Brighton and the South Downs 3 day trip

Brighton - Lewes - South Downs

3 days

This 3 day Brighton and South Downs itinerary explores one of Britain’s most popular coastal regions. From the bustling city of Brighton to the charming medieval town of Lewes, both are set right in the heart of the gently rolling green hills of the South Downs, and the dramatic Seven Sisters Cliffs are just a short train ride away.

For short trips like this one, individual rail tickets can be booked in advance through the Trainline. For longer journeys, one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore Britain is with a BritRail Pass, which allows unlimited journeys and the freedom to explore.

Start your journey

Brighton is just an hour’s journey from London by train. Trains run regularly from London Victoria, London Bridge and London St Pancras International.

Day 1

Brighton

The colourful, creative city of Brighton is loved for its seaside walks, independent shops and live music scene, and is a great place to stay. With traditional pubs and restaurants, fantastic shopping, and the magnificent royal palace known as Brighton Pavilion, the city has a fantastic buzz. Brighton station is right in the centre of the city, within easy walking distance of most of the city’s main attractions, from the pier to the historic shopping district known as The Lanes.

Things to do in Brighton

Brighton Pavilion

King George IV’s magnificent pleasure palace is known, rather understatedly, as Brighton Pavilion. Built with grand Indian-style architecture on the outside, its interior is decorated like a Chinese palace, with golden dragons and brilliant colours. A guided tour is the best way to reveal its fascinating history. The Pavilion is a 10 minute walk from Brighton station.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

Brighton Sea Life Centre

Home to sharks, stingrays, seahorses, turtles and more, the SEA LIFE Centre is the perfect place to learn all about life underwater, conservation and the animals’ feeding habits. It is just 10 minutes from the train station on foot.

Book on the Visit Britain shop

British Airways i360

One of the best views of Brighton can be found at the top of the futuristic BA i360, the world’s tallest moving observation tower. Soaring 138 metres, the tower’s glass viewing pod boasts views of Regency Brighton, the beautiful landscapes of the South Downs and, on a clear day, all the way to Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters and the Isle of Wight.

Website: British Airways i360

Day 2

Lewes

The beautiful medieval town of Lewes is a true rural idyll, complete with its own historic castle. It’s famous for its yearly bonfire to commemorate Guy Fawkes night, which sees a lively procession through the streets with burning pitch barrels and live music. Lewes is a 15 minute train journey from Brighton.

Things to do in Lewes

Lewes Castle & Museum

Around 1,000 years old, Lewes Castle was built by Norman invaders in the 11th century, and is one of only two castles of its kind in the country. A climb to the top of its tower, for fantastic views across the Sussex countryside, is not to be missed. For a dose of the area’s history, the Museum of Sussex Archaeology in the adjoining Barbican more than delivers. Lewes Castle is a 5 minute walk from Lewes station.

Website: Lewes Castle & Museum

Anne of Cleves House Museum

The house of King Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, showcases this colourful king through the eyes of one of his many brides. It’s a beautiful Tudor townhouse which serves up a taste of life in the 16th century, from its authentically furnished kitchen to its traditional Tudor garden. It’s just a 5 minute walk from Lewes station.

Website: Anne of Cleves House Museum

Day 3

South Downs

The South Downs hosts some of Britain’s most iconic and captivating countryside. This range of rolling hills, woodland and fields ends at the coast in some truly dramatic cliffs, known as the Seven Sisters. This area is best explored via an afternoon stroll, or by making a day of it with a long hike through this beautiful landscape.

Things to do in the South Downs

Arundel Castle

A castle has stood in Arundel since the 11th century, and its impressive façade can be seen for miles around, standing out against the surrounding woodland of the Sussex countryside. Today’s castle  saw extensive remodelling in the 18th and 19th centuries, after sustaining damage during the English Civil War, and today is a fascinating mix of medieval fortification and Victorian stately home. The castle is home to a regular calendar of exciting events and re-enactments of sieges and battles. It is about an hour and five minutes from Brighton, changing at Ford for Arundel.

Website: Arundel Castle

Goodwood House

Goodwood has been home to the Dukes of Richmond for over 300 years. The picturesque parkland of the Goodwood Estate provides a stunning backdrop to Goodwood House, one of the finest stately homes in the country.

Goodwood House is easily accessible. From Brighton it is a regular 50 minute direct train service to Chichester and then a 15 minute taxi ride from the station.

Website: Goodwood House

Britrail Pass

For those exploring Britain by train, a BritRail Pass is the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel. For a single fixed price, pass holders can make unlimited train journeys around the whole country or a region of their choice. BritRail tickets are exclusive to overseas visitors so they will need to buy their ticket before they arrive in the UK.

Find out more about BritRail Pass