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With so much to see and do in East Sussex, it can be hard to decide what pack to into 48 hours. Which is why we’ve picked out a few highlights – from art to outdoor adventures and culture to craft beers.
What better way to start the weekend than with some leisurely shopping in Lewes? This pretty, historic town at the foot of the South Downs has an eclectic mix of independent boutiques, selling stylish clothing and home wares, quirky bookshops and antique markets.
Once you’ve shopped you can drop in one of their many great cafes for lunch. Bill’s is a local’s favourite – but make sure you book a table. From Lewes it’s a 50-minute train journey to Hastings, where you can visit the award-winning Hastings Contemporary, which features a diverse range of contemporary British art.
Hastings is also worth exploring, having transformed itself from a scruffy seaside resort into a hipster haven. There are great shops, a stunning new pier with pop-ups and performances, and one of the country’s coolest cinemas in St Leonards, called Kino-Teatr.
If you only visit one shop make sure it’s AG Hendy, which is owned by food journalist and photographer Alastair Hendy. He painstakingly restored the building back to its original Georgian glory and its full of fabulous home wares. There is also a seriously good seafood restaurant out the back, but it’s only open for lunch.
For dinner you should try the Thai cafe at Boulevard Books. Yes, it’s a bookshop, but in the evenings the maze of narrow corridors are turned into a dining room with a difference. The ingredients are shipped in from Thailand, to create an authentic menu. From here there are around 100 pubs, bars and gig venues where you can grab a craft ale or cocktail. Try not to stay out too late, as we’ve got a packed agenda the next day.
From Hastings you can take a 10-minute train journey to Bexhill-on-Sea, to visit the De La Warr Pavilion. It’s an amazing Grade 1-listed 1930s modernist building on the seafront, with two galleries. It’s also a great spot for lunch, as the cafe has outside balconies and glorious sea views. Alternatively, why not rent a bike, pack a picnic (Penbuckles Deli sells an array of mouth-watering goodies) and enjoy the coastal cycle route, which runs from Hastings to Bexhill?
If you’ve got time you can easily lose a few hours in Rye. Check out Lamb House where Henry James once live or wander around the numerous antique stalls. There’s a lovely circular walk from Rye Harbour, through the bird sanctuary down to Winchelsea Beach and back, which you can follow up with grilled mackerel or a juicy burger at the newly refurbished William the Conqueror.
For something a bit more energetic, what better way to spend the afternoon than a bracing walk along the South Coast? From Eastbourne you can pick up the South Downs Way, where the spectacular coastline takes in famous spots such as Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters Country Park.
What better way to end your trip than with Sunday roast? The Beachy Head in Eastbourne oozes rural charm and rustic character, and has great views of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs and a fantastic menu. With a full belly and 48 hours of fabulous fun, you should just about be ready for the journey back home.
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