Old-fashioned Victorian charm and modern culture come together in this buzzing coastal resort.
Located on England’s rugged southeast coast, Eastbourne exudes an old-world ambiance that can be traced back to its heyday as a Victorian seaside resort. Traditional activities, such as sunbathing, swimming and donkey rides, are balanced by contemporary cultural attractions, including the award-winning Towner Art Gallery and myriad theaters. Stroll along the seafront, build sandcastles on the shore and admire the breathtaking chalk cliffs.
In the mid-19th century, a newly built railway line drove this town’s development as a seaside resort. With the advent of affordable overseas travel in the late 20th century, the resort fell into decline as a tourist destination and instead became a popular retirement spot. See the new iteration of the contemporary Towner Art Gallery that opened in 2009, helping to establish the town as a worthwhile cultural destination.
Explore the seafront for reminders of its past. See Victorian hotels, the 1930s Eastbourne Bandstand and the restored Eastbourne Pier, a well-known Victorian structure that suffered a devastating fire in 2014. Walk along the pier and pause for desserts, sandwiches and hot drinks at the tea room and taste battered fish and salty chips, a British seaside staple.
Head north from the pier along the seafront to reach the Redoubt Fortress and Military Museum, a converted Napoleonic fort. Stop at the quirky Museum of Shops to inspect relics and tokens of the past. Here, four floors of exhibits display retro objects, such as old household items, sports equipment and vintage packaging. For cultural enjoyment, visit the purpose-built Towner Art Gallery and investigate a permanent room dedicated to Sussex watercolorist Eric Ravilious.
The incredible coastal scenery surrounding Eastbourne provides excellent hiking and walking opportunities. Trek along part of the 100-mile (160-kilometer) South Downs Way to see the magnificent ice-white Seven Sisters cliffs and the chalk headland of Beachy Head.
Eastbourne is well connected to other southeast England destinations, while local buses serve the town itself. Ride the train from London or nearby Brighton for a daytrip. Enjoy a trip to the seaside under sunny, blue skies.