Your plans for summer 2021 may not be as you imagined, but you can still explore East Sussex’s beaches and countryside, as well as all the activities that the county has to offer. Check out our ideas for where to have a staycation this summer.

Staycation in Hastings

Hastings is known for its Victorian-style seafront, cafes, pubs, art scene and the best fish and chips around. With a hipster feel in the old town, with vegan eateries and antique shops, this historic fishing town is worth a visit.

While the usual festivals that happen over the summer months still can’t go ahead this year, the art galleries in Hastings are reopening, so there’s still plenty to explore.

Walks and activities around Hastings

The 1066 Country Walk is 31 miles long and runs from Rye to Pevensey. It’s the perfect walk for exploring sites linked to the Battle of Hastings and takes around four days to complete in full. Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is a must, with coastal paths, biodiversity and woodland areas. Find more walks around Hastings.

Find more to do in Hastings.

Eating out in Hastings

Hastings has re-opened its doors to visitors – hooray! Check out the likes of Blue Dolphin Fish Bar or Maggie’s Fish and Chips for some great seafood via takeaway service, or The Hempist for vegan food. Check out Visit 1066’s round up of where to eat out in Hastings.

Visit for the day or staycation a night or two in 1066 Country.

Hastings old town.

Hastings Old Town, Berit Watkin.

Staycation in Lewes

Pronounced ‘Lewis’ (for those of you from outside of East Sussex), the historic town offers breweries, walks and castles to explore.

Walking and activities in Lewes

Lewes Castle is open again so you can enjoy the outside of it, overlooking the town as well as explore inside. Take in the cobbled streets and the Fifteenth Century Book Shop, specialising in second hand children’s books and collectables. There are lots of local shops to support, from produce and clothes to gifts.

There are plenty of walking routes to and from the South Downs in Lewes and the picturesque River Ouse. Find more walking routes for Lewes.

Eating out in Lewes

Local pubs include the Pelham Arms and The John Harvey Tavern, opposite Harvey’s Brewery. The Flint Owl Bakery is perfect for breakfasts, fresh  bread and sweet snacks, while popular family choices such as Fuego Lounge is also open for lunch and dinner.

Check out where to stay in Lewes.


Lewes by grassrottsgroundswell.

Staycation in Wealden

Wealden is a vast stretch of area rich with countryside that includes ancient woodland, medieval fields, parklands and open rolling downs. The Wealden area includes Crowborough, Uckfield, Pevensey and Heathfield, as well as Polegate and Hailsham.

Walks in Wealden

Wealden areas make for great walking holidays, with routes in Uckfield such as from Selby, Harlands and Ridgewood where you can see for miles from the highest vantage points. There’s the Arlington Reservoir Walk which is great for young families and has picnic benches for after you’ve completed the short circular walk.

Experience a true countryside walk, with woodland and hills with the Crowborough Walk. Not forgetting that the Cuckoo Trail runs through Wealden, a 14-mile walk that must be done at least once and is enjoyed by cyclists as well as walkers. Ashdown Forest is another unmissable walking location, providing beautiful woodland and the chance to see rare wildlife like the Dartford Warbler bird.

Easting out in Wealden

You can expect a choice of rural pubs, tearooms and cafes to enjoy in-between walking adventures in Wealden. Visit The Gun in Gun Hill, The Lamb in Hooe, The Black Duck in Warbleton, The Middle House in Mayfield, or The Blackboys Inn in Blackboys to fuel up.

Find accommodation in Wealden.

Ashdown forest.

Ashdown Forest by Tom Lee.

Staycation in Eastbourne

Known as the sunshine coast, Eastbourne is becoming increasingly popular for days away. A seaside town which also offers easy access to the South Downs, Eastbourne has a little bit of everything.

Walks and activities in Eastbourne

Eastbourne makes for a great walking holiday. Explore the South Downs Way, Seven Sisters Country Park, Friston Forest, Cuckoo Trail, and more! All the public toilets are open in Eastbourne and the town centre, with its new shopping centre, The Beacon, offers cafes, restaurants and popular shops.

