At this time of year, nothing fills an evening by the fire more than planning your next holiday and giving yourself something to look forward to. Budgets are still tight for many of us, but you don’t have to travel far to find adventure as well as sea, sand and even sun in Sussex! With that in mind, here are 11 fabulous Sussex holidays for 2023.
1. Sussex scuba diving!
Did you know that in Sussex we have the UK’s premier scuba diving centre, namely Oyster Diving based in Portslade? They are a PADI 5-star dive centre and can teach beginners through to instructor-level courses. And our Sussex shores offer superb scuba diving.
A natural haven for marine life and historical wrecks
As PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Mark Murphy explains, “The offshore wind farm acts as a natural haven for marine life with the introduction of a ‘no trawling zone’ in more than 100 square miles of seabed off the Sussex coast. As well as the reefs and the kelp beds that lie off the Sussex coast, there is an abundance of historical wrecks in all depts of water to suit all levels of diver. Heading out of Sussex Yacht Club in Shoreham, Oyster Diving often takes its customers to wrecks such as the Indianna and the Pentrych. Here you can find large schools of fish such as bib, large crabs, conger eels and shrimps, as well as witnessing something historical that few others get to see.”
For more information about diving off the Sussex coast, or learning to dive visit: www.oysterdiving.com
2. Sussex wine tours
Wine tourism is still relatively new in Sussex but with the best part of 100 vineyards, many of which are internationally award-winning, Sussex is a great place for a wine focussed holiday. And the good news is that you have quite a lot of choice when planning your holiday depending on your budget and available time.
The Sussex Wine Trail
The Sussex Wine Trail people offer a four-day tour of East and West Sussex vineyards with emphasis on sparkling wines and including tasting vintage, non-vintage, luxury cuvées, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and sparkling rosés. Where available, they also include reds and still whites. With everything organised for you, you will stay at the gorgeous Ockenden Manor and visit nine vineyards with wine writer and critic, Will Lyons.
For more information visit: https://www.arenatravel.com/holiday/sussex-wine-trail
Sussex Wine Tour
Sussex Wine Tours offer a choice of package tours or a bespoke day, both of which are chauffeur driven to a selection of beautiful Sussex vineyards. For their package, they’ve chosen vineyards that are close to one another but all very different in terms of the experience. These are day trips that free you up to organise your own accommodation and allow time to visit other Sussex attractions. For places to stay, try Ockenden Manor near Haywards Heath or these four wonderful places to stay near Mayfield.
For more information visit: https://www.sussexwinetours.co.uk/
For details of other vineyards, visit:
3. Sussex cycling holidays
Sussex has some amazing cycling which includes the South Downs Way and the Cuckoo Trail. Cycling For Softies run a range of cycling holidays, which include family holidays and E-bike holiday itineraries. Better still, when you are finished on your bike, you can relax with afternoon tea at one of their hand-picked hotels and spas! They have a choice of routes which include a short cycle break via the best coastal landmarks and villages in Sussex (and includes Arundel Castle and Tinwood Wine Estate) and a Cuckfield to Climping route!
For more information, visit: https://www.cycling-for-softies.co.uk/
4. Sussex riding holidays
How do you fancy riding along a beach on horseback? Or trekking through the Sussex countryside? Travelling by horseback is a fabulous way to discover Sussex and once again, you have choices!
The Sussex Riding School
The Sussex Riding School run beach rides (you need a reasonable level of experience) during which you can canter across extended stretches of sand with the option of jumping the groins that can be found along the beaches. They also run a range of horse trekking rides that vary in duration and can cater for varying levels of experience and include pub rides! But all their rides promise magnificent views of the rolling High Weald and South Downs and picturesque woodlands and hidden villages. You do need to arrange your own accommodation.
For more information, visit: https://thesussexridingschool.co.uk/
West Sussex Riding Holiday
Close to Brighton, you could opt for this two-night riding holiday which includes staying in a seafront hotel and enjoying all the facilities of a traditional seaside town whilst enjoying improving your equestrian skills at the professional stables close by. This experience includes instruction and lessons combined with some wonderful hacking across The South Downs.
