Street signs in pretty Rye, Sussex

Things to do in Rye

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Once one of the South Coast’s most important ports, Rye is now more frequently visited by tourists down from London than it is by ships with imports. The town has retained its historic charms whilst adapting to the influx of tourists who come to take pictures of its cobbled alleys lined with untouched historic buildings – from medieval relics to beautiful Georgian houses. 

Combe Haven Holiday Park is just 15 miles from this seaside getaway, so it should be one of the first places on your list when it comes to day trips. There’s plenty going on in Rye, whatever your tastes, Rye’s quirky shops, medieval intrigue and cafés have got you covered. Throw in some glorious outdoor spaces with wildlife experiences and you’ve got a day trip that is guaranteed to have a soothing effect on you and your kids. This is our list of the best things to do in Rye to help you plan your visit.

Mermaid Street

Mermaid Street

Address: Mermaid Street, Rye 

Rye feels a little like it’s suspended in time and nowhere more so than on Mermaid Street. This cobbled street rises up to the highest part of Rye and is an essential part of any walking tour of the town. The wonky half-timbered houses with rust-coloured roofs are so picturesque you’ll think you’ve wandered into a fairy tale. So, begin your visit to Rye by getting lost in history and snap a shot at one of the country’s most instagrammable locations.

Rye Castle Museum, Ypres Tower

Rye Castle Museum, Ypres Tower

Address: Gungarden, Rye TN31 7HE 

Ypres Tower sits right by the River Rother next to Church Square and can be reached by a highly pleasant walk past Tudor Era buildings. The venerable 14th-century tower itself offers harbour views from Gun Garden observation deck, exhibits, and artefacts that depict the details of medieval life. We recommend that you ask the knowledgeable staff about the story behind the skeleton in the gibbet and Captain Pugwash!

Church of Saint Mary

Church of Saint Mary

Address: Church Square, Rye TN31 7HF 

This great little church from the 12th-century is well worth visiting. Inside and out there is a lot to see for a church of its size including an excellent visitor centre with plenty of information on hand. Add to that the fact you can pay a few quid to access the bell tower and get amazing views across Rye’s burnished rooftops and out over the harbour and sea, and it makes this church a must for anyone visiting Rye.

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Rye Heritage Centre

Address: Strand Quay, The Old Sail Loft Rye, Rye TN31 7AY 

This is the perfect place to get acquainted with Rye. The heritage centre has a scale model of the town, the ‘Story of Rye' sound and light show and a working collection of old end-of-the-pier amusement machines, so it’s a great stop on your itinerary for all ages. The staff are very friendly, and you’ll also find some nice souvenirs on sale.

Kino Rye

Address: Lion St, Rye TN31 7LB 

This unique cinema is housed in an old church building and features two screens, a delightful sunny terrace, mezzanine, and a bar. Located in the heart of Rye, opposite the Town Hall, the venue won a RIBA Award for its design and renovation. The venue is open daily from 10.30am for breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea and evening drinks. It’s the perfect spot to take your partner on a romantic date or catch the latest release with your kids.

National Trust - Lamb House

Address: West St, Rye TN31 7ES 

Lamb House is a historic property in central Rye with a storied history. Built by Rye mayor James Lamb in 1723, it was stayed in by distinguished guests such as King George I, then later became the home of the renowned American writer Henry James from 1898-1916. The beautiful Grade II-listed building is now owned by the National Trust who run it as a museum. With two floors and a garden to explore, it’s well worth taking a chunk out of your afternoon in Rye to look around it.

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