The Best Things to Do in Sussex, England

A visit to the South Downs National Park is a must on any trip to Sussex
A visit to the South Downs National Park is a must on any trip to Sussex | © Carolyn Clarke / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kathryn Beeson
26 August 2020

The south coast of England has plenty of attractions on offer – from hiking across the South Downs to fine dining in Brighton to tasting English wines in the Sussex countryside. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Sussex, Culture Trip’s local insiders share their top recommendations here.

Ridgeview Wine Estate

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Matt Strugnell, Vineyard Manager at Ridgeview Wine Estate at the foot of the South Downs in Ditchling Common, East Sussex, examining the grapes on the
© Andrew Hasson / Alamy Stock Photo

The UK’s winemaking scene has exploded in recent years. And Ridgeview Wine Estate produces some of the country’s finest sparkling wines from its enviable location in the South Downs National Park, a 25-minute drive out of Brighton. Book a tour and tasting, complete with views over the picturesque, quintessentially English countryside. Meanwhile there are plenty of stylish accommodation options down the road in Brighton. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

South Downs National Park

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© Lee Dalton / Alamy Stock Photo
The UK’s newest national park opened fully in 2011 and is a must-visit for nature lovers and hikers. It covers a significant area between Eastbourne and Winchester, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to trail options. As a starting point, try the Chattri trail or the Jack and Jill Windmills walk. Expect rolling hills that pay off your hard work with gorgeous views and picture-perfect English country pubs, where you can enjoy a hard-earned pint. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

Artist Residence Brighton

Architectural Landmark, Building
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Courtesy of the Artist's Residence / Expedia

Whether you’re venturing out onto the South Downs or spending time exploring the mixture of vintage shops, seaside attractions and exciting food options that make Brighton so special, you’ll need somewhere to put your feet up after a hard day. Artist Residence Brighton is a cut above your usual city-centre options, while still maintaining that boutique Brighton vibe. It’s not cheap, but the quirkily gorgeous interiors and sea-view rooms make it worth the splurge. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

The Undercliff Walk

Hiking Trail
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Beach promenade and Undercliff Walk, Saltdean, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom
© Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo

On a sunny day in Brighton, the beach is always busy – especially if it’s a weekend. If this is the vibe you’re looking for, great, but for something quieter, why not take the Undercliff Walk? It’s a 5mi (8km) stretch along the coast under the famous white cliffs, from Brighton to Rottingdean, and you can do it on foot or by bike – there are local bikes for hire all over town. It also offers birdwatching opportunities for any twitchers out there. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

Pells Pool

Swimming Pool
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© Andrew Hasson / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s something particularly appealing about a dip in a Victorian lido on a hot summer’s day. Built in 1860, Pells Pool in Lewes is the oldest freshwater lido still in operation in the UK, and it’s fed by spring water drawn from below the baths. The combination of a 45m (148ft) outdoor pool plus a sun terrace, lawn and paddling pool for little ones makes for a perfect family afternoon out. Recommended by local insider Ellie Ricketts

Seven Sisters Country Park

Natural Feature
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© paul cox / Alamy Stock Photo
The Seven Sisters Country Park, named after the seven cliff heads in the area, is just a 15-minute drive from Eastbourne and a 35-minute drive from Brighton. It’s secluded enough to feel like a break from the city while also being incredibly easy to access. Explore the scenery and spot wildlife on one of several walking trails or pack a picnic, a frisbee and suntan lotion for some quality time on the beach. Recommended by local insider Ellie Ricketts

Cuckmere Haven

Natural Feature
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Coastguard cottages as seen from Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex, England, UK
© Ed Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

Cuckmere Haven is a pebbly beach in the Seven Sisters Country Park that’s popular with watersports enthusiasts. You’re welcome to bring equipment, but there are also opportunities for the uninitiated to learn to kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard in the nearby Cuckmere Meanders with adventure company Buzz Active. A partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust means you can add a guided nature walk or fire-lighting session to your visit. Warm clothes and a thermos are a must on colder days. Recommended by local insider Ellie Ricketts

These recommendations were updated on August 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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