Eastbourne is a popular and traditional sea-side resort on the south coast of England, about 110 km from London. It has a population of just about 100,000, making it the second largest town in Sussex. It lies at the eastern end of the South Downs range of chalk cliffs and hills: its most famous feature being Beachy Head, the highest chalk cliff in Southern England. To the east it is bordered by the low-lying flood plains of the Pevensey Levels and beyond. It has one of the highest recorded days of sunshine per year in Britain and its climate is notable for its high sunshine levels, with the town claiming to be the "Sunniest Place in the UK".
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See the 5 day forecast for Eastbourne at The Met Office.
The town has a reputation of being "God's waiting room" due to the high population of elderly residents, with one district of town having an average age of 71.1! Most of the population is younger, however, and you probably wouldn't see that many elderly people if you visited. The main shopping centre is currently being renovated to have more, better-known shops, which should make it even more popular with younger people.
Part of the town's charm is its largely undeveloped seafront, devoid of the amusements and loud activity associated with Brighton, its bigger and brasher western cousin. Eastbourne's front remains composed mainly of Victorian hotels, as much of Eastbourne has traditionally belonged to the Duke of Devonshire, who retains the rights to these buildings and refuses to allow them to be converted into shops.
The lovely 1935 bandstand remains, and traditional seafront concerts still take place every day in the holiday season for those content to listen and laze in a deckchair. The relative peace is only shattered in mid August by the biggest event of the year for the town, "Airbourne". This justifably and proudly claims to be the South Coast's biggest free air display, and takes place over the sea attracting visitors of all ages during its four days. Many come just to see the world famous RAF Red Arrows who are regular visitors, but there are many other attractions at ground level too, such as live bands, with Scouting for Girls performing one year.
Southern Railway is the principal train company serving Eastbourne. It is linked by train to the west with Brighton, and to the east with Bexhill, Hastings and Ashford International (for Eurostar services to France and Belgium). There is a direct line to London, stopping in London at Clapham Junction, East Croydon and finally London Victoria, with trains running between two and three times an hour, journey time between 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. If you arrive at Gatwick Airport, you can catch a Southern train to Eastbourne (which is the same train as the London Victoria-Eastbourne train), with journey times here taking about 50 minutes to an hour. Trains also come from Bedford via St Pancras and Gatwick Airport and into Brighton; although the train doesn't actually go to Eastbourne, you can either change at Haywards Heath or Brighton for a separate train to Eastbourne.
Fare and timetable information is available from the Southern Railway website or National Rail Enquiries- tel. +44 8457 484950 (local rate call, UK only number)
Services within Eastbourne borough are mainly operated by Stagecoach Buses Ltd, which is the successor of the company to the world's first municipal bus operator. Stagecoach Buses also operate country services to Tunbridge Wells, Heathfield, Uckfield, Willingdon, Polegate, Pevensey Bay, Hailsham, Bexhill and Hastings.
Hailsham, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Willingdon and Hailsham are included in the local Eastbourne fare zonal system. Within the fare zone system there is an unlimited day rover ticket for £3.00, while single fares can be £1.90 as far as Polegate, rising to a higher price if continuing to Hailsham. A weekly ticket is available from the driver for £11.50 to cover this zone.
Town services are covered by services 1, 1A, 2, 3, 5, 5A and the LOOP, while out of town services are covered by services 1X, 51 (251), 52 (252), 54, 98 and 99 (as at 28 November 2010).
To Hailsham: 1X, 51, 52, 54, 98; To Bexhill and Hastings: 98, 99; To Heathfield: 51 and 52; To Tunbridge Wells: 251 and 252 (same buses as for Heathfield, which are then prefixed with a 2 from Heathfield); To Pevensey Bay: 99
Brighton is served by Brighton and Hove Buses on services 12, 12X and 13X. Brighton and Hove offer an excellent value all-day ticket for just £5.00 from the driver, or £3.50 if purchased in advance on the Internet, which includes the return journey between the two towns and unlimited travel in Brighton and Hove. Those travellers who also wish to use local services in Eastbourne as well as wanting to go to Brighton for the day with unlimited travel, may wish to purchase an Explorer ticket on a Stagecoach bus for £5.50, which then gives total unlimited travel on most services in Kent and Sussex for one day, including all Stagecoach, Arriva and Brighton & Hove. Beware, if purchasing the same explorer ticket on a Brighton and Hove Bus, it costs £7.00, so the same ticket from Stagecoach is better value.
