How to spend a day in Rye, Sussex

My Rye tips

Last autumn, I spent a couple of hours in the ancient town of Rye and fell in love in about 3½ minutes. I vowed I’d return with M for a day of proper exploration when the sun would (hopefully) be shining. We optimistically booked train tickets for early-July and despite the recent not-at-all-summer-appropriate weather, the sun did come out!

Last Saturday morning we hopped onboard at St. Pancras and were in Rye 1½ hours later. This hilltop town used to be surrounded by water, until the marsh was drained, and it still has a seaside feel with clapboard-covered buildings and cobblestone streets. Within half an hour, M wanted to move here. We both used the word “cute” a lot that day.

St Pancras, LondonSt Pancras, LondonRye High Street, SussexTips for Rye, East SussexRye Landgate, SussexThe history of Rye Landgate, East SussexKnoops café, Rye, SussexRye, Sussex

Temperamental weather in mind, I wore the denim dungarees that have become my weekend uniform with my favourite white linen shirt (similar) and new go-with-everything Calvin Klein trainers (from TK Maxx, £23, bargain). To stop myself looking like an overgrown toddler, I added a swipe of MAC’s Ruby Woo, my new hoop earrings and the silver circle necklace and personalised ring I wear almost every day.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate pockets. I bloody love pockets. I need to know my phone is within easy reach, ‘specially when I’m somewhere as Instagram-able as Rye. Bless you, pockets.

Cute old cottages, Rye, EnglandClapboard houses, RyeVintage shopping in Rye, SussexRye, SussexShopping in Rye, SussexRye Town Hall, SussexDay trip tips for Rye, East SussexWhat I wore for a day trip to Rye: dungarees & white linen shirtYpres Castle, Rye, SussexMy Rye tips, SussexRye, Sussex

After an initial scope of the town, the sky decided it was a good time to shower. You know, just to remind us that we weren’t actually on holiday and that it’s still British summertime. And so – lunch.

My food/drink/sight/hotel recommendations are all rounded-up below, but if you’re looking for a great meal the Standard’s Romney Marsh lamb comes highly recommended. M’s chorizo burger lasted mere seconds: I wasn’t even offered any. The rudeness.

View down The Mint from The Standard Inn, Rye, SussexMermaid Street, Rye, East SussexRye, SussexRye, SussexDay trip outfit! Dungarees & white shirtSt Mary's Church, RyeWonky old door, Rye, SussexRye, East SussexRye, EnglandRye, East SussexWindmill, Rye, Sussex

It was time for some calorie-burning shopping. When I was last in town, I spied lots of great-looking vintage stores on the Strand; on closer inspection I wasn’t impressed. Most were a 50/50 split of genuine retro items and ‘vintage-inspired’ pieces. And I’m a fan of real old tat!

After all that browsing, and with mild disappointment making me want to eat feelings, cake was calling.

Cafés and pubs in Rye, SussexRye, East SussexSeagull, Rye, SussexBritcher & Rivers old-style sweet shop, RyeTiny Book Store, Rye, EnglandFour Doors shop, RyeVintage shopping in Rye, East SussexVintage shops in Rye, East SussexVintage shop tips: Rye, East Sussex

There are lots of cake options in Rye. We settled on the Cobbles Tea Room and it was a good choice. The café opened in 1952 (though the building dates from 1826) by spinster sisters Iris and Doris, who served guests in the front room while their father smoked in the back!

Besides knowing how to do food, Rye knows a good pub. There were too many to choose from so we decided to go on a little crawl, with a half pint at each. We started in the Ypres Castle Inn, then stopped by the Mermaid Inn (rebuilt 1420), and finished at the Old Bell (the oldest pub in Rye).

Cobbles Tea Room, Rye, East SussexEdith's House café, Rye, SussexYpres Castle Inn, Rye, SussexThe Mermaid Inn (rebuilt 1420), Rye, SussexThe Old Bell - the oldest pub in RyeMarino's Fish Bar, Rye - proper British fish and chips!Tips for what to see & do in Rye, East Sussex

Following a visit Marino’s to pick up some salty chips for the walk to the train station, it was time to go home. ‘bye for now, Rye!

Things to see

Places to eat and drink

  • Knoops Café, Tower Forge – apparently the best hot chocolate in Rye, with such an interesting, varied menu. I can confirm the caramel one was pretty damn nice.
  • The Standard, The Mint – established in 1420, I was sold at Romney Marsh lamb (SO GOOD).
  • Cobbles Tea Room, off The Mint – the perfect pit stop for tea and cake. They do sandwiches too.
  • Ypres Castle Inn, Gun Gardens – the best beer garden, complete with castle views.
  • The Mermaid Inn, Mermaid Street – with tales of smugglers and ghosts, this historic C15th pub is worth a quick pint in. You can also stay over.
  • The Old Bell, The Mint – the oldest pub in Rye with a cute street-side beer garden.
  • Marino’s Fish Bar, The Mint – proper chippy chips (we’ll try the fish too next time!).
  • Edith’s House, High Street – what with only being in town for a day we didn’t get chance to eat here but they have a resident French Bulldog, need I say more?

Shops to spend in

  • Lion Street Store, Lion Street – perfect for gifts and those things that you don’t really need but can’t not have.
  • Four Doors, East Street – as above!
  • The Tiny Book Store, Church Square – secondhand books.
  • The Shop Next Door, High Street – gorgeous homewares and gifts, as found in their next-door hotel and restaurant, the George.
  • Britcher and Rivers, High Street – old-fashioned sweet shop with a window full of jars.
  • Vintage shops around the Strand.

Where to stay

We didn’t stay over this time but if you’re looking for a bed I highly recommend the Gallivant, in nearby Camber Sands.


6 thoughts on “How to spend a day in Rye, Sussex”

  1. What a picturesque, gorgeous town. Your camera work is brilliant, felt like I was walking back in time. Such a well preserved place. This is exactly the kind of place I love to visit, one day when we visit the UK. Thanks Becky.


  2. It really is cute town – Rye is lovely, I’ll need to visit some day too! I love exploring towns and admiring the old buildings. I love the sense of history as look at these pics!


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