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Our favourite things to do in Sussex
Sussex offers so much that the historic county is actually divided in two. East and West Sussex were formed in 1974, with an abundance of impressive attractions dotted within both.
A former medieval kingdom, Sussex commemorates some of the most famous moments in English history to this day. The county’s south coast plays host to some of the most vibrant seaside towns in the UK, with our parks never far away. As you head down to the coast, you’ll travel through lush countryside and rolling hills that are beyond easy on the eye. Classy and convenient, Sussex is a haven of the staycation, and with an incredible number of things to do, it’s a place that will keep you coming back for more.
One of many immensely impressive historic sites in the county, Arundel Castle was founded by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Damaged during the brutal English Civil War of the 1600s, it was restored to its former glory in the 18th and 19th centuries. For 400 years, it’s been the seat of the Duke of Norfolk. Today, the castle and gardens play host to the public.
The interior has been magnificently preserved, offering you an insight into the luxury life afforded to the castle’s residents over the years. The surroundings are beautiful, overlooking the town of Arundel and the River Arun. Over recent years, the cricket ground within the castle estate has played host to local and international matches. A walk around the restored wild water gardens is one of our favourite things to do in Sussex.
Blue Reef Aquarium, Hastings
Blue Reef Aquarium’s site in Hastings is one of the best in the country. A state-of-the-art attraction, it opened in 2008 with an underwater tunnel at the heart of the visitor experience. You’ll come face to face with oceans of fish, each with their own origins and characteristics. Sea horses, sharks and octopuses are some of the other creatures you’ll spot when you head here.
The aquarium also has a Jungle Room, playing host to reptiles. You can get close to exotic snakes and bearded dragons within the space, each looked after with love and care by the brilliant professionals devoted to the cause here. There are talks throughout the day about the aquarium’s mission and how it’s making positive change a reality in preserving the aqua environment for future generations.
One of the best heritage railways in the south of England, the Bluebell Railway has seen a surge in visitors since it was linked to the commuter mainline at East Grinstead in 2010. It starts off here and heads south, terminating at Sheffield Park station. Run mainly by volunteers, the historic line previously functioned as a commuter line until its closure in the 1950s, before the infamous Beeching cuts.
Several services operate, including ones that offer some delicious dining as you make your way through the sumptuous Sussex countryside. Each station along the way is decorated in a different style, representing the various eras of railway transport in the area- a very cool addition in our eyes.
Infamous as the site of the famous 1066 battle, Hastings is a magnet for domestic and international tourists. Fought between the Duke of Normandy’s French Army and the Anglo-Saxons under King Harold Godwinson, it resulted in a clear Norman victory. Today, an English Heritage site commemorates this epic moment in history at Battle Abbey.
You’ll see the spot where King Harold fell and encounter wooden sculptures engraved by soldiers who fought on both sides. The beautiful Sussex surroundings stand in stark contrast to the bloodshed of the battle, and they’re yours to enjoy on your visit here. Back in the town, head to the seafront and sample some fish and chips to top off a great day out in this coastal corner of Sussex.
Weald and Downland Living Museum
This recreation must be up there as one of Sussex and the country’s hidden gems. The open-air Weald and Downland Living Museum looks back at life in the county throughout the ages. Over 50 historic buildings portray life across millennia, ranging from 950AD to the 19th-century.
You’ll be able to see, feel and absorb what life was like across this immense breadth of time. The museum has played its part in conservation, rescuing each building on show from demolition. They were carefully dismantled and reassembled to their glorious state today. There are several outdoor activities to immerse yourself in here. Cooking and weaving are just two of the things that add to the experience. You’ll leave pondering how life has developed into the modern comforts that are part and parcel of life today.
West Wittering Beach
We couldn’t leave our list of favourite things to do in Sussex without mentioning what is the county’s best beach, and arguably one of the country’s. Standing south of Chichester, West Wittering occupies a prestigious position where the town’s harbour meets the English Channel. You’ll see incredible views of Hayling Island across the water, a barrier between the peace and quiet here and bustling Portsmouth. It’s easy to see why the stunning sand is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
On a good day, it’s fantastic for basking in the sun in what is usually one of the UK’s warmer areas. A great day out, it’s easy to stay here for all hours with the great range of facilities on hand to keep you comfortable. Peaceful and convenient to get to, West Wittering strikes the perfect balance. You’ll leave here wanting to return time and time again.