The town has a reputation of being "God's waiting room" due to the high population of elderly residents, with one district of town having an average age of 71.1! Most of the population is younger, however, and you probably wouldn't see that many elderly people if you visited. The main shopping centre is being renovated to have more, better-known shops, which should make it even more popular with younger people.
Part of the town's charm is its largely undeveloped seafront, devoid of the amusements and loud activity associated with Brighton, its bigger and brasher western cousin. Eastbourne's front remains composed mainly of Victorian hotels, as much of Eastbourne has traditionally belonged to the Duke of Devonshire, who retains the rights to these buildings and refuses to allow them to be converted into shops.
The lovely 1935 bandstand remains, and traditional seafront concerts still take place every day in the holiday season for those content to listen and laze in a deckchair. The relative peace is only shattered in mid-August by the biggest event of the year for the town, "Airbourne". This justifably and proudly claims to be the South Coast's biggest free air display, and takes place over the sea attracting visitors of all ages during its four days. Many come just to see the world famous RAF Red Arrows who are regular visitors, but there are many other attractions at ground level too, such as live bands, with Scouting for Girls performing one year.
The main roads into Eastbourne are the A27, which runs west to Brighton, and the A259, which heads east to Hastings. The A22 (joining the A27) goes north towards London.
Southern Railway is the principal train company serving Eastbourne. It is linked by train to the west with Brighton, and to the east with Bexhill, Hastings and Ashford International (for Eurostar services to France and Belgium). There is a direct line to London, stopping in London at Clapham Junction, East Croydon and finally London Victoria, with trains running between two and three times an hour, journey time between 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. If you arrive at Gatwick Airport, you can catch a Southern train to Eastbourne (which is the same train as the London Victoria-Eastbourne train), with journey times here taking about 50 minutes to an hour. Trains also come from Bedford via St Pancras and Gatwick Airport and into Brighton; although the train doesn't go to Eastbourne, you can either change at Haywards Heath or Brighton for a separate train to Eastbourne.
Fare and timetable information is available from the Southern Railway website or National Rail Enquiries- tel. +44 8457 484950 (local rate call, UK only number)
By busServices within Eastbourne borough are mainly operated by Stagecoach Buses Ltd, which is the successor of the company to the world's first municipal bus operator. Stagecoach Buses also operate country services to Tunbridge Wells, Heathfield, Uckfield, Willingdon, Polegate, Pevensey Bay, Hailsham, Bexhill and Hastings.
Hailsham, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Willingdon and Hailsham are included in the local Eastbourne fare zonal system. Within the fare zone system there is an unlimited day rover ticket for £3.00, while single fares can be £1.90 as far as Polegate, rising to a higher price if continuing to Hailsham. A weekly ticket is available from the driver for £11.50 to cover this zone.
Town services are covered by services 1, 1A, 2, 3, 5, 5A and the LOOP, while out of town services are covered by services 1X, 51 (251), 52 (252), 54, 98 and 99 (as at 28 November 2010).
To Hailsham: 1X, 51, 52, 54, 98;
To Bexhill and Hastings: 98, 99;
To Heathfield: 51 and 52;
To Tunbridge Wells: 251 and 252 (same buses as for Heathfield, which are then prefixed with a 2 from Heathfield);
To Pevensey Bay: 99
Brighton is served by Brighton and Hove Buses on services 12, 12X and 13X. Brighton and Hove offer an excellent value all-day ticket for £5.00 from the driver, or £3.50 if purchased in advance on the Internet, which includes the return journey between the two towns and unlimited travel in Brighton and Hove. Those travellers who also wish to use local services in Eastbourne as well as wanting to go to Brighton for the day with unlimited travel, may wish to purchase an Explorer ticket on a Stagecoach bus for £5.50, which then gives total unlimited travel on most services in Kent and Sussex for one day, including all Stagecoach, Arriva and Brighton & Hove. Beware, if purchasing the same explorer ticket on a Brighton and Hove Bus, it costs £7.00, so the same ticket from Stagecoach is better value.
Services 12 and 12X serve East Dean, Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Rottingdean and Saltdean en route to Brighton from Eastbourne.
Eastbourne's art deco bus station closed some years ago, but almost all services now stop in a buses-only area of the main shopping precinct at Terminus Road, near the railway station. There is no formal bus office in the town centre, but information and timetables are posted at all stops in the central area. Limited bus information can be obtained from the Tourist Information office in Cornfield Road.
"Black cabs" are rarely seen on Eastbourne's streets, but taxis licensed by the local authority are readily available at all times from ranks either side of the railway station.
The two main taxi firms in Eastbourne are 720 Taxis and 726 Taxis; both are reliable:
phone: +44 1323 720720address: 1A Susans Road, BN21 3HA
phone: +44 1323 726726address: 2E Pevensey Road, BN21 3HJ
phone: +44 1323 746 746address: 9 Lismore Road
For pre-booked journeys try:
The Carpet GardensWhich are world famous.
