Heritage Centre Strand Quay, Rye, East Sussex

The Basics

Whether you’re interested in literature, nature, or history, there’s something to suit most in Rye. Pay a visit to Lamb House, the former home of Henry James; stroll through the Rye Harbour Coastal Reserve, stopping at the ruins of Camber Castle; or learn about the region’s history before climbing the Ypres Tower at the Rye Castle Museum. Back in town, don’t miss the St Mary’s parish church or picturesque Mermaid Street, which is home to historic smugglers pubs and several curiosity shops.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • Rye—once home to Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and HG Wells—is a must-visit for literature fans.

  • Animal lovers should make a note to visit the Rye Harbour Coastal Reserve, a hotspot for rare British birds.

  • There are usually guided tours of Camber Castle on the first Saturday of the month in summer.

  • Rye is known for ceramics, so be sure to pick up some hand-painted pottery while you’re in town—the "Sussex Pig" is a classic design.

  • Medieval Rye is known for cobbled streets and narrow sidewalks so may not be fully wheelchair or stroller accessible.

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How to Get There

Rye is situated in Sussex, roughly 76 miles (122 kilometers) southeast of central London. As such, most travelers find it easiest to arrive by car, following the A21 past Royal Tunbridge Wells. There are also regular trains that head to Rye from Charing Cross in London. Change at Ashford International Station.

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When to Get There

Rye is an excellent year-round destination although the summer months welcome more visitors and better weather. Stop by midweek for a quieter overall experience. Alternatively, time your visit to coincide with one of the annual Rye festivals and events, such as February’s Rye Bay Scallop Week, May’s Rye New Mayor Making Ceremony, or the annual Bonfire Night celebrations in November.

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What to Do in Sussex

Sussex is one of the most picturesque home counties with plenty of charming villages and kilometers of coastline to explore. The South Downs National Park is unmissable for nature lovers, Brighton is a popular party city known for its annual Pride festivities, and Haywards Heath is home to one of England’s oldest vineyards: Bolney Wine Estate.

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