15 Best Things To Do In Rye, England

15 Best Things To Do In Rye, England

By will

When it comes to exploring the charming town of Rye in England, there are endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.
With its ancient streets, historic landmarks, and breathtaking coastal views, Rye offers a plethora of activities that will delight any traveler.
From wandering through the narrow cobblestone lanes to immersing oneself in the town’s rich history at the Rye Castle Museum, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this picturesque destination.

One of the highlights of visiting Rye is strolling along the iconic Mermaid Street, lined with 15th-century timber-framed buildings.
This enchanting street is steeped in history and offers a glimpse into the town’s past.

Another must-visit attraction is the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, where you can take a leisurely walk and marvel at the diverse wildlife and stunning coastal scenery.

For art enthusiasts, the Rye Art Gallery showcases a wide range of contemporary art, providing a unique cultural experience.
Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or simply relaxing on the sandy shores of Camber Sands Beach, Rye has something for everyone to enjoy.

So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the best things to do in Rye, England.

Explore Rye’s Ancient Streets

Fletchers House (2) - sign, 4 Lion Street, Rye, East Sussex
Photo by P L Chadwick

You’ll love wandering through Rye’s ancient streets, immersing yourself in its rich history and charming atmosphere.

As you stroll along the cobblestone pathways, it’s like stepping back in time. The beautifully preserved medieval buildings, with their timber frames and sloping roofs, exude a sense of enchantment.

Each corner you turn reveals a new hidden gem, whether it’s a quaint tearoom, an art gallery, or a traditional pub. The narrow streets are lined with unique shops, offering everything from antiques to handmade crafts, ensuring there’s something to catch everyone’s eye.

As you explore Rye’s ancient streets, you can’t help but feel a connection to the past. The town’s history dates back over a thousand years, and it’s evident in every stone and brick.

The impressive St. Mary’s Church, with its towering spire, dominates the skyline and serves as a reminder of the town’s religious heritage. Along the streets, you’ll also come across the famous Mermaid Inn, a historic pub that has welcomed travelers since the 12th century. The stories and legends that linger within its walls are a testament to the town’s long and colorful history.

So take your time, soak in the atmosphere, and let Rye’s ancient streets transport you to a bygone era.

Visit Rye Castle Museum

Rye Castle
Photo by Andrew Curtis

Explore the fascinating history of Rye Castle Museum and immerse yourself in its rich heritage. Located in the heart of Rye, England, this museum offers a captivating insight into the town’s past.

As you step inside, you’ll be transported back in time to the medieval era, where Rye Castle played a crucial role in defending the town against invasions. The museum showcases a wide range of artifacts, including weaponry, armor, and interactive exhibits that bring the castle’s history to life.

One of the highlights of the Rye Castle Museum is the Ypres Tower, also known as the Rye Castle. This ancient structure dates back to the 14th century and served as a fortified defense against French raids during the Hundred Years’ War. As you climb the tower’s spiral staircase, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views of the town and its surrounding countryside.

The museum also houses a collection of historical documents and photographs, providing a deeper understanding of Rye’s past.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Rye’s heritage, a visit to the Rye Castle Museum is a must. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the town’s ancient streets and uncover the stories of its past.

So, grab your camera, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to embark on a journey through time at Rye Castle Museum.

Enjoy Breathtaking Coastal Views

Beach at Rye

Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rye’s coastal views and let your senses be whisked away by the breathtaking scenery. As you stand atop the cliffs, the salty sea breeze gently caresses your skin, as if whispering tales of the past.

The rugged coastline stretches out before you, with its dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches, offering a mesmerizing panorama that will leave you in awe.

The coastal views in Rye are truly unparalleled. From the vantage point of the cliffs, you can see for miles, taking in the vast expanse of the English Channel and the ever-changing hues of the sky. The crashing waves create a symphony of sound, a soothing backdrop to the stunning visuals. It’s a place where you can truly feel connected to nature, as you witness the power and beauty of the sea.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photographer, or simply someone seeking tranquility, Rye’s coastal views are a must-see. They offer a sense of escapism, a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the natural world.

