Eastbourne

Eastbourne Seafront

Eastbourne is a town in East Sussex, on England's South East coast.

Understand

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".

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 8 8 10 13 16 18 21 21 19 15 12 9
Nightly lows (°C) 4 3 5 6 10 12 15 15 13 10 7 4
Precipitation (mm) 81 54 59 49 49 47 49 52 64 105 96 91

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.

Get in

By car

The main roads into Eastbourne are the A27, which runs west to Brighton, and the A259, which heads east to Hastings. The A22 (joining the A27) goes north towards London.

By train

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.

Get around

By bus

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.

By taxi

"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:

The Pier in Eastbourne

See

Do

Cliffs and lighthouse at Beachy Head, Eastbourne
View of Birling Gap (right) and the Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven (back left) facing west.

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.

Events

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.

The Red Arrows flying over the beach during Airbourne

Buy

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.

One entrance to the Arndale Centre. The other entrance has been moved slightly, but you shouldn't miss it, there are enough signs around to point you in the right direction.

  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.

  Admiral Retail Park houses a large Tesco Extra store, Pets at Home, Homebase, Argos, Vokins, Wickes, McDonalds Drive-thru and Pizza Hut.

  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.

Eat

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.

Drink

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.

Sleep

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

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.

Go next

Other places of interest in the Eastbourne area

Routes through Eastbourne

Portsmouth Brighton  W  E  END
Croydon Uckfield  N  S  END
Chichester Worthing  W  E  Hastings Folkestone


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