Located on the doorstep of England’s newest national park, Eastbourne offers all the attractions of a traditional Victoria seaside resort.
Eastbourne is a large seaside resort in East Sussex. It grew rapidly in the 1800s and much of its architecture dates from this period. The town boasts a seaside pleasure pier, Napoleonic fort and more than three miles of shingle beaches.
Plans are afoot to redevelop Eastbourne town centre, to include new shops and business space.
House prices are appealing, with the average currently standing at £265,000. This is considerably less than the average found in nearby Brighton. You can check up-to-date prices here.
Eastbourne is also a good base to explore the wider region. East Sussex is home to unspoilt countryside, a picturesque coastline and many historic towns and villages. Find out more about it here.
Living in Eastbourne: what to expect
Eastbourne’s Victorian ancestry means it is blessed with large properties and generous, tree-lined streets. Its town centre is also quite compact, making it easy to walk around.
The main attraction is the beach. But you can also take to the water for sports such as wind surfing or head for the stretch of the promenade, known as the Royal Parade, for skating, cycling and running. At low tide, you can scramble to the rock pools to hunt for crabs.
There are many major attractions held in Eastbourne each year, such as the Aegon International women’s tennis at Devonshire Park and the Eastbourne Airshow (held on the seafront), which is free to attend and includes a live music stage and fireworks display.
Devonshire Park is in fact undergoing restoration work, and the area has been earmarked as a new cultural and tennis destination. State-of-the-art facilities will be built and the existing listed buildings will be re-vamped.
Eastbourne borders the rugged countryside of the South Downs National Park, which includes the famous white cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters. You can venture from the seafront to the top of the 530-foot-high cliffs to get stunning views over the English Channel.
Where to start your property search
The Seaside area in the centre of town has a mix of housing. Find grand Victorian terraces along streets such as Lascelles Terrace, modern purpose-built flats on Trinity Trees, or modest flats above the shops on Cornfield Terrace.
To make the most of waterside living, look at the properties in Sovereign Harbour. Contemporary apartments on the quays are only a short distance from the centre but benefit from water views. Check out the townhouses or the waterside apartments with private balconies on Macquarie Quay.
For attractive Victorian streets with terraces, semis and large Edwardian townhouses, have a look at Old Town.
If you want a substantial terraced home, also try villagey Upperton. Some of the properties have been converted into flats, like the ones on Upperton Gardens. Imposing detached homes can be seen on Prideaux Road.
Popular Willingdon has a good range of period homes, especially around the village of Ratton. Look here for period conversions that still have oak-beamed ceilings and open fireplaces. Family homes with communal gardens are also on the market.
The charming village of Meads, in between Eastbourne town centre and Beachy Head, offers modern executive homes and large Victorian villas. Some of these properties have been converted into flats like those in Jevington Gardens. Apartments along the Meads seafront have great views.
For bungalows, put Polegate on your list. Lancing Way has a number of twentieth-century one-storey homes, but semi-detached properties can also be found along Albert Road.
Getting around Eastbourne
A direct train to Ashford International takes 70 minutes, and Eurostar services from Ashford take you to Lille, Brussels and Paris.
By car: The main arterial roads in and out of the town are the A22, which connects to London, and the A2270. The nearby A27 takes travellers to Brighton, Hove and Hastings.
The Terminus Road runs broadly east-west through the town centre, connecting the train station with the seafront and Eastbourne’s suburbs.
By air: The closest airport is London Gatwick, which has flights to more than 200 destinations in 90 countries. You can reach the airport in an hour by car.
Things to do in Eastbourne
Outdoors: Head to the seafront and take a stroll down Eastbourne Pier. It was opened in 1872 and has restaurants, cafés and a nightclub. Walk to the end to get uninterrupted views over the sea.
Don’t miss the Pavilion café, where you can enjoy a coffee on the terrace and wander around the gardens and free exhibition.
Also on the seafront is Fort Fun, where an indoor play area is joined with a Super Splash Park and other fairground attractions, making it a go-to place for children.
Eastbourne has plenty of parks to roam. Gildredge Park is particularly popular with families and has a playground, café and tennis courts. Head to Princes Park to walk around the lake or take advantage of kayak and windsurfing training.
If you’re feeling more energetic, explore the wilderness of the South Downs National Park. Or take a boat trip to the Beachy Head lighthouse for a scenic tour of the coast.
History: The Redoubt Fortress (next to the Pavilion) was built to deter invasion by the French. March the battlements or explore its military collections in the museum. Learn about the Royal Sussex campaigns in the Spanish War of Succession and their experiences in the North African desert in 1942.
Art and culture: Visit the Emma Mason Gallery to view British prints. The collection ranges from post-war art to the present day and additional exhibitions are shown throughout the year.
If you’re an art lover, visit the Towner Art Gallery to see contemporary art or sign up for a workshop to refine your own skills.
Eastbourne has a number of theatres. The Devonshire Park Theatre shows major touring productions as well as one-night shows, while the Royal Hippodrome has variety shows, comedy and musicals.
Head to the Underground Theatre to see jazz and classical musicians, among others, perform. The theatre also produces drama and art.
The Eastbourne Bandstand is the place to go for themed nights and tribute acts. More than 140 concerts are performed each year, so make sure you go along to see a show.
You can also find live music at the Printers Playhouse theatre. They have a house band and regularly host open mic nights. If you’re feeling brave, you can take to the stage yourself.
Shopping: Find popular high street shops at the Arndale Centre, where stores include Next, Topshop and M&S. Or head to the quaint shopping streets of Little Chelsea and rummage among the independent shops. Check out Camilla’s Bookshop – it has more than a quarter of a million out-of-print books.
Further shops can be found in the Enterprise shopping centre and the Waterfront at Sovereign Harbour.
Food and drink: Satisfy your sweet tooth at Fusciardi’s ice cream parlour. There are 18 flavours and 24 sundaes to choose from, so you may need to make repeat visits.
You’ll also need to try the town’s seafood. The Belgian Café specialises in seafood and offers 50 different ways to eat mussels. And there are more than 50 different bottles of beers to choose from too.
If you’re thirsty, pick from the 100-plus cocktails on the menu at the Eastbourne Cocktail Club or try making your own at Hudson’s Bar.
Eastbourne is a great place to discover impressive fossils. The chalky cliffs of Beachy Head harbour thousands of fossilised remains and fallen sections can contain many different creatures. Book a fossil finding tour and learn about the local geology of the area before setting off on a fossil hunt to discover your own specimens.
5 reasons to live in Eastbourne
Traditional seaside resort, complete with pier
Large seaside Victorian homes and contemporary waterfront apartments
Plenty of culture: theatres, galleries, shops and more
On the doorstep of the South Downs National Park and miles of beaches
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