6 reasons to visit Rye
This medieval coastal beauty isn’t your usual British seaside experience - no pier or amusements in sight (thankfully!) Instead you will find long, sandy beaches at Camber Sands and a town full of history. Charming old timber-framed houses line steep cobbled streets, along with many art galleries, independent shops and historic inns. It’s for these reasons that I’m always recommending Rye for a perfect day trip to anyone wanting to explore what the UK has to offer.
6 of the best things to do in Rye
1. Camber Sands
Camber Sands is one of those places I’d heard the name but didn’t really know what to expect. I was blown away by the steep golden sand dunes and grasses running the length of this sandy beach. I was even lucky enough to spot a seal frolicking in the sea, apparently a fairly common sight in the summer months! I parked at Camber Car Park which leads you straight out onto the beach - it was busy but the further down the beach you walk the quieter it gets, so you can easily find a spot away from the crowds.
2. The cute cobbled lanes
With street names such as ‘Mermaid Street’ ‘Wish Ward’ and ‘Traders Passage’ I felt I was in a story book! The steep cobbled Mermaid Street was a particular fave of mine, you feel you’ve gone back in time with the wonky half timbered houses, many of which date back to the 14th and 15th century. Wander up to St. Mary’s Church at the top of the town - the grounds are really pretty and are surrounded by more historic houses.
3. Art galleries and interesting boutiques
Rye is an arty, creative town home to many artists, photographers and creatives. You’ll be spoilt for choice with so many independent galleries and boutiques. There’s also many antiques shops which I enjoyed peering in to see what curiosities they had!
4. Pett Level beach
I’m not normally a fan of pebble beaches but this one’s just really cool. Pett Level is situated outside of Rye but is only a 15 minute drive away. Coming from Rye, you will find yourself driving down a long stretch of straight road with Pannel Valley Nature Reserve to your right with it’s expanse of marshes, long grass and bird life, and a verge which you need to climb over to get to the long pebbled beach which is Pett Level. I think most people must head to Camber Sands which keeps this beach relatively quiet in comparison. Fun fact - David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ music video was filmed here in the 80’s!
5. Ypres Tower
Built in 1249 and situated at the top of the town, Ypres Tower (Rye Castle) is a historic place - now a museum but it was formerly a castle, a residence and even a prison. It overlooks Rye Harbour and is open daily. This top section of town is a really pretty area to explore.
6. Historic pubs and inns
There are plenty of picturesque and historic pubs to stop at in Rye. Be sure to check out the excellently placed Ypres Castle Inn which is a stone’s throw away from Ypres Tower with views over the river and marshes. The oldest pub in Rye is the Old Bell, which has a lovely courtyard out the front to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.
How to get to Rye (from London)
Train: The train from London takes just over an hour with a change at Ashford International station (there’s no direct trains).
Car: If public transport isn’t for you, then driving takes anywhere from 1 hour 30 mins - 2 hours depending where exactly in London you are coming from. Rye town itself can get quite busy so parking might be a bit tricky but I think it’s worth it to see the further-out sights.