For more information visit: https://www.equestrian-escapes.com/West-Sussex-Riding-Holiday/
5. Sussex beach holidays
We have some great stretches of beach in Sussex which include sandy stretches, stoney coves and a mixture of the two. Here are our top Sussex beach holiday recommendations.
Just south east of Rye, Camber Sands is two miles of sandy beach and sand dune. The beach is also known for its kitesurfing, kite landboarding and kite buggying. A large section of the western end of the dunes lies within the Camber Sands and Rye Saltings Site of Special Scientific Interest while the rest is designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. Nearby places of interest include historic Rye and charismatic Hastings Old Town both of which have oodles of things to do for visitors old and new! There are dozens and dozens of seafront places to stay in Camber which you’ll find on all the major booking platforms like Booking.com or try https://www.beachlets.co.uk/holiday/sussex/beachfront/
Eastbourne has more than three miles of shingle beaches with some sandy bits and lots of rock pooling opportunities at low tide. You can also try your hand at windsurfing (off Royal Parade) and fishing (at Harbour Reach). The most central stretch of beach is the Wish Tower to the Pier beach area where there are lifeguards, first aid, a kids wristband scheme and swimming-only zones, as well as cafés, toilets, showers, deckchairs, sun loungers and beach huts available to hire.
Eastbourne was recently voted the UK’s top destination for 2023 and it has a reputation for being the south’s UK sunshine capital! And there is lots and lots else to see and do in the area.
As you might expect, there are also lots of hotels in Eastbourne including these three favourites:
- East Beach Hotel
- The Grand Hotel
- The Hydro Hotel
Worthing beach stretches east and west of the Pier for several miles and is home to promenades, beach huts, and seafront cafés. It’s a gently sloping beach with a mix of sand, shingle, and great rock pooling. You can also try fishing and windsurfing, whilst not forgetting the Pier, and Lido. Worthing is a wonderful and eclectic little town (check out these things to do) with cosmopolitan Brighton nearby.
South of Chichester, West Wittering Beach is a beach known for its golden sand, sand dunes, walks and watersports. Equipment hire and tuition are available on the beach. For things to do nearby, head to Chichester, or Thorney Island.
For places to stay and short breaks, try:
6. Sussex walking holidays
Sussex is a great place for a walking holiday, not least because the county is home to the South Downs, the Seven Sisters Country Park, and Ashdown Forest. It also includes stretches of the New England Coastal Way and hundreds of cross-country footpaths. Based in Steyning, Footprints of Sussex run walking holidays and short breaks, including 6 to 9-day walks along the South Downs Way as well as half trails and shorter breaks and they can also organise dog-friendly walks too.
For more information, visit: www.footprintsofsussex.co.uk/walking-holidays
Alternatively, head over to Pied a Terre Adventures where they offer a range of walks as well as a bespoke walking experience that includes handpicked accommodation (to suit your comfort level and budget), paddleboarding, a river boat cruise, mountain biking or llama trekking (if you’d like), time out to visit a local historic property or time spent relaxing in the tranquillity of a formal garden. Your choice.
7. Luxury Sussex breaks
Oh wow! Sussex has some lovely, luxury hotels to choose from. We’ve got some suggestions for you here: Luxury Sussex hotels and these include everything from a luxury spa break in Cuckfield or Climping, to a gorgeous vineyard and art trail break at Leonardslee. Stay for a weekend and enjoy exceptional dining or stay for a week and explore Sussex!
8. Sussex city breaks
Who doesn’t love a city break, and once again you’re spoilt for choice in Sussex.
Brighton and Hove
The largest city in Sussex is Brighton and Hove which is cosmopolitan, eclectic and wonderfully diverse. Brighton has beaches, a famous pier, nightclubs, lots of independent shops in the North Laine district, watersports, a mariner, museums, and lots of fabulous places to eat. More than enough to fill a long weekend spent staying in Hotel Pelirocco or at The Grand Brighton.
