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 it's 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! Although, most of the town is younger, 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 direct line to London with trains running twice-hourly, journey time around 1 hour 25 minutes. 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. 08457 484950 (local rate call, UK only number)
Eastbourne Train Station (EBN), Terminus Road, BN21 3QJ. There is a taxi rank and a pick up/drop off point outside the station (head towards the ticket machines from the platforms, go right and leave through that exit) which has recently been upgraded, plenty of taxis will be waiting there for you. If not, there is a taxi freephone through another exit; from the ticket barriers, turn left and go left past the health centre and barbers, the phone is in the outside wall on the right. See a station map here.
Hampden Park Train Station (HMD), Station Approach, BN22 9ND. Eastbourne has two stations, Hampden Park being the smaller, second one. For most attractions and hotels, it is easier to go into Eastbourne station and travel onwards from there, but for Willingdon, Hampden Park or Langney, this station is better. See a station map here.
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.
- Tourist Information Office, Cornfield Road, BN21 4QA (If walking along Terminus Rd from station, turn right just before the start of the pedestrianised section. The office is on the right), ☎ +44 1323 415415, e-mail: email@example.com. End of May to September: 9am-5:30pm, weekdays; 9am-5pm, Saturdays; 10am-1pm, Sundays; 10am-4pm, bank holidays.
- 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:
- 720 Taxis, 1A Susans Road, BN21 3HA, ☎ +44 1323 720720, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 726 Taxis, 2E Pevensey Road, BN21 3HJ, ☎ +44 1323 726726, toll-free: +44 500 12 12 93, fax: +44 1323 410015, e-mail: email@example.com.
For pre-booked journeys try:
- MS Executive Chauffeurs, Tyle House, Petteridge Lane, Brenchley, Tonbridge, Kent. TN12 7PD, ☎ +44 1892 882636, toll-free: +44 800 980 7252, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Carpet Gardens, which are world famous.
- Eastbourne Pier, from the Victorian era, adorned with shops and traditional amusements, fast food cafes, a bar and night club and a "Camera Obscura" offering a different perspective on the town. The pier was partly damaged by a fire on 30th July, 2014, but is still open for business.
- The Redoubt Fortress, now housing a military museum but built to defend the area during the Napoleonic wars.
- The Towner Gallery Eastbourne's contemporary art gallery with most exhibitions free of charge. Has a permanent room dedicated to local artist, Eric Ravillious, and a cafe run by Urban Ground (see Drink section). 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.
- Beachy Head Enjoy the views from 162m up, Beachy Head is 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.
- Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Enjoy the Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway (www.emsr.co.uk) a great place for kids and children to hop onto a mini Steam engine
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Beer and Cider by the Sea 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 (if bought before 1 April) cost £6 or £7, so it would be advisable to visit their website before then. They can also be bought over the phone from +44 1323 412000. In 2016, the event takes place between 27 May and 29 May.
- Eastbourne International 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! Tennis players such as Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Caroline Wozniacki have won at Eastbourne in the past and the tournament is 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, but apart from then, you'll have to pay for them. In 2016, the tournament will take place between 18 June and 25 June.
- Eastbourne Extreme 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. In 2016, the event takes place on 16 July and 17 July.
- Eastbourne Airbourne 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 12,000 people coming to see 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. In 2016, the event will run between 11 August and 14 August.
- Eastbourne Beer Festival which takes place in the Winter Gardens, with about 160 ales, beers and wines. Tickets for this vary in price depending on which day you go and whether you booked in advance or not, but range from £5 to £9.50 and can be booked from July 2016 onwards by phone from +44 1323 412000. In 2016, the event will take place between 6 October and 8 October.
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.
The Arndale Centre is the main shopping mall, located in Terminus Road which itself has a wide selection of shops. Everything from books to bakeware, candles to coffee can be bought in the mall which has a light and airy feel thanks to its atrium layout allowing in plenty of natural light. This is a popular area at all times, but particularly with children at school holidays when activities and an enchanting tableau are usually laid on in the central area between Boots and BhS. The shopping centre is being redeveloped, so one entrance has been moved and there is some scaffolding along the side near the station. If you are coming from the train station, you will currently see a large hoarding saying what will be there after the redevelopment, including new shops, restaurants and a nine-screen cinema.
