Battle Abbey near Hastings, East Sussex

Battle Abbey near Hastings, East Sussex


East Sussex is a county in the South East of England. West Sussex is to the west, Kent is to the northeast and Surrey is to the north.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Brighton was transformed from a small fishing village to seaside resort, with the Royal Pavilion being a stunning example of the eccentricity of the King and his subjects. Elsewhere in the country, towns grew and great houses began to be built in Lewes and Rye. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, Sussex's coast became popular with Londoners escaping the city on the new railways. Brighton continued to grow with the expansion towns like Eastbourne and Hastings, which offer fine examples of period architecture. The Volks Electric Railway was constructed—the first electric railway in the world. Some great houses, such as Firle House and Glyndebourne were constructed (Glyndebourne is a popular and world famous opera venue). Great Gardens were set up, like Sheffield Park near Uckfield.

Sussex was not just a place for pleasure; it was a place for defence. Some of the most important military constructions include the Newhaven Fort and the Royal Military Canal in the east, with Martello towers built along the coast. These monuments remain in Seaford, Eastbourne and Rye. In the 20th century, Sussex played a major role in World Wars I and II; in both Newhaven Fort assisted with the D-day landings and as a naval base.




East Sussex is divided into six District Councils: Hastings, Rother, Wealden, Eastbourne, Lewes, Brighton and Hove.

Sussex has a varied and beautiful geography. From the stunning Seven Sisters Chalk Cliffs near Eastbourne to the flat marshes of Pevenensy and the high Ground of Ashdown Forest to the beautiful lowlands and river landscapes of the Lower Weald. Sussex is the most Forested county in England and lost in Friston Forest or Ashdown Forest (although much of it is open land) it is easy to believe. often the only thing breaking the horizon is trees or the Downs.

The country has a dense and varied network of footpaths (see East Sussex Footpaths) making walking easy, walking books and ordnance survey maps are easily available - there's really no excuse to go out walking!



Cities and Principal Towns

  • Bexhill - home of the art deco De la Warr Pavilion and the home of British Motor Racing
  • Brighton - East Sussex's hub and only real city is a famous English seaside resort (it is not in East Sussex as Brighton and Hove is its own municipality)
  • Eastbourne - a popular seaside resort, popular with all generations
  • Hastings - it has a castle, history, beach and beautiful countryside
  • Lewes - the county town with a brewery, castle and shops, some dating back to the 1400s, in the South Downs, perfect for a brief visit
  • Newhaven - the county's ferry port to the continent - but with a little more under its belt
  • Rye - a singularly picturesque medieval seaside town on the hill overlooking the harbour. One of the Cinque Ports which retains a rustic feel



Sights and Activities

  • Bateman's, the former home of Rudyard Kipling
  • Battle Abbey
  • Bodiam Castle
  • The Lanes in Brighton



Getting There

By Plane

Gatwick Airport (LGW IATA), serves the world, it is just outside East Sussex, but you’ll see the county on the way in! There is also the smaller Lydd Airport running to Le Touquet in France; it is a small airport, however major expansion is expected. Lydd Airport is in Kent, but about 10 km from East Sussex. To the west there is Shoreham Airport (or Brighton city) which deals with mainly UK destinations.

By Train

There are services from London, Hampshire, Surrey and Kent.

By Car

The A22, A/M23, A24, A26, A27, A272 and numerous other roads go into Sussex, destinations within Sussex include, Brighton, Lewes, Newhaven, Eastbourne.
East Sussex is connected to the motorway network via the A/M23, which passes Crawley (in West Sussex) and south towards Brighton; from the A23 the A272 and the A27 - both offering great access to East Sussex; alternatively the A22 runs from London to just outside Eastbourne, passing by East Grinstead, Forest Row, Uckfield, Hailsham and Polegate. It offers a great route through the countryside and Ashdown Forest.
The A272, A27 and A264 head towards East Sussex. Simply follow the signs to any town in East Sussex.

By Boat

After a checkered history ferries to Newhaven run to Dieppe (run by Transmanche Ferries) throughout the year, taking 5 and 4 hours.

Transmanche Ferries would be your first port of call. Phone 0800 917 1201 (UK) or 0800 650 100 (France).

Alternatively, tickets can be bought at the two ports, the ferry port in Newhaven is on the East Quay, while in Dieppe it is the east of the main harbour, both are well signposted

The ferries to Dieppe are some of the newest sailing in the English Channel, and due to the former troubled history of the route (and massive subsidies) this can be cheaper than Dover to Calais, also the view from the ferries of the Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven is beautiful.