Services 12 and 12X serve East Dean, Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Rottingdean and Saltdean en route to Brighton from Eastbourne.
Eastbourne's art deco bus station closed some years ago, but almost all services now stop in a buses-only area of the main shopping precinct at Terminus Road, near the railway station. There is no formal bus office in the town centre, but information and timetables are posted at all stops in the central area. Limited bus information can be obtained from the Tourist Information office in Cornfield Road.
3 Tourist Information Office, Cornfield Road, BN21 4QA (If walking along Terminus Rd from the station, turn right just before the start of the pedestrianised section. The office is on the right), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. End of May to September: 9am-5:30pm, weekdays; 9am-5pm, Saturdays; 10am-1pm, Sundays; 10am-4pm, bank holidays.
4 Terminus Road Bus Station, Terminus Road, BN21 3LP.
"Black cabs" are rarely seen on Eastbourne's streets, but taxis licensed by the local authority are readily available at all times from ranks either side of the railway station. The two main taxi firms in Eastbourne are 720 taxis and 726 taxis; both are reliable:
For pre-booked journeys try:
- 1 The Carpet Gardens, which are world famous.
2 Eastbourne Pier, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, BN21 3EL, ☎ . Originally built in 1870 with a theatre, camera obscura, and bar. Paddle steamers used to sail from here to Boulogne in France in the early 20th century, but stopped in World War Two, when anti-aircraft guns were placed on it. The arcade was destroyed by a fire on the pier in 2014, and has since been renovated to make the pier safe. Currently, there are cafes, a restaurant, some shops, a fishing stage, a nightclub (see Drink), a fish and chip shop and great views on the pier. Free.
3 The Reduobt Fortress, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7AQ (The Redoubt has two entrances: one from the promenade which is signposted and down some steps; and one from the road which is at the top of a small hill just off the pavement.), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily: March-September: 10AM-5PM; October-November: 11AM-4PM. Built in 1804 as part of the defences against a possible invasion of Britain by Napoleon. It has been used in both World Wars and more recently, as a model village and an aquarium. It now houses a museum, gun parade, cafe and shop. You only have to pay to access the museum, prices for this are: Adult: £4.50; Child: £2.50; Seniors/Students: £3.25.
4 The Towner Gallery, Devonshire Park, College Road, Eastbourne BN21 4JJ, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su & Bank Holidays Mondays: 10AM-5PM. Eastbourne's contemporary art gallery with about three exhibitions on at all times. It has a permanent room dedicated to local artist, Eric Ravillious, and a cafe run by Urban Ground (see Drink). If you are a fan of art, this is well worth a visit, and maybe also take a trip down the coast to the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and then the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. If you visit all three galleries, and get a stamp from each in a Coastal Culture Trail passport, you get 20% off in one of the gallery shops, see coastalculturetrail.com for more information. Most exhibitions are free, but some will require a charge (the costs for these are well advertised).
5 Eastbourne Heritage Centre, 2 Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4BT, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 21 March - 29 October: M, Tu, Th: 2PM-5PM; F: 10AM-1PM; Sa: 10AM-4PM. Rest of the year: Sa: 10AM-4PM. A museum all about Eastbourne's history, originally built in 1880, and is now Grade II listed. It's only a short walk from the town centre and just off the seafront, and is near to some nice restaurants too. Adults: £3; Children under 15: £1; Seniors/Students: £2.50.
6 Beachy Head, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Enjoy the views from 162m up, on top of the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain. See the century-old red and white lighthouse at the foot of the cliffs, and an earlier forerunner the Belle Tout lighthouse, built to warn shipping of the treacherous rocks in the vicinity, which is now a B&B. Also see views over the whole of Eastbourne, and see if you can spot Hastings on a clear day. From here, you could travel further along the coast to Birling Gap, or even the Cuckmere Haven.
2 Sovereign Centre, Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7LQ, ☎ . M-F: 6:30AM-10PM; Sa-Su: 7AM-6PM. A leisure centre with several swimming pools, gym, fitness suite, sauna and cafe. One swimming pool has a wave machine, fountains and a flume, which is popular with famililes during school holidays. There are also many classes, lessons and events going on here, such as gymnastics lessons, Zumba and swimming lessons. Prices are different depending on what facilities you want to use, and when you're using them. If you are an Eastbourne resident, bring a copy of your council tax bill for reduced rates. Family ticket for the swimming pool: £18.20. Full list of prices at their website.
