Don’t let its rather sedate reputation fool you, the historic county of Sussex is undoubtedly one of England’s most interesting areas. Perfect for those looking to recreate those simple, enjoyable family holidays. But being in the south east of England and rather close to London, the area can still find itself beset by some rather serious crowds of holidaymakers. So, take a look at our Motorhome Protect guide to planning your next motorhome adventure in Sussex and get prepared now.
Despite the 21st Century pressures that many such popular areas suffer, the whole region has managed to maintain a consistently high standard in terms of campsite options and sightseeing opportunities.
With narrow country lanes and verdant meadows preserving much of the county’s picturesque charm, there are even pockets of comparative wilderness to be explored. Not to mention those miles of famous coastal cliffs. It’s easy to see why so many motorhome owners come from far and wide to visit every year.
Whether you’ve never been to Sussex before or are visiting after a break, we’ll guide you through some of the must-see places – and where you can rest up for the night.
However, before we get into the fun stuff, making sure your motorhome insurance is up to date is the first task for you to do if you want a stress-free break.
Hastings and around
An interesting mix of unpretentious fishing port, traditional seaside resort, and arty retreat, Hastings has plenty to recommend it. Roam around Hastings Old Town to discover lots of shopping gems, give yourself a caffeine boost at Hanushka Coffee House, and be inspired at celebrated seafront gallery Hastings Contemporary. Have your camera at the ready to take Insta-worthy shots of the brightly painted fishing boats and black weatherboard net huts at the characterful area known as The Stade.
Venture a little further west along the seafront to St Leonards for yet more cafes, shops and pubs. And if the mood takes you, a short train ride on to Bexhill-on-Sea and the De La Warr Pavilion will reward you with art exhibitions, live music and rooftop pop-ups.
Sightseeing highlights around Hastings
- Battle – Undoubtedly one of the best military sites to visit in the UK, Battle Abbey and Battlefield is the perfect place to learn everything you could ever need to know about the famous defeat of the Saxon King Harold by William the Conqueror here in 1066. Visit Battle Abbey’s meadows and visitor centre and walk the battlefield trail to get a real feel for what happened on that fateful day nearly 1,000 years ago.
- Pevensey Castle – Just a few miles west of Hastings, it was here that William the Conqueror first landed his invasion army. Today the castle chronicles more graphically than any other the story of Britain's coastal defences.
- Rye – This superbly appointed hilltop town offers some of the very best places to eat and drink in Sussex. Such as the wonderful yet tiny Rye Waterworks Micropub. Other highlights include the picturesque Mermaid Street and a visit to Rye Castle Museum to climb the Ypres Tower.
- Camber Sands – Camber Sands is one of Britain’s best beaches and a hit with dog walkers thanks to miles of sandy shores that make a paw-friendly change to the shingle and stone more usually found around here. By all means drive, but after a pleasant lunchtime pint in Rye it’s a perfect three-mile hike down to the sea. Keep an eye out for hen harriers and short eared owls among the extensive dune system. While out at sea you might also spot seals bobbing in the waves.
- Bodiam Castle – This classically stout square block with rounded corner turrets, battlements and a wide moat is any child’s dream of what a castle should look like. If you’re feeling fit, the extremely steep spiral staircases leading to the top of those crenellated towers will test even the strongest of thighs.
- Bateman’s – The village of Burwash with its red-brick and weatherboarded cottages and Norman church tower is the idyllic setting of Bateman's. Dating from the 17th Century, Bateman’s was the home of one of our most famous writers, Rudyard Kipling. The creator of classics such as The Jungle Book and The Just So Stories lived here between 1902 and 1936 and the house is laid out just as he left it.
Where to stay near Hastings?
Located close to the 1066 Country Walk Trail, Battle Normanhurst Court Caravan and Motorhome Club site is perfect for any visitor with even a passing interest in the history of this area.
We also love the spacious, dog- and family-friendly Normans Bay Camping and Caravanning Club site. With a shingle and sand beach right on your doorstep, every member of the family can enjoy the sun and sea together.
Some of the beaches around here are popular with water sports enthusiasts such as sailors, windsurfers and kitesurfers. However, if you decide to bring some of your expensive water sports kit along then check your motorhome insurance provides sufficient cover in case of theft or loss.
Eastbourne and around
While Eastbourne has a solid reputation as a well-regarded retirement town by the sea there is in fact much to see and do here. Explore the Victoria shopping streets of Little Chelsea, take a peaceful picnic in the Italian Gardens, and grab some world-class contemporary culture at the Towner Eastbourne art gallery and museum.
Sightseeing around Eastbourne
- The South Downs Way – Offering the south east’s finest walking, riding and mountain biking, the South Downs Way extends over 160km along the chalk uplands between Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex. If you want to take advantage of the prevailing winds, this trail is best completed from west to east.
