SOUTH UK HOLIDAYS: Top 5 Must-See Places + Best Hotels in Southern England!

In BLOG, ENGLAND, EUROPE, USEFUL GUIDES by Clelia Mattana51 Comments

Last Update: November 2019

I still remember the day, it was late September 2007. I had just moved to the UK for my new crazy adventure as an Au Pair (at age 30!), as you can see it’s never too late to start over again!

I was hosted by a lovely Lady in a beautiful house surrounded by nature in the countryside, located just in between London and Brighton. In my first week, my host mom took me on a road trip to show me the beauty of the UK South Coast, and since then I’ve been blown away by its wild beauty!

My absolute favorite was our visit to Eastbourne to admire the famous White Cliffs. I hadn’t seen anything like that before in my life. Breath-taking!But the South of England has plenty of other places to discover, and in this guide, I want to show you my Top 5 favorites, with all the information you need to plan your holiday, including what to do and where to stay!

Ready to pack? Read on!



After reading this one, check out my in-depth article on the best ITALY ROAD TRIP : a marvelous itinerary starting in Rome and ending in the stunning Lake Como! 

line Spend your Holidays in the South UK Coastal Area!

-Nature, fun, interesting sites and breath-taking Landscapes. Discover all this and more by reading my personal Top spots on the Uk South Coast for your Holidays! You won’t be disappointed!-

INDEX: Click on the links to skip to the relevant area!



Brighton is a vibrant lively city, with the relaxing charm of the sea. Being popular amongst tourists, Brighton and its surroundings have many interesting and fun things to offer (I still remember tasting my first fish and chips ever, admiring the sunset on the pier!)






Brighton Pier

One of the main attractions in Brighton, this pier offers an amazing walk with numerous food stalls and little vendors along the way. It also has a Palace of Fun arcade, where you can enjoy some rides with your kids, or even if you just want to feel like a kid again.You can also watch the beautiful sunset from the pier while having a bite to eat or a classy glass of wine.


Chocolate Ecstasy Tours

I mean really, who doesn’t like some chocolate every now and then? It is as amazing as it sounds. Meeting at a specific location, the tour starts by visiting special and innovative chocolate boutiques. All creating their own unique luxurious flavors, and you get to taste all of them.A sweet tour indeed!


The Open Market

After a massive redevelopment in 2014, this market now hosts the 50 top creators and producers in Brighton. You can get anything from nutritious foods and products, to some locally designed fashion, crafts, jewelry, and furniture. So if you are just looking to browse through some creative goods, or feeling like a healthy meal, this market is definitely for you.




Yellowave Beach Sports Venue

Still somewhat of a local’s secret, this sports area is located on Brighton beachfront. You can hire a court to play some beach volleyball, football or rugby. If you are not really into the sports scene, you can relax on the sun deck of the infamous Barefoot Café, and grab yourself a cold drink or a bite to eat.






Situated in Kemp Town, on Brighton’s seafront. It offers free Wi-Fi and parking. The city centre is just a 12-minute walk from the property. One of the most booked hotels in Town!

Price p/p: From 65 £ 

Book Now!



Drakes is a luxury boutique hotel on Brighton’s seafront, overlooking Palace Pier. It offers unique 4-star accommodation, and has a fine-dining restaurant and vibrant cocktail bar.

Price p/p: From 60 £ 

Book Now!



This elegant hotel overlooks the beach and promenade, and has a brasserie restaurant for guests to enjoy. It’s half a mile from Churchill Square shopping centre, free Wi-Fi.

Price p/p: From 32 £ 

Book Now!




 London-Brighton by Train:

It takes less than an hour to get to Brighton from London by train. The fastest way to get there is from London Victoria or London Bridge Station. A train can also be caught from London St Pancras, but this will take about 1 hour 16minutes.

Click here to get the Timetable : Fares from 8£.