And now you can see the whole of Eastbourne is one spectacular view. This summer there will be a chance to enjoy views across the town with the Eastbourne Eye. You can find the eye on the Western Lawns until 31 October 2021.

Also, Eastbourne provides plenty of opportunities for water sports, with Buzz Active water sports at both Cuckmere Haven and Eastbourne seafront. Try everything from kayaking and canoeing to stand up paddle boarding and windsurfing. Booking in advance is essential.

Eating out in Eastbourne

Ice cream and fish and chips are a must in Eastbourne (but name me a seaside town where they aren’t). Creams is great for the more indulgent ice cream lover, while the vast choice of pubs include The Beachy Head pub and The Eagle with their outside spaces which are perfect for those sunny days.

Find somewhere to stay in Eastbourne.


Eastbourne seafront by grassrottsgroundswell

Staycation in Bexhill

Bexhill is a smaller seaside town with museums, an art scene, gardens and award-winning parks, plus a family-friendly seafront.

Walking and activities in Bexhill

The local beach has a lifeguard service and some impressive rockpools and sand at low tide – perfect for exploring the local marine life. Find out more in our best beaches in East Sussex article. Explore the Old Town, seafront, the town centre, Devonshire Square and Buckhurst Place with the four heritage trails the town has.

Egerton Park, just off the main seafront, has won the Green Flag Park Award for seven successive years.  It is Bexhill’s most popular park and offers tennis, boating, a children’s play area and outdoor bowls. Another great, more peaceful find for a stroll is Manor Gardens, located in Bexhill’s Old Town.

Bexhill Museum offers unique collections from local history, archaeology, fashion and Bexhill’s famous motor heritage. The De La Warr Pavilion has art exhibitions and a café where you can enjoy a drink on the roof terrace overlooking the seafront. Visit the websites to book in advance.

Eating out in Bexhill

You’re spoilt for choice with eateries in Bexhill. Grab fish and chips from Minnie Bertha’s and head down to the beach, grab some Italian food from Trattoria Italiana  or enjoy a drink and light bite at the De La Warr Pavilion.

Staycation in Bexhill.


Bexhill by Nick Rowland

Staycation in Rye

Rye is one of the most picturesque towns in East Sussex. Its quaint cobbled streets, medieval houses and unique shops and cafes, make the small town the perfect place to get away from it all. It’s neighbours, Camber and Winchelsea, make it a great place to stay for a beach holiday.

Walking and activities in Rye

Explore the local history with Rye Castle (The Ypres Tower) and Camber Castle. Rye Castle dates back to 1249!

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is home to a vast array of wildlife along the coastline and is great for bird watchers and walkers. Great Dixter House and Gardens can be visited by pre-booking and is well known for its flowers and plants on show. Lamb House, famous for housing writers and Kings over the years, is a real gem that you don’t want to miss.

Eating out in Rye

After you’re done exploring the famous Mermaid Street and quirky road names, stop for a bite to eat at one of Rye’s many cafes and restaurants. Check out Webbe’s at the Fish Café, The Globe Inn Marsh and the Kino Rye, among others.

Find accommodation in Rye.

Rye by Gertjan Van Noord

Respect, protect and enjoy

Please remember to respect, protect and enjoy:

  • Respect the local community by parking considerately and leave gates and property as you find them.
  • Protect the environment by always taking your litter home with you, and protect yourself and others by maintaining social distancing rules and washing your hands regularly.
  • Enjoy your trip! Book ahead. Many places are only offering booked and timed slots in order to limit visitor numbers.  Check beforehand with the place that you want to visit to find out what they expect of you.

Please also take a moment to read up on how to enjoy our coastline safely. There have been nearly 50 cliff falls in East Sussex over the last year, with tonnes of chalk crashing down onto the beaches below without warning. Always stay away from the edges and bases of cliffs and be aware of the tides.

Don’t forget to check out Visit England’s travel advice and information on where else is open.


East Sussex has too much to fit into one article, but we hope you find this useful and plan to visit safely soon, whether you’re local or from further afield. Let us know where you’re staying this summer.