Eastbourne Pierphone: +44 1323 410466address: Grand Parade, Eastbourne, BN21 3ELBuilt in 1870 with a theatre, camera obscura, and bar. Paddle steamers used to sail from here to Boulogne in France in the early 20th century, but stopped in World War II, when anti-aircraft guns were placed on it. The arcade was destroyed by a fire on the pier in 2014, and has since been renovated to make the pier safe. There are cafes, a restaurant, some shops, a fishing stage, a nightclub (see Drink), a fish and chip shop and great views on the pier.
phone: +44 1323 410300address: Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7AQBuilt in 1804 as part of the defences against a possible invasion of Britain by Napoleon. It has been used in both world wars and more recently, as a model village and an aquarium. It now houses a museum, gun parade, cafe and shop.
phone: +44 1323 434670address: Devonshire Park, College Road, Eastbourne BN21 4JJEastbourne's contemporary art gallery with about three exhibitions on at all times. It has a permanent room dedicated to local artist, Eric Ravillious, and a cafe run by Urban Ground (see Drink). If you are a fan of art, this is well worth a visit, and maybe also take a trip down the coast to the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and then the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. If you visit all three galleries, and get a stamp from each in a Coastal Culture Trail passport, you get 20% off in one of the gallery shops, see coastalculturetrail.com for more information.
phone: +44 1323 411189address: 2 Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4BTA museum all about Eastbourne's history, built in 1880, and is now Grade II listed. It's a short walk from the centre and just off the seafront, and is near to some nice restaurants too.
phone: +44 1323 423878Enjoy the views from 162m up, on top of the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain. See the century-old red and white lighthouse at the foot of the cliffs, and an earlier forerunner the Belle Tout lighthouse, built to warn shipping of the treacherous rocks in the vicinity, which is now a B&B. Also see views over the whole of Eastbourne, and see if you can spot Hastings on a clear day. From here, you could travel further along the coast to Birling Gap, or even the Cuckmere Haven.
phone: +44 1323 762604address: Castle Road, Pevensey, BN24 5LEThe first castle to be built in England after the Norman conquest.
Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railwayphone: +44 1323 520229address: Lottbridge Drove, BN23 6QJA great place for kids and children to hop onto a mini Steam engine.
phone: +44 845 2671200address: Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7LQA leisure centre with several swimming pools, gym, fitness suite, sauna and cafe. One swimming pool has a wave machine, fountains and a flume, which is popular with famililes during school holidays. There are also many classes, lessons and events going on here, such as gymnastics lessons, Zumba and swimming lessons.
- This 160-km-long footpath, which starts on the Western edge of the town and runs through the South Downs National Park as far as Winchester to the west is a must for any keen walker, even if you're not an avid hiker, you can walk just a little bit of the trail and enjoy the Sussex countryside. (The location on the marker is the start of the path on the edge of Eastbourne.)
Seven Sisters Country Park and Cuckmere HavenTake the number 12, 12X or 13X bus from the town centre to this country park at Exceat, about 8 km west of Eastbourne. The park has cycle hire through the Friston Forest, a cosy cafe-restaurant and a visitor centre. The estuary of the River Cuckmere winds through here in a distinctive meander to the sea and can be walked either side of the A259 road. You can also walk upstream along the side of the Cuckmere river and if you're lucky you may be able to find some samphire along the banks which can be picked, cooked and eaten.
This area of land is owned by the National Trust and has a cafe, gift shop and a small museum/visitor centre. You can start walks from here across the South Downs and there is also a set of stairs going down to the shingle beach. It is a two hour walk towards Holywell and Eastbourne itself along the beach.
EventsThe two biggest events in Eastbourne are Airbourne (in August) and the Nature Valley International (in June), with other events taking place mainly in summer. If you visit Eastbourne between May and September, visit the Western Lawns (near the Wishtower on the seafront, opposite the Grand Hotel) as quite often, there are events taking place there on the weekends.
For those with more eclectic tastes, is a good area of town to visit. While it's hard to ignore the several funeral directors in South Street and Grove Road, reflecting the higher than average proportion of aged residents of the town, there are many shops for those who want to live life to the full, whatever their age. Particularly recommended is Camilla's second-hand bookshop which is stacked to the ceiling with books on just about every subject imaginable, Mr & Mrs Doaks Bumper Bookshop selling children's books including a child-friendly teashop, a Belgian chocolate emporium and a Bang and Olufsen hi-fi and TV specialist dealer.
The 2-km long road known as (somewhat confusingly, just inland from the seafront) is like a mini-town, with two bank branches, post offices, takeaways, convenience stores, antique and curio shopping, furnishers, kitchen and carpet suppliers. This is the main A259 road, and leads northwards to Langney, where there is a district shopping with a Tesco Metro, Iceland, Family Bargains and several other smaller stores.
is more of a traditional village high street in the "posher" part of town. Even though it has two small chain supermarkets, it still has several small, independent shops, including hairdressers, florists, cafes, a bike shop, and a physiotherapist among others. While some shops have closed recently, like the butchers, business is still thriving here. It is also ideally located to stock up on food and drink before going to explore the nearby South Downs, being situated only a few minutes from the edge of the national park, and the sea
houses a large Tesco Extra store, Pets at Home, Homebase, Argos, Vokins, Wickes, McDonald's Drive-thru and Pizza Hut.
comprises Asda, Next, Boots, Matalan, Harvey's, Brantano, Cineworld Cinema and Frankie & Bennys, which adjoins the man-made Sovereign Harbour development, which also houses a number of small shops, bars and restaurants.
in Hampden Park houses a Sainsbury's Superstore, DFS and a Currys/PC World, adjacent to which is the David Lloyd Centre and Lloyds Lanes Bowling Alley. Not barely a stone's throw away are also B&Q, Dunelm Mill, Halfords and Mothercare.