 London-Brighton by Bus:

Another option would be to take the bus. The bus generally takes longer than the train but is clean and comfortable with onboard toilets. The fastest trip would be to catch the bus from London Victoria Coach Station, it will take about 2 hours and 15minutes.

Click here for the National Express service Info: Fares from 8£.



Eastbourne is a large town and seaside resort on the south coast of England. It lies about 17 miles (27 km) east of Brighton. Being a seaside resort, it has many sights to see and tourist attractions.






East Sussex Falconry

This is one of the best ways to experience these magnificent birds of prey. The setting is absolutely stunning as you watch the falcons soar through the sky. The owner and falconer is a very passionate guy, and he has spent his life dedicated to the birds. A great day to discover all about these raptors!




Birling Gap

A coastal hamlet, situated on the Seven Sisters. Absolutely amazing view and quite an adventure. Climb down to the enclosed pebble beach via the large metal steps.There are some shops, cafes and a visitor centre. During the winter the waves will be crashing against the cliffs, but as summer comes along, the sea quiets down and you can move on down to the beach. Very picturesque landscape. For more info click here!




Beachy Head

This is definitely the number one thing to see when visiting Eastbourne. Beachy Head is the highest chalk cliff in the whole of Britain, an astonishing 531 feet. Being so high, it offers absolutely stunning views of the south east coast. Looking west you can see Selsey Bill, and in the east Dungeness. One of my best memories of England so far, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were witnessing! Not a surprise it’s the N.1 Attraction by Tripadvisor!




Eastbourne Bandstand

One of the coolest bandstands in the UK. It was built in 1935, and is still hosting up to 150 shows per year. It has a unique circular design with a blue domed roof. The arena can seat around 1600 people, with a main area, upper area, balconies and seats. Definitely worth a visit when around Eastbourne.








Less than 200 metres from Eastbourne beach, the Lansdowne Hotel has sea-facing lounges with original Victorian features and free Wi-Fi. Beachy Head’s chalk cliffs are just 2 miles from the hotel.

Price p/p:  From 47 £

Book Now!



Queens Hotel is located on Eastbourne’s seafront and looking onto the pier. This Victorian seaside hotel features 2 restaurants, a sun lounge and a bar offering evening entertainment.

Price p/p: From 36 £ 

Book Now!



On the coast at Eastbourne, the View Hotel offers modern en suite rooms, most of which have balconies. Situated on the main promenade, the beach is just a few minutes’ walk.

Price p/p: From 140 £ 

Book Now!




 London-Eastbourne by Train:

You can take a direct train from London Victoria Station to Eastbourne. The journey will take you approximately 1 hour 26 minutes. Other than that, you can first take a train to Brighton, and from there easily catch a train to Eastbourne. For more info on how to get there check here!

Check out the Southern Trains site for more info: Fares from 31,30£


 London-Eastbourne by Bus:

To take the bus to Eastbourne, you will need to go to London Victoria Coach Station and get a direct National Express coach, departing at 7 pm, to Eastbourne. The journey takes about 2 hours 45 minutes. It’s less expensive compared to the southern Train.

Check here for more info on National Express site: Fares from 13.50 £





Poole is known as the “coast with the most”, and certainly live up to its name. A coast covered with things to see and do. Visit some beautiful beaches or hop to an island close by.

Less than an hour away from Southampton with the South West train And very well connected to some other amazing areas nearby. Just 1 hour by train and 25 min by car to Dorset and 10 min by train and 20 by car to Bournemouth.






Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park

Looking for something to do with your toddlers? With super friendly staff always willing to help, your children can take ponies for a walk, ride mini tractors, feed the goats or just take a walk in the woodlands to stretch your legs and enjoy nature. Your kids will leave this place exhausted from all the fun and entertainment. For the rainy days, there is an indoor play area with picnic tables and lots to keep the kids busy.




