We feel lucky enough to live in Surrey, not far from West Sussex, the sunniest county in the UK. West and East Sussex hold the 29-year record of the sunniest place in the country.
West Sussex, located in the south of England, has a long history of human settlement, dating back to the Old Stone Age. The county's beautiful countryside, quaint villages and historical landmarks offer a serene escape from the bustle of modern life. From the tranquil shores of Chichester Harbour to the majestic South Downs National Park, the county offers a diverse range of outdoor experiences.
While East Sussex may often get more tourist attention with its lively attractions like Brighton and the iconic Seven Sisters, West Sussex offers a more peaceful environment.
West Sussex can be a great destination for a day trip from London or even a weekend getaway. If you are planning a visit and not sure where to go, this article has your back. After making numerous day trips to Sussex, we compiled a list of the most beautiful villages and towns in West Sussex including what to do and how to get there. And if your curiosity extends further, don't miss our post on the top places to visit in East Sussex.
You can also read: Best Lodges with Hot Tubs in Sussex
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Top places to visit in West Sussex
Arundel is one of the picturesque towns in West Sussex. It is mostly known for its two stunning landmarks - Arundel Castle and Arundel Cathedral.
This small town, with a population of 3,000 people, has been named one of the best places to live in the UK. It holds a rich historical legacy. In the past, Arundel served as a bustling market town and a crucial inland port.
Without any doubt, the main attraction here is Arundel Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in England.
The history of Arundel Castle dates back to 1000 years ago. It was built at the end of the 11th Century by the Norman noble Roger de Montgomery. During the Civil War, the original castle was badly damaged, but some of the original features such as the Norman Keep, medieval Gatehouse and Barbican survived.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Arundel Castle underwent a transformation, nearly rebuilding the entire structure in a Gothic style, what we see today.
Arundel is only 65 miles away from London. The most convenient and common way to get here is to drive. There is a car park behind the castle where you can park for the entire day for just £5.
Where to stay in Arundel, West Sussex
Swan Hotel is located in the heart of Arundel. This 4-star hotel dates back to 1754 and was refurbished in 2012.
The Town House is another great place to stay in Arundel. This 3-star hotel was built in the 19th century, offering family rooms
Just a short drive from Arundel and 10 miles west of Brighton, Worthing is one of the most beautiful places to visit in West Sussex. Plus, Worthing has earned the distinction of being named the best seaside town to move to in 2023 by lifestyle website Muddy Stilettos and also by The Sunday Times.
While once known as a tranquil retirement haven, Worthing has undergone a vibrant transformation. The town now boasts an array of cocktail bars, boutique shops, and art galleries that breathe new life into its streets.
Worthing officially earned its town status at the turn of the 19th century, a distinction attributed to Princess Amelia, the daughter of King George III, who chose the town for her holiday retreat.
The main attraction here is the Worthing Pier, dating back to 1862. You will find a long pebble beach on both sides of the pier, a great place for relaxing or water sports.
Worthing has a laid-back vibe and gets fewer tourists than its more popular neighbours. If you are thinking of moving to this seaside town, you should know that the average house price here is around £370,000, making it significantly cheaper than London.
Where to stay in Worthing
Marina Vista is a luxury seafront accommodation in Worthing, offering different apartments for families or a group of friends.
Ardington Hotel is a 3-star beachfront hotel in Worthing, located just 100 meters from the promenade and pier.
Horsham is a historic market town, located only 31 miles south of London. This town might look modern, but it dates back at least to the 10th century. The first written record of Horsham was in 947 AD. Centuries later, the Doomsday Book of 1086 mentioned it as a large village, and by the 13th century, Horsham had grown into a small town.
Initially, Horsham was famous for its horses, but as time went on the town’s main trade switched to tanning leather and brewing beer. Nowadays, Horsham is a vibrant town and home to an array of trending restaurants, bars, cafes and shops.
One of the best things to do in Horsham is stroll around the town centre, you will find so many cute narrow alleys. One of the most beautiful streets here is Causeway, where you find historic houses and buildings. And at the end of the street, you can visit St Mary’s Church.
If you are here on Saturday, make sure to check out Horsham Market, where you will find local produce, products and a great selection of takeaway food and drinks.
Where to stay in Horsham
Springfields is a 4-star accommodation just 500 metres from Horsham Park and Horsham Museum. This B&B offers modern rooms and traditional English breakfasts.
Kristina's Coach House is another great place for couples to stay in Horsham. It is a one-bedroom property with a garden and patio.
The historic town of Steyning shines as one of the prettiest towns in West Sussex, located against the stunning backdrop of the South Downs. Steyning's history goes all the way back to around 750 AD as Saint Cuthman's town. This rich past is wonderfully kept alive through its architecture.
The old High Street feels like a time machine, with charming timber-framed buildings that give us a glimpse into what life used to be like.
Long ago, Steyning was an important port by the River Adur. The Normans really liked it, and you can still see their influence in the big church and old castle ruins nearby in Bramber.
However, Steyning offers more than just history; it's a great place to visit. There are plenty of boutique shops, restaurants, pubs, and cosy tea rooms.
