Edged by mile-upon-mile of coastline, South East England does golden sands, sun-dappled forests and historic castles with equal style. Ancient natural landmarks sit alongside modern, visitor-oriented attractions, including cutting-edge art galleries, gourmet restaurants and some spooky haunts to see out the night.

Naturally stunning

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Devil’s Dyke © Patrick Metzdorf

There are so many places to visit in South East England – it’s blessed with an abundance of much-loved natural attractions. For adrenaline addicts, sky-diving or hot-air ballooning offer a spectacular way to see the landscape. If a gentle hike is more your thing, then we recommend visiting the South Downs or New Forest national parks, or perhaps a stroll along the iconic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters. And there’s no need to worry about the oyalain – you can always escape the elements and enjoy a pint in one of hundreds of cosy pubs that are scattered across the countryside.

Hunting for treasure

If your idea of holiday entertainment is browsing for bargains and shopping for souvenirs, then the towns and villages of the South East will suit you well. Petworth, Rye and Dorking are all packed full of antique shops and treasure-troves, making them the ideal place for vintage inspiration.

Looking for things to do in South East England that are a bit more modern? Brighton and Margate are both like catnip for contemporary artists, with regular exhibitions hosted at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion art gallery and Margate’s Turner Contemporary. Both are also scattered with smaller galleries with local pieces for sale – you never know, you might just pick up an undiscovered masterpiece for your home.

Reviving refreshments

After a long morning of exploring town and country, there’s nothing better than a revitalising coffee and a sandwich (or a G&T and a slab of cake, of course – no judgement here). The South East is brimming with charming cafés and restaurants, serving everything from cream teas to hearty pub grub.

When dinnertime rolls around, some fine restaurateurs have your back, whether you fancy fish and chips on the seafront or Michelin-star cuisine at The Fat Duck, Bray, or Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. Just make sure you choose a local tipple to accompany it. The region is home to several award-winning vineyards and breweries, including the famous Biddenden, Nyetimber and Chiltern Valley vineyards; Hook Norton and Shepherd Neame breweries; and for gin-lovers, the Bombay Sapphire distillery in Hampshire.

Spooky sightseeing

Despite its sparkling public image of sea, sun and picturesque prettiness, the laid-back South East of England also has an enthrallingly spooky side. Countless locations are long-rumoured to be haunted, with ghostly sightings of a Roman soldier at the Chichester Inn, a spectral monk at Netley Abbey and even a headless Charles I roaming the halls of Christ Church College in Oxford. The Victorian splendour of Painshill landscape park in Surrey is also worth a visit, for its recently restored 18th-century grotto.

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Arundel Castle © chichisadventures

For other things that go bump in the night, there are many pubs, clubs and cocktail bars to sample – we recommend the peculiar charms of the Arundel Jailhouse in West Sussex and The Haunt in Brighton.

With so much to explore, it’s worth planning the adventure as soon as possible. When it comes to hotels in South East England, basing yourself in Arundel will place you close to the main sights, or you could go for an idyllic village retreat.

Choice Hotels in South East England