There are plenty of reasons to add Rye to your bucket list, whether it’s the maze of Georgian and Medieval streets and buildings or the enticing tea rooms, Rye is one of the most well preserved historic towns in Britain.
The pace of life in this picturesque town is slow, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of London. With vibrant pubs, cosy B&Bs, and signs of England’s historic past around every corner, you will wonder why you didn’t visit sooner.
With direct trains from Ashford International and Brighton, it is easy to connect via rail from London. Rail tickets and journeys can be purchased from National Rail.
Many people prefer to travel by car so they can easily reach the surrounding beaches and villages. Roads to Rye can be slow once off the motorway so make sure you leave yourself enough time to arrive. Your SatNav might tell you it’s only 12 more miles, but this can take even up to forty minutes. From central London you are looking at a two hour journey. If you are planning a day trip from Canterbury, journey time by car is around an hour, from Brighton an hour and a half.
Things To See
Mermaid Street: Possibly the most photographed street in the South-East and featured in Britain’s Prettiest Streets by the Telegraph, Mermaid Street is lined with half-timbered houses, colourful flower beds and hanging baskets, and of course, a traditional British pub!
Rye Castle: Rye Castle was built in 1249 and is also known as Ypres Tower. Approved by Henry III, the castle was built to protect the south coast from frequent raids and attacks by the French who arrived from the English Channel.
The castle is now a museum and is a Grade I Listed Building. On display is Medieval pottery, ancient town maps, artifacts, and embroidery portraying historic life in rye.
Opening times: 7 days a week (weather permitting), Winter: 10:30-15:30, Summer: 10:30-17:30
Price: Adults £4, over 65’s £3, under 16’s free.
St Mary’s Church and Tower: Boasting the best viewpoint in Rye, St Mary’s church has been standing for over 900 years, with the earliest part of the building constructed in the early 12th Century. Climb the church tower to admire views over the town, and take in the historic features along your ascent, including one of the country’s oldest functioning turret clocks installed in 1561.
Opening times: 9:15-17:15 in summer, 9:15 to 16:15 in winter.
Price: Entrance to the church is free, to visit the clock tower is £2.50.
Rye Harbour: With a busy yachting centre, a fishing fleet, and commercial shipping, there is always activity down at Rye Harbour. The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and doesn’t cost a penny to visit.
Camber Castle: Located close to Rye Harbour, Camber Castle was built by Henry VIII to guard the port of Rye. Standing between Rye and Winchelsea, the castle is surprisingly unaltered.
Places To Eat
Cobbles Tea Room: Pretty and traditional, Cobbles Tea Room is tucked away up a side street off the Mint. Perfect for tea lovers, the tea room serves light lunches, a selection of loose tea leafs, scones and cakes. One thing that stood out to us was the ‘homemade’ feel of the scones, you could tell they had been baked on site and we loved it!
The Mermaid Inn: Located on picturesque Mermaid Street, the Mermaid Inn is well known amongst visitors to Rye. The head chef is a fan of using local produce, so sit back and relax in this historic treasure trove and enjoy the tastes of Sussex.
The Ship Inn: Many international tourists love the idea of a traditional fish and chips. this typically British meal is served all over the country, but the Ship Inn is definitely a standout when it comes to this typical seaside cuisine.
The Gallivant: If you want to visit Camber Sands Beach for the day, head over to the Gallivant and enjoy lunch or dinner at this stylish dining venue. Offering modern British food and seaside classics, ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced.
Where To Stay
Willow Tree House: This luxurious 5* B&B is just a ten minute walk from central Rye. With just six bedrooms, staff give you their full attention. The luxury guest rooms are all en suite and feature power showers and high end the White company toiletries.
Price: Starting from £95 per night
The Gallivant: This boutique hotel is perfectly situated to enjoy the beach and the town. Recently renovated, the Gallivant is very much a laid back seaside hotel with high end interiors and furnishings. Staff are eager to help and for those who want to bring their fluffy friends, no problem, there are numerous dog friendly rooms in the hotel.
Price: Starting from £117 per night
The Hope and Anchor: This traditional privately owned hotel in Rye is rich in character and charm. Dating back to the 17th Century, the property even owns a two hundred year old fisherman’s cottage. Frequently holding the number 1 spot on Tripadvisor, this small hotel is right in the centre of town and offers fantastic views over Romney Marsh and Camber Castle.
Price: Starting from £125 per night