Visit Durdle Door Beach

Located in Dorset, Durdle Door (Check out this awesome video!) and its famous arch and beach are one of the most popular spots in the South England Coast! Loved by photographers, the arch at the end of the beach, eroded by time and natural elements, is simply magnificent. Enjoy your day at the beach and visit the nearby Lulworth Castle Wareham (15 min by car).  Great to visit in both high and low season!





Sandbanks Beach

Rated in the Top 10 Beaches in the UK by TripAdvisor users (check out my article listing the other 9!),this beach is truly stunning. Just looking around, it is not surprising that it is some of the most expensive real estate on this planet. With amazing views and facilities, this beach has been dubbed as “Britain’s Palm Beach” by national media. Definitely worth the visit when you are in the area.




Brownsea Island

Formerly a private island, Brownsea Island has its own castle built by Henry George VIII. It is now a wildlife sanctuary and inhabited by one of the last red squirrel colonies in Britain. Great for a family day out, or even if you just want to relax and enjoy nature. There are cottages on the island if you would like to spend a few nights, as well as an amazing café to grab something to eat. To get to the island take the ferry from Poole. Check here for more info: Fares from 10£.








Dolphins Hotel is situated in the coastal town of Bournemouth, a 10-minute walk from the sandy beaches and Bournemouth Pier. It offers bed and breakfast accommodation in the town centre.

Price p/p:  From 90 £

Book Now!



Bay Retreat is a self-catering accommodation located in Poole. The property is 1.3 km from Poole Harbour and 5.6 km from Sandbanks. Also, check out Brownsea Castle (4 km) and Compton Acres (5.3 km).

Price p/p: From 60 £ 

Book Now!



Offering a restaurant, Crown Hotel is located a 5-minute walk from Poole Harbour. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a flat-screen TV. Shared bathrooms +shower.

Price p/p: From 30 £ 

Book Now!




 London-Poole/Bournemouth by Train:

From London to Poole, you will need to go to London Waterloo station, and get the direct one to Poole. The train departs every hour, and takes approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.

Check out the official Train line website for the timetable here: Fares from 27.80£

London-Poole by Bus:

Via bus, you can take the National Express coaches which leave every 2 hours from London Victoria Coach Station. The trip takes about 2 hours 30 minutes.

Check out this website to compare different bus companies: Fares from 10£



This vibrant city is located on the waterfront and has so much to offer! Between its famous landmarks or beautiful countryside, busy streets or marine life, it has something for everybody at any time.






Le Vignoble

If you are a wine connoisseur or just keen to taste some delicious wines, this is definitely for you. Le Vignoble is a Wine Lounge located in the Royal William Yard in Plymouth. It always has some great special going and the staff are very informative about the wines. They also offer a wide array of cheese to accompany the wine.




Plymouth Hoe

A massive open space adjacent and above the low-hanging limestone cliffs. It grants views of Drake’s Island and Plymouth Sound. Great for a day out for exploring local history.It has so much to offer, and has many pubs and restaurants to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat. Also great for walking and pay a visit to the nearby lovely lighthouse.




Burrator Reservoir

Feeling like a nice relaxing stroll with amazing scenery? Burrator Reservoir offers all of this and more. Beautiful for hiking, biking or just taking out the kids.Lots of parking and a few minutes of walking can get you into picturesque woodlands. Silence is only broken by birds and the sound of running water. Great place to just get away and blow off some steam. Check the official website for opening times and more info here!




Live Escape Rooms

This is one of the most interesting and fun concepts for entertainment ever. Being locked in a room, you’ll have to search for clues and solve puzzles to escape imprisonment. Best to do in groups of friends, or foes… this requires teamwork as you race the clock from room to room solving the puzzles and following the clues. Note to self: I HAVE to try this!! Check out their official website to have more info and book the experience!








Situated on the edge of the idyllic Dartmoor National Park and just five minutes from Plymouth, the 4-star Boringdon Hall Hotel features fantastic historic interiors and elegant rooms.

Price p/p:  From 56 £

Book Now!