- 3 South Downs Way This 160km long footpath, which starts on the Western edge of the town and runs through the South Downs National Park as far as Winchester to the west is a must for any keen walker, even if you're not an avid hiker, you can walk just a little bit of the trail and enjoy the Sussex countryside. (The location on the marker is the start of the path on the edge of Eastbourne.)
4 Seven Sisters Country Park and Cuckmere Haven. Take the number 12, 12X or 13X bus from the town centre to this country park at Exceat, about 8 km west of Eastbourne. The park has cycle hire through the Friston Forest, a cosy cafe-restaurant and a visitor centre. The estuary of the River Cuckmere winds through here in a distinctive meander to the sea and can be walked either side of the A259 road. You can also walk upstream along the side of the Cuckmere river and if you're lucky you may be able to find some samphire along the banks which can be picked, cooked and eaten.
5 Birling Gap. This area of land is owned by the National Trust and has a cafe, gift shop and a small museum/visitor centre. You can start walks from here across the South Downs and there is also a set of stairs going down to the shingle beach. It is a two hour walk towards Holywell and Eastbourne itself along the beach.
From the country park, take a 4 hour walk on top of the cliffs back to Eastbourne. Don't forget to take a picnic, though Birling Gap is a pleasant beauty spot on this part of the coast, which looks particularly nice in Spring and has an excellent pub, restaurant and hotel.
The two biggest events in Eastbourne are Airbourne (in August) and the AEGON International (in June), with other events taking place mainly in summer. If you visit Eastbourne between May and September, visit the Western Lawns (near the Wishtower on the seafront, opposite the Grand Hotel) as quite often, there are events taking place there on the weekends.
- Beachlife Festival: 15-16 July 2017 , ☎ . (phone number of the Eastbourne tourism agency)This is an annual extreme sport festival that takes place around town, though mainly on the seafront around Princes' Park. Sports like roller skating, skateboarding, SUP (stand up paddleboard), roller hockey, BMX, windsurfing and "surfkraft" (extreme windsurfing) are all represented, amongst others. There is live music on stages during the event and there is no cost to visit. (date needs updating)
- Eastbourne Airbourne: 17-20 August 2017 , ☎ . (phone number of the Eastbourne tourism agency)This is an annual airshow that takes place over the sea. Every summer, the Red Arrows, helicopters, parachutists, and other fast jets come and fly for four days. There are other ground attractions too, including live music, with the local paper claiming that 12,000 people watched Scouting for Girls perform in 2015. The main attractions are at the Western Lawns near the Wishtower, although you can get some pretty good views from the foot of the South Downs. It's free, although the organisers appreciate donations as it is quite expensive to run.
- Beachy Head Marathon: 28 October 2017 , ☎ . An annual marathon which claims to be "one the biggest off-road marathons in the UK". It starts in the Meads area of Eastbourne, and routes round the nearby South Downs National Park, Cuckmere Haven, and Seven Sisters Country Park. The route does follow some quite difficult terrain, but the views are pretty impressive. There's also a 10K race which happens at the same time that only goes as far as Birling Gap and back, but still follows the Seven Sisters, giving good views of the sea. Entry costs at least £20 for the 10K race, and £36 for the marathon, with prices rising closer to the event, so if you want to enter, do it soon!
- Beer and Cider by the Sea: 25-27 May 2018 , ☎ . This is a beer and cider festival that takes place on the Western Lawns over the May Bank Holiday. The drinks are served in marquees in a park which is next to the seaside, with live music from local bands as well. Tickets in 2016 costed £7 or £8 and £2 for children, and they could be bought from their website or over the phone.
- Eastbourne International: 22-30 June 2018 , ☎ . This is an annual pre-Wimbledon women's tennis tournament that takes place at Devonshire Park in the heart of Eastbourne. It is a WTA Premier tournament, with prize money of $731,000! In the past, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Novak Djokovic and Eastbourne local Johanna Konta have played here. The tournament is also televised on the BBC, meaning you could be seen in the crowd on TV! There is one day during the tournament where tickets are free (in 2017, on 23 June), but apart from then, you'll have to pay for them, with one day tickets costing between £10 and £50. You can also get more expensive tickets, with reserved centre court tickets.
While it does not perhaps offer the same range as other more fashionable shopping areas like Brighton or Tunbridge Wells, Eastbourne has a good mix of the familiar "high street" names and unusual retailers.
