Looking for things to do in Chichester?
Well, then you’ve come to the right place!
I’ve lived around Chichester for the majority of my life, so I know this charming little city pretty dang well… Unless you ask me to find a random street by name then lol no.
From the city centre to the outskirts of Chichester, the city has remained relevant throughout the Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Normandy times, and is believed to have played a significant part during those years. But today, Chichester is a small city that stands on the foundations of Noviomagus Reginorum and is a city that has managed to merge it’s rich Roman heritage together with its countryside charm—and whether you’re looking to learn about the Roman culture that is encompassed in the Chichester Walls, or to take in the scenery as you ride your bike around Chichester Marina, Chichester has managed to create somewhere which has a little bit of everything, including its history, because thanks to the city’s relatively sleepy nature, much of the past is still preserved.
If you ask the locals of Chichester to tell you what their favourite things to do in Chichester are, most would sigh before telling you about how it “used to be this charming little market town but nowadays the Buttermarket has gone and everywhere is taken up by chain restaurants” and that’s true (although you’re not about to find me complaining about having a Nandos nearby any time soon) but the city charm and preserved history are still ever-present. Because Chichester is a place that acknowledges it’s past, but has its own future. With a city centre filled with (mostly chain) restaurants and coffee shops, and a location that’s in close proximity to some of England’s most beautiful coastlines Chichester has a lot to offer.
You see, this little cathedral city is quite the hub. It has various routes through, a railway station, hospital, theatre, college, international school, university and an assortment of museums. And that’s just inside the city! Outside of that (thanks to its unique location!) Chichester offers a combination of city, country and coast—meaning that no matter what your landscape preference, there’s something for you to get out and explore! So without further ado, here’s a list of my favourite things to do in Chichester!
Founded as a cathedral in 1075 and the only English medieval cathedral which is visible from the sea, Chichester Cathedral has been around for a while. But whilst its walls can‘t spill the secrets of the past, it can take you on the journey as it has been incredibly well preserved. The Norman and Gothic style is woven throughout and within the cathedral‘s tall walls are beautiful works of art in the form of tapestries, sculptures and stained glass windows.
Having recently undergone a massive transformation, the bowling alley in Chichester Gate now offers a variety of lanes for tenpin bowling, in addition to a ping pong tables, pool tables, an arcade and a bar and restaurant section. Personally, I’m partial to a bit of air hockey and some (terrible) bowling before heading round the corner for Nandos, but no matter what your preference is, you’ll be fine. Because the area is both family and adult-friendly.
What was once a WW2 radio direction-finding structure, then a Mill built for the Duke of Richmond and the Goodwood Estate back in 1540, is now a walking spot popular with photographers, joggers and dog-walkers alike. The windmill stands atop a causewayed enclosure and offers beautiful panoramic views looking out across Chichester and the fields which surround it.
My favourite thing to do in the summer, is take a bike ride along Salterns Way cycle route. Running from Chichester to West Wittering, the route offers an abundance of scenery changes and thanks to the flat terrain makes for an easy 19-kilometre ride. Most of the route is made up of safe car-free paths, which means a group of you can ride together. And if you want to make it a truly special (or shorter!) trip, jump on the ferry which shuttles between Bosham and Itchenor!
Chichester Festival Theatre
Opened in 1962 Chichester Festival Theatre has been entertaining the masses for decades and if you’re looking for things to do in Chichester, then you could find yourself amongst them! The modern and comfortable amphitheatre-style theatre may be small in comparison to others, but the staff are amongst the friendliest you‘ll meet, there‘s legroom a-plenty and there‘s an abundance of plays, cabarets and comedy nights to choose from!
Divided into four sections (North, South, East and West) Chichester‘s streets can make for a lovely stroll, especially if you‘re inclined to taking photos against walls, because not only do we have brick walls a-plenty for that outfit of the day’ shot, but Chichester‘s walls are also just a tad sassier because they’re Roman Walls and have legit been there for over 1800 years. Or if cobbled streets and historic walls aren’t really your thing and you‘re looking for something a bit more colourful, you can check out Chichester‘s street art trail or Pallant House Gallery.
Whether you want to attend Revival Revival, the Horse Races or Festival of Speed, Goodwood has an event for everyone. With most of Goodwood‘s events boasting cars and stars, it makes for one heck of a day out no matter which event you choose (but if you can only make one I highly recommend Revival!)
Boxgrove is a small village in Chichester and is also the home of Boxgrove Ruins; the grade 1 listed ruins which were first founded in the 11th century as part of the abbey at Lessay—but now makes for a pretty epic spot for photos. There’s not much to explore (as you can see in the above photo) as the ruins themselves are a touch small (I mean, they are ruins!) but just next door you have Boxgrove Church; a charming church surrounded by peace and quiet.
Art has always confused me. It can be breathtaking and thought-provoking and complicated and simple—and for the most part the artist‘s meanings are completely lost on me. But that doesn’t make it any less fun to go out and see the incredible things somebody’s imagination has conjured up, and Cass Sculpture Foundation is a beautiful place to do it. Nestled amongst wild yet orderly grounds, it‘s a pleasure to walk around, And if you’re super quiet the deer that live in the fields next door come and pay a visit!