- Beachy Head – Just west of Eastbourne you’ll find the most dramatic stretch of coastline in Sussex as the sea cuts into the chalk uplands to create a series of splendid cliffs. At 575ft high the most spectacular of these is Beachy Head. Be careful not to go too close to the edge!
- Drusillas Park – The UK can rightly lay claim to some of the world’s best zoos and conservation initiatives. If you're visiting Sussex then the small but perfectly-formed Drusillas Park is well worth a visit. Located on a small 10-acre plot near the gorgeous village of Alfriston in East Sussex, it’s the perfect location for families to get up close to their favourite wild animals. For even more fun make time to visit the range of excellent play parks, our favourite is the Hello Kitty Secret Garden!
- Rathfinny Estate – Sussex is fast becoming one of the best places in the country for producing delicious English wine. If you fancy finding out more about this burgeoning industry then this family-owned vineyard just three miles from the sea is the ideal place to visit. If you ask nicely you may even get to sample some delicious Sussex sparkling wines. It’s certainly one of the best UK vineyards to visit by motorhome. And if you’re travelling further west into Sussex then Nyetimber’s vineyard in West Chiltington is also worth a visit.
Where to stay near Eastbourne?
There are plenty of options to stay the night near Eastbourne, but we really like the look and feel of Alfriston Camping Park. With camp fires allowed and large open fields it offers a wonderful level of service for both large and small groups.
Lewes and around
The town of Lewes straddles the River Ouse as it carves its way through the South Downs on its way down to the sea. It’s a remarkably good-looking town with stunning Georgian and quaint older buildings lining the high street and narrow lanes. With miles of chalkland right on its doorstep it’s well worth a stopover on any tour of Sussex. There’s plenty of history dotted throughout the town but take the time to explore Lewes Castle & Barbican House Museum, the Tudor-built Anne of Cleves House, and the historic Cliffe High Street.
Sightseeing in Lewes and around
- The bonfire societies – As we all know, every 5th November there are bonfires and firework displays all over Britain. However, Lewes puts on a far more dramatic and boisterous show. Fuelled by so-called Bonfire Societies that spend much of the year planning their bonfire night shenanigans.
- Glyndebourne – A magnet for any self-respecting picnicking opera lover. Glyndebourne is an opera house in East Sussex that has been the venue for the annual Glyndebourne Festival since 1934. One of the UK’s foremost musical highlights of the year!
- The Bloomsbury Group – Perhaps Britain’s most influential intellectual group of the interwar years, members included writers Virginia Woolfe and EM Forster, painter and art critic Roger Fry and the economist John Maynard Keynes. Many of the group had homes here including Charleston in Firle, and the Monk’s House in Rodmell.
Where to stay near Lewes?
For a small and simple yet beautiful spot in the countryside then Oakside Farm Campsite is a great Certificated Site to visit. Having access to such sites is just one of the great reasons to join a motorhome club. Another benefit is that you might be able to secure a discount on your motorhome insurance. Give Motorhome Protect a call and see if they can help you out.
Brighton offers a heady mix of Georgian charm, upmarket shops, classy restaurants, bohemian nightlife and lots of wonderfully tacky beachside fun. A vibrant city indeed!
Sightseeing in Brighton
- The Royal Pavilion – George IV’s pleasure dome, designed by architect John Nash, is the supreme and only example of Oriental-Gothic architecture in existence. With slender minarets, twirling domes, pagodas, and balconies, today it’s home to one of the most exuberant displays of regency exotica you could imagine.
- The Lanes – Tucked between the Pavilion and the seafront can be found a warren of narrow pedestrianised streets called The Lanes. Here you’ll discover a wealth of antique shops, designer boutiques, bars, restaurants and cafes to keep everyone interested.
- Brighton Beach and Brighton Palace Pier – With its fun-filled amusement arcades, fairground rides and fast-food kiosks Brighton Beach and its iconic pier makes a great family day out. The large pebble beach is very popular with kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders.
Where to stay near Brighton?
Located a short distance east of Brighton is the Brighton Caravan Club site. This picturesque park is nestled within a fold of the South Downs and offers easy access to the city. Train enthusiasts staying here are also rewarded with an unmatched view of the 135-year-old pioneering Volk’s Electric Railway. The oldest electric railway in the world that’s still operating. If you’re planning on driving through Brighton city centre then make sure you have motorhome insurance to protect against any bumps and scrapes.
One of the main attractions for those touring around Mid-Sussex has to be the wealth of fine gardens on offer here. And with public transport a bit thin on the ground, you’ll be glad you took your home on wheels along with you.
