Winter in Rye, East Sussex

For as long as I can remember, my family has been coming to Rye, East Sussex, where my grandparents live. It’s a little medieval town about 1.5 hrs from London by car, or 2.5 hrs by train, that is rich in history, haunted stories, and fairy-tale like houses with cobblestone streets and doors shorter than I am!

what to do in winter in rye east sussex
The Rye Landgate – the last remaining of two gates built to defend Rye
from invading forces, which all started in 1066

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I always joke to my husband that he is too big for Rye, but it’s true! He has a hard time fitting through stairwells and into places and often has to crouch/duck his way around.

Summertime in Rye is stunning – late-night sunsets and cotton-candy coloured skies, pubs packed with warm laughter and music, and the smell of fish & chips wafting through the air. But what about winter? Dark days, bitter, to-the-bone cold, and rain?

You’d be surprised.

I recently ran into another Canadian at Cinque Ports pub and she told me she visited from London for the day. I asked what she saw, and she said “not much”. I asked her if she did this or that, and she said no…well..what did you do???

Top places to eat & drink in Rye in the winter

Knoops

Cozy up 21 types of hot chocolate! Decadent chocolate sourced worldwide to provide you with a custom cup. Tons of flavour add-ins available (highly recommend the orange peel!). My favourite is the 85%

The best hot chocolate in Rye – Knoops!

Fletchers

The best cream tea in Rye, in our opinion! Enjoy their perfectly steeped English Breakfast tea, served to you in a little teapot with extra hot water, milk and sugar cubes.

I highly recommend having the fruit scone with jam & clotted cream for the full experience! We’ve eaten a lot of the tea shops in Rye and my husband and I both agree Fletcher’s has the best scones!

The Mermaid Inn

Warm up next to the Giant’s Fireplace and hop-covered bar. With the cellars dating back to 1156, The Mermaid Inn was rebuilt in 1420 (!!!) and offers what you would expect in an old English building – creaky floors, sloping walls & ceilings, and a rich history (including ghosts – or so they say!).

This year they are celebrating 600 years of welcome travellers from all over the world, including many celebrities.

The back entrance to the Mermaid Inn.

As soon as you enter the bar (be sure to duck your head coming through the door!), the beautiful fireplace will be the first thing that grabs your attention. Hops line the bar beams which makes the whole space feel warm and inviting.

Hop-adorned bar

What I love about all the different pubs in Rye is that they all have different local ales on tap to try – so you’ll be bound to find something you like! Or, if you’d prefer something else, their gin & tonics (HIGHLY recommend the “Pink Gin” – usually Rhubarb with Elderflower tonic – it’s fantastic!).

The Mermaid also offers lodging in some very unique rooms and has an incredible restaurant with some of the best food we’ve had in Rye. The Marsh Lamb is my favourite!

Lounge with Giant’s Fireplace

The Globe Inn Marsh

A short walk from the main hub of town, the Globe is truly the definition of “cozy”. We love coming here for the fresh seafood – it never disappoints.

During the summer months we opt for the Whitebait, but since it’s seasonal we recently indulged in the seafood platter consisting of prawns, smoked mackerel pate, fish fingers, and a “crispy hen’s egg” which essentially is a battered & fried egg – served with house-made tartar sauce, crisp bread, and lemon wedges.

Equally amazing is their cheese platter – save room for that!

rye uk travel

The Ship Inn

With new vegetarian & vegan menu options, this place offers a wide variety of tapas to pick from. Every time we visit, the menu has new items to try, which we love! Another place with a cozy atmosphere (and also offering up lodging above the restaurant).

Rye Waterworks

From Pump House to Soup Kitchen to TOILETS (!) to now an award-winning Micropub! I myself have seen the evolution over the years and is now one of the coolest places in Rye to have a pint or a local cider (including non-carbonated ones).

With a huge chalkboard of ever-changing options, the Waterworks offers no shortage of choice! 

rye uk tourism winter
Best cider in town!
rye uk winter travel
No shortage of brews to try!

Marino’s Fish Bar

Get your fill of traditional fish & chips. During the summer we have ours by the river, but you can eat in their restaurant in cooler weather or take it back to where you are staying.

Booking.com

Things to do

The Rye Castle

Visit Ypres castle and get a feel what it was really like back when it was built in 1249, commissioned by Henry III to protect Rye from raids by the French.

things to do in rye during winter

Known as a “gibbet” – this cage was used to display the body of murderer John Breads for more than 50 years!!!

The one at the Rye Castle is a replica of the Gibbet – but you can see the real one at own Hall by appointment, Monday-Thursday.

things to see winter rye
Replica of the cage at the Rye Castle.

The Rye Museum

Small but mighty.

Tons of history lies in the glass cases of the Rye Musuem. During our last visit, the Rosetta Stone was here on loan from the British Museum.

Entry by donation.

The Rye Model & Vintage Penny Arcade

For more than 40 years, the Rye Model at the Rye Heritage Center has shown 700 years worth of history in a 20 minute light & sound show, featuring a miniature scale of Rye. You can’t quite grasp all of the history in this ancient city without visiting!

£3.50 entry for Adults, £1.50 for children

The Vintage Penny Arcade is something to see, featuring 30 old, but restored and fully functional machines from the 1900s – 1960s, making this one of the largest collections in the UK! For a pound or two, exchange at the machine for vintage pennies and have some fun!