For those with more eclectic tastes, 3 Little Chelsea is a good area of town to visit. While it's hard to ignore the several funeral directors in South Street and Grove Road, reflecting the higher than average proportion of aged residents of the town, there are many shops for those who want to live life to the full, whatever their age. Particularly recommended is Camilla's second-hand bookshop which is stacked to the ceiling with books on just about every subject imaginable, Mr & Mrs Doaks Bumper Bookshop selling children's books including a child-friendly teashop, a Belgian chocolate emporium and a Bang and Olufsen hi-fi and TV specialist dealer.
The 2 km long road known as 4 Seaside (somewhat confusingly, just inland from the seafront) is like a mini-town in itself, with two bank branches, post offices, takeaways, convenience stores, antique and curio shopping, furnishers, kitchen and carpet suppliers. This is the main A259 road, and leads northwards to Langney, where there is a district shopping with a Tesco Metro, Iceland, Family Bargains and several other smaller stores.
5 Meads High Street is more of a traditional village high street in the "posher" part of town. Even though it has a small Tesco and Co-op, it still has small, independent shops, like the Barley Sugar shop at the north end of the street which sells children's clothes, toys and has a deli. There's also a Grand Flowers florist, a framers, two hairdressers, a dentists, a wine shop, a restaurant, a post office (in the Co-op), two tea shops and two pubs among other things. While some shops have closed recently, like the butchers, business is still thriving here.
6 Admiral Retail Park houses a large Tesco Extra store, Pets at Home, Homebase, Argos, Vokins, Wickes, McDonalds Drive-thru and Pizza Hut.
7 Crumbles Retail Park comprises Asda, Next, Boots, Matalan, Harvey's, Brantano, Cineworld Cinema and Frankie & Bennys, which adjoins the man-made Sovereign Harbour development, which also houses a number of small shops, bars and restaurants.
8 Sainsbury's Retail Park in Hampden Park houses a Sainsbury's Superstore, DFS and a Currys/PC World, adjacent to which is the David Lloyd Centre and Lloyds Lanes Bowling Alley. Not barely a stone's throw away are also B&Q, Dunelm Mill, Maplin's, Halfords and Mothercare.
As would be expected of a seaside resort, Eastbourne offers food to suit all tastes, budgets and time demands. There are plenty of fast food outlets including McDonalds and Wimpy in Terminus Road. However, for those wanting something a little more traditional, the best fish and chip restaurants include Seaquel and Qualisea, both around the junction of Terminus Road and Seaside Road, or the Dolphin fish bar on Seaside. Fresh seafood and shellfish can be obtained near the pier or if you are in self-catering accommodation, why not buy and cook local catches as fresh as can be from the wet fish shops alongside the fisherman's boat stores on the seafront walking east towards Princes Park. Many different cuisines are also on offer in Terminus Road, the main street for restaurants. If you like a sea view along with good food and drink, try the Cafe Belge at the seaward end of Terminus Road, which offers around 80 Belgian beers along with a menu reflecting the culinary traditions of Belgium. Development on the seafront itself is limited, but the hotel restaurants are always worth a try, as are the cafes and kiosks on the lower promenade, including some recently opened in former seafront shelters. Eastbourne seems to be trying to follow the lead of Brighton in making more of its beachfront for food and entertainment and several cafes and restaurants now open into the late evening on the shoreline.
There is also a good choice of bars and restaurants available in the Sovereign Harbour Marina development, including some big chains like Harvester and authentic smaller restaurants like the Thai restaurant there.
1 The Beach Deck, Royal Parade, BN22 7AE (There is a pay and display car park just to the side of the restaurant which it shares with Treasure Island. The entrance is on the promenade; from the car park, head towards the sea then turn left), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A relatively new restaurant on the seafront. It's just outside the centre of Eastbourne but it's worth the travel. It has been featured on an episode of The Undateables on Channel 4. Orange juice: £2.30; Coke: £2.20; Margherita Pizza: £7.50; Burger with cheese and bacon: £11.50.
2 The Green Almond, 12, Grand Hotel Buildings, Compton St, BN21 4EJ, ☎ . Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Thursday: 12-4pm; Friday-Saturday: 12-4pm and 7pm-close; Sunday: Closed. A small vegetarian bistro whose menu changes monthly. It is recommended to book in advance as they can only seat 21 at a push. Fruit juices: £2.50, Coke: £1.80, 3 course dinner and tea or coffee: £20 per person (Friday/Saturday evening), Buffet lunch: £6.50/£8.50 (12-3 Tues-Sat).
