Located in the county of East Sussex, Eastbourne is one of England's most popular seaside destinations. Its elegant three-mile-long seafront promenade extends along wide pebble beaches where the salty tang of fish and chip suppers mingles with the fresh sea air.
From its iconic Victorian pier and art deco bandstand to the cosmopolitan marina complex, an award-winning contemporary art gallery and unforgettable cliff top walks, there is an abundance of things to do in Eastbourne for all ages.
Enjoy a memorable day out with our guide to the best attractions Eastbourne has to offer:
The star attraction of Eastbourne’s unspoilt Victorian seafront is its 300-metre-long pier, originally built in 1870. Here you can enjoy typical pier attractions such as classic British fish and chips, afternoon tea and soft-serve ice cream, before taking a leisurely stroll along the deck, drinking in the superb panoramas of the town and the English Channel.
Eastbourne has more than 3 miles of shingle beach with the most popular stretch found between the pier and the Wish Tower. Watched by lifeguards through the summer, there are safe bathing zones, as well as beautifully painted beach huts, cafes and deck chairs for hire. Ideal for families, when the tide is out you can head off on a rock pooling adventure or watch the windsurfers further along near the Royal Parade. At the far western end of Eastbourne’s seafront lies another great spot, Holywell beach, a quaint enclave that flaunts a café, colourful huts, and elegant Italianate gardens.
A walk along Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in the UK at 530 feet, offers breathtaking views across the Channel and marks the start of the South Downs Way. The pretty red-and-white striped lighthouse is a picture-postcard view to top off the stunning sights across the sea and plunging white cliffs.
While you’re there, visit the Belle Tout Lighthouse, the Countryside Centre or call in for a meal at The Beachy Head, a welcoming pub with plenty of rustic charm and a fantastic menu to enjoy with the sparkling sea as a backdrop.
One of only three surviving Napoleonic fortresses in the UK, Eastbourne’s 200-year-old Redoubt Fortress was built to deter Napoleon's forces in the early 1800s. It now houses excellent military collections, including artefacts and displays related to the Royal Sussex Regiment and the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. Visitors can enjoy lively tours from costumed interpreters, have a go at sword fighting under the guidance of a Pirate Captain and delight in an extensive programme of events throughout the year.
Towner Art Gallery
Encompassing an impressive collection of more than 4,000 oil paintings, watercolours, sculptures, and sketches, the Towner Art Gallery dates to 1920 and is the largest art space in South East England. Major exhibitions of contemporary and historic art sit alongside its own award-winning collection of important 20th-century British artists.
Marvel at the likes of Picasso, Henry Moore, Olafur Eliasson, Walter Sickert, David Bomberg and Wolfgang Tillmans, and be sure to check out the collection of watercolours by Eric Ravilious, whose unique style captures the South Downs and his home county of Sussex in sweeping shapes and uplifting colour.
Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park
Chug through 5 acres of gardens and parkland aboard fantastically detailed 1/8th scale miniature trains at the Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park. Your carriage will be pulled by one of ten different steam and diesel locomotives, the oldest going back to 1940. There’s also a nature walk, an adventure playground, model railways, a café and gift shop, as well as fishing on Southbourne Lake.
On a sunny afternoon, Sovereign Harbour, the largest marina complex in northern Europe, is the place to be. One of Eastbourne’s best kept secrets, you can sit and watch the luxury yachts come and go over a spot of lunch by the waterside, indulge in some retail therapy or book onto one of the boat tours, fishing or diving trips.
Poised above Eastbourne’s main resort beach is a sublime Neo-Grec Bandstand completed in 1935. A sensational place to watch an open-air concert, the bandstand is known for hosting more live events than any other in the country. You can look forward to everything from wild rock-and-roll gigs and joyful choirs to dazzling firework displays and children’s entertainment, all with the swirling sea as a backdrop. With its unique semi-circular design and blue domed roof, there is nowhere else like it.
The Royal Hippodrome Theatre
If you’re holidaying in Eastbourne for a few days, catching a show at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre is a lovely way to spend an evening. Founded in 1883, this atmospheric venue has a busy programme of events ranging from musicals to comedies, tribute acts to ghost hunts, and the British Christmas staple that is a classic pantomime.
Why not treat yourself to a traditional British seaside holiday in one of our Eastbourne holiday cottages? From 300-year-old Sussex fishermen’s cottages overlooking the ocean to contemporary loft apartments on the harbour, and rural retreats in the tranquillity of the South Downs National Park, our holiday homes ensure an unforgettable break in the South East.