Mermaid Street is incredibly pretty, with houses full of character and cobbled streets
Things To Do
Visit the Ypres Tower, a part of Rye Castle Museum. This scheduled ancient monument has commanding views from its balcony over the harbour, once considered one of the most important harbours in the country, The 13th-century tower was built to defend Rye from attacks across the Channel and has served as a prison and county hall during its long history.
Discover the amazing wildlife at the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. With a mix of coastal habitats, including shingle, saltmarsh, lagoons, grazing marsh, freshwater gravel pits and reedbeds, the wetland landscape is teeming with wildlife and is a popular place for birdwatching.
There are many miles of paths and several bird hides, including five that are accessible by wheelchair. Make Rye Harbour Visitor Centre, run by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, your first port of call to find out about the reserve and what you might see here.
Hire an electric ‘Fat’ bike from ebike hire at Camber and go for a cycle ride. Camber sits on National Cycle Network Route 2 and there are miles of scenic off-road cycle paths to explore.
The bikes have fat tyres, creating a very comfortable ride as you discover lakes, castles, coastal landscapes and lighthouses along the way. The company has several recommended routes, or go where you please.
Make the most of Rye’s location straddling the River Rother with a boat trip to the sublime National Trust-owned Bodiam Castle. The tranquil river cruise, which departs from Bodiam Boating Station, takes you through the beautiful countryside of the High Weald upstream to the castle, or downstream to Rye on board an ex-Royal Navy lifeboat. There are breakfast and sunset cruises, too.
Take a tour of the Oxney Estate, the largest single estate organic vineyard in the UK. The vineyard makes organic still and sparkling wines using only its own grapes grown on the estate. Guided tours of the vineyard and winery explain how the grapes are grown organically, the approach to winemaking and how the wines are made. The tour ends with a tasting, although you can order a post-tour picnic lunch among the vines. There’s also a shop on site.
When To Visit
Of course, with its coastal location, the summer months pull in the crowds but September brings the Rye Festival of the Sea. This one-day event celebrates the town’s maritime history, in combination with the annual Rye Raft Race, a fun and exhilarating battle for participants and spectators alike.
If you are visiting in August, however, you’re in for a musical treat with the Rye International Jazz Festival. The boutique music festival presents world class international artistes alongside plenty of regional talent.
And, the cultural theme extends to September in Rye Arts Festival, with a fortnight of opera, classical and contemporary music, drama, walks and talks, authors and performers – all with the lovely backdrop of the harbour town.
Rye is situated on the south coast, and on the East Sussex/Kent border. It can be accessed using the M20 motorway to Ashford, followed by the A2070 and A259 from the east. Alternatively, use the A21 dual carriageway past Tunbridge Wells and the A268 from the north or the A259 from Eastbourne and Hastings in the west.