Priory Park is a public park in the north-east section of Chichester which is full of open greenery, a public play park and a bowls lawn, but it wasn’t always that way. Quite different actually, because it used to be home to a monastery and even held a “castle.“ Personally, I just like it because it‘s peaceful, but it turns out the slow life can actually be pretty handy because three incredibly well preserved Roman Houses were recently found beneath Priory Park. Dogs aren’t allowed in the park, but children are and you’ll find a play area, an aviary and a cafe for the little (and not so little!) ones to explore.
Air Arena/Flip Out
There are two trampoline parks in Chichester, each offering something a little different.
Air Arena, based in Chichester Gate, offers air conditioning a foam pit and arcade-style activities. Whereas Flipout, located in the business park at the other end of Chichester, offers a warmer atmosphere, a slide, a rock-climbing wall, foam pit and an obstacle course. Both trampoline parks offer fitness classes and disco nights, ensuring that there’s something different for everyone!
Every July the fields of Lordington Lavender are opened up to the public just before harvest, so that people such as you and I can pop on a flowy dress and run through the fields for photos or gaze at the bees doing their thang. It’s a beautiful spot and makes for incredible family photos with many local photographers offering portrait sessions. Or if you’re looking to take photos of something a little different then Racton Ruins are just down the road!
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet with a side of panoramic views, then Kingley Vale is the place for you. Set on a 204-hectare site of Special Interest, the area is a Nature Conservation site and is popular amongst walkers of all ages. The terrain is flat for just over half of the walk, with a steady (or not so steady, depending which way you walk!) incline to reach the top. The effort’s worth it though, because at the top you’ll find beautiful panoramic views which span out over Chichester’s city and countryside. Go on a clear day with a backpack full of food, drinks, books and a blanket to truly make the most of the scenery—and remember to wear comfortable shoes!
Cobnor Activities Centre
Whether you like to get active with watersports, or you prefer to settle down and watch the world go by. Cobnor is the perfect spot for both. With an activity centre which offers classes for sailing, climbing and so much more—there’s plenty to keep you occupied on a day out!
West Wittering Beach
Perhaps my favourite place in all of Chichester. West Wittering Beach is by far one of the prettiest beaches in England. Featuring soft sands that are perfect for kicking off your shoes and wiggling your toes in and waters that are, well, cold (it is England). It makes for a beautiful day out. For the perfect trip, pack a picnic or a BBQ to take with you. And perhaps a windbreak – nobody likes sandy food!
Located on the former site of RAF Tangmere, the Military Aviation museum exhibits all things aviation—including aircraft engines, fixed-wing aircrafts and even helicopters.
West Dean Gardens
The gardens of West Dean are just a small part of the 6,350 acres that make up the West Dean Estate, a place that has an extraordinarily long and varied history. Starting as a forest and hunting park in 1,066 with land which was owned by the Earls of Arundel and Dukes of Norfolk for almost 500 years, the gardens are beautifully kept and utterly gorgeous to wander around. And if you’re looking to combine that with a little heat, then each year West Dean plays host to the Chilli Festival; the UK’s biggest chilli festival which has an array of music, pop-up food stands and entertainment.
Want to go on an adventure? Al-pacca my bags!
But terrible jokes aside, Dunreyth Alpacas is a place where you can visit those furry little cuties to give them a pet, or take them on a walk through the forest. They also breed alpacas, and manufacture an array of hand-knitted garments which you can purchase in their on-site shop!
Bosham Hoe is a hamlet situated on the shore of Chichester Harbour and one of my personal favourite spots for an evening dinner. Not only is it a beautiful place to walk around, but just by the co-op on Bosham roundabout is a little fish and chip shop called Butlers and their fish and chips are pretty darn tasty, especially if they’re enjoyed with a view. And the view at Bosham Hoe? It’s impossibly serene with the only movement being the swish of a paintbrush, the passing of the clouds and the boats moving in and out.
Chichester Golf Club
Whether you want to play on the 18-hole golf course outside, or try your hand at one of the mini-golf options, Chichester Golf Club has plenty to keep you occupied. Featuring Jungle Paradise, their outdoor miniature golf course, an indoor glow in the dark course and their brand new escape room—there’s plenty for you to choose from!
An old iron age fort, the Trundle sits on Saint Roche’s hill just 3 miles from Chichester‘s city centre. The fort was built around a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and is surrounded by rolling fields which, thanks to the incline of the hill, you can appreciate fully when you reach the top. It makes for a beautiful dog-walking spot too!
A historic garden situated next to Chichester Cathedral, Bishops Garden is the perfect place to settle down with some lunch and a good book. There are native flora, an arboretum, storyboards and a pergola walk, meaning there’s plenty of places to sit and chill whilst you delve into the pages of your book or watch the world go by.
Weald and Downland
Weald and Downland Museum is an open-air museum which houses a collection of over 40 quintessentially English houses, farm barns and public houses which span across centuries, with some of the buildings dating back as far as the 11th and 12th century. They will also regularly recreate old recipes, such as bread, porridge and more—meaning you can sample the flavours of food (with fresh ingredients) from some time ago!