Sightseeing in Mid-Sussex
- Sheffield Park and Garden – Just 20 miles northeast of Brighton you’ll find the majestic Gothic mansion Sheffield Park, designed by James Wyatt for Lord Sheffield in the 18th While the house is closed to the public you are free to wander through its Capability Brown-designed 100-acre gardens. It’s easy to see why we named it one of the UK’s best gardens to visit by motorhome.
- Nymans – A garden lovers’ paradise, Nymans is a Grade II-listed garden created by three generations of the Messel family. Today the gardens boast an extensive collection of exotic trees and shrubs set around a romantic house and ruins.
- Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens – Set in a wooded valley just four miles south west of Nymans is this 70-acre site. Criss-crossed by steep paths linking six lakes, this is a special place where wallabies, sika, axis and fallow deer roam freely.
- Bluebell Railway – If you’re visiting in the spring then we’ve a particular treat in store for you. Just a mile southwest of Sheffield Park & Gardens lies the wonderful Bluebell Railway. Here you can climb aboard a vintage steam locomotive and gaze out at the bluebell woods as you slowly chuff along. If you’re wondering where else to see bluebells this spring then read our recent Motorhome Protect guide. There’s sure to be a place near you.
If you do plan to leave your motorhome behind for the day while you explore this stunning series of gardens, you’ll want motorhome insurance to protect your vehicle while you’re away.
Where to stay in Mid-Sussex?
One of our favourite spots to park up when visiting Mid-Sussex is the Washington Caravan and Camping Park. This superb site is found at the foot of the stunning South Downs, and is overlooked by the prehistoric Chanctonbury Ring. It’s a wonderful location from which to explore the surrounding area and the nearby picturesque villages of Steyning and Storrington.
Arundel and around
Yet another pretty hilltop town, Arundel has been the home of the dukes of Norfolk for the past 700 years. Its well-preserved appearance and picturesque setting are a big draw to tourists who can descend en masse during summer weekends. As well as the castle you’ll want to visit the town museum and the wealth of galleries, shops and restaurants.
Sightseeing in Arundel and around
- Arundel Castle & Gardens – Towering over the high street, the castle is certainly lavish. Having undergone extensive renovations over the years, the Barons Hall and the library are particularly sumptuous.
- Bignor Roman Villa – The excavated 2nd Century ruins of Bignor Roman Villa contain some of the best Roman mosaics in the country.
- Petworth House and Park – As well as being one of the country’s most impressive stately homes, this place is home to a splendid art collection. With paintings by Van Dyck, Titian, Gainsborough, Bosch, Reynolds, Blake and Turner fighting for your attention.
Where to stay around Arundel?
Just 12 miles south of Arundel is the excellent Littlehampton Caravan Club Site. Well maintained and with decent facilities, you’ll find it on the outskirts of the delightful seaside resort of Littlehampton.
Chichester and around
The only city in West Sussex, Chichester is an attractive place to visit and has built itself up as one of southern England’s cultural centres. Make time to visit Chichester Cathedral. Its interior is renowned for its contemporary devotional art which includes an enormous tapestry by John Piper and a stained-glass window by Marc Chagall.
Sightseeing in and around Chichester
- Chichester Festival Theatre – An excellent regional theatre with a well-deserved international reputation for producing high quality entertainment.
- Goodwood Estate – If you’re a true English motor racing enthusiast then visiting Goodwood has to be on your to-do list. But, better yet, why not make it part of a 120-mile motorhome tour taking in the historic racing circuits of Goodwood, Thruxton Motorsport Centre in Hampshire, and Castle Combe in Wiltshire? A trip through the quintessential English countryside really can’t be beaten.
- Fishbourne Roman Palace & Gardens – Stunning mosaics and a wonderfully well-preserved underfloor heating system are among the treasures to be seen at the country’s greatest Roman palace.
- Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve – Whether you’re a nature lover or a history buff, a visit to the grove of ancient yew trees at this spell-binding nature reserve can’t be missed. And from tuneful nightingales and busy green woodpeckers to red kites and buzzards, there’s lots of stunning birdlife to discover here. Also keep a careful eye out for some of the 11 different orchids or 39 species of butterfly that call Kingley Vale home.
Where to stay in Chichester?
If you’re looking for a luxury, award-winning campsite with an impressive attention to detail then Concierge Camping at Ratham Estate is for you!
Keep your Sussex adventure on track with motorhome insurance
Wherever your Sussex adventure takes you, don’t forget to arrange that all-important part of the planning puzzle: motorhome insurance. To help you out, the team at Motorhome Protect can provide a range of quotes on specialist motorhome insurance with the following benefits:
- Unlimited cover across all EU countries.
- Offers if you’re a member of a motorhome club.
- Unlimited mileage cover.
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects.
- Up to six months of cover to complete a restoration.
- Quotes available for customers with claims and convictions.
Ensure the perfect start to your trip by arranging a quick quote for motorhome insurance today.