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  • Coastline Downlands and shingly shores
  • Coast life Tea shops and flip-flops

The East Sussex coast has always attracted crowds; in the height of summer, you may have to fight your way onto the beaches, just as the Romans and Normans once did.

Despite its perennial bucket‑and‑spade appeal, the region – which for former resident Rudyard Kipling was ‘beloved over all’ – is also a realm of chalky downlands and tranquil villages, ideal for long walks followed by a congratulatory visit to a cosy country pub. The softness of the landscape is reflected in the quiet cobblestone charm of mediaeval market towns such as Rye, and in the creamy Regency façades and Victorian pleasure pursuits of Brighton. It’s not all chocolate‑box quaintness though; Sussex’s proximity to the capital also gives the county a sharper, cultivated edge. Brighton in particular has a wealth of restaurants, clubs and cultural events worthy of its popularity with weekending urbanites.

Do go/Don’t go

Britain is an unpredictable blighter for weather, so don’t let that dictate when you go. In summer, the coast can get crowded, so go midweek if you want quiet romance.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Gatwick ( is the best of the region’s airports | 30 miles north of Brighton on the M23; the train takes half an hour from there. Heathrow and Luton are also handy | with fast transport connections.
  • Trains Brighton has great national rail links, with direct services to London Victoria, Reading, Bath and Bristol, among others. Elsewhere, East Sussex is not as well served: the journey to Rye via Ashford takes two hours.
  • Automobiles Brighton can be reached via the M23 | although parking can be costly and you don’t need a car if you plan to stay anchored in the city. You’ll want one to explore the more rural parts of East Sussex | though.
  • Taxis Hail one of Brighton’s fleet of blue-and-white hackney cabs on the street, go to a rank, or ring Streamline Taxis (+44 (0)1273 202020). In smaller towns, it’s minicabs only; in Rye, try Taxi-Time (+44 (0)1797 224016).