England is an absolutely beautiful country to explore. With historic cities, beautiful National Parks, and stunning regions like the Cotswolds, it’s perfect for a road or rail trip, especially in the South-East of England. That being said, there are many beautiful and best places to visit in South-East England.

You’ll find many places around the South-East of England, even if you’re visiting some of the top places for a day trip from London on a short day trip.

So, to help you get the most out of your trip, I’m sharing our top places to visit in the South-East of England. Have an amazing time visiting England. 

1.) Rye

Rye is an absolutely stunning and historic town in Southeast England, around a 1.5-hour drive from London. Yes, it might be small, but don’t let that discourage you from visiting. It’s centuries old and a great day trip as you head towards the south coast.

Once you’re here, make sure to visit Mermaid Street, which is one of the prettiest streets in England. It’s stunning, and you can easily pop by the Mermaid Inn while you’re here.

This traditional pub has been around for hundreds of years and was once a local drinking spot for smugglers.

Be sure to book a table if you’re staying for dinner; seats can fill up fast at peak times. We tried the pan-fried Rye Bay Skate, and it was delicious.

Also, don’t forget to visit all the little antique shops just off The Strand. The Old Grain Store is right next door and has some delicious homemade cakes. 

Once you’ve filled up, head over to see Landgate, which once protected the town centuries ago. You’ve also got Knoops for their homemade hot chocolate. It’s so velvety and delicious. 

Finally, if you’re driving around the area by car, stop by Bodiam Castle. It’s been standing for over 700 years and is incredible to explore. 

Read more: Best day trip spots from London

2.) London

Look, London needs very little introduction. It’s a city known worldwide and is incredible to visit, not least because of all the unique areas of London.

For me, London feels like 20 different towns with quirks and identities. This makes London one of the best places to visit in South-East England, especially if you fancy a city break. 

Once here, explore Covent Garden, a beautiful area of lanes, restaurants (and the famous market) worth visiting. For lunch, book a place at Clos Maggiore, a French restaurant serving some of the best food in the neighbourhood.

Tables fill up quickly, so book yours before arriving in London. Oh, and ask to be seated in the atrium when booking the table; it’s beautiful. 

Afterwards, head to some of Central London’s most iconic sites. You’ll be able to explore the city’s incredible palaces, stroll through London’s markets and explore areas like Camden for its edgy style.

Alternatively, visit the Royal Borough of Greenwich and visit the Painted Hall. It’s considered London’s ‘Sistine Chapel’ and is beautiful. 

Finally, head over for one of London’s best West-End shows. You’ll get to watch the likes of Phantom of the Opera, seasonal plays, and so much more. 

Read more: Best things to do in London

3.) Brighton

Brighton is an energetic city and one of the best places to visit in South-East England if you want to spend some time at the beach and have a really fun night out. Brighton is a hive of activity, and there’s so much to do once you’re here. 

After arriving, make sure to spend some time on the beachfront. Yes, it’s a pebbly beach, but it has such a lovely vibe, especially in the heat of summer. Afterwards, head onto Brighton Pier and grab a bag of chips to eat beside the seaside (with lashings of vinegar, obviously).

Oh, and don’t forget about the Brighton Lanes. This area of Brighton is filled with little cafes, bars and boutiques that are mainly local to the area. 

Finally, before leaving Brighton, visit the Royal Pavillion, which is around 250 years old. It was built as a royal residence and is so beautiful and unique. 

Read more: Best things to do in Brighton

4.) Canterbury

One of the oldest cities in England, Canterbury is well worth visiting for a day trip whilst exploring the South East of England. Once here, visit Canterbury Cathedral and walk the route of the Medival city walls.

Not only that, just like in Cambridge, you can actually go punting down the Great Stour. It’s so incredible and a totally beautiful city to stroll around. In fact, I would say, you don’t even need a car to visit. Make sure to arrive by train and hop straight off and explore the Medieval centre. 

Read more: Best things to do in Canterbury

5.) Whitstable

Approximately a one-hour drive from London, Whitstable is a lovely seaside town that’s easy to visit as you head around the English coast. 

Now, one thing this area is known for is its oysters. People have been sourcing oysters from this area for centuries, and it’s probably one of England’s most famous shores for them. The most famous stop for Whitstable oysters has to be Wheelers Oyster Bar. Here, you can grab a dozen oysters, squeeze on some lemon and spicy sauce and head to the beach. They’re as fresh as they come. 

Afterwards, head over to Harbour Market, a quaint little area with local crafts and items that are perfect for a souvenir. 

