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Eastbourne is situated on the edge of Britain’s newest national park, the South Downs, also right on the south coast of Britain facing France. It is not as crowded as its larger Sussex neighbours of Brighton or Hastings, and with direct access all the way from London via the A22, it makes the most sense to use Eastbourne as the starting point for exploring the capital, the Sussex coast and wooded hills of the Downs.
Who to Book With
Eastbourne has several rental companies to choose from, including the well-known Europcar and National. These companies are located near the Railway Station, and a few more are clustered around Hampden Park Station on the outskirts of town. Pick up can be easily arranged by booking online, where you can secure the best rates and your favoured vehicle from a wider choice.
Best Time to go
Eastbourne is a typical English seaside town with a traditional pier. The best time to visit Eastbourne is during the great British summer, when you can sit back on your deck chair counting the clouds with a stick of rock in hand. If you are planning on visiting the South Downs, then autumn is always a good time for golden leaf-peeping. Spring is great for nature watching, and winter is probably best avoided unless you wrap up warm.
Need to Know Essentials
To pick up your rental car you must provide the following documents:
- An EU driving license or International Drivers Permit valid in Britain
- A passport or second form of picture ID
- The credit card or form of payment used to make the booking
- A printed booking confirmation or reference number
Eastbourne is best avoided during peak hours, as the major routes that run east, west and north out of town, such as the A259 and roads connecting with the A22 trunk route, experience a high-volume of traffic. However, one of the great benefits of Eastbourne is that you can reach the M25 in an hour-and-a-half on the A22.
Navigating Eastbourne is simple, since the town centre is encircled by a clockwise one-way system. As you go round, you will only encounter one roundabout on the south side. When you hit this, take your first left down Devonshire Place for the easiest access to the seafront.
There are a few spots to park along the promenade, but if you get stuck you can always head back up into town and use the NCP multi-storey car park near the train station. Current rates are 90p for an hour or just £2.50 for the whole day, but make sure you pick your car up by midnight, when it closes.
Eastbourne is on the southern limit of Britain, bordered by the sea and national park, but there is still decent access by public transport. You can combine rail with the local buses. Or, if you prefer, you will have no trouble finding a taxi in Eastbourne.
One of the great things about public transport around Eastbourne is the One-day Downland Travel Card. This all-inclusive ticket allows you to use both trains and local buses for travel across most of Sussex. Currently, there are two tickets on offer: the South Coast Downlander, which costs £10, and the All Network Downlander, costing £12.50; kids travel for just £2.50.
Eastbourne is the terminus of the mainline from London. There is also a rail link to Brighton, via Lewes. Eastbourne is also connected to Gatwick Airport by rail. To check timetables, visit the National Rail Enquiries website or call 0845 7484950.
Buses are adequate around Eastbourne, although, as with any small town, you shouldn’t expect an extensive service. At least one bus is likely to go near your destination, although maybe not as frequently as you would like. Services are operated by Stagecoach.
Taxis are easy to find in Eastbourne. Your best bet is to call Sussex Cars, on 01323 726 726, a reliable local operator.
Eastbourne is in a great location on the coast, set at the foot of the South Downs and close to interesting historical sites. The road network in and out of town is well developed, making driving for leisure a pleasure. If you stray off the main routes, you are bound to discover a well-established country pub to break up your journey.
South Downs National Park - This is Britain’s newest national park, this does not mean the site is new at all, since the chalk Weald, now an amazing nature spot, formed between 100 million and 65 million years ago. Your best bet to take it all in is to head west from Eastbourne and then turn right at Friston, looping back round after Polegate. Or for a longer drive, head to the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs near Seaford Head.
The Cinque Ports - A series of five ports built to protect Britain from any marauding invaders, have a French name because they date back to the times of William the Conqueror. The closest site to Eastbourne is Pevensey Bay; the Castle here is a great place to stop for a spot of lunch and take a stroll.
The Long Man of Wilimington - Only six miles northwest of Eastbourne, this chalk depiction of a 230ft prehistoric man, carved in the hillside dates back to the Neolithic period. Wilmington can be reached by taking the A22 and the A27 trunk roads out of Eastbourne. You can round out your day of by viewing a similar chalk horse at Litlington, all within 40 minutes of Eastbourne.