the views over the English Channel are stunning.
This beach is popular with kite-flyers, windsurfers and kiteboarders, too. It’s a great place to catch the breeze on or off the water.
It’s the perfect spot to bring a dog in the warmer months, too. Every time I visit Camber Sands there are dogs galore.
Camber Sands is one of my favorite beach day trips from London. You can also stay a night and do it with Rye in one trip. If you want to do this as a two-day trip or weekend getaway, you can book a hotel in Rye here.
4. Eastbourne, East Sussex
Also on the south coast, Eastbourne is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. If you love the English seaside, there are great beaches to sunbathe on, a pleasure pier to discover, and live music at the waterfront bandstand to enjoy.
Away from the shore, Eastbourne has Victorian shopping streets in Little Chelsea. The shops offer everything from home goods to antiques. And that’s to say nothing of the Towner, an eye-catching contemporary art museum in town.
Eastbourne is easy to get to by train from London. You can do it as a day trip, but a weekend in Eastbourne will give you enough time to discover the town and the surrounding area at your own pace.
If you want to do this as a weekend trip from London by train or car, you can book a hotel in Eastbourne here. I’ve stayed at the Best Western Lansdowne Hotel and it has an ideal waterfront location. You can book a room here.
5. Beachy Head, East Sussex
Just outside Eastbourne, Beachy Head is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. This chalk headland and its famous lighthouse draw visitors from all over Britain (and beyond).
After you arrive by car or by bus from Eastbourne, you can visit The Beachy Head Story, a small museum and visitor center with information about the history and geography of England’s South Downs.
It’s next door to The Beachy Head pub, where you can get food and drinks. This Victorian number has a rustic interior and serves seasonal British food.
Beachy Head is also a great place for coastal walks. At 531 feet (162 meters) above sea level, the cliff here is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain. That means there are great views across the English Channel.
The Beachy Head lighthouse is another draw. This famous beacon in the sea below the cliffs is a local icon. It’s not far from its predecessor, the Belle Tout Lighthouse. It’s also a landmark in the area.
You can walk from The Beachy Head Story to the RAF Bomber Command Memorial, too. This six-ton tribute is a moving monument to World War II airmen.
6. Seven Sisters, East Sussex
Right by Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters are another great place to visit in East Sussex. This series of chalk cliffs on the English Channel coast is one of the most recognizable sights in southern Britain.
The Seven Sisters are part of the South Downs National Park. The area is known for its views, beaches, and dramatic cliff faces that drop into the sea.
Seven Sisters Country Park is a highlight of visiting the Seven Sisters. There are lots of things to do here, from wildlife spotting to hiking, kayaking, cycling, and walking.
If you’re looking for views, the best one is from Seaford Head looking east across the River Cuckmere.
7. Birling Gap, East Sussex
Birling Gap is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. A coastal hamlet tucked between Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters, this place is famous for its shoreline.
Upon arrival, you’ll find yourself at a National Trust information center with a shop selling snacks. There’s an ice cream truck outside in the warmer months, too. A tall staircase next to the shop leads down to the famous pebble beach.
There are also walks and rambles you can do from Birling Gap. You can hike to places like Lookout Hill, Exceat, and local pubs. You can even get to the South Downs Way if you want a longer walk.
8. Hastings, East Sussex
Hastings is one of my favorite places to visit in East Sussex. This coastal town on the English Channel is known for its Norman history, but its beaches are what draw the majority of people to its shores.
There are a lot of beaches to choose from, too. Rock-A-Nore Beach is known for having dramatic cliffs behind it. Hastings Beach features a wide apron of pebble shoreline. It’s also home to Hastings Pier, which has striped beach huts on it.
The Stade, a shingle beach, is backed by bright-hued fishing boats, nets, and stalls selling fresh fish and seafood.
The seaside in Hastings is full of carnival rides, historic net huts, and great restaurants. Behind them lies a maze of streets with heritage houses, shops, and a clifftop castle.
If you want to do this as an overnight trip you can book a hotel in Hastings here. There are lots of great places to stay in town, from hotels to B&Bs and apartment rentals.
9. Battle, East Sussex
Not far from Hastings, Battle is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. This town in the High Weald is famous for its abbey, but there are lots of things to do in Battle that make it worth a longer visit.
Battle is known for being the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, defeated the English army of King Harold here.
His victory kicked off the Norman conquest of England, rendering the battle one of the most important in English history.
The fighting took place in a field in the present-day town of Battle. After his victory, William the Conqueror founded an important abbey on the site.
Impressive remnants of both the battle and the abbey remain, and they’re what draw most visitors to the town today.
In addition to walking the battlefield and seeing the abbey ruins, you can explore the high street and side streets and visit the Battle Museum of Local History.
Battle is an easy trip to combine with Hastings. They’re both on the same rail line from London, so you can do them as a day trip or weekend getaway if you want to.