For those who enjoy outdoor activities, Steyning is also a fantastic destination. It's known for welcoming walkers. You can easily get to the stunning South Downs and start your adventure from here. There are simple walks by the Adur Valley or more challenging hikes on the South Downs Way.
Where to stay in Steyning
The Castle Inn Hotel is a lovely old Georgian mansion with modern facilities, just a mile from Steyning town centre. It offers a range of fine ales and a choice of wines. There is a games room for playing pool, and a full English breakfast is provided each morning.
Springwells House is a charming guesthouse with a seasonal outdoor swimming pool. It offers spacious rooms.
Midhurst is another beautiful market town in West Sussex, surrounded by the South Downs. Midhurst has wide streets with a good sense of space, striking buildings, unusual shops and an interesting history.
It isn’t still under the radar of many travellers. Many people visit the nearby Chichester or go directly to the coastal towns. But if you want a more authentic English charm, you need to explore Midhurst. This town is indeed one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Sussex.
While strolling through Midhurst, you'll likely notice that there are many houses with yellow-painted window frames and doors. This distinctive colour scheme indicates these properties belong to the Cowdray Estate. The choice of yellow traces back to the 1st Viscount Cowdray, who had strong ties to the Liberal Party, having served as an MP for Colchester between 1895 and 1910.
There is plenty to see and do in and around Midhurst and the countryside around the town is extremely beautiful. The Rother Valley and the nearby South Downs offer countless opportunities to find peace and quiet. Keep in mind that the public transport options are limited and the most convenient way to visit Midhurst and surrounding areas is by car.
Where to stay in Midhurst
Spread Eagle Hotel And Spa, set within its own picturesque grounds is one of the best places to stay in Midhurst. This traditional inn dates back to 1430, offering a luxury and comfortable stay.
Stunning Georgian Flat in the heart of Midhurst old town is a one-bedroom property.
Amberley at the foot of the South Downs in the Arun Valley is, without doubt, one of the prettiest little villages in Sussex. If you never heard of this small village, take it as a good sign and consider it as a hidden gem in West Sussex.
It is located in the South Downs National Park and it is a great place for a day trip. If you love outdoor activities and walking, Amberley is your place. There are many hiking trails that lead from the village, including a stretch of the long-distance walking route, the Monarch’s Way, which runs alongside the River Arun.
The South Downs Way, a recognised National Trail, also passes very close to the heart of the village. It’s a popular route for walkers and cyclists alike.
The village by itself is pretty quiet with picturesque thatched cottages. There are a couple of country pubs and a tea room in the village, serving food and drinks. Amberley Castle and the Amberley Museum are the main attractions here.
Where to stay in Amberley
Amberley Castle- A Relais & Chateaux Hotel with a 900-year-old history is one of the most unique places to stay in Sussex. Guests can dine in the 12th-century Queen’s Room with its vaulted ceiling, or the Great Room, with oak flooring.
Spring Cottage is a three-bedroom house in the heart of the village and just 500 metres from Amberley Castle. The holiday home offers a private hot tub.
Chichester is the only city in West Sussex and one of the most charming cities on the South Coast. Chichester is just the right size to explore in a day, and the best way to discover its long history is on foot. it still has its original Roman street plan and the pedestrianised city centre is neatly enclosed within the ancient city walls.
Chichester is a lively city with a large selection of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars.
One of the main attractions here is Chichester Cathedral, which was built in the 11 century. The good news is that you can visit the cathedral free of charge and if you are interested to learn more about its history you can take a guided tour.
From the cathedral, you can head over to the Bishops Palace Gardens, which are very quiet and a lovely spot to read or rest your legs and a true hidden paradise!
Just four miles from Chichester city centre, you will find Chichester Harbour, a centre for sailing and wildlife enthusiasts. This large natural harbour is one of England’s designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Even though Chichester is known for being a sailing hub, it is a great place for a day out with miles of public footpaths and designated cycle paths.
Where to stay in Chichester
4 Canon Lane is a 4-star guesthouse, located in the heart of Chichester and only 90 meters from Chichester Cathedral. It is one of the top-rated accommodations in West Sussex.
East Pallant Bed and Breakfast is a stylish accommodation in Chichester, featuring on-site parking, a garden and a game room. It is only 400 meters from Chichester Cathedral.
Bosham is one of the oldest and most picturesque villages in West Sussex. This coastal village has a long and interesting history. Bosham was an important medieval port in Chichester Harbour, one of only three places in the harbour where wine could be landed.
Some historians believe that the Danish King Canute lived here and his eight-year-old daughter is buried in Bosham Church. He was the king who tried to stop the tide from rising.
Basically, he sat on a chair on the seashore as the tide was coming in, then he commanded the waves to stop rising, and obviously, the sea came up as usual and the King’s feet got wet.
Bosham is a popular place for sailing, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding. While in Bosham, make sure to check out the craft centre, where you will find a wide selection of arts, crafts and gifts produced by locals.
Where to stay in Bosham
Pass the Keys 3-bedroom Cottage, situated in the heart of beautiful Bosham is a great place for families or groups of friends. It features a patio and private parking.
Pass the Keys Historic Waterfront Home in Bosham is a 5-bedroom cottage, featuring a garden.