The Enterprise Centre next to the station is another often forgotten treasure. Although it has a feel of faded glory and better days hopefully more visitors will take it back to the vibrant place it once was because it is a gem. Under one roof is everything you might need - fresh fruit and veg, a butchers and a fishmongers. Plus an amazing bookshop which has thousands of new and secondhand books plus a great ordering service for any book. There is a shop full of Wedding Dresses with service second to none (there are other wedding services there too) and a fair trade shop which is excellent. There are also opticians, complimentary therapy, a hair dressers and a beautician. A pet shop. A wonderful cafe called Jocelyn's where you can get gorgeous cakes, delicious soup and service with a smile!
For those with more eclectic tastes, 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 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.
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.
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.
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 from Perrywinkles just east of 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.
- 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), ☎ +44 1323 720320, e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
- The Green Almond, 12, Grand Hotel Buildings, Compton St, BN21 4EJ, ☎ +44 1323 734470. 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).
- Pomodoro e Mozzarella, 23/24 Cornfield Terrace, BN21 4NS, ☎ +44 1323 733800. 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.
- The Pilot Inn, 89 Meads Street, BN20 7RW, ☎ +44 1323 723440. A pub located near the foot of the Downs. More of a "food" type of pub, in a building that was refurbished a few years ago. It also has three B&B rooms you can stay in. Fish and Chips: £10.95; Pie and Mash: £11.50.
- 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.), ☎ +44 1323 470414. 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.
- Urban Ground, 2A Bolton Road, BN21 3JX, ☎ +44 1323 410751, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- The Marine, 61 Seaside, BN22 7NE, ☎ +44 1323 720464. It is always a friendly and comfortable place, but is at its best around Christmas time, when an extraordinary array of festive lights turns it into a fairyland to enchant young and old alike.
- The Lamb, 36 High Street, BN21 1HH, ☎ +44 1323 720545. This is the oldest pub in Eastbourne in the Old Town area, built in the 12th century.
- Atlantis Nightclub, Eastbourne Pier, Grand Parade, BN21 3EL, ☎ +44 1323 410466, fax: +44 1323 738918. A nightclub on the pier, quite popular in the town with young people and language school students in the summer.
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.
- The Hydro, Mount Road, BN20 7HZ, ☎ +44 1323 720643, e-mail: email@example.com. once featured in a TV Agatha Christie adaptation
- The Grand Hotel, King Edwards Parade, BN21 4EQ, ☎ +44 1323 412345, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. which is a classical five star hotel, yet run in a friendly atmosphere
- da Vinci Hotel & Art Gallery, 10 Howard Square, BN21 4BQ, ☎ +44 1323 727173, fax: +44 1323 400118, e-mail: email@example.com. which claims to be the UK's first art hotel.
For those on more modest budgets, there are plenty of family-run, welcoming small hotels such as
- The Atlanta Guest House, 10 Royal Parade, BN22 7AR (located on the seafront close to the pier), ☎ +44 1323 730486, fax: +44 1323 723228, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Devonshire Park Hotel, Carlisle Road, BN21 4JR (near the main theatres), ☎ +44 1323 728144, e-mail: email@example.com.
- New Wilmington Hotel, Compton Street, BN21 4DU (near the main theatres), ☎ +44 1323 721219, fax: +44 1323 746255, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Royal Hotel (The Royal), 8-9 Marine Parade, BN21 3DX (on seafront by Eastbourne Pier), ☎ +44 1323 649222, e-mail: email@example.com. 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£.
- Belle Tout Lighthouse, Belle Tout Lighthouse, Beachy Head, Eastbourne, BN20 0AE, ☎ +44 1323 423185, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, ☎ +44 1323 874100, e-mail: email@example.com. 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 Long Man of Wilmington, Near Wilmington. Car park is open all year, 24 hours a day. A prehistoric chalk representation of a man carved into the side of a hill. Walking on the figure or the surrounding vegetation is not permitted. Admission to the site and car park is free.
- 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|