A stroll along the beach, breathing in the salty air, watching the seagulls and the ever-changing sea, there really is nothing like it for reinvigorating you. I was born and have lived all my life by the Sussex seaside and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. In the Victorian era many towns along the south coast flourished. A visit to the seaside was the height of fashion and considered extremely beneficial to your health and I wouldn’t disagree with that. Nowadays we have the world at our fingertips but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the many charms of places closer to home, like this lovely Victorian seaside town. Here are all my favourite things to do in Eastbourne.
Things to do in Eastbourne
Eastbourne, in East Sussex, is just an hour and a half from London by train. From its stunning Victorian pier and art deco bandstand to the cosmopolitan marina complex, an award-winning contemporary art gallery or the fabulous cliff top walks, there’s no end of activities and attractions in Eastbourne.
The star attraction of Eastbourne’s unspoilt Victorian seafront has to be its 300-metre long pier, built between 1866 and 1872. As well as fabulous views across the English Channel you’ll find a range of shops and a number of eateries including The Victorian Tea Rooms, The Waterfront Bar and The Chippy. In my mind, you can’t beat a traditional meal of fish ‘n chips by the sea. A visit to the pier is top of many people’s wishlist of things to do in Eastbourne.
Built in the 1930s Eastbourne’s bandstand hosts more events than any other in England, from 1812 firework concerts and a variety of music events to children’s entertainment. It seats over 1,400 people and you can even hire it for your wedding.
At the far Western end of Eastbourne’s seafront lies the lovely Holywell Beach below the dramatic white cliffs of Beachy Head. You’ll find colourful beach huts and pretty Italian gardens here and t low tide rock pools bursting with life waiting to be investigated. It’s also the gateway to the South Downs National Park.
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4. Beachy Head
A walk along the cliff tops, the highest chalk sea cliff in the UK at 530 feet, offers beautiful views across the English Channel and marks the start of the South Downs Way. Visit the Belle Tout Lighthouse, the Countryside Centre or the Pub or join a boat trip with the Sussex Voyages.
Sovereign Harbour, the largest marina complex in northern Europe, actually consists of four harbours, with many beautiful yachts to admire. The waterfront retail and restaurant area is perfect for alfresco dining with views across the water. Boat tours, fishing, diving trips, and watersports can all be found here.
Dating back to 1920 this award-winning contemporary art gallery is the largest art space in South East England and hosts major exhibitions of contemporary and historic art alongside its own collection of important 20th-century British artists. One of the most interesting artists in the collection is Eric Ravillous, who grew up in East Sussex and is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs.
One of only three surviving Napoleonic fortresses in the UK, Eastbourne’s 200 year old Redoubt Fortress is being restored this winter to its former glory. When it reopens in March 2017, costumed interpreters will both entertain and guide visitors back in time to the 1800s offering a fascintiang insight to life in the fortress in the Napolenic era.
Where to eat and drink in Eastbourne
Serving classic fish n chips, moules frites, pizzas, burgers, salads and paninis, all made from locally sourced ingredients wherever possible and sustainable locally caught fish, The Beach Deck on Eastbourne’s Royal Parade is the perfect choice for casual dining with a beachside setting. Their breakfast menu is particularly tempting from the traditional full English and bacon butties to eggs Florentine or smoked salmon. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are available and they have extensive gluten free breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
If you are seeking fine dining in elegant surroundings then the award-winning Mirabelle Restaurant in The Grand Hotel is the perfect choice. The Independent voted the Mirabelle one of the top 50 best restaurants in the UK. Afternoon tea, which of course includes freshly baked scones, served with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, can be taken in the sumptuous splendour of the Great Hall or in one of the hotel’s lounges or terraces.
For an alternative food scene head to Little Chelsea, just a two-minute walk from Eastbourne’s railway station in Grove Road and South Street. It’s bursting with independent art, antiques, books and music shops and a great variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants including Mande Crepe, Il Gusto Deli and Eucalyptus and Paprika Tea.
On top of all this Eastbourne is also home to many exciting events including the International Hot Air Balloon Festival in July and the award-winning International Airshow in August. There’s also a great monthly farmer’s market which is well worth a visit, and a fabulous range of music events held throughout the year at the seaside bandstand.
If I’ve not yet confidence you that Eastbourne is a fabulous place to visit then maybe TV presenter Michaela Strachan can in her guided tour of the town’s finest food and drink.
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Disclosure: This article is brought to you in partnership with Visit Eastbourne. Photography courtesy of Visit Eastbourne.
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