So, take a leisurely stroll along the coast, breathe in the salty air, and let your worries drift away as you bask in the splendor of Rye’s breathtaking coastal views.

Discover the Mermaid Street

Get ready to uncover the enchanting charm of Mermaid Street, a hidden gem that will transport you to a world of quaint cobblestone lanes and historic timber-framed houses. As you stroll along this picturesque street, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to a bygone era.

The narrow, winding lanes are lined with beautifully preserved buildings, some dating back to the 15th century. It’s a treat for history lovers and architecture enthusiasts alike.

One of the highlights of Mermaid Street is the famous Mermaid Inn, a historic pub that has been welcoming visitors since the 12th century. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by a cozy and inviting atmosphere, with low ceilings, oak beams, and a roaring fire in the winter months. The inn is steeped in history, having once been a smugglers’ hideout and even rumored to be haunted. It’s the perfect place to stop for a pint and soak in the ambiance of this charming street.

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Be sure to take your time exploring Mermaid Street, as there are many hidden gems to discover along the way. From quaint shops selling antiques and local crafts to charming tea rooms offering delicious treats, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the photo opportunities are endless.

Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of architecture, or simply looking for a peaceful stroll, Mermaid Street is a must-visit destination in Rye, England.

Take a Walk Along Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Stroll along the breathtaking Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and immerse yourself in the beauty of its diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife.

As you walk along the reserve’s well-maintained trails, you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the marshes, shingle ridges, and salt pans that make up this unique coastal landscape.

The reserve is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, making it a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Keep an eye out for the reserve’s resident and migratory birds, as Rye Harbour is an important stopover for many species. From elegant swans to vibrant kingfishers, there’s always a fascinating bird to spot. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the rare avocets that breed in the area.

The reserve also boasts an impressive array of wildflowers, with vibrant colors and fragrant scents filling the air during the warmer months.

Aside from its natural beauty, Rye Harbour Nature Reserve also offers educational opportunities and guided walks to help visitors learn more about the unique ecosystems and conservation efforts in place.

Whether you’re a seasoned nature enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful escape, a walk along Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and inspired by the wonders of the natural world.

Visit the Ypres Tower

Located at the heart of Rye Harbour, the Ypres Tower beckons visitors with its historic charm and commanding presence. This ancient structure, also known as Rye Castle, has stood as a symbol of power and protection for centuries.

As I step inside, I’m immediately transported back in time, surrounded by the rich history that permeates every corner of this fascinating landmark.

The Ypres Tower was originally built in the 13th century as a defensive stronghold against invasions from the sea. It served as a vital part of Rye’s fortifications, playing a significant role in the town’s defense during various conflicts throughout its history.

Today, the tower stands as a museum, offering a glimpse into the past and providing visitors with a unique opportunity to explore its intriguing past.

As I wander through the tower’s rooms, I’m captivated by the displays of artifacts and exhibits that bring the history of Rye to life. From the medieval weaponry to the interactive exhibits showcasing the tower’s role in maritime defense, there’s something to pique the interest of every visitor.

The panoramic views from the top of the tower are simply breathtaking, offering a stunning vantage point to admire the surrounding landscape and the bustling harbor below.

Visiting the Ypres Tower isn’t just a journey through history, but also a chance to immerse oneself in the stories and legends that have shaped Rye over the centuries.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking a unique experience, a visit to the Ypres Tower is a must-do when exploring the charming town of Rye.

Indulge in Delicious Seafood at Rye Bay Fish

When you step into Rye Bay Fish, you’ll be greeted with the tantalizing aroma of freshly caught seafood that will make your mouth water. This charming seafood restaurant is a must-visit for any seafood lover in Rye, England.

