East Sussex lies on the south east coast of England and benefits from stunning sea views, seaside towns and historical attractions. It’s the perfect place for a day trip or a little getaway, and this is our guide to the best bank holiday May activities in East Sussex.
The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs on a spectacular stretch of coastline between Seaford and Eastbourne, and lie within the Seven Sisters Country Park. The area is protected as a Heritage Coast, and is a stunning example of unprotected chalk cliffs in Britain. There are a number of footpaths and trails in the park, and cyclists are welcome on the valley floor. The Seven Sisters are part of the South Downs Way long distance trail, but if you prefer a shorter walk, then the Seaford to Birling Gap trail is a good alternative. There are two main places to enjoy the best views of the Seven Sisters. Seaford Head gives you sweeping views of the cliffs, and you’ll probably recognise it from photos of the area. Birling Gap is another great vantage point.
If you’re looking for a seaside escape this bank holiday, look no further than Eastbourne. With a buzzing atmosphere and pretty Victorian townhouses lining the seafront, Eastbourne is a fantastic day out. Eastbourne Beach is unmissable, with its three miles of shingles backed by a promenade. Grab a bite to eat at one of the cafes on the Pier. Culture vultures will love a trip to one of the city’s fascinating museums, in particular the Towner Eastbourne art gallery and The Story of Eastbourne. Catch a show at one of the town’s fantastic theatres, or go to a gig at the famous Eastbourne Bandstand. Eastbourne Redoubt is another must-see attraction, and was built to keep Napoleon’s armies out of Britain. No day out is complete without a little railway adventure, and the Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park is perfect for the whole family.
Herstmonceux Castle is an impressive moated castle dating back to the 15th century. It’s set within 300 acres of woodland, beautiful parkland and Elizabethan gardens. Visitors can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about the rich history of the house and its past residents. In the grounds, you’ll find 16 themed and formal gardens. From the scores of butterflies in the Lower Garden, to the flowers and plants in the Magic Garden, there is so much nature and greenery to be inspired by. If you’re looking for something unique to do, why not book into a falconry experience day. For entertaining May bank holiday events in East Sussex, keep an eye out on the castle’s events page as they run a wide range of events throughout the year.
Camber Sands is a beach in the village of Camber, and is the only sand dune system in East Sussex. Stretching for almost five miles, the beach is covered in fine, golden sand. The best section of the beach is the western end, and a large part of this lies within the Camber Sands and Rye Saltings SSSI. The beach is a popular spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing, and you’ll find schools like the Kitesurfing Centre and Camber Kitesurfing nearby. A fun way to see Camber Sands is from the water on a RIB tour. This adrenaline-filled ride departs from Rye Harbour and bumps along the waves at high speed. For something more relaxing, Camber Sands is regarded as one of the best places for beachcombing in the country. Also keep an eye out for resident seals!
The Brighton Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence in Brighton, was built as a seaside retreat for King George IV. Walk through the lavish rooms and admire the interiors of the banqueting room, the music room, the royal bedrooms and the saloon. The king had a love for fine arts and a particular fascination with the Orient, and the house is filled with displays of Chinese export furniture, objects and hand-painted wallpapers. The Royal Pavilion Gardens is full of trees and shrubs chosen from lists that King George IV would’ve gone through himself. Take an audio tour to learn more about how the residence was used as a hospital for Indian soldiers during the First World War.
This garden centre is an educational and entertaining day out for the whole family. Visit the Museum of Life to discover the life of animals and plants that lived on this earth from millions of years ago to the present day, and check out the display of fossils, minerals and crystals. The themed gardens are a mix of landscapes from around the world, and the Sussex Heritage Trail winds through them. Relive Prehistoric times and come face to face with life-size dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Safari.
Also in East Sussex
Pontins Camber Sands
Pontins Camber Sands Holiday Park, New Lydd Road, Camber Sands, East Sussex, TN31 7RL