Travel

Chichester – a guide for visiting this cathedral city in 2023

SONY DSC

Sussex is full of interesting cities, towns and villages, and we've written about many of them elsewhere on our website. However, in our opinion Chichester is definitely up there in terms of one of the best places to visit in the county. We wanted to highlight this city in a guide as we think there is an excellent mix of things to see and do in Chichester. From fascinating history to trendy bars, there is something for everyone here. Let's get into the guide:

Where is Chichester?

Chichester is in West Sussex, and is actually the only city in West Sussex. It's just a 10-minute drive North of Hunston and a 25-minute drive to Portsmouth. Chichester is also known as the "Gateway to The Downs" due to how close the city is to the national park.

FireShot Capture 1785 - Chichester - Google Maps - www.google.com

What is there to see and do in Chichester?

There is quite a bit to see and do in Chichester, here are some of the highlights:

Fishbourne Roman Palace 

There are many incredible Roman sites across the UK, but Fishbourne Roman Palace is certainly up there as one of the finest. From stunning mosaics to timber walkways, the Fishbourne Roman Palace is the largest Roman home in Britain still standing and is an incredible place to visit. The remains were discovered in the 1960s, and have been carefully preserved so visitors can now explore the space. It is clear that the palace would have been an important place for feasting and for diplomacy, and there is a museum on site which tries to piece together the importance of your surroundings. Most people agree that the gardens are one of the especially interesting aspects of the palace, as they're the earliest known gardens in the UK.

This attraction is actually in Fishbourne, which is just a stone's throw from Chichester (just a mile to the West). Learn more here - sussexpast.co.uk

Fishbourne_Roman_Palace_MMB_03

Chichester Cathedral

We mentioned this stunning building in our Sussex guide, because it is absolutely one of the top places to visit not just in Chichester, but in the entire county. Built more than 900 years ago, this cathedral in the heart of the city has been an important site for hundreds of years since Saint Wilfred brought Christianity to Sussex. The building is undeniably stunning from the outside, but a walk inside is not to be missed either, particularly to see the Chichester Sculptures. These sculptures are amongst the most important in church craftsmanship, telling the stories of history such as the raising of Lazarus. There is a great walk you can do which connects a number of the historical locations we've included in this guide - starting at Goodwood House, the walk takes you past Fishbourne Palace, Bishop's Palace Gardens, and then to Chichester Cathedral. See the walking route here.

 

Plan your visit to the cathedral and learn more here - chichestercathedral.org.uk
Chichester_Cathedral_Exterior,_West_Sussex,_UK_-_Diliff

The Novium Museum

This award-winning museum in the heart of Chichester is a must-visit during your time in the city. Built over the remains of a Roman Bath House, the museum boasts three floors worth of fascinating exhibitions, with more than half a million artefacts to explore within the building. Much of the museum is devoted to the history of Chichester, which is a surprisingly interesting story. Much of this story is also told by actors in period outfits, which is lots of fun for young and old alike. Amazingly, the museum is free to visit and it's so well placed that there is really no reason not to spend a good hour here. You also get a great view of the cathedral from the top! Learn more here - thenovium.org
Keith_Williams_Architects_Novium_Museum_Chichester

Goodwood House

We love country houses because they are quintessentially British, and Goodwood House is a prime example of a typically grand British country house. The House is open to visitors from March to October on Sundays and Mondays, during which time people can explore the incredible building and the beautiful grounds. Tours around the house will allow you to admire not just the beauty of the architecture, but also the fascinating collection of art and artefacts which the Dukes of Richmond have filled the house with over the last 300 years. Following your tour with an afternoon tea is highly recommend as the standard of the food served is very high. The grounds are stunning and feature a number of routes which can be followed and which take you past the most interesting areas of the grounds, such as the impressive clubhouse called The Kennels. It's a great day out to Goodwood House and we recommend you visit, learn more here - goodwood.com
geograph-5354922-by-Rob-Farrow

Visit Kingley Vale

Just a 10 minute drive to the North of Chichester you'll find Kingley Vale, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest which is well worth a visit. This 500 acre area is part of the South Downs National Park and there is plenty to see and do here, with the trees being of particular interest. The Yew forest here is regarded as one of the finest in Europe, and many of the trees in the area are ancient and are believed to be among the oldest still standing in Britain. The trees are twisting and sprawling, which gives them a sort of alien feel. Unsurprisingly, this mix of trees also makes Kingley Vale an excellent area for birdwatching, with the likes of green woodpeckers and red kites often spotted here. The Kingley Vale walk is generally considered to be one of the best walking routes in the country, and is probably the best way to explore the area. If you've got time you could also visit The Devil’s Humps, 4 little mounds which are believed to be ancient bronze-age burial mounds. Stand on one and enjoy the amazing views across the national park. This is definitely a must if you're visting Chichester, learn more here - southdowns.gov.uk
Kingley_Vale_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1503510

West Dean Gardens

After all the time wandering around the trees at Kingley Vale, visiting a botanical garden might seem like a bit of a downgrade. But trust us when we say that West Dean Gardens is one of the finest botanical gardens in the country and is absolutely worth your time. Situated just at the foot of the South Downs National Park, West Dean Gardens is approximately a 15-minute drive from Chichester. The first thing you'll notice is the colour - the wide selection of rare plants and flowers gives the gardens a mesmerizing look. The Victorian Glasshouses are very impressive and the bug hotel is lots of fun. It's a stunning area but not too overdone, with much of the garden feeling wild and untamed in a good way. Overall it's a great place to visit, learn more here - westdean.org.uk
14760788625_163411d119_w

South Downs Planetarium & Science Centre

Like many of the national parks across the UK, the South Downs National Park is an excellent place for stargazing due to the low light pollution. The South Downs Planetarium in Chichester is an excellent place to visit to learn more about what you can see when you look up into the sky at night, and is excellent fun for young and old alike. You can just turn up but you'll get the best experience by attending one of the many talks held here, usually by a professional astronomer. If your visit to Chichester happens to cross over with one of the events here, we'd highly recommend a visit. Learn more here - southdowns.org.uk
Planetarium_dome

Bishop's Palace Garden

Every great city has a hidden gem, and we'd probably describe the Bishop's Palace Garden as the hidden gem of Chichester. Tucked between the Cathedral and the City Walls, this park is a lovely area to explore within the centre of Chichester. Dating back to the early 12th century, the garden includes water features and a wildlife-friendly garden space and is great for a peaceful stroll after a visit to the cathedral. Learn more here - chichestercathedral.org.uk
Chichester_cathedral_bishops_palace_garden_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1270089

What should you be aware of before visiting Chichester?

There is lots to see in Chichester, but you've probably noticed that we've mentioned a few locations just outside the city. So although these locations are not far from Chichester, it might be worth bringing the car with you during your stay. Aside from that, just enjoy yourself!

What are your accommodation options in Chichester?

Your first port of call when looking for places to stay in Chichester should be the popular hotel websites such as Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Kayak. These websites list a range of accommodation options, from chain hotels to independent B&Bs. If you're looking for something a little less expensive then there are AirBNB options in the city. One thing for certain is that you won't be short on accommodation options during your stay in Chichester!
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this great city. As we mentioned in our introduction, we have a whole guide about Sussex on our website. We also have other guides about amazing parts of England such as Teesdale, the English Riviera, or Yorkshire.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *