Block out some time out of your busy schedule to discover these eight soul-soothing spots in Sussex and the South Downs National Park. This inspiring corner of southern England is home to serene countryside, historic villages and pristine coastline. It’s where green meets blue, the streets are cobbled, and life is a bit slower.
Coastal walks in the South East: Seven Sisters
There’s perhaps no more striking view than seeing the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters rising above the glimmering blue sea; it’s the ultimate postcard view. Admire sprawling landscapes on an invigorating countryside trek along the South Downs National Trail before stopping for a well-deserved beer and bite to eat at Saltmarsh Farmhouse.
Built around an enchanted castle, Arundel glows with heritage. Highly 'daytrippable', this medieval market town’s hillside streets spill over with antique shops, tearooms and a whole bunch of eateries. Close to the sea air of Climping Beach, you’ll also find the glorious pseudo-historic Bailiffscourt Hotel with its swish spa for that ultimate country break.
Fancy a bit of the Andes without the air travel? Near the High Weald AONB, the Alpaca camp in Chailey is a chance to meet a host of wonderful woolly animals. Take your dog along too and make some fabulous Instagram stories with Buster the Wallaby and Jeffrey the Camel.
Brighton’s skeletal pier attracts thousands of drifts from as far away as Scandinavia every December. The best time to catch their hypnotic display is at sunset, while sat on the pebbled beach with some fish and chips in your lap. The sight of these speckled birds looping and swirling across the rose-tinted sky is simply spellbinding – just don’t let your dinner get cold.
Burrowed in Chichester’s hillside wine valley, the Tinwood Estate runs a roster of fun wine tasting tours in its tranquil vineyards. Whether you want to learn more about wine or just try their collection, enjoy a relaxed and cosy sojourn with bubbles at hand. There’ll be no extra travel if you decide to stay at Estate’s luxurious lodges overlooking the vineyards.
This artsy hillside town’s rolling high street, graceful Georgian buildings, part-ruined castle and traditional brewery all help to stoke Lewes’s intimate atmosphere. As you descend on its twisting medieval streets, you’ll feel like time was paused a couple of centuries ago. While away the hours in the Fifteenth Century Bookshop and the Antiques centre – spanning six floors – for a real taste of the town’s heritage and cosy vibes.
When it comes to quaint, Rye probably takes the crown. A gem of the past, this medieval settlement is famed for its antique shops, tearooms and pubs that look like they’ve been plucked from a fairytale. Walk around its cobbled lanes, curious passageways and crooked half-timbered buildings before ordering a pint at The Rye Waterworks Micropub where you can enjoy some of the best beers in town.
Associated with the Norman invasion of 1066, Hastings has undergone somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. Today, it’s a bustling mix of seaside resort, fishing port and hipster hang-out – visit the Old Town with its cool coffee shops and independent boutiques and you’ll soon get the picture. Perhaps the town’s biggest symbol of its renaissance, though, is its pier – a community-led restoration of the pier won it the 2017 Stirling Prize for Architecture.