The Strand market

Search for hidden treasures and antique furniture in the market’s various buildings (and cry about how you can’t bring the gorgeous sideboard home with you).

is winter a good time to visit rye
You’ll find all kinds of unique treasures at the vintage markets!

St Mary’s Cathedral

You’ll hear the church bells regularly from St Mary’s. Come view the beautiful stained glass windows, peaceful quiet, and on clear days, you can go up the church bell tower for £4 for views of the town & beyond.

what to do in rye in the winter
east sussex travel winter
View towards my grandparent’s house on a previous trip

Visit the shops

There are so many shops in Rye where you will find all kinds of unique treasures – from handmade items, the best greeting cards (seriously, I stock up when we go!), Rye mementos, hilarious signs, beautiful children’s toys, books, etc. We love wandering in and out of all of the stores each time we visit and we find something new every time!

east sussex rye uk winter

Above all else, make sure you fill yourself with as much tea as possible! Nothing beats tea in England! There truly is no bad time to visit Rye – and there are definite perks to visiting in all seasons! Research ahead of time if there are any events – popular ones are:

Rye Bay Scallop Week – February  http://scallop.org.uk/

Rye International Jazz Festival – May  https://ryejazz.com/

Rye Arts Festival – September https://ryeartsfestival.org.uk/

Rye Festival of the Sea – September http://ryefestivalofthesea.co.uk/

Lodgings book up very quickly in this little town – so be sure to book early and look on sites such as booking.com or Airbnb.com

winter in rye
Tea at the Mermaid St Cafe

Pin it for later!

Rye East Sussex Winter
how to spend winter in Rye East Sussex

32 Comments

  1. Barbara Wilson
    May 11, 2020 / 3:36 pm

    I loved reading about Rye, Sarah!

    • Sarah
      May 11, 2020 / 3:49 pm

      Thanks Barb! It’s my favourite place to be!

  2. July 1, 2020 / 6:25 pm

    Looks like a lovely place! I love cobblestone streets… 🙂 Thanks for helping me discover more small destinations in England 🙂

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 1, 2020 / 7:31 pm

      Thank you Tal! 🙂

  3. Erin
    July 1, 2020 / 7:16 pm

    Wow, Rye looks like such a quaint and charming town. I’m meant to go to London this year (hopefully it’s safe enough to make the trip). I’m adding Rye as a day or overnighter trip to my itinerary, thanks for this inspo!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 1, 2020 / 7:31 pm

      It’s absolutely adorable – I hope you can get there! 🙂

  4. July 1, 2020 / 8:37 pm

    I love that quote about bags under our eyes 🙂 Rye looks like an amazing place.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 1, 2020 / 10:22 pm

      It has my heart!

  5. July 2, 2020 / 3:14 am

    Rye looks lovely! I enjoyed reading your post.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 2, 2020 / 8:11 am

      Thank you!

  6. July 3, 2020 / 2:05 am

    Haha, that’s so funny that your husband had to duck around! The lounge looks so small and cozy though!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 3, 2020 / 8:02 am

      It’s such a charming place. It really does have my heart! 🙂

  7. July 10, 2020 / 7:34 pm

    I just love the UK and Rye looks just as beautiful as the rest of the UK! I mean, hot chocolate and cobblestone streets….what more could you want?

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 10, 2020 / 8:13 pm

      It’s a fairy tale!!! 🙂

  8. July 10, 2020 / 8:15 pm

    Rye looks so charming and storybook! I would love to have tea time there 🙂 Just pinned this for my future travels!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 10, 2020 / 8:59 pm

      It’s such a cute town, like it’s straight out of a fairy tale!! 🙂

  9. July 10, 2020 / 8:56 pm

    I love that there is a whole week dedicated to Scallops! 🙂 great post – i’d love to visit!!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 10, 2020 / 9:04 pm

      For such a small town they have a lot going on! It’s quite a place to see!

  10. July 11, 2020 / 1:58 am

    Rye is so quintessentially English. I love getting lost in cobbled streets and amongst old buildings. Even better if there’s a great pub or coffee shop to pop into!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 11, 2020 / 6:57 am

      Absolutely! It’s completely captured my heart!

  11. July 11, 2020 / 2:44 am

    Beautiful pictures! I’ll hopefully be able to visit next time I’m down south.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 11, 2020 / 6:58 am

      I hope you do! It makes for a wonderful visit 🙂

  12. July 11, 2020 / 7:24 am

    Always looking to discover new places in England. Thanks for sharing this new destination. Hope I will be able to visit soon!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 11, 2020 / 7:42 am

      It’s magical! I hope you get there too 🙂

  13. July 11, 2020 / 8:13 am

    You had me at hot chocolate! There sounds like a lot to do there. That fellow Canadian doesn’t know what she’s missing

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 11, 2020 / 10:46 am

      No kidding!!! Haha. It’s the best place ever!

  14. July 11, 2020 / 1:56 pm

    Great place Sarah! You presented it so can anyone fall in love!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 11, 2020 / 8:02 pm

      Thank you so much! 🙂

  15. July 11, 2020 / 6:21 pm

    Wow, what a super cute place Rye is. I’d never even heard of it before – thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 11, 2020 / 8:03 pm

      Thank you!! It’s my favourite place! 🙂

  16. July 11, 2020 / 10:52 pm

    You had me at 21 types of hot chocolate! And then everything else…pinning for later!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 12, 2020 / 8:35 am

      Thank you!! 🙂