Sussex

A Guide to Chichester, Sussex

With the peace and quiet of the countryside combined with the wealth of activities and events across the city, visitors to Chichester in West Sussex will be spoilt for choice. At only 90 minutes by train from London Victoria and easily accessible via car, the city is an idyllic spot for a reviving getaway, whether you would like to relax or dive straight into the action.

A walled city in West Sussex, Chichester has everything you could wish for and more in a luxury holiday destination. Rubbing shoulders with the country’s rural elite, it sits within easy reach of the South Downs, New Forest, High Weald AONB, Isle of Wight and, of course, mile upon mile of jaw-dropping coastline. Whether you’re using it as a base to explore the surrounding areas or simply want to lose yourself to the city for a while, it has a year-round appeal that makes it popular with all generations.

Perfectly situated for long walks through pastoral havens and days spent by the sea as it is, the beautiful landscapes surrounding the city are not all that beckon visitors to the area. Chichester itself is a hugely attractive place, with quaint streets and roads lined with Georgian buildings and fascinating architecture all encompassed by ancient city walls. If you’ve already booked your luxury retreat or are planning your getaway, here are some of the best places to see in Chichester during your stay. 

Top Things to Do in Chichester

Chichester Cathedral

When planning your list of things to see in Chichester, the city’s famous cathedral should be at the top of your list. With donations requested on entrance, the 12th Century cathedral has been at the heart of the community for nearly a thousand years. Wander underneath the building’s impressive ceilings taking in the intricate details, visit the Arundel Tomb, and marvel at the stained-glass windows.

Fishbourne Roman Palace 

The remains of Britain’s largest domestic Roman building can be seen at Fishbourne Roman Palace in Chichester. Preserved within the walls of a covered building, the Roman palace’s stunning mosaic walls, underfloor heating systems and courtyards are available for all to see. The nearby Novium Museum is also a must-visit, showcasing information about local archaeological digs and the intriguing treasures found.

Chichester Festival Theatre

One of the UK's first thrust stage theatres, the Grade II* listed Chichester Festival Theatre is the place to go for unforgettable entertainment. First opened in 1962, it has spent the last six decades hosting local, national and international productions and continues to inspire and entertain audiences with live performances across all mediums and genres. 

Goodwood House

Goodwood’s stunning country house sits at the centre of a huge 12,000-acre estate in the heart of West Sussex. One of the greatest hubs of energy and entertainment in the country, it boasts an extensive catalogue of world-famous events and attractions throughout the year, including the Qatar Goodwood Festival, Goodwood Revival and Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Pallant House Gallery 

Pallant House Gallery is one of Britain's leading modern art galleries and museums. Through permanent and temporary exhibitions and collections across 20 galleries, it tells the story of British art history from 1900 to the present day. Displaying works from the greatest British artists of all time, you can expect to see the likes of Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. 

West Dean Gardens

West Dean Gardens is one of the greatest restored gardens in the South East and situated just a short drive from the city of Chichester. Comprised of a patchwork of historical garden and grounds, just some its highlights include 13 Victorian glasshouses overflowing with orchids, fuchsias, figs; a 300ft pergola; flowing streams and flint bridges; and 50 acres of beautiful parkland.

Kingley Vale Nature Reserve

With its groves of twisted yew trees and dappled light, Kingley Vale Nature Reserve makes for one of the most beautiful places for walks in Sussex. The country’s first designated National Nature Reserve, its ancient woodland and chalk grassland have been protected since 1952 and today provide a real haven for both its human visitors and resident wildlife species alike. As well as its 500-year-old yews, the reserve’s historic features include 14 scheduled monuments. 

Salterns Way

The Salterns Way footpath and cycle path is a 12-mile cycle path that runs from Chichester to West Wittering near East Head. Easy to navigate, the point-to-point route involves a stretch of main road at the beginning, but after that is mostly level and traffic-free. Hop on your bike and pedal away, enjoying the scenery at your own pace.

Weald & Downland Living Museum

The Weald & Downland Living Museum is a great family-friendly attraction that truly brings the past to life. Featuring lots of different exhibits and true-to-life buildings, it allows you to see how people lived and worked hundreds of years ago. If parts of the 40-acre site look familiar to you, you may recognise the Weald & Downland Living Museum as being the home of the BBC's Repair Shop series.

South Downs National Park

Think the South Downs National Park, think soaring white cliffs, chalk grassland, woodlands and lowland heath – a habitat rarer than rainforest. The newest of the UK’s National Parks and an International Dark Sky Reserve, this stunning park is as beautiful during the day as it is at night for hours of stargazing. It’s also home to the South Downs Way – walked for more than 6,000 years. 

Priory Park

When the sun is shining, Priory Park in Cirencester is a wonderful place to laze away the hours. Whether you’re laying out a picnic blanket and relaxing under the sun’s warming rays or are exploring the park’s three scheduled monuments (the Roman city walls, the Grade I-listed Guildhall and the remains of a Norman motte), it’s a lovely spot to enjoy some downtime. 

Chichester Harbour Cycle Path

An area of undeveloped coastland, Chichester Harbour AONB is made up of a series of overhung creeks, tidal inlets and winding waterways that eventually lead out to sea. A beautiful area to explore by boat, it can also be explored on two wheels along the Chichester Harbour Cycle Way. A 13-mile circular route, the route is virtually flat and makes for a wonderful multi-generational activity.

City Tours

If you’d like to learn more about Chichester, then a guided tour provides the perfect opportunity to hear all about the city’s past, from the Romans to modern history. For an immersive experience, guided walking tours are available around Chichester and take in city highlights, including Chichester Cathedral, the Chichester Market Cross and the Roman city walls.

Shopping

If you have had enough adventures for one day, pop in and out of the multitude of little shops and boutiques sitting along the city’s streets. With some of the best shopping in Sussex, the city proudly parades popular retailers alongside independent stores so that all tastes are well and truly catered for. For vintage clothing, Crane Street in Chichester is the place to go. Once you’ve finished, pull up a pew in one of the city’s award-winning eateries and tuck into fruits of the county.

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