6.) Eastbourne

If you’re on for fresh air and a beach vibe, head to Eastbourne. It’s one of the best places to visit in South-East England as you follow the coastline. This pretty coastal town is well-known for its rolling landscapes, chalk-sea cliffs and stunning beaches that are lovely to visit.

Once here, make sure to stroll along the Victorian promenade and visit Eastbourne Pier, which is totally loved on a summer day. Oh, and don’t forget to head inside Towner Eastbourne. It’s an art gallery that houses local and international pieces on a seasonal basis. We loved visiting, especially when you’ve got around 45 minutes spare. 

Finally, don’t forget to explore the wider area around Eastbourne. The walks around Beachy Head Cliffs are just beautiful. Plus, you can easily visit Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, which are just shy of the town.

These towering white cliffs are so iconic that we loved rambling in the area for a few hours. Though, as always, listen to local advice and stay away from the cliff edge, they do collapse, and it’s irresponsible to venture too close. 

If you have a little more time, head to some of the picturesque villages in South Down National Park. It’s a totally beautiful area and so easy to drive around. We love it. 

Read more: Best places in South Downs National Park

7.) Leeds Castle

If you love the castles of England, then you need to visit Leeds Castle. In fact, visiting is 

Another structure signifying the past of Britain, Leeds Castle is a well-preserved medieval landmark in Europe. It represents more than nine centuries of history, and it’s amazing to stroll around for an afternoon trip.  

Now, the whole site of Leeds Castle is massive, but you can easily see the main sights in 2 to 3 hours. 

After arriving, head inside the castle and get lost in the maze and grotto. Oh, and hop on the Black Swan Ferry. You’ll have the best time.  

Read more: Best castles in England to visit

8.) Margate

Love it or hate it, Margate is a popular seaside town. It used to be a popular holiday spot at the turn of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, its popularity declined for a few decades, but it’s had some resurgence over the last decade. 

With the opening of the Turner Contemporary and the old town antique shops, Margate is a great place to visit for a day trip in the South East of England. 

Oh, and of course, don’t forget about visiting Dreamland. It’s a kitsch seaside theme park where you can ride the rollercoaster and try your luck with the bobbing ducks. We had so much fun. 

Read more: Best places in the south of England

9.) Lewes 

Lewes is one of the best places to visit in South-East England, especially if you’re looking for a mix of history and easy access to the great outdoors. 

Now, one spot you have to visit is Lewes Castle, which was built after the Norman invasion in 1066. Although it never witnessed warfare, several celebrations occurred in the castle. However, there was a time when citizens celebrated and blew some parts of the walls. Yikes! 

On the other hand, the Barbican House Museum is attached to the castle and houses a fantastic collection of artefacts from the wider Lewes area. 

Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Barbican House Museum. It’s a town model built by volunteers during the 1980s. The town model is so cute to see and really easy to visit for a 15 minute stop.

Afterwards, book in for a stay at Blackberry Wood. We stayed in one of their treehouses and loved every second of it. 

10.) Sandwich

Home to the famous Sandwich, this medieval town is easy to visit as you drive around the Southeast of England. Best of all, it’s only around a 25 minute drive from Margate.

Plus, it’s said to be the place where sandwiches were invented. You see, John Montagu (the 4th Earl of Sandwich) quickly mixed meat and bread together so he could continue gambling. 

 Once here, make sure to spot Sandwich Guildhall. It’s almost 500 years old and incredible to see. Also, you can easily visit White Mill, which dates back to the 1700s. 

Oh, and don’t miss the annual Sandwich Festival that takes place on the last week of August. It’s so much fun, and the parade is lovely. 

12.) Camber Sands

Fancy a beach day? Camber Sands is easily one of the best places to visit in South-East England after exploring the town of Rye. It’s not too far away, and it’s a huge stretch of stunning sandy coastline. 

Head here on a sunny day and take a picnic, with plenty of SPF and lots to drink. You can easily spend all day here, and it’s so worth it for the stunning sandy shoreline. 

13.) Arundel 

If you love historic towns, you have to visit Arundel. The town itself is lovely, and you can stop off at The Parsons Table, which champions local produce and tasty dishes. We visited for dinner and loved it.

Of course, you must visit the castle while in Arundel. Arundel Castle is around 1,000 years old, and you can still explore many of its rooms today. We loved it. 

Just give yourself around 2 hours to wander around Arundel Castle.

Read more: What it’s like to visit Arundel Castle

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