Situated in the prestigious Royal William Yard, the Plymouth Serviced Apartments offer excellent self-catering accommodation with free WiFi and river views. Really an awesome place!

Price p/p: From 50 £ 

Book Now!



Nestled centrally in the city, is just 7 minutes’ walk from the seafront and 5 minutes’ walk from Plymouth Hoe Memorial. Free WiFi access, Plymouth Ferry Terminal is less than a mile away.

Price p/p: From 38 £ 

Book Now!




 London-Plymouth by Train:

To travel via train, go to London Paddington Station and there are trains leaving every hour to go to Plymouth. It is a fairly long journey and will take you about 4 – 5 hours to reach Plymouth.

Check the official The Trainline website for the timetable:  Fares from 45.50£

London-Plymouth by Bus:

Want to take the bus? Take the National Express Coach that leaves from London Victoria Coach Station for Plymouth. The early coaches are the cheaper ones, and it takes you about 5 – 6 hours to arrive at Plymouth Bretonside Bus Station.

Check out National Express website for more info: Fares from 25.70£



One of the oldest cities in the UK, Portsmouth offers lots of activities for tourists. Jam packed with museums and historical landmarks, makes Portsmouth one of the must see places when visiting the UK.






Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

If you love history and ships, this is definitely for you. Even if you do not, it is still quite amazing to see. The dockyard offers numerous day trips, which includes boat trips that explore the whole harbor, a trip to the submarine museum in Gosport.The ticket prices are pretty expensive if you book them individually, so I recommend buying an all access pass. You also get to walk inside of the old ships, looking through the windows and exploring the rooms.




Blue Reef Aquarium

Want to experience some aquatic life in the UK? Blue Reef Aquarium, overlooking the Solent, takes its visitors on an underwater adventure. Explore the variety ranging from British waters to the more colorful tropical waters.The main attraction of the aquarium is the massive tropical tank, which even has its own underwater walk-through, where you can closely observe sharks and stingrays. Check out their official website for opening info and prices here!





Ever wanted to ride a hovercraft? Still one of the coolest and most exciting ways to travel if you ask me. Hovertravel is the only scheduled hovercraft operator in Europe. You can use their services to get to the famous Isle of Wight in a mere 10 minute ride.It is the quickest way to travel to the Isle of Wight and an experienced not to be missed as there are some beautiful beaches to explore or visit the Isle of Wight zoo. Check out the official website for more info: Fares from 15£




Spinnaker Tower

Definitely one of the must-see attractions when visiting Portsmouth. Its sail-like design makes it unique and it is very difficult to miss when you around the harbor. You have to pay a small fee to go to the top where you can experience the glass Sky Walk (not recommended if you are not a fan of heights). Right at the top is an open-air deck where you can enjoy the fresh cool ocean breeze. Check out their website for opening time and info: Fares from 9.50£








In the Port Solent waterside development, close to the M27 motorway (junction 12), the hotel offers free parking and modern air-conditioned rooms with luxury power showers. Very popular in town!

Price p/p:  From 55 £

Book Now!



The Seacrest Hotel is situated on Southsea’s seafront, looking out over award-winning gardens to the Solent and the Isle of Wight. It has free parking, free Wi-Fi and rooms with flat-screen TV.

Price p/p: From 45 £ 

Book Now!



The Somerset House Hotel has been restored to the original splendour of its Edwardian roots. It offers boutique rooms with free Wi-Fi and free parking, just a 5-minute walk from Southsea Beach.

Price p/p: From 55 £ 

Book Now!




 London-Portsmouth by Train:

Traveling to Portsmouth from London via train, you have two choices. One is taking the train from London Waterloo Station to Brighton, and then from Brighton to Portsmouth, OR, take the train from London Victoria Station, straight to Portsmouth on the South West Trains.

Check out the South Western site for more info: Fares from 28.70£ (direct train:Around 2 hours ride)

London-Portsmouth by Bus:

Traveling to Portsmouth by bus, you will need to go to London Victoria Coach station and catch a bus (leaves every hour) to Portsmouth, “The Hard Exchange” bus station.