Located near the picturesque Rye Harbour, Rye Bay Fish offers a delightful dining experience where you can indulge in some of the best seafood dishes in the area. The menu at Rye Bay Fish is a seafood lover’s dream come true. From succulent grilled lobster to crispy fish and chips, there is something to satisfy every palate.

The seafood is sourced locally, ensuring the freshness and quality of each dish. You can taste the difference with every bite. The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always happy to recommend the catch of the day or provide insights into the different seafood options available. Whether you prefer shellfish, grilled fish, or seafood pasta, Rye Bay Fish has got you covered.

Not only does Rye Bay Fish serve delicious food, but it also provides a warm and inviting atmosphere. The cozy dining area with its rustic decor and charming seaside vibes creates the perfect setting for a memorable meal. The restaurant is well-known for its attentive service and attention to detail, making every visit a special occasion.

Whether you’re dining with friends, family, or a loved one, Rye Bay Fish offers a wonderful dining experience that you won’t soon forget. So, if you find yourself in Rye, make sure to stop by Rye Bay Fish and indulge in the freshest and most delicious seafood dishes in town.

Take a Boat Trip on the River Rother

After indulging in delicious seafood at Rye Bay Fish, I highly recommend taking a boat trip on the River Rother. It’s a fantastic way to explore the natural beauty of Rye and immerse yourself in its rich history.

As I stepped onto the boat, I could feel the excitement in the air, knowing that I was about to embark on a memorable adventure.

The boat trip on the River Rother offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the charming town of Rye. As we glided along the calm waters, our knowledgeable guide pointed out various landmarks and shared fascinating stories about the area. I learned about the river’s historical significance and its role in shaping Rye’s identity as a vibrant coastal town.

One of the highlights of the boat trip was passing by the picturesque Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. The reserve is a haven for wildlife, and I was lucky enough to spot a variety of birds and other creatures in their natural habitat. The tranquility of the river combined with the sights and sounds of nature created a truly enchanting experience.

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Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing escape, a boat trip on the River Rother is a must-do activity in Rye, England. It allows you to connect with the town’s heritage, marvel at its scenic beauty, and create lasting memories.

So, don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to explore Rye from a unique perspective.

Experience the Rye Jazz Festival

Immerse yourself in a world of captivating melodies and rhythmic beats at the Rye Jazz Festival. This annual event is a must-see for music lovers and jazz enthusiasts alike.

With a rich history dating back over 20 years, the festival has become a highlight of the summer season in Rye, England. From intimate performances in cozy venues to lively outdoor concerts, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Rye Jazz Festival showcases a wide range of talented musicians from around the world. Whether you’re a fan of traditional jazz, contemporary fusion, or even experimental sounds, you’ll find it all here. The festival features both established artists and up-and-coming talents, ensuring a diverse and exciting lineup.

With its intimate atmosphere and stunning venues, such as the historic St Mary’s Church and the picturesque Kino Cinema, the festival offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So grab a drink, find a comfortable spot, and let the music transport you to a world of pure joy and rhythm.

Whether you’re a seasoned jazz aficionado or just looking for a fun night out, the Rye Jazz Festival is not to be missed.

Explore the Rye Heritage Centre

After enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and soulful melodies of the Rye Jazz Festival, I was eager to continue my exploration of Rye’s rich cultural heritage. That’s when I stumbled upon the Rye Heritage Centre, a captivating destination that offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past.

As soon as I stepped inside, I was transported back in time, surrounded by the stories and artifacts that have shaped Rye’s unique identity. The Rye Heritage Centre is a treasure trove of local history, showcasing the town’s maritime heritage, smuggling past, and famous residents. The exhibits are thoughtfully curated, providing a comprehensive overview of Rye’s evolution throughout the centuries. From interactive displays to informative panels, every corner of the centre invites visitors to immerse themselves in the town’s captivating narrative.

