A day stroll in quaint Rye, East Sussex

Last Updated on 17/04/2021 by secretmoona

If you have been to York, then you will love Rye, East Sussex. If you have never been to York, you will still love Rye. This picturesque town with cobbled streets, cute independent shops, crooked half-timbered houses, and the right amount of cute gift, books and antique shops is the perfect location for a relaxed day out from the city or a weekend break.

Terrace in Rye with flowers - Rye, East Sussex

Rye, located in East Sussex to the northeast to Hastings, is less than an hours train journey from London St Pancras with a change at Ashford International. The usually easy trip was made a little more difficult, as it seemed that every Londoner decided to visit Rye on that day. The train was packed, and we were unable to find a seat. However, our frustration about the journey stopped as soon as we arrived at Rye station. It only took us a few minutes to reach the high street.

We arrived in Rye around noon so decided to explore a little before settling down for lunch.


Rye Castle Museum

Rye Castle Museum - Rye East Sussex
Rye Castle Museum

Our first spot was the castle, better known as Ypres Tower.  Built in 1249, the castle used to be a defence against attacks by the French. The grade I listed building is now home to Rye Castle Museum. There you can learn all about the history of the town as well as see some medieval artefacts. The castle had a beautiful little medieval garden, but we didn’t explore it.  
Ypres Tower is open every day from 10.30am until 5pm (until 3.30pm, from November until end of March). Adults, £4; children, free.

View of St Mary's Church - Rye East Sussex

On the way to see the tower, we stopped by the church. Its tower offers a great view of the city should you decide to go up it.

Where to eat in Rye, East Sussex

The Old Bell pub - Rye East Sussex
Inside the Old Bell pub - Rye East Sussex

After our little walk and exploration of the castle’s surroundings, we stopped by a little garden and enjoyed the view over the estuary. As our stomachs started grumbling so we headed south on the High Street. It has cute tea shops on one side and old pubs on the other.

Food at the Cobbles Tea Room - Rye East Sussex
Afternoon tea at the Cobbles Tea Room - Rye East Sussex

We stopped by the lovely tea room called The Cobbles Tea Room. It is what you would expect from a British tea room in a quaint little town;  quirky, cosy and comfortable. My sister settled on a tuna jacket potato and a gluten-free chocolate cake. I went for an afternoon tea with a scone, lots of jam and clotted cream, followed by a humongous slice of lemon drizzle cake.  

A Stroll along the quaint streets

Charming street - Rye East Sussex
Street in Rye - Rye East Sussex
Cute street in Rye - Rye East Sussex
Mermaid Street - Rye East Sussex

Rye is a well preserved medieval town with an array of half-timbered houses which are a delight to see. A wander around Rye’s quaint streets is the primary activity you should do in the town. Even more, on a full stomach.

Oak Corner in Rye - Rye East Sussex
Charming houses - Rye East Sussex

All the roads in Rye are pleasant, but the most charming of all has to be Mermaid Street. The half-timbered and Georgian houses are decorated with flowers, some have cute little signs on their doors.

Cute door signs - Rye East Sussex
House with two front doors - Rye East Sussex
Flowery front doors - Rye East Sussex
Half-timbered house in Rye - Rye East Sussex
Cobbled stones - Rye East Sussex
Archway full of English Ivy - Rye East Sussex
Little alleyway in Rye - Rye East Sussex
One of Rye’s secret pathways?

Shopping in Rye, East Sussex

Antique shop in Rye - Rye East Sussex
The Tiny Book Store - Rye East Sussex

For a small town, Rye has a lot of independent shops. One thing that we noticed is that the town resisted the “invasion of the coffee chains like Starbucks”. Instead, you have small independent coffee shops and tea houses. There are antiques, books and gifts shops aplenty.

Shop display - Rye East Sussex
Shop display - Rye East Sussex
Salt dispenser- Rye East Sussex
Shop display - Rye East Sussex

We stopped by Hunter Jones for a look and ended up buying a couple of incense sticks. The newly opened store stocks gorgeous homeware and gifts.  They offer a great selection of ceramic items, rugs, sheepskins and home fragrances including candles and soaps. You can tell that the owners took time to decorate with carefully selected items that make it a welcoming little store.