10. Lewes, East Sussex
Lewes is another of my favorite places to visit in East Sussex. This town near Brighton is home to beautiful streets, loads of history, and great shops.
The narrow cobbled lanes in Lewes are enough to excite the most world-weary photographer. Thanks to the hills in Lewes, many of them offer great views over the town and surrounding countryside.
The houses are impressive, too. Not only can you find a house that belonged to Virginia Woolf here, but also one that was owned by Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife.
There’s a Norman castle in Lewes as well. Perched on top of a hill, the medieval fortress dominates the skyline and serves as a reminder of the town’s long history.
Add to that lots of cafes, restaurants, pubs, and gardens, and Lewes is worth a trip.
If you want to do this as a two-day getaway you can book a hotel in Lewes here. There are lots of places to stay in town, including a Tudor coaching inn known for its connections to political philosopher Thomas Paine. He expounded his revolutionary politics inside.
11. The Long Man of Wilmington, East Sussex
Next on my list of places to go in East Sussex is The Long Man of Wilmington. This unusual sight is a figure outlined on the slopes of Windover Hill near Wilmington (hence the name). It’s one of the most unique East Sussex attractions.
The Long Man of Wilmington has befuddled archaeologists and historians for hundreds of years. The figure stands tall with a stave (stick) in each hand, but nobody knows why it was depicted or by whom.
The figure is thought to date from the 16th or 17th century, but its origins are unclear. Whatever they are, The Long Man of Wilmington is an intriguing sight to see on a trip to East Sussex.
At 235 feet (72 meters) high, it’s Europe’s largest representation of the human form. The figure can be seen from the road as you drive by, but you can also walk to it. It’s a great ramble along the white chalk cliffs to get here.
The Long Man of Wilmington is 6 miles from Eastbourne, so if you want to stay in the area, you can book a hotel in Eastbourne here.
12. Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Bodiam Castle is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. This 14th-century moated fortress is located near Robertsbridge. It was constructed in the 1380s by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge and his wife, Elizabeth.
Bodiam Castle is set in a historic landscape in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The castle has a ruined interior with spiral staircases, battlements, and a portcullis. It’s one of Britain’s most picturesque medieval fortresses.
Bodiam Castle is worth a visit if you love history and legends. There are grounds to discover, too. From the moat to the wildflower meadows, you can explore it all on a self-guided walking route.
If you want to stay overnight in the area, Battle isn’t far away. You can book a hotel in Battle here.
13. South Downs National Park, East Sussex
The South Downs National Park is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. This vast area of English countryside spans 628 square miles (1,627 square kilometers) in southern England.
It stretches between Winchester and Eastbourne and runs through the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex, and East Sussex.
Highlights of the South Downs National Park in East Sussex include the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, Birling Gap, Beachy Head, and towns like Lewes.
If you want to explore the South Downs, you can walk all or part of the South Downs Way. This long-distance walking path runs the width of the national park and will show you the highlights as you hike.
If you want to stay for a night or more, you can book a hotel in the South Downs here. There are lots of places to stay in and around the national park.
14. Pett Level Beach, East Sussex
Back to the seaside, Pett Level Beach is another of the best places to visit in East Sussex. This local beach lies just beyond the the cliffs at Fairlight Cove.
Located between Hastings and Camber Sands, it’s a fun place to walk on seashell-studded stones and take in views across the English Channel.
Along with Cliff End Beach, Pett Level Beach is known for the wooden posts that punctuate its shoreline. At low tide, you can even spot stumps of fossilized trees that date back to ancient times.
In addition to sunbathing, Pett beach is popular for bird watching. The shallow Pett Pools behind the beach are frequented by wetland fowl.
15. High Weald, East Sussex
Another of the best places to visit in East Sussex is the High Weald. One of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes, this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty spans 564 square miles (1,461 square kilometers) of the English countryside in Sussex, Kent, and Surrey.
Highlights of the High Weald in East Sussex include towns like Battle, attractions like Bodiam Castle, and seaside gems like Pett Level Beach.
There are lots of country walks and hikes you can do in the High Weald, too. The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 90-mile (145-kilometer) route that runs between Horsham in West Sussex and Rye in East Sussex.
Designed to go through the main landscape types of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s a great way to see the local highlights.
If you want to stay for a night or more, you can book a hotel in the High Weald here. There are plenty of places to stay in and around the area.
Map of Places to Visit in East Sussex
Places to Visit in East Sussex
I hope you’ve liked my list of places to visit in East Sussex, and that it’s helped you discover new travel destinations in southern England.
There are more places to explore, too. From St Leonards-on-Sea to Bexhill and Rudyard Kipling’s house, Bateman’s, the county has a lot to see.
If you have more time to travel, you can take a look at my blog posts about places to visit in Kent, Surrey, and West Sussex. These neighboring counties have additional exciting areas to explore. Happy travels!
Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a small commission when you click on them and make a purchase. It doesn’t affect the way you shop, and it’s a great way to support the A Lady in London blog.