Your guide to exploring Eastbourne
Eastbourne has a bit of a Brighton vibe but it’s smaller, less expensive and more intimate. And what’s not to love about living on the coast? It’s a town with oodles of history and was one of the fashionable places to go in Victorian England. You can see the signs of its misspent past from some of the beautiful architecture that still lines the seafront. You also can’t miss its gold-capped, distinctive pier, beautiful bandstand, and its Wish Tower, one of 74 Martello Towers built along the south coast to defend against an invasion by Napoleon. And even when you’re right on the seafront, you still catch glimpses of the South Downs which shelter the town.
A few quirky facts
Its International Lawn Tennis and the Eastbourne Tennis Tournament put Eastbourne firmly on the tennis stage. And Eastbourne is also allegedly the sunniest place in the UK. It’s been the backdrop to many a TV or film production including Harry Potter, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Poirot and Top Gear. Eastbourne is also famous for quite a few murders including the gruesome Crumbles murders in 1920 and the Dr Bodkin Adams murder in the 1950s but we’ll spare you the details!
Living the dream
Eastbourne is perfect for culture vultures. The town is awash with theatres including the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre, Congress Theatre and the Winter Garden where they also host live music. Eastbourne is also home to the magnificent and arresting Towner Art Gallery and the town also has a round the programme of cultural events which includes a beer festival, a seafront air show, a performing arts festival, a beach life festival and a walking festival.
For nightlife, dig out your glad rags and head to the Blue Bar, an alternative music bar with a relaxed down to earth vibe which is open every day of the week. Or head on over to The Temple, self-described as the biggest party in town. Open throughout the week they host live music, game shows and ‘midweek madness’!
Eastbourne also has a great café and bar culture, and favourites include Déjà Vu, just opposite the entrance to the Beacon and the recently refurbished Pavilion café to the east of the town. If you fancy some fine dining, make your way to The Mirabelle at the Grand Hotel, described as one of the best restaurants in East Sussex. Alternatively, you have a choice, drive out to the Tasting Room at the Rathfinny Wine Estate or book a table at Deans Place Four Star Country Hotel, both near stunningly pretty Alfriston.
If that’s not for you, what about Bistrot Pierre overhanging the seafront and with views of Beachy Head, The Beach Deck on the seafront where your four-legged friends can join you or The Belgian Café described as Eastbourne’s finest fresh fish, seafood, mussel and tapas bar?
Shop until you drop
The Beacon shopping centre has about 50 shops which should keep you busy with a good mix of high street brands and local independents, as well as a Cineworld, a Battle Bars (think games like Bavarian Axe-Throwing, Crazier Golf, Augmented Reality Darts, Shuffleboard, American Pool, Beer Pong and Hammerschlagen), a Ninja Warrior UK Adventure Park and … cocktails! The Beacon is walking distance to both the train station and the seafront.
Green space and adventure
Talking of walking, Eastbourne is perhaps most famous for being the gateway to the South Downs National Park and the South Downs Way which is a 100-mile trail that takes you from Eastbourne to Winchester via some of the best beauty spots in the country. That means that from Eastbourne you can explore iconic landmarks like Beachy Head and its Instagramable lighthouse, Cuckmere Haven and the Seven Sisters cliffs. Or if it’s history you’re after, head east to the Medieval castle at Pevensey – the landing place of William the Conqueror, or north for the medieval Michelham Priory House and Gardens.
The School Run
For private schools, you have Eastbourne College, Moira House School, Bede’s School (in nearby Upper Dicker) and St Giles International Language School, all with excellent reputations. St. Andrew’s is the local prep school.
Do something different
As you’re on the coast you might as well try a scuba diving experience at the Sovereign Centre or for more sobering pursuits, visit Pevensey’s Tudor Court House, Gaol and Town Hall and spend time in the prison cells or stocks. High octane activities are also the name of the game around these parts and there is windsurfing kayaking, powerboating, sailing, hang gliding, and paragliding all nearby!
Sink your teeth into a Luxury Afternoon Tea at the View Hotel on the seafront or book yourself a deluxe spa break at the 5-star Grand Hotel. Jasmines Beauty Salon and Spa is award winning, luxurious and beautiful, perfect for a treatment after a quick workout at the Yoga Life Studio or one of Eastbourne’s other many yoga facilities.
Putting down roots
When you’ve finished exploring Eastbourne, there are some beautiful properties, and with house prices some of the most reasonable in the area, it’s a great place to call home. If a period property is what you long for, Meads Village may be the answer. It sits in between Eastbourne town centre and beautiful Beachy Head, and you’ll know you’ve arrived by its elegant Victorian and Edwardian houses and quiet tree-lined streets. It also has its own shops, restaurants, cafés, and pubs and a great community feel.
There is even a cliff-top promenade with slopes and steps down to a lower walkway and the beach, with its café and beach huts. And in the middle of Mead Village is a square of artisan dwellings and allotments built in 1894. Each allotment is a miniature cottage garden and they are now all owned by the residents by way of a Community Interest Company.
You’ll find more period properties in Eastbourne’s Old Town which has a 12th century pub and a park with a lake. Again, houses tend to be large Victorian and Edwardian with masses of period style. Of course, there are newer developments too in the Eastbourne area such as the Meadowbourne Place in Lower Willingdon which is a very popular estate only four miles from Eastbourne. It has its own sports pitches, play areas and allotments. But if you are thinking of moving out of town, then you just have to go and look at some of the surrounding villages, such as Alfriston, voted one of the prettiest villages in the UK and where they filmed a recent series of The Hotel Inspector or historic Friston with its access straight to Friston Forest.
Getting to Eastbourne
Eastbourne is on a mainline rail network with trains direct to London Victoria, as well as to Chichester, Bognor Regis, and Brighton. It also sits at the end of the A22 which takes drivers all the way to the M25 and London. Eastbourne has a good bus network both for within the town and travelling out to the villages.
What the locals say
Well, the locals seem to love it and there are half a dozen buzzing local Facebook community pages, like the Eastbournians which has 46,000 members and showcases hundreds more reasons to move to this sunny seaside town.
Why wouldn’t you want to live in Eastbourne?
- The average journey time to London by train is 1 ½ hours.
- The average cost of living for a family of four has been estimated at £2,829.79 / month without rent which is 2.77% more expensive than London (without rent).
- Although it has a thriving tourism industry that nets the town approximately £287 million in a normal year, this makes Eastbourne fairly tourist-dependent and means the town is flooded with 4.9 million visitors a year.
And why would you move to Eastbourne?
- Eastbourne is rated as the safest major town in East Sussex and is 20% safer than neighbouring Hastings.
- Rent in Eastbourne is, on average, 57.84% lower than in London and average house prices in 2021 were an affordable £309,061.
- Eastbourne is in the official Top 10 of the UK’s happiest towns.
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And for information about Eastbourne, check out: Visit Eastbourne