The magnificent scenery of the South East coast is home to a rich variety of galleries, museums, theatre and heritage sites.
Known as England’s Creative Coast, the South East has a wide range of cultural attractions. Here you’ll find world-class art galleries including the modern Turner Contemporary in Margate, the stunning 1930’s De La Warr Pavilion in East Sussex, the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne and the newly re-opened Hastings Contemporary. Alongside these are a number of impressive local art galleries such as the Worthing Museum and Art Gallery which hosts one of the most significant costume collections in the UK.
The South East is also home to a number of interesting museums covering everything from prehistoric artefacts at Dover Museum with its 3000 year old Bronze Age boat, to maritime history at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, to moving personal wartime accounts at The D-Day Story. There are also some fantastic specialist museums such as the Dickens House Museum, the Diving Museum and Anne of Cleves Museum to mention just a few.
If you're looking for things to do on the South East Coast, then we're ready to inspire you!
Explore royal residences, castles and stately homes as well as seaside gems.
The South East has some of our most important and interesting heritage sites. The exotic Royal Pavilion in Brighton and the palatial Osborne House on the Isle of Wight were once residences of the Royals, impressive both for their ornate architecture and historic grandeur.
Guarding the coastal entrance to Dover for over nine centuries, and situated on the White Cliffs themselves, Dover Castle is a formidable and impressive medieval fortress. A visit to the Great Tower and secret wartime tunnels - from which the Dunkirk Evacuation of World War Two was controlled - are a must. Likewise the Dover Transport Museum offers an interesting insight to the past. Equally impressive are the castles at Arundel, Lewes and Carisbrooke – each with a different story to tell, set in stunning locations.
It was the Victorians who were the first to visit the seaside in significant numbers, escaping from the city to the coast to sample the cool waters and fresh sea air. This legacy has given our coastal towns a wealth of rich seaside heritage such as Brighton Palace Pier for example, or the iconic piers at Eastbourne, Worthing, Hastings and Ryde. Today you can take in outstanding panoramic views from modern structures now dominating the skyline, don’t miss the Brighton i360 or Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.
Get active in stunning landscapes or chill out in cool cities, the south east coast is all just a short hop from London
The South Downs National Park is a great place to get active. If you’re feeling adventurous you can follow the 90-mile South Downs Way on foot, bike or on horse. The undulating chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters are ideal for hiking and provide jaw-dropping coastal views across rolling farmland, ancient woodland and heaths, while the picturesque villages are perfect for a country pub lunch.
White Cliffs Country in Kent, where coast meets countryside and relaxation meets adventure, offers more than 30 wonderful walking routes and exciting alternatives for experiencing the beautiful outdoor spaces of this unique destination. Take in the splendour of the White Cliffs of Dover - a world-famous natural feature, formed from a ten-mile-long wall of chalk – on foot, on two wheels or, alternatively, enjoy a unique perspective of the cliffs from the water, with an exhilarating fast boat ride around the shoreline.
Recently made a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, the Isle of Wight has a wealth of walking and cycling routes including the 70-mile round-the-island cycle challenge. Whilst the West Sussex coast is a haven for water sports activities, why not try paddle boarding through Chichester Harbour?
Alternatively, choose from a variety of buzzing cities such as Brighton, with its Victorian shopping streets and regional theatres, concert venues and nightlife. Explore the port towns of Dover, Portsmouth and neighbouring Gosport with their fantastic range of museums, shops and attractions. Or embrace the seaside revival at Broadstairs and Ramsgate and don’t miss a ride on the oldest rollercoaster in the UK at Dreamland in Margate.
Find the best things to do on the South East Coast in one place
Click the link above to see our interactive map of the South East with clickable businesses and attractions.
There are several trains an hour from central London to both Brighton (1 hour) and Eastbourne (2 hours) with connecting services along the coast. London to Margate is just over 1 hour 30 minutes by train, and London to Dover can be as fast as 1 hour 4 minutes. Visit Southern or South Eastern Railways for the most up to date information.
Several coaches a day from central London to Margate, Brighton and Eastbourne in under three hours.
Home of the Dover Sole
The southeast is known for Whitstable oysters, skate, cod, plaice, lobster, crab and huss amongst others. Most notable though are Dover Sole, named after the area's main port, a delicate flat fish that is a treat on a plate. The warm climate in the southeast gives fantastic fresh produce from the land, so you will experience the best of both worlds on your plate.Learn More