Camping in Sussex

Coastal cliffs and verdant countryside are within easy reach in this south England county.

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Popular camping styles for Sussex

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Camping in Sussex guide

Overview

From the buzzing seaside resort of Brighton to the wild landscapes of the South Downs National Park, Sussex sets the stage for a country getaway—all within a 2-hour drive of London. Hike along white-chalk sea cliffs, picnic on the grounds of a medieval castle, or stroll along pebble beaches with views across to the Isle of Wight. Here the quaint countryside gives way to Sussex’s quirky and cool seaside resorts—plus, camping in Sussex is all about variety. Choose a woodland, river valley, or farmland backdrop; pitch your tent right by the beachside; or check into a glampsite and spend a night in a treehouse, luxury yurt, or gypsy caravan. The south-coast location means Sussex benefits from some of the best weather in the UK, too.

Where to go

East Sussex

The coastal cities of Hastings and Eastbourne are perennial favourites for summer campers. Walk the sea cliffs, hit the beach to kayak or windsurf, or venture inland to explore medieval battlefields. The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty blankets much of the countryside, with nearly 1,500 miles of hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails to discover. The ancient woodlands of the High Weald are a fantastic place to see amazing displays of bluebells in springtime, and here, campers can find woodland campsites, farm sites, and places where you can have a campfire.

West Sussex

Brighton is Sussex’s flagship resort and the day-trip destination of choice for sun-seeking Londoners. Continue along the coast to traditional seaside towns like Worthing and Shoreham, enjoy woodland walks or river kayaking in the South Downs National Park, then park your campervan at a tranquil country campsite. Stretching from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne, the rolling hills and Chalky Downs that characterise South Downs cut a swathe across almost all of Sussex. There are plenty of campsites in the park, many within easy reach of the 100-mile South Downs Way.

Surrey

Southwest of London, Surrey’s country estates and historic towns sit among miles of picturesque countryside. Come in spring to experience the region’s many parks and gardens in full bloom, take a cruise along the River Thames, or head into the Surrey Hills to hike the North Downs Way national trail. It’s just as good for a quick camping fix at the weekend as it is for a week-long summer camping holiday.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Winchester is Hampshire’s headline act, with its medieval cathedral and lively street markets. Outside the city, head to the New Forest National Park to walk, camp, and admire the free-roaming herds of wild ponies. Along the coast, there’s beachside camping at Barton on Sea and Milford-on-Sea, and ferries set sail for the Isle of Wight.

Family-friendly camping in Sussex

Adults-only sites aside, camping is kid-friendly more often than not. It doesn’t really matter if there’s a playground—children tend to take to camping like ducks to water. Plus, many campsites do have kid-friendly facilities and special activities—think nature trails, forest school activities, or storytelling sessions. Some have tree swings, and farm sites may have the opportunity to meet some farm animals. Apart from all this fun, Sussex houses plenty of kid-friendly attractions, from English Heritage sites like Battle Abbey to seaside funfairs in Hastings and Brighton. You might like to visit Drusillas Park too, a zoo with lots of play areas.

Popular places to visit in Sussex

During your camping holiday in Sussex, you may just fancy sitting by the campfire and gazing at the scenery. But if you do want to get out and about, there are plenty of places to visit.

  • Brighton is popular for its pier, pavilion, and lively cultural scene.
  • East along the coast, Eastbourne and Hastings are other seaside resorts worth a visit for ice cream, amusements ,and Victorian architecture.
  • The towns of Rye, Lewes, and Battle are all charming spots with fascinating histories. In Battle, you can visit the site of the Battle of Hastings and the nearby Herstmonceux Observatory Science Centre for hands-on activities.
  • Nature lovers love Knepp Wildland, a 500-acre rewilding project in West Sussex.
  • The National Trust has a number of properties in Sussex including Sheffield Park and Gardens and the moated Bodiam Castle.
  • Heritage railways are popular, too—the Bluebell Railway and Kent and East Sussex Railway can be great days out for all ages.

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