Fresh seafood and shellfish can be obtained near the pier or if you are in self-catering accommodation, why not buy and cook local catches as fresh as can be from the wet fish shops alongside the fisherman's boat stores on the seafront walking east towards Princes Park.
Many different cuisines are also on offer in Terminus Road, the main street for restaurants. If you like a sea view along with good food and drink, try the Cafe Belge at the seaward end of Terminus Road, which offers around 80 Belgian beers along with a menu reflecting the culinary traditions of Belgium.
Development on the seafront itself is limited, but the hotel restaurants are always worth a try, as are the cafes and kiosks on the lower promenade - small establishments along the seafront, which are especially good in warm summer weather - including some recently opened in former seafront shelters. Eastbourne seems to be trying to follow the lead of Brighton in making more of its beachfront for food and entertainment and several cafes and restaurants now open into the late evening on the shoreline.
There is also a good choice of bars and restaurants available in the Sovereign Harbour Waterfront development, including some big chains like Harvester and authentic smaller restaurants like the Thai restaurant there - a great place during summer with views over the town's harbour.
A relatively new restaurant on the seafront. It's just outside the centre of Eastbourne but it's worth the travel. It has been featured on an episode of The Undateables on Channel 4.
A nice, authentic Thai restaurant with beautiful décor inside. You can sit outside overlooking the harbour if the weather's good.
A small independent burger restaurant near the town centre, with very tasty burgers and sides, also has a wide choice of beers and drinks.
phone: +44 1323 722 128address: 30 Marine Parade, BN22 7AYA popular local ice cream parlour, serving a very wide range of ice creams, sorbets, and sundaes - definitely worth a visit if you're looking for a nice seaside ice cream.
If you're looking for something refreshing but not intoxicating, there are plenty of stops for a cuppa and the usual coffee chains. The Pavilion Tea Rooms, east of the pier, are recommended for afternoon tea when a piano player often adds to the polite, typically English ambience of the place.
phone: +44 1323 410751address: 2A Bolton Road, BN21 3JXJust off the end of the pedestrianised end of Terminus Road. It is only a few years old but is quite popular. They give you an egg timer with your pot of tea to tell you when your tea is properly brewed. You can also visit the cafe at the Towner Art Gallery (run by Urban Ground), sitting on the balcony overlooking the sunset in the evening if you want.
It is always a friendly and comfortable place, but is at its best around Christmas time, when an extraordinary array of festive lights turns it into a fairyland to enchant young and old alike.
This is the oldest pub in Eastbourne in the Old Town area, built in the 12th century.
A nightclub on the pier, quite popular in the town with young people and language school students in the summer.
phone: +44 1323 720643address: Mount Road, BN20 7HZOnce featured in a TV Agatha Christie adaptation.
phone: +44 1323 412345address: King Edwards Parade, BN21 4EQA classical five-star hotel, yet run in a friendly atmosphere
phone: +44 1323 727173address: 10 Howard Square, BN21 4BQClaims to be the UK's first art hotel.
For those on more modest budgets, there are plenty of family-run, welcoming small hotels such as
phone: +44 1323 730486address: 10 Royal Parade, BN22 7AR
phone: +44 1323 728144address: Carlisle Road, BN21 4JR
phone: +44 1323 721219address: Compton Street, BN21 4DU
phone: +44 1323 649222address: 8-9 Marine Parade, BN21 3DXHistoric guesthouse on seafront near the pier. The Royal is one of Eastbourne's few remaining original Sea Houses. Popular with tourists and walkers, modestly priced and dog-friendly.
There are also many "bed and breakfast" establishments such as The Sea Breeze Guest House . There are self-catering flatlets such as "Beachside Guesthouse and Self-Catering Apartments" and there are also campsites on the edge of town such as Fairfields Farm. The town's Youth Hostel is in a very picturesque spot on top of the Downs going out of town westwards, near one of the golf links.
phone: +44 1323733471address: 39-41 Carlisle Road, EastbourneGrande Apartments, Hotels in Eastbourne provides comfortably appointed rooms and suites.
Other places of interest in the Eastbourne area
- Eastbourne Miniature Steam Engine Railway. A great place to sit on top of a mini steam engine!
phone: +44 1323 874100address: AlfristonThe best small zoo in England, in the countryside just outside Eastbourne near the village of Alfriston.
address: Near WilmingtonA prehistoric chalk representation of a man carved into the side of a hill. Walking on the figure or the surrounding vegetation is not permitted.
- The Cuckoo Trail a cycle path from Eastbourne to Heathfield through the Sussex Weald
- Catch a ferry to Dieppe from the nearby town of Newhaven.