Alternatively, use Brighton as a base to explore the surrounding area, and head over to Lewes, a town rich in history, Arundel with its amazing castle and tulip festival or head up to the South Downs for some hiking or cycling.
For more information about things to do in Brighton, visit: Things To Do In Brighton.
The new “go to” UK destination, Eastbourne might not have city status yet but it still packs quite a punch. It has a charming seafront bandstand, a pier, long stretches of beach, its own harbour, vineyards, and lots of sunshine. From Eastbourne, it’s also easy to get to historic Hastings and Rye, explore the South Downs, discover the smugglers of Alfriston and the castle at Herstmonceux!
For more information about things to do in and around Eastbourne, visit:
- A Deliciously Indulgent Weekend in Eastbourne
- The 12 Best Things To Do In Eastbourne (East Sussex)
- 10 of the Best Things To Do Near Eastbourne
The only city in West Sussex, Chichester dates back to the Roman period (when it was founded in the 1st century) and Anglo-Saxon times as well as being an important settlement for the Normans and in Medieval Britain. And it shows because its history is everywhere. It has a 12th-century cathedral, an ancient wall that encircles the heart of the city and dates back to the 3rd century, a 16th-century Market Cross, and a Roman palace. It also has art galleries, a theatre, restaurants, and independent boutiques. Outside the city centre, there is the mariner and the waterways and nature reserves of Chichester Harbour.
For places to stay, visit:
9. Historic Sussex holidays
Sussex has a long and fascinating history, whether you’re interested in Iron Age man, the Romans, the Normans, the Civil War, the Regency period or anything in between! The county is also blessed with lots of museums, castles, historic homes, ruins, and fascinating churches. Working your way from west to east, you’ll find:
- Roman palaces at Fishbourne near Chichester and Bignor near Pulborough.
- Medieval castles at Arundel, Amberley, Bramber, Lewes, Herstmonceux, Pevensey, Bodiam, Hastings, and Rye.
- National Trust proerties, at Uppark, Woolbeding, Petworth, Nymans, Standen, Sheffield Park, Rodmell, Alfriston, Burwash, Bodiam, and Rye.
Of course, one of the most significant historical landmarks is Battle Abbey where the Battle of Hastings took place and this is a great place to start a tour of what’s known as 1066 Country. In this part of the world, there is also a fantastic walking trail, namely the 1066 Country Walk which is a 31-mile walk. Starting at Pevensey Castle, it passes Herstmonceux Castle, Battle Abbey and Battlefield, Medieval Winchelsea, ending in historic Rye.
For places to stay, visit: Eclectic Places to Stay in Rye, East Sussex
Arundel and the surrounding area
Alternatively, use Arundel as your base and explore their castle, along with Amberley Castle and Amberley Living Museum, Bramber Castle and then follow the Monarch’s Way, which is the route King Charles II took as he fled England in 1651. Along the way, it goes past historic St Mary’s in Bramber where the King was rumoured to have stayed, and goes on down to historic Shoreham. While you’re in the area, a visit to Elizabethan Parham House is a must, and if you can, visit Petworth and Midhurst (with its famous ruins).
For places to stay, visit: Best Places to Stay in Arundel, West Sussex
10. Sussex foodie holidays
Sussex has 32 restaurants that feature in the Michelin Guide which makes the county a great place for a foodie holiday. Here are two suggested foodie holiday itineraries, one for West and one for East Sussex.
West Sussex food experiences
Recommended restaurants in West Sussex include:
- Heritage by Matt Gillam (Near Handcross)
- The Chequers at Rowhook just outside Horsham
- The Parsons Table in Arundel
- Farmer, Butcher, Chef, Goodwood
Other notable foodie experiences in West Sussex include artisan baking masterclasses and chocolate-making masterclasses with The Artisan Bakehouse in Ashurst. Ardingly based Positively Delicious offer a range of foodie experiences at different locations including a summer Supper Club Tasting Menu at stunning Knepp Estate (near Horsham), foraging and fire cookery days, and private cookery tuition (half or full day).
