Things to do in Chichester
Chichester is a pocket-sized cathedral city sitting at the foot of the South Downs with a rich history dating back to Roman times. Just a 15-minute drive from our Church Farm Holiday Park, Chichester is not to be missed on your trip to Sussex.
Having never been industrialised, for hundreds of years the entire population of Chichester was able to fit inside its cathedral. Its original Roman walls remain, just one of numerous cultural highlights to explore. But with watersports, a canal and renowned theatre, there’s so many things to do in Chichester and here we’ve compiled a list of our favourites so you can build the ones you like best into your visit.
1. Chichester Cathedral and the Roman city walls
Address: Chichester Cathedral, Chichester PO19 1PX.
In the heart of the city sits Chichester Cathedral, with its rebuilt spire seen from miles out at sea acting as a useful landmark for boats. Catch a free drop-in tour of the medieval building from one of the knowledgeable guides to learn about the near 1,000-year story of the cathedral, including a series of fires, destroyed shrines, sackings and collapses. Today among the striking arches and stained glass windows lives an impressive modern art collection with masterpieces from the likes of Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Marc Chagall. When you’re ready, step out and explore the cloisters connecting to St Richard’s Walk with Bishop’s Palace Gardens. Then take the mile-long City Walls circuit which defines the shape of the city now, despite being built over 1,800 years ago to fortify the Roman town of Noviomagus Reginorum.
2. Chichester Watersports
Address: Coach Rd, Chichester PO18 0NX
Up the ante at Chichester Watersports, where you can tackle a wide range of water-based activities just a five-minute drive outside the city centre. With wakeboarding off boat and cable, waterskiing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking available as well as open-water swimming and an inflatable Aqua Park, there’s something for everyone from the hardened thrill-seeker to small children.
3. Fishbourne Roman Palace, Fishbourne
Address: Roman Way, Chichester PO19 3QR
Found in the village of Fishbourne just outside of Chichester are the Roman mosaics and gardens at Fishbourne Roman Palace. Once the largest Roman residence north of the Alps, the estate dates back to AD 75 - just three decades after the Roman conquest of Britain. Discovered by local workmen in 1960, much of the palace has been excavated and preserved while there is also an on-site museum. The formal gardens have also been replanted, with raised walkways to view more than 20 stunning mosaics including the exceptional Dolphin mosaic.
4. Chichester Canal
Address: Canal Wharf, Basin Rd, Chichester PO19 8DT
Experience the Chichester Canal and take in the views of open farmland from the water whilst trying to spot wildlife like butterflies, moorhens, coots, heron and woodpecker. Catch one of the two canal boats - the Kingfisher or Richmond - along the two-mile section of the Chichester Canal between Basin and Donnington or walk the full four-mile route to the Chichester Marina in Birdham which links up to the sea. Be sure to stop at the Hunston Bridge to look back and enjoy the view of Chichester Cathedral and the Downs that inspired JMW Turner’s 1829 painting. Refuel at the Boat House Cafe at Chichester Marina before the journey back.
5. Chichester Festival Theatre
Address: Oaklands Way, Chichester PO19 6AP
The Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the UK’s most famous theatres, home to the Chichester Festival which takes place between April and September. Opening in 1962, Laurence Olivier was the first artistic director at this grand playhouse, creating the company that later merged with the Old Vic in London to create the National Theatre Company. If you get the chance, watch a production with West End transfers and new works on offer, but if you can’t just pop into the grade II listed building for a tour backstage. There’s also a wide range of food and drink options, from the Cafe on the Park and the Foyer Cafe to The Brasserie and Minerva Bar and Grill.
6. West Dean Gardens, West Dean
Address: West Dean, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0RX
Found six miles north of Chichester are the West Dean Gardens, exemplifying the natural beauty of the South Downs. The superb garden complex was replanted following the storm of October 1987 and now includes a 300-foot Edwardian pergola, impressive collection of Victorian glasshouses, walled kitchen garden, sunken garden and 50-acre arboretum to explore. You’ll see century-old cedars and chestnuts as well as modern fibreglass trees, before retiring to the terrace for tea and home-made cake.
7. Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Address: Town Lane, Chichester PO18 0EU
Just down the road is the dog-friendly Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, spanning 40 acres and encompassing more than 50 traditional rural buildings representing everyday life in England over a 950-year period. Explore the restored timber-framed cottages, a market hall, farmhouses, stables, a watermill and school, or leave the stresses of the digital world behind and try your hand at weaving, farming, milling, blacksmithing and Tudor cooking.
8. Goodwood House
Address: Kennel Hill, Chichester PO18 0PX
A few miles north of Chichester is Goodwood, home to a host of top sporting events as well as 17th-century stately home Goodwood House. If you time your trip to attend the Festival of Speed, Glorious Goodwood or the Goodwood Revival you’ll have a great day out at the racetrack, but if you can’t then Goodwood House offers a slower-paced experience. The estate may still be private, but from March to October opens for tours allowing you to see the first Duke of Richmond and Lennox’s art collection, fine 18th-century French furniture and Egyptian dining room. Cap off your stately day out with afternoon tea in the magnificent ballroom for a selection of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and traditional English scones.
9. Novium Museum
Address: 1 Tower St, Chichester PO19 1QH
Back in the city centre is the award-winning Novium Museum, constructed over the remains of a Roman bath house and containing hundreds of artefacts recovered and restored from around Chichester. Spaced across three floors and free to enter, the baths make up the entire ground floor with an accompanying film explaining how they were built and what role they played in Roman life.
How to get to Chichester from us
Only 15 minutes in the car from our Church Farm Holiday Park, driving to Chichester is simple and easy. Just follow this route:
Follow Pagham Road to Lagness Road/B2166 in Bognor Regis for 2.8 miles
Continue onto Lagness Rd/B2166 for a mile
At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Vinnetrow Road
Follow the A259 to East Street in Chichester until you reach the city centre