Check out the National Express website for more info: Fares from 5£

Side Note: Do you want to visit more than just  the UK by train? If you are looking information about the train passes to travel around Europe you can check this article, the information is complete but is in spanish, still worth checking it out!.


This is a video I found on YouTube with some amazing footage of beaches and places on the Southern Coast of England. Some of these places are not included in this list, but are definitely on my wish list! You can check my other article on the Top 10 Uk Beaches to see a few of them featured. A must watch video, truly Awesome! (Make sure to watch it in HD to be amazed!)

Credits: LightUpMediaUK

So guys! I hope you found this guide useful to plan your Holiday in the beauty of Southern England! Let me know if I left any of your favorite places out or some missing info, by leaving a comment below! πŸ™‚



Read in: Italian German


  1. Amazing! Your article helps me to find out some hotels in England. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge here.

  2. Very informative! Love the info shared by you. I can’t wait to visit these places. Thanks a lot for sharing the great article.

  3. Oh my God. Look at these picturesss. I am literally dying right now to visit all these beautiful holiday spots. I wonder why have I not visited these before. Currently I am in England and I am definitely visiting these spots this weekend.

    1. Author

      I hope you had a great time! England is so underrated, so many great places to see!

  4. A really nice guide & detailed guide. Thanks for providing all the information at one place. Instead of browsing other websites for hotels & transportation, this article is very helpful. Great job.

  5. Great post! Thanks for great guide, all these places are wonderful to visit.

  6. Thanks for the descriptive information; spurred my husband and I to take a drive to Eastbourne. Cant wait to see the white cliffs amd also have a delicious fish and chips

    1. Author

      Hey Mel, you are going to LOVE Eastbourne! I’ve seen so many places in my life but I remember my jaw dropping expression when I saw that beautiful view! Enjoy πŸ™‚

  7. Thank you for this post.
    i am chinese, and this year i will go to UK study in sep.
    could u tell me Eastbourne and Bournemouth what is the difference ?which is best?
    cause i just have one mouth vacation,i just can choose one place.

    1. Author

      Hey Samantha! Thanks for stopping by! Eastbourne and Bournemouth are both beautiful destinations but If I had to choose only one, I’d be in trouble as I like them both! I’d first go to Bournemouth for the variety of things you can do (Durdle door is awesome and you can go on a day trip in there and also reach London in 2 hours by train) The countryside is lovely in there too. Eastbourne is closer to London (a little more than 1 hour by train) and the white cliffs are to die for but the town itself is pretty quiet except for the seafront area where you can find nice restaurants, the pier to watch the sunset and eat some fish and chips πŸ™‚

      Difficult decision, really!Too bad you can only choose one place… So let’s put it this way, if you want to also visit London frequently during your month in the UK… I’d go with Eastbourne. If you want a more relaxing adventure, then Bournemouth is better for you!

      Hope this helps!

  8. Great post, with a lot of travel inspirations. Dorset is a great location, I visited it in 2013 and it reminded me of the Mediterranean. Durdle Door is another spot definitely worth to visit, people couldn’t believe from the picture that it was UK. There’s such diversity of landscapes in England!

    1. Author

      Hey Milena, I can’t believe I actually didn’t mention Durdle Door in the guide! Shame on me, that place is simply jaw-dropping and if you are into photography, going in there at sunrise you can take an incredible shot with the sun perfectly aligned inside the arch. Stunning! Thanks for the reminder and I will definitely add it to the list, people will LOVE it, I’m 100% sure. England, as you said has so much to offer in terms of beautiful landscapes. Most of the people traveling to the UK base their vacations around London and it’s such a shame because even if London is a must (of course) but they are missing out on other incredible gems!

  9. I also explored these all alluring destinations during my last journey and have a joyful time with my mates. In my point of view these all places are the best ways to have great fun in England. I hope you will fully enjoy there like I enjoyed.