Other West Sussex experiences you might want to try include gin making at Ashling Park, afternoon tea at Amberley Castle, and a tour and tasting at the award-winning High Weald Dairy (Horsted Keynes). And of course, lots of the West Sussex vineyards include tasting tours, wine flights, and harvest experiences such as Kinsbrook, Tinwood and Leonardslee.
East Sussex foodie experiences
Brighton has 16 restaurants mentioned in the Michelin Guide so it’s a good place to start an East Sussex foodie tour. It is also home to Brighton Food Tours which host a variety of tours including a food and drink safari tour of Kemptown, a “Very Independent Brighton” tour and a food and beer tour. Or book yourself into the Brighton Cookery School and learn to cook pasta, bread, Sushi, Korean, macarons and a whole lot more.
For more information, visit:
- Brighton Food Tours
- Brighton Cookery School
From Brighton, head east. In fact, you might want to book yourself on the Great British Wine Tour’s Vintage Coach Vineyard & Cheesemaker Tour of Sussex, which leaves from Jury Lane in Brighton and transports you by vintage coach to vineyard tours and tastings, and a cheese tasting lunch paired with Sussex wine.
For more information, visit: Great British Wine Tour
Then, carry on east to The Star at Alfriston or the Rathfinny Tasting Room both just outside Eastbourne and both mentioned in the Michelin Guide. Or you might want to head straight to The Grand in Eastbourne and try their Food Lovers Choice Experience which includes their Chef’s five-course Tasting Menu with specially selected wines to accompany each course.
From Eastbourne, it’s on to Hasting where it is all about the fish. You have to start any visit here in the Old Town at the fishing port and in amongst the dozens of local fisheries where you can buy fish that is literally fresh off the boats or watch it being smoked and prepared for sale. Just a few steps from here is Webbe’s Rock-a-nore cookery school (and restaurant) where they offer a variety of fish cooking classes including (new for 2023) their Cocktails and Brunch during which you’ll learn to prepare eight dishes and four cocktails.
Finish your visit to Hastings with a meal at Farmyard in St Leonard’s where they specialise in dishes made from local produce and natural and biodynamic wines (many of which are from Sussex).
Sussex Glamping and Camping
The rise of glamping means that a holiday in the great outdoors can now include almost any type of experience you want from hot tubs and off-grid experiences to wildlife retreats, luxury bell tents or pitching up with a good old-fashioned tent. If you are looking for a Sussex glamping or camping site, you are genuinely spoilt for choice, and here are just three outdoor experiences to spark your imagination:
Glamping in luxurious style
What about a luxurious and private safari-style experience with a four-poster bed and views straight out across a stunning landscape, or a romantic retreat in a beautifully restored and historic carriage with your own private veranda? Or perhaps you fancy an adult-only break in a luxury treehouse from where you can explore meadows, woodlands and lakes? Sussex is home to some gorgeous and unusual luxury camping experiences where you can enjoy nature but with all the luxury of staying in a hotel or country house.
For more ideas or to plan your trip, visit:
Get back to nature with eco-friendly and off-grid camping
Right across the county from east to west, Sussex has some beautiful, ancient and private woodland sites. And these days, eco-friendly, off-grid camping doesn’t have to mean compromising on all your creature comforts. Choose the level of luxury you require, from pre-erected yurts with fire pit cooking to communal campfire experiences, there are lots of different ways to reconnect with nature in Sussex whilst minimising your environmental footprint.
For more information or to plan your trip, visit:
Sometimes you’re just looking for the good old-fashioned fun of a family camping holiday, whether you want to be close to the beach or whether you want a full range of family facilities, other families for the kids to play with, or a dog-friendly site. With the South Downs, the south coast and lots of fun, family of attractions, you don’t have to travel far for a camping experience to remember.
For more information or to plan your trip, visit:
We hope you have a fabulous Sussex holiday and if you have enjoyed this post about the best Sussex holidays, you may also like: