There are so many gorgeous national parks to visit in the UK! Best of all, they’re dotted all across the country, with quite a few within easy reach of the cities, like South Downs National Park. It’s a total gem to explore and so easy to explore from places like Brighton or London; and the south of England, to be fair. So, to help you get the most out of your time, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in South Downs National Park that you cannot miss!
We’ve headed out exploring South Downs National Park loads of times. It’s an area we’ve spent lots of time in; both as a day trip and part of a longer road trip across the south of England. Each time, we’ve always found something new, exciting and totally quaint. It’s an area that’s a treasure-trove of places to explore.
So, to wet your whistle, we’ve popped some of our favourite gems that you shouldn’t miss. Some are deep within the heart of South Downs National Park, whilst others are just on the fringe of the park itself. Whatever the case, I’m sure you’ll find a fair few to include on your next trip.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in South Downs National Park. Have fun!
Gosh, we loved visiting Amberley!
It’s the kinda spot that’s fallen straight out of fairytales. Now, I know that sounds totally cheesy but it really did feel like that when we visited.
A totally small village, packed with centuries of historic properties, it’s the kind of place that’s gorgeous for a little stroll or an overnight stay in a castle!
We checked into Amberley Castle for a few days break and it was epic! You literally get to stay in the castle itself and spend time enjoying this magnificent estate (whilst spotting their peacocks).
They’ve also got a totally tasty restaurant within the castle, too. It was bliss.
Oh, also, don’t forget to pop into the Amberley Tea Room whilst wandering around.
They have the best scones and homemade treats in the area. Yum!
Read more: What it’s like to stay and explore Amberley Castle
Southwest of Billinghurst, Petworth is a lovely little town that’s quintessentially South Downs. It’s the kind of place you can spend a day wandering the cobbled streets, popping in the independent boutiques and antique stores before grabbing a proper pub lunch.
You’ll find loads of watering holes throughout Petworth, each with their own charm and character. We headed to The Star Petworth and had the tastiest fish and chips and Victoria sponge for pudding.
After lunch, head on over to Petworth House that’s a vast and historic estate that is totally beautiful.
We spent the whole afternoon exploring the estate and even heading inside the grand house (that looks palatial, by the way).
It’s one of the best things to do in South Downs National Park if you love grand estates.
Read more: What it’s like to explore Petworth House
On the western fringes of South Downs National Park, this relatively small city is steeped in centuries of history that’s well worth a day visit (or using as a base to explore the western part of the park).
Once here, head inside the iconic gothic cathedral and explore the beautiful nave that’s so huge. Oh, and be sure to visit the medieval Great Hall and the Winchester City Mill.
Honestly, this city is a gem for history buffs and a perfect addition when exploring all the best things to do in South Downs National Park.
4.) Seven Sisters
Easily one of the most famous and best things to do in South Downs National Park that’s totally iconic. Now, if you’re unfamiliar, the Seven Sisters are a series of iconic chalk cliffs with amazing scenery and looks incredible whilst walking the trails here.
You’ll also get to see Birling Gap and take a pic from the Coastguard Cottages, too. You can easily park up at South Hill Barn (car park) and wander this iconic coastal route.
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A perfect place for an afternoon galavant, Midhurst is a small town that’s filled with centuries-old buildings. Take a little wander around the town and pop into the Midhurst Museum and Tea Rooms, too. It’s a cosy little museum with a heap of history.
Plus, once inside the tea rooms, you’ll get to try their delicious homemade scones, cakes that are too good to miss!
After filling up, head over to the nearby Cowdray Ruins and Midhurst Castle. Exploring here is easily one of the best things to do in South Downs National Park if you love a good historical site. Plus, you’ll be following in the footsteps of royalty like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I (as they visited, too).
6.) Arundel Castle
Possibly, one of our favourite places in South Downs National Park, Arundel and Arundel Castle is a totally gorgeous spot to visit whilst exploring the region.
With centuries of history, Arundel castle is still home to the Duke of Norfolk and is utterly incredible and vast. Like, I still can’t believe someone gets to call this home.
After spending some time wandering the gardens, visiting the chapel in the castle grounds make sure to head inside for a total treat.
You see, you’ll get to wander through Arundel Castle’s most impressive staterooms and see the medieval mound that still stands to this day.
We spent a good few hours inside and loved it.
Finally, before you leave Arundel, take a wander through the tiny side streets and visit some of the little shops and stores that line the route; they’re picture-perfect and filled with antiques, collectables and everything else in between.
Oh, and if you’re feeling hungry, head to Parson’s Table. They have a seasonal menu that’s so fresh and totally delicious. Just be sure to book in advance as tables fill up quickly.
Read more: What to see when exploring Arundel Castle
7.) Tinwood Estate
Technically a few metres from the edge of South Downs National Park, Tinwood Estate is one gorgeous spot for winetasting.
With their own vineyard across a sumptuous estate, it’s the kind of spot you can spend a day (trying their wines) or stay overnight in your own cabin that overlooks those yummy grapes.
They make some of the tastiest English sparkling wines in all the land. Cheers!
Read more: How To Visit Tinwood Estate
8.) Devil’s Dyke
Visiting Devil’s Dyke is one of the best things to do in South Downs National Park to visit if you love natural history. You see, it’s a whopping a 100m deep V-shaped valley that’s pretty unique and incredible to see.
If you fancy a ramble, follow the South Downs Way (or at least sections of it). It has some totally stunning views that span the length of the park; we’ve loved joining the trail, even for a shorter hours ramble.
Read more: Best things to do in the South of England
9.) Goodwood Estate and House
The Goodwood Estate and Goodwood House was once home to the Dukes of Richmond for centuries and is surrounded by mature parklands that are epic to visit. Here, you’ll find an art collection that’s out-of-this-world and totally ornate.
Not only that, the architecture of the house is fabulous and is open between March-October.
10.) Dunreyth Alpacas
Okay, so Dunreyth Alpacas might be one of the most fun things to do in South Downs National Park. It’s so cute and totally lovely for all the family.
Once here, you can take your own alpaca for a stroll and get to make some new furry friends. Walking through the woods and see some amazing views, it’s a perfect afternoon trip that’s pretty unique.
11.) Weald & Downland Living Museum
The Weald and Downland Living Museum is an open-air museum that covers over 40 acres, with over 50 historic buildings dating from 950AD to the 19th century.
Here, you’ll get to explore the gorgeous gardens, pretty trails and also spot the millpond, too.
The museum tells an immersive story of the people who lived and worked in South Downs National Park for over 1,000 years. We love it here.
Read more: Best things to do in Southern England
Okay, so Brighton isn’t within South Downs National Park; but it’s totally hugged by the park itself and too easy to see whilst exploring the more southerly routes here.
Of course, you’re going to spend some time at Brighton Palace Pier! Here you will find fairground rides and little sweet shops that smell like candyfloss! Plus, you can grab a bag of chips and just enjoy the views whilst strolling the pier.
Afterwards, spend some time on Brighton Beach, explore The Lanes area for all their indie stores and visit Brighton Palace that’s so unique within Brighton. You can’t miss it.
Read more: Best things to do in Brighton
13.) Jane Austen’s House
Just south of Alton, this house was home to Jane Austen, one of England’s most iconic authors. Today, you can head inside and explore the treasure-trove of exhibits ranging from her writing desk and information on her life.
In fact, she wrote and published all six of her beloved novels, including the timeless Pride and Prejudice there!
If you have time, you can pop over to nearby Hawton House, an Elizabethan Manor that you can wander whilst seeing their seasonal exhibitions. They also have the cutest tea room, which is always a win!
14.) Butser Hill
Butser Hill is the highest point in the South Downs National Park and totally beautiful.
This National Nature Reserve is a unique natural landmark that’s well worth exploring if you’re into your natural history that makes South Downs so special
Plus, the views from Butser Hill is lovely and its hiking trails are not too difficult, either!
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