As I made my way through the various rooms, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the tales of daring smugglers, brave fishermen, and influential artists who have all contributed to the tapestry of Rye’s history. One of the highlights of my visit was the opportunity to climb the tower of the Rye Heritage Centre and admire the panoramic views of the town and its surrounding countryside. The vista was simply breathtaking, offering a unique perspective on Rye’s picturesque streets, ancient buildings, and scenic landscapes. It was a moment of tranquility and reflection, allowing me to appreciate the beauty and charm of this historic town from a different vantage point.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply curious about Rye’s past, a visit to the Rye Heritage Centre is an absolute must. It’s a captivating journey through time that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for this enchanting corner of England.

Visit the Lamb House

Make sure to check out the Lamb House, a charming destination that offers a glimpse into the history and ambiance of this enchanting corner of England. As you step inside, you’re immediately transported to a bygone era.

The house, dating back to the 18th century, was once home to renowned authors such as Henry James and E.F. Benson. Walking through the rooms, you can almost feel the presence of these literary figures, as the house has been beautifully preserved with period furniture and personal belongings. It’s a true delight for any literature lover.

One of the highlights of the Lamb House is the stunning garden. As you wander through the meticulously manicured grounds, you can’t help but feel a sense of tranquility and serenity. The garden is a perfect spot to take a leisurely stroll, admire the vibrant flowers, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. It’s easy to imagine the authors who once lived here finding inspiration in this idyllic setting.

Whether you’re a history buff, a literature enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of a well-preserved home, a visit to the Lamb House is a must when exploring Rye.

Discover the Rye Art Gallery

When you step into the Rye Art Gallery, you’ll be greeted by a vibrant collection of artwork that will captivate your senses.

The gallery showcases a diverse range of contemporary art, featuring both local and international artists. From stunning paintings and sculptures to intricate drawings and photography, there is something here to suit every artistic taste.

One of the highlights of the gallery is its ever-changing exhibitions, which provide a fresh and exciting experience with each visit. Whether you’re a fan of abstract art or prefer more traditional styles, you’ll find something that speaks to you at the Rye Art Gallery.

The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always available to provide insights and information about the artwork on display, adding to the overall enriching experience.

Additionally, the gallery frequently hosts special events and workshops, allowing visitors to engage further with the art and even create their own masterpieces.

A visit to the Rye Art Gallery is a must for art enthusiasts and anyone looking to appreciate the beauty and creativity of the local and international art scene.

With its vibrant collection, ever-changing exhibitions, and engaging events, this gallery offers a truly immersive and enriching experience that will leave you inspired and in awe of the artistic talent on display.

So step inside and let the Rye Art Gallery transport you to a world of artistic wonder.

Attend the Rye Medieval Festival

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of the Rye Medieval Festival, where knights joust, minstrels serenade, and the medieval spirit comes alive. This annual event is a must-visit for anyone with a love for history and a desire to step back in time.

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Held in the picturesque town of Rye, England, the festival takes place over a weekend and offers a truly immersive experience.

As you wander through the festival grounds, you’ll be transported to a bygone era. The air is filled with the sounds of clashing swords and the cheers of the crowd as knights battle it out in thrilling jousting tournaments. You can’t help but be captivated by the skill and bravery on display.

The festival also features a variety of medieval entertainment, from musicians and dancers to storytellers and falconry displays. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with costumed performers who bring the medieval world to life, making you feel like you’ve truly stepped back in time.

In addition to the captivating performances, the Rye Medieval Festival also offers an array of vendors selling medieval-inspired crafts, clothing, and food. You can browse the stalls for unique souvenirs or indulge in delicious treats like roasted meats and freshly baked bread. The festival truly caters to all your senses, ensuring a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a fun and unique event to attend, the Rye Medieval Festival is not to be missed. With its immersive atmosphere, thrilling performances, and authentic medieval experience, it’s a true delight for anyone seeking a taste of the past. Plan your visit and prepare to be transported to a world where knights still roam and the medieval spirit is alive and well.

Take a Ghost Tour of Rye

If you’re looking for a thrilling and spine-chilling experience in Rye, England, then taking a ghost tour is an absolute must.

