If you’re planning a trip to West Sussex, England, don’t miss out on visiting the historic city of Chichester. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, there’s plenty to see and do in this charming town. Here are 15 of the best things to do in Chichester.
Interesting facts about Chichester
- Chichester is a historic city that dates back to Roman times, and was once an important market town and port.
- The city is home to one of the oldest cathedrals in England, which was founded in the 11th century and has been an important religious site ever since.
- Chichester has a rich artistic and cultural heritage, and is home to a number of museums, galleries, and theatres.
- The city is surrounded by stunning countryside, including the South Downs National Park, which offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in England.
- Chichester is famous for its horse racing, and is home to the world-renowned Goodwood Racecourse.
- The city has a rich literary history, and has been the birthplace or home of a number of famous writers, including Jane Austen and Rudyard Kipling.
- Chichester has a thriving food and drink scene, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering everything from traditional British fare to international cuisine.
- The city is also a popular destination for shopping, with a range of high street stores, independent boutiques, and artisanal markets offering a variety of goods.
- Chichester has a vibrant community, with a range of events and festivals taking place throughout the year, including the Chichester Festival Theatre and the Chichester Farmers’ Market.
- Despite its rich history and cultural significance, Chichester remains a small and friendly city, with a strong sense of community and a welcoming atmosphere that makes it a popular destination for visitors from around the world.
Visit Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral is a stunning example of medieval architecture that has stood in the heart of the city for over 900 years. Visitors to the cathedral can admire the intricate stonework, beautiful stained glass windows, and impressive organ, all of which reflect the rich history and spiritual significance of the building. The cathedral also boasts a rich collection of art and artefacts, including a number of priceless paintings and tapestries.
For those who want to learn more about the cathedral’s history and architecture, guided tours are available. These tours offer a fascinating insight into the building’s construction, as well as its significance to the local community and wider religious world. Visitors can also climb to the top of the cathedral tower, where they can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Explore the Chichester Walls
The Chichester Walls are a series of ancient fortifications that encircle the city, offering a glimpse into the town’s rich history. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the walls, admiring the views of the city and surrounding countryside. Along the way, they can also explore the various towers and gatehouses that dot the walls, each of which has its own unique history and significance.
One of the highlights of the Chichester Walls is the East Gate, which dates back to the 14th century. This impressive structure is one of the best-preserved gatehouses in England and is a testament to the skill of medieval craftsmen. Visitors can climb to the top of the gatehouse, where they can enjoy stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Walk along the Canal Basin
The Canal Basin is a picturesque spot in the heart of Chichester, once a bustling port that is now a peaceful haven for visitors to enjoy. The Basin is home to a number of historic boats and barges, and visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge, admiring the scenic views and watching the boats go by.
Visitors can also take a boat tour of the canal, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the waterway and the city. The tour takes visitors through a series of locks and under ancient bridges, highlighting the engineering skills that were required to build and maintain the canal. The Basin is also home to a number of charming cafes and restaurants, where visitors can relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Tour the Pallant House Gallery
The Pallant House Gallery is a world-renowned museum of modern and contemporary art, housed in a beautifully restored Georgian townhouse in the heart of Chichester. The gallery’s collection includes works by some of the most influential artists of the 20th century, including Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and David Hockney.
Visitors to the gallery can explore a range of exhibitions and displays, each of which offers a unique insight into the development of modern art. Guided tours are also available, offering visitors the chance to learn more about the works on display and the history of the building itself. The gallery also boasts a charming cafe and gift shop, making it the perfect destination for a cultural day out.
Discover Fishbourne Roman Palace
Fishbourne Roman Palace is an archaeological site located just outside of Chichester, once a grand Roman villa that dates back to the 1st century AD. Visitors to the site can explore the remains of the villa, including its stunning mosaics, hypocausts, and bathhouses.
The site also boasts a fascinating museum, which tells the story of Roman Britain and the villa’s role in the wider history of the region. Visitors can learn about the daily lives of the villa’s inhabitants, as well as the impact of Roman culture on the local population. Guided tours are available, offering visitors the chance to learn more about the history and architecture of the villa and its many fascinating features.
See the Novium Museum
The Novium Museum is a fascinating museum that tells the story of Chichester’s rich history, from its Roman roots to the present day. The museum’s collection includes a range of artefacts, from ancient coins and pottery to medieval weapons and tools.
One of the highlights of the museum is its reconstruction of a Roman bathhouse, which gives visitors a unique insight into the daily lives of the town’s Roman inhabitants. The museum also offers a range of interactive exhibits and displays, making it a great destination for families and visitors of all ages.
Shop at Chichester Market
Chichester Market is a bustling market that takes place in the city centre every Wednesday and Saturday. Visitors can browse a wide range of stalls selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts and gifts.