    1. Author

      I definitely enjoyed my time in these locations while I was in England, great places to visit!

  10. Thank you for this kind of a thorough list! I’m going to London for the first period next weekend break. With one totally free day I now have various choices to pick for my day journey from London.

    1. Author

      Glad I could help MD Rasel! I hope you had a great trip in the UK!

  11. Hi Clelia
    Really liked your post. The amount of information you’ve included is incredible!

    Admin note : I removed the link and the rest of the comment as I don’t allow “advertising” in my comments as per my website’s policies. If you want to help another user, please leave your email and ask to be contacted directly.

    Thank you!

  12. Thank you for this post. I’ve been looking for something to do this Sunday and because of your post I’m going to see the Eastbourne White Cliffs. They look stunning!

    1. Author

      You are going to love it, I think that is one of the most amazing things I saw while in the UK! Enjoy πŸ™‚

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  15. Great post! I really want in one day, I can travel to South Uk and visit Portsmouth Area. This place is really attractive and beautiful. Thanks for marvelous sharing and cheer!

  16. Stopped here from a river cruise for an hour and a half. Classed as a World Heritage site, it’s steeped with history, and beautiful buildings like the Benedictine Abbey, the Old City Hall with it’s torture chamber, and lovely cobbled lane ways. Wish we had more time to explore.

    1. It’s always like that, we all wish we had more time to explore! I’m going back to the UK (London now) for a mini break in May and I wish i could stay more and visit some more amazing sites!

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  18. I’m a chocolate lover that’s why surely I will visit Brighton just because of Chocolate Boutiques.

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  21. The index is really helpful. I love how you edit the post, it looks so organized and amazing! And the content and photos are much more amazing! Thanks for the detailed and lovely post! I’d choose the Blue Reef Aquarium above all.

    1. Author

      Thanks Stephen! Glad you enjoyed the post, there are so many things to discover in the UK!

    1. Author

      Thanks to you for stopping by Alice, yes, great places indeed!

  22. The UK has so much potential. I didn’t know about those places! Too bad the weather is not the best πŸ™‚

    1. Author

      Definitely! Many people living in the UK don’t even realize it! I was lucky as I saw many of these places but I’m still missing so much to see!

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  25. I’m glad to see that Brighton is on the list. I went there on a day trip a couple of years ago and I have very fond memories of that place and I often look back at my pictures from there. I definitely want to go there again soon. The UK has some amazing places to visit.

    1. Author

      I agree with you Zascha! The UK has so much to offer! The only downside of it is the weather, but still, the landscapes make it up for the rest! I’ve been to Brighton many times and It’s certainly fascinating, but my favorite still remains Eastbourne, damn those white cliffs are so surreal!!!

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  27. This is such a thorough information of what to see in the South of UK. I visited London, UK for the first time in 2011 and last year 2014 I was meant to go back to UK after being back in Europe for the 3rd time again. I had anticipated to explore the rest of UK but unfortunately my travel itinerary had to be changed while I was back in Europe last year. I had to fly back to Australia and New Zealand, which I am currently based until next year. I’m hoping to return to Europe again, explore UK more and perhaps find my temporary home base either in Greece, Italy, Spain or France. I’ve been to those countries a few times in previous travels but also thinking of moving to the UK, Switzerland or Germany. So much options to choose from.

    I’ve heard lots of good things about Brighton and I really can’t wait to explore the city. πŸ™‚

    Just discovered your blog and have so far enjoyed experiencing your travels through reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the comment Fashion Girl (I’m not that much into fashion anymore but I can see you also love traveling!). The UK is a very good place to move to, I even wrote a comprehensive guide about it and I hope you can return to England and enjoy some good views!

  28. These places are beautiful! I have to add them to my list!

    1. Author

      Yes the South coast of England is actually pretty awesome, I think I’m going to write a second article as there are also other areas like Cornwall that are quite amazing!

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