3 Pomodoro e Mozzarella, 23/24 Cornfield Terrace, BN21 4NS, ☎ . Monday-Friday: 12-2:30pm and 5:30pm-11pm; Saturday: 12-11pm; Sunday: 12-10:30pm. Large, Italian restaurant run by actual Italians. Not far from town centre or theatres. Orange juice: £2.30, Coke: £2.10, Three course set menu: £12.50, Two course set menu: £10.50 (set menus not available Fri/Sat evenings), Pizza Margherita: £7.60, Spaghetti Bolognese: £8.90.
5 Thai Marina, 13 The Waterfront, BN23 5UZ (There is not a car park next to the restaurant, but there is one for the marina nearby which is a short walk away. Taxis can drive up the road just behind the restaurant easily though.), ☎ . Monday: 6pm-10:30pm; Tuesday-Saturday: 12-10:30pm; Sunday: 12-10pm. A nice, authentic Thai restaurant with beautiful décor inside. You can sit outside overlooking the harbour if the weather's good. Sharing menu for two: £28 per person; Sharing menu for four or more: £35 per person; Massaman curry: £10.50; Prawn or chicken pad thai: £8.95.
Eastbourne has plenty of pubs ranging from the traditional to the trendy. Particularly recommended for those who love- or want to try- the best local "real ale" are The Marine on Seaside, which also offers an excellent restaurant and bar menu- all day on Sundays. Also recommended are The Terminus, a recently refurbished Harveys of Lewes pub in the town centre. Most nightclubs are situated in Langney, Pevensey and Terminus Roads though the pier with the Atlantis nightspot is something of a honeypot for language students and other smart young things.
If you're looking for something refreshing but not intoxicating, there are plenty of stops for a cuppa and the usual coffee chains. The Pavilion Tea Rooms, east of the pier, are recommended for afternoon tea when a piano player often adds to the polite, typically English ambience of the place.
1 Urban Ground, 2A Bolton Road, BN21 3JX, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Monday-Saturday: 7:30am - 6:00pm; Sunday and Bank Holidays: 9:00am - 5:00pm. Located just off the end of the pedestrianised end of Terminus Road, is only a few years old but is quite popular. They give you an egg timer with your pot of tea to tell you when your tea is properly brewed. You can also visit the cafe at the Towner Art Gallery (run by Urban Ground), sitting on the balcony overlooking the sunset in the evening if you want.
Hotels are located all along the seafront, so there won't be a lack of places to sleep. If you're walking along the promenade, you'll see hotel after hotel after hotel. And most of the town's 4 and 5 star hotels are, unsurprisingly, located on the seafront and generally towards the Meads end of town.
For those on more modest budgets, there are plenty of family-run, welcoming small hotels such as
7 Royal Hotel (The Royal), 8-9 Marine Parade, BN21 3DX (on seafront by Eastbourne Pier), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Historic guesthouse directly located on seafront near the pier. The Royal is one of Eastbourne's few remaining original Sea Houses. Popular with tourists and walkers, modestly priced and dog friendly. from £45 per person B&B£.
8 Belle Tout Lighthouse, Belle Tout Lighthouse, Beachy Head, Eastbourne, BN20 0AE, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The Belle Tout was the first lighthouse at Beachy Head. It has been featured on Tomorrow's World after being moved back away from the edge of the crumbling cliff and on Grand Designs after being refurbished to the current guest house
There are also many "bed and breakfast" establishments such as The Sea Breeze Guest House. There are self-catering flatlets such as "Beachside Guesthouse and Self-Catering Apartments" and there are also campsites on the edge of town such as Fairfields Farm. The town's Youth Hostel is in a very picturesque spot on top of the Downs going out of town westwards, near one of the golf links.
Other places of interest in the Eastbourne area
- Eastbourne Miniature Steam Engine Railway www.emsr.co.uk. A great place to sit on top of a mini Steam Engine!
Drusilla's Zoo, Alfriston, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open daily all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Open 10:00-17:00 in summer, 10:00-16:00 in winter. The best small zoo in England, located in the countryside just outside Eastbourne near the village of Alfriston. Adults £9.99, Children £9.49.
- The Cuckoo Trail a cycle path from Eastbourne to Heathfield through the Sussex Weald
|Routes through Eastbourne|
|Portsmouth ← Brighton ←||W E||→ END|
|Croydon ← Uckfield ←||N S||→ END|
|Chichester ← Worthing ←||W E||→ Hastings → Folkestone|