The market is a great place to pick up souvenirs of your trip, as well as sample some of the delicious local produce on offer. Visitors can also enjoy live music and entertainment, adding to the lively and festive atmosphere of the market.
Stroll through Priory Park
Priory Park is a beautiful public park located in the heart of Chichester, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park is home to a number of attractions, including a tranquil lake, a children’s play area, and a charming cafe.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the park, enjoying the colourful flowerbeds, mature trees, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The park is also home to a number of events throughout the year, including outdoor theatre productions and music festivals.
Attend a performance at Chichester Festival Theatre
Chichester Festival Theatre is a world-renowned theatre that attracts visitors from all over the world. The theatre hosts a diverse range of productions, from classic plays to modern musicals, and has a reputation for staging some of the best productions in the UK.
Visitors can book tickets to see a show at the theatre, enjoying the stunning performances and vibrant atmosphere of the venue. The theatre also offers a range of workshops and classes, giving visitors the chance to learn about the craft of theatre and hone their own skills.
Enjoy the view from the top of the South Downs
The South Downs are a range of hills that stretch across the south of England, offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors to Chichester can take a walk along the South Downs Way, a long-distance footpath that runs through the area.
One of the highlights of the South Downs is the stunning panoramic view that can be enjoyed from the top of the hills. Visitors can take a leisurely walk to the top of the hills, enjoying the scenery along the way, before taking in the breathtaking view of the region.
Take a day trip to the seaside town of Bognor Regis
Bognor Regis is a charming seaside town located just a short distance from Chichester. Visitors can enjoy a day on the beach, explore the town’s many shops and restaurants, or take a stroll along the pier.
The town is home to a number of attractions, including a vibrant theatre, a historic museum, and a bustling high street. Visitors can also enjoy a range of water sports and activities, making it the perfect destination for a fun-filled day trip.
Watch horse racing at Goodwood Racecourse
Goodwood Racecourse is a world-famous horse racing track located just outside of Chichester. The racecourse hosts a number of prestigious races throughout the year, including the Glorious Goodwood festival in August.
Visitors can enjoy a day of racing, betting, and socialising in the stunning surroundings of the Sussex countryside. The racecourse also offers a range of hospitality options, including fine dining and private boxes, making it a great destination for a special occasion or corporate event.
Visit the Weald and Downland Living Museum
The Weald and Downland Living Museum is a unique open-air museum that showcases the history of rural life in Sussex. Visitors can explore a range of historic buildings, from a medieval hall house to a 19th-century farmstead, and learn about traditional crafts and trades.
The museum also offers a range of events and workshops throughout the year, giving visitors the chance to get hands-on experience with traditional crafts and skills. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or craft-making, the Weald and Downland Living Museum is a fascinating destination.
Explore Arundel Castle and Gardens
Arundel Castle is a magnificent medieval castle located just a short drive from Chichester. The castle is home to a stunning collection of art and artefacts, as well as beautiful gardens and grounds.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the castle, learning about its rich history and admiring its impressive architecture and furnishings. The castle also hosts a range of events throughout the year, including medieval jousting tournaments and outdoor concerts.
Take a leisurely walk in the South Downs National Park
The South Downs National Park is a vast area of countryside that encompasses some of the most beautiful landscapes in England. Visitors to Chichester can take a leisurely walk through the park, enjoying the rolling hills, wooded valleys, and stunning views.
The park is home to a range of wildlife and plant species, as well as a number of historic landmarks and cultural sites. Visitors can take a guided walk to learn more about the park’s history and natural beauty, or simply enjoy a relaxing stroll through the countryside.
In conclusion, Chichester is a charming and historic city that offers visitors a wide range of attractions and activities. From exploring ancient Roman ruins to watching horse racing at a world-famous track, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant town. So why not plan a visit and discover the best things to do in Chichester for yourself?
What is the best time of year to visit Chichester?
Chichester is a great destination year-round, but the summer months are particularly popular, thanks to the warmer weather and the many outdoor events that take place during this time.
Are there any free things to do in Chichester?
Yes, there are many free attractions in Chichester, including the Chichester Walls, Priory Park, and the Canal Basin. The Novium Museum also offers free admission, and visitors can explore the city’s streets and historic buildings for free.
Is Chichester Cathedral open to visitors?
Yes, Chichester Cathedral is open to visitors every day of the year, except for Christmas Day. Visitors can explore the cathedral on their own or take a guided tour.
Can I visit the South Downs National Park from Chichester?
Yes, the South Downs National Park is easily accessible from Chichester. Visitors can take a short drive to one of the park’s many car parks or take a bus or train to one of the nearby towns or villages.
What is the best way to get around Chichester?
Chichester is a small and compact city, and many of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, there are also local buses and taxis available, as well as bike rental services. Parking can be limited in the city centre, so visitors are encouraged to use public transport where possible.