Getting Around

The county has a fairly good road network, with almost every destination attainable by road; traffic is a problem though, with most towns having inevitable weekday traffic. Travelling into popular destinations on a sunny Bank Holiday can prove frustrating. Brighton is the main transport hub, with the M23/A23 running North-South from London and the Brighton Mainline running parallel to it. The majority of trunk (A) roads radiate southwards from London to the East Sussex coast and can vary from dual-carriageway/motorway (M23/A23) to the more common single carriageway roads with the A22 (London to Eastbourne, via East Grinstead and Uckfield) and A21 (London to Hastings, via Flimwell and Tonbridge) though these do alternate between single and dual-carriageways where use is heavier.

The majority of east-west traffic uses the A27 which runs slightly inland from Pevensey in the East past Eastbourne, Lewes, Brighton and Hove and into West Sussex travelling through Worthing, Arundel and around Chichester before forming the M27 in Hampshire. Other commonly used routes include the A26, A259 and A272. The A26 runs NE from Newhaven towards the Kent county-town of Maidstone and north of Lewes is used by the frequent Brighton-Tunbridge Wells bus service.

The A259 runs along the coast of East Sussex in its entirety as the road starts in Folkestone (Kent) and crosses the Romney Marshes before entering the county and linking almost all seaside towns from Rye and Hastings in the east to Brighton and Hove in the west. The A272 is a popular route with bikers and starts in East Sussex connecting Buxted, Uckfield, Newick and Chailey before crossing into West Sussex and Haywards Heath where it continues to meander on to Winchester, Hampshire.

Many of the smaller roads can offer scenic views and investing in a good quality road-map is recommended. You can expect a range of roads from those described above to single-carriageways and narrower with some locations accessible by single-track roads. Road users can also be varied as cyclists often train on the London-to-Brighton bike route (the event is in early June every year) and horse-riders and farm equipment can often be found on more rural roads.

Trains from London cover the major towns in the county, with most train services being operated by Southern. There are routes along the coast from Ashford via Hastings and Eastbourne to Brighton as well as from Brighton to Seaford via Newhaven. Services from Brighton also travel west towards Portsmouth and Chichester. There are two smaller spurs routing into London from Uckfield, via Crowborough and Oxted. Or from East Grinstead. There is another line from Hastings via Battle and Tunbridge Wells (Kent) to London. Services from the county tend to terminate in Victoria but there are also services that route through London Bridge (from Brighton and Hastings), terminate at Charing Cross (from Hastings) and call at St Pancras (from Brighton, before continuing to Bedford). The vast majority of services terminate in South London (Westminster) with the exception of the First Capital Connect service operating from Brighton through London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink and St Pancras before continuing to Luton and Bedford.

Buses are fairly good; with Buses from Brighton to Tunbridge Wells (£6.00 return), Eastbourne to East Grinstead and Heathfield in the North, Brighton and Newhaven in the West and Bexhill and Hastings in the East, as well as local routes.

Traveline South East gives more route details and routes into the surrounding counties. Essentially if there is a main road, the chances are there is a bus route along it. Most of the services in the county are provided by one of the main bus operators (Stagecoach or Arriva) with services in Brighton & Hove operated by a company of the same name (although part of Go-Ahead). Services cater for most major towns radiating into the countryside. Brighton & Hove, for example, has services covering nearby Peacehaven, Newhaven and Lewes with some services extending to Ringmer, Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne.

Everywhere is accessible by roads, but be aware that traffic is fairly horrific in most of the towns and Brighton during the rush hours it is well worth buying either a county map or a country map (the AA and RAC among others produce decent enough maps, which are fairly modern). since roads in Sussex can be small and attractions in 'out of the way' places




Sussex is pretty well-served for food: every town has at least one supermarket with almost every village have a pub (or public house), food is to the standard of the rest of the UK, with a greater variety in towns. Brighton and Hove prides itself on having a vast cultural array of foods, from Mexican to McDonald's and from Chinese to Celtic. Specialist diets (vegan, vegetarian kosher, etc.) are well supported, although in the countryside and surrounding towns there will only be one or two (albeit very nice) vegetarian dishes on the menu

It is strongly recommended to visit a farmers shop or market, since produce here is generally much better quality and often a lower price than supermarkets. Most towns will have a farmers market at least once a month. Farm shops are dotted around the country.




Sussex has numerous local beers and drinks, with cider being mainly produced in the east (connections with Kentish cider), Lewes houses Harvey’s Brewery which supplies almost all of East Sussex and much of West Sussex with award winning real ale, wine is produced and with global warming kicking in Sussex and Kentish wine is being compared to Champagne (increasingly favourably), home-pressed apple juice is for sale at farms and farm shops. The usual array of drinks are available at all bars and clubs, varying in price quite considerably.




Loads of hotels in Brighton, Hastings and Eastbourne due to their seaside resort heritage. In outlying areas its best finding a hotel and booking it in advance, since there are relatively few, however those that do exist tend to be of good quality. The usual chains of hotels are beginning to spring up.

View our map of accommodation in East Sussex


Quick Facts


County town
1,792 sq. km
  • Latitude: 50.940441
  • Longitude: 0.3114

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