With its rich history and ancient buildings, Rye is believed to be one of the most haunted towns in the country.

As a local resident, I can assure you that the ghost tours here are not just your average spooky walk. They are an immersive and unforgettable journey into the supernatural world that will leave you with goosebumps and a newfound fascination for the paranormal.

Led by knowledgeable and entertaining guides, the ghost tours of Rye take you on a captivating exploration of the town’s haunted past.

As you walk through the narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll hear spine-tingling tales of ghostly apparitions, mysterious happenings, and unexplained phenomena that have been witnessed by locals and visitors alike.

The guides are experts in Rye’s history and folklore, and they bring the stories to life with their captivating storytelling skills.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the ghost tour of Rye is an experience that will intrigue and entertain you, providing a unique perspective on the town’s history and culture.

As you delve deeper into the dark corners of Rye, you’ll visit haunted locations such as the Mermaid Inn, which is said to be frequented by the spirits of smugglers and pirates, and the Ypres Tower, where the ghost of a medieval soldier is said to roam the halls.

The guides will share chilling stories of these haunted places, recounting the encounters and experiences of those who have crossed paths with the supernatural.

With each step you take, the atmosphere becomes more eerie, and you can’t help but feel a sense of anticipation and excitement.

Whether you’re a believer in the paranormal or just looking for a thrilling adventure, a ghost tour of Rye is an experience that will leave you with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for the town’s haunted history.

Relax and Unwind at Camber Sands Beach

After experiencing the spine-tingling ghost tour, head to Camber Sands Beach to bask in the tranquil beauty and let the soothing waves wash away any lingering chills.

Camber Sands Beach is a stunning stretch of golden sand located just a short distance from Rye. As soon as you set foot on the beach, you’ll be captivated by its natural beauty and the sense of serenity it exudes.

The expansive coastline is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic, allowing you to immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere and take in the breathtaking views.

Whether you’re looking to unwind and sunbathe, build sandcastles with your family, or simply take a romantic walk along the shore, Camber Sands Beach offers something for everyone. The soft sand is ideal for lounging, and the inviting waters are perfect for a refreshing dip on a warm day. You can also try your hand at various water sports, such as kite surfing or paddleboarding, for a bit of adventure.

As you relax on the beach, you’ll be surrounded by the stunning backdrop of rolling dunes and picturesque landscapes, creating a truly idyllic setting to escape from the busyness of everyday life.

Camber Sands Beach is not only a place to relax and unwind, but it also provides the opportunity to reconnect with nature. The beach is part of a designated nature reserve, home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. You might spot various bird species, including oystercatchers and sandpipers, as they gracefully glide across the sky or wade in the shallow waters. The beach is also a popular spot for wildlife enthusiasts, with sightings of seals and other marine life not uncommon.

Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Camber Sands Beach is the perfect destination to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.


In conclusion, my visit to Rye, England was an unforgettable experience. Exploring the ancient streets of this charming town allowed me to step back in time and appreciate its rich history.

The Rye Castle Museum was a fascinating glimpse into the past, and the coastal views were absolutely breathtaking.

One of the highlights of my trip was discovering Mermaid Street, with its picturesque houses and charming atmosphere. Walking along Rye Harbour Nature Reserve was a peaceful escape, surrounded by the beauty of nature. The Rye Art Gallery showcased incredible works of art, and attending the Rye Medieval Festival was like stepping into a different era.

Taking a ghost tour of Rye was both thrilling and spooky, leaving me with a sense of wonder and mystery. And lastly, relaxing and unwinding at Camber Sands Beach was the perfect way to end my visit, with its golden sands and calming waves.

Rye truly offers a wide range of activities and attractions that cater to every interest and preference.

Overall, Rye exceeded my expectations and left me with lifelong memories. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Rye has something for everyone. I highly recommend visiting this hidden gem in England and discovering its unique charm for yourself.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.