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Tower at Rye Harbour - Rye East Sussex
Martello Tower
Abandoned house at Rye Harbour - Rye East Sussex
Abandoned house at Rye Harbour - Rye East Sussex
Rye Harbour Nature Reserve - Rye East Sussex

In the afternoon, we decided to visit Rye Harbour Nature Reserve located about 3 km from Rye and near the estuary of the River Rother. The conservation area is made up of 475 hectares of wetlands, salt marshes and coastline and home to more than 4500 different species including 91 types of birds. It’s a great place to discover wildlife, experience the landscape, enjoy a nice walk, and appreciate the fresh smell of the sea by the beach. There are lots of footpaths along the reserve, but we walked the 2 miles to the shore.

Beach hut with red roof, Rye Harbour - Rye East Sussex
Red-roofed Hut

You can get to the reserve by driving or by taking bus 312 from Rye station. However, be mindful of the timings as the bus runs only every hour and stops at around 5 pm on weekends.  

Rye Harbour, blue house - Rye East Sussex
Abandoned wooden boat, Rye Harbour, - Rye East Sussex

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and birdwatching hides are open at all times along a network of footpaths. Entry is free. 

Accommodation in Rye, East Sussex

Old Mermaid Inn - Rye East Sussex

If you decide to spend the night at Rye, then why not stay at the Mermaid Inn. This perfect medieval cottage located on the cobbled Mermaid Street (one of Rye’s most photographed streets)  will be the perfect hotel to complete your discovery of the medieval Rye. Alternatively, you can find a list of all the hotels in Rye here

Practical Info about Rye East Sussex

Planning your visit

Should you need more information to plan your visit, please check the Tourist Information Centre.  

What’s on in Rye

With so many events happening throughout the year, you have lots of reasons to visit. Why not plan your trip around one of the many festivals?

Rye Bay Scallops Week – February

Jazz Festival – August

Rye Arts Festival – September

Christmas in Rye – December

Getting to Rye

High-speed trains run from London St Pancras to Ashford International with a journey time of 38 minutes. A further train to Rye takes about 21 minutes which makes the historic town the perfect option for a day trip from London or a weekend break. Check out Trainline for the best train deals. 

Parking in Rye

We took the train but if you are driving, please note that the train station has parking spaces at £14 per day.

Have you been to Rye? What’s your top tip for visiting the town?

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

28 thoughts on “A day stroll in quaint Rye, East Sussex

  1. Rye looks like such a cute village! Very quintessentially English. I’ll be moving to London in a few months, so I’ll definitely have to plan a day trip down to Rye!

  2. Such a neat find! I love small towns like this with tiny shops and eateries. It makes for such a relaxing and interesting excursion. Thank you!

  3. This is pretty much exactly what I picture when I think of England! Those scones look divine. I agree with Amy—small towns that were made for walking are my favourite. Definitely bookmarking this for my next visit to the UK!

    1. I hope you do. Rye is really quaint and a visit there can be combined with another nearby town like Hastings.

  4. Ah this post made me super nostalgic. We used to live in Kent and Rye was one of our favourite day trip destinations… waaaay before I started my blog. All I have now from our days in Rye are printed photos… yup that long ago! Thanks for sharing. Def transported me back.

    1. Ahh I hope you can return one day and write a post about it. Wouldn’t it be great to have the old photos and new photos side by side?

  5. I have plans to visit London later this year. I’m definitely including Rye as a day trip while I’m there. This city looks beautiful!

  6. I like this type post I am so happy to read your post This is one of the interesting and informative post. I like all the Image. Which camera and lens you use for your photography.

  7. My heart!!! My grandma lives in Rye right across from the Church Square. I am in Canada but we visit every year (and in my 31 years, I’ve been more times than I can count!). I was so happy to be able to get here in January. Love your photos, can’t wait to go back.

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