Situated between lively London and the shimmering English Channel sprawls the captivating countryside of Sussex. With rolling hills, winding rivers, timeworn forests and storybook villages dotted across its landscape, this county presents endless possibilities for outdoor lovers to hike, bike, paddle and camp through some of England’s most breathtaking scenery.
From the panoramic South Downs to the dramatic Seven Sisters cliffs and charming towns like Rye, you’ll discover famous trails, hidden cycle paths, adrenaline-pumping watersports and cosy campsites perfect for connecting with nature.
Why Sussex Shines for Outdoor Activities
Blessed with mild weather, varied terrain, and bountiful natural splendour, Sussex has emerged as a premier destination for outdoor recreation. Situated in England’s balmy southeast, Sussex enjoys warmer temperatures than much of the UK. Even on brisk days, you can comfortably explore the outdoors here. Clear skies provide stunning views from the trails and waters.
Sussex offers the perfect blend of coastline, villages, market towns and unspoiled countryside. You’re never too far from civilisation, but can easily find wild, remote spots. Historic villages like Alfriston and Birling Gap contrast from the cosmopolitan style of Brighton, to offer shopping and dining when you need a break from the trails. The diversity of landscapes here means you’ll never get bored. Each hike, ride or paddle promises new vistas and terrains to discover. With mild weather, diverse scenery and endless natural beauty, Sussex is one of England’s top destinations for enjoying the great outdoors.
Lace up your boots and head out on an adventure on some of England’s finest hiking trails. The South Downs Way is the jewel in the county’s crown when it comes to trekking. Traversing the entire expanse of the South Downs, this 100 mile national trail offers stunning vistas of the undulating chalk landscapes and the English Channel beyond. Challenge yourself to walk the entire route over several days, or pick a smaller section for a day hike.
If you’re looking for coastal scenery, head to the Seven Sisters Country Park, one of Sussex’s most beautiful hidden gems. The undulating trails here take you along dramatic white cliffs and through lush countryside. Meander along the cliff’s edge and make sure to look for the hidden gems in East Sussex, like tiny Birling Gap.
In the heart of Ashdown Forest lies one of Sussex’s most famous hiking spots. Made famous as the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh tales, this protected heathland offers miles of walking trails past gorse-filled fields dotted with ancient gnarled oak trees. With its array of picturesque routes, Sussex promises hikers jaw-dropping vistas around every turn.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush on the water, Sussex offers prime conditions for an array of watersports. The River Ouse near Lewes provides an excellent spot for canoeing and kayaking. Paddle along this scenic river and keep an eye out for kingfishers and other wildlife along the banks. Guided tours are also available for beginners.
Brighton’s beaches lure windsurfers and kitesurfers with their perfect mix of favourable winds and rideable waves. Novices can take lessons to learn how to tame the sea breezes and surf, while experts are drawn to test their skills on the ideal conditions. With boards ready and kites flying high, riders in Brighton harness the ocean elements then launch onto the water to ride along powerful wind gusts and surf the swells. For new and seasoned riders alike, the shores of Brighton offer epic wind and wave terrain for windsurfing and kitesurfing adventures. The thrill of cutting through waves propelled by wind power awaits in this seaside hub.
Suit up and hold on tight as you harness the wind to propel you at thrilling speeds across the water. With its mix of rivers, seaside towns and coastal winds, Sussex offers watersports for all tastes from the mellow to the extreme.
With its mix of coastal routes, country lanes and traffic-free trails, Sussex is a haven for cycling enthusiasts. One highlight is a portion of the Avenue Verte, a waymarked cycle path spanning from London to Paris. A section of this route from Crawley to East Grinstead offers cyclists a smooth, car-free ride through the Sussex countryside.
For those seeking seaside cycling, the Tide Mills area near Newhaven offers a coastal village ruin and relatively flat terrain perfect for a relaxed ride. Pedal along the breezy seafront and take in unique views of the abandoned tide mill. For expert cyclists, there’s also the Bramber-Steyning loop that offers picturesque village views. With its country trails, coastal routes and traffic-free paths, Sussex promises cyclists the ability to ride through rolling scenery at their own pace.
Camping and Glamping
After a day of outdoor adventures, Sussex provides many options for resting your head amid nature. For a traditional camping experience, check out Beech Estate Campsite near Battle, where you can pitch a tent under the trees of this secluded campground, or go glamping at Woodfire at Firle, an off-grid campsite within the South Downs National Park. With these varied options for camping or glamping, Sussex invites you to immerse yourself in nature while sleeping under the stars.
For a dash of luxury while still steeped in nature, go glamping at one of the more secluded campsites within the South Downs National Park. These sites allow you to sleep under the stars and revel in the natural splendour while also providing cosy beds, campfire cooking and amenities like outdoor showers. Sleep in a safari-style tent or shepherd’s hut with cosy beds, enjoy campfire cooking and experience outdoor showers and composting toilets.
With wooded campgrounds, luxurious glamping options and farm-based campsites, Sussex has varied options for camping or glamping, depending on the vibe of your trip. There’s no better way to recharge for the next adventure than by sleeping under the stars. Pitch a tent at a secluded campground, or go glamping in a cosy hut or sailcloth tent. Wake up refreshed, ready to take on the wealth of active pursuits that Sussex has to offer.
Whether you love hiking trails, cycling country roads, or getting your adrenaline pumping with thrilling water sports, you’ll find endless ways to revel in the great outdoors across this stunning county. Sussex calls out to adventurers of every kind — come embrace its natural riches before your next active escape. You can trek for days through rolling hills, cycle coastal routes or forest paths, or take to the waters, paddling peaceful rivers or kitesurfing crashing waves.
From the famous trails of the Seven Sisters to hidden gem villages tucked away, Sussex promises beautiful landscapes to explore. Its hills, forests, rivers and coast give outdoor enthusiasts endless options to challenge themselves physically while also enjoying nature’s peace and beauty.