At the foot of the South Downs, you'll find Worthing, a seaside town with oodles of character. It's only 10 miles west of Brighton and is a great seaside alternative to the city, albeit on a much smaller scale. We wanted to publish a guide about Worthing outlining what there is to see and do during a visit in 2023, let's get into it:
Where is Worthing?
What is there to do in Worthing?
If you're looking for great nightlife then you might be best heading to Brighton, however, there is plenty to do at Worthing. Here are some of our favourites:
It wouldn't be a trip to a seaside town without a trip to the beach - luckily, Worthing has an excellent beach which stretches for miles alongside the promenade. The beach is sand and shingle making it perfect for barefooted walks, and the gentle sloping means you won't be exhausted after a walk on the beach (but you might fancy some chips or ice cream). Keep an eye out for people fishing, windsurfing and even swimming as you stroll along the sand.
Worthing Pier is found along the beach - you can't miss it. It was originally built in 1862, and although it has a few new features (including a cafe at the end of the pier), it retains much of its late 19th-century charm. The Pavilion Theatre sits at the end of the pier, which is a Grade II Listed Building. Interestingly, the pier was designed by Sir Robert Rawlinson, who at the time was best known for his work as a sanitarian, helping to save thousands of lives through his work. Worthing Pier has been named 'Pier of the Year' a few times, most recently in 2019. So it is still going strong after all these years!
The Dome Cinema
There are 3 cinemas to visit in Worthing - we've already mentioned the Pavillion cinema at the end of the pier, and there's another great one too. But our favourite has to be the Dome Cinema. This stylish Edwardian building down by the seafront is one of the oldest working cinemas in the country, having been running since 1911. There is a really interesting history attached to the cinema as it was originally called the Kursaal, which is German. After World War I the owner decided to rebrand the cinema, and he held a competition for a new name. The winning name was 'The Dome' and the grand prize for the winner was......£1. Definitely visit this cinema if you have the chance.
To the west of the town you'll find Highdown Gardens, an area with a really impressive collection of rare plants and trees. Even if plants and trees aren't your thing, the gardens provide an excellent vantage point of the sea from the South Downs. Interestingly the gardens were created on a chalk quarry, and the successful growth of the garden on this surface helped to prove that plants and trees could grow on chalk. The best thing about these gardens is that they're totally free to enter, so definitely check them out!
If you're going to visit Highdown Gardens then you might as well visit Highdown Hill, which is right next to the gardens. At less than 300ft in height (266ft), it is fairly straightforward to walk up, and your reward is great views of the South Downs and the sea. On a clear day, you can even see the Isle of Wight, but even if it isn't super clear then you should still be able to see places like Littlehampton, Angmering, Ferring, and of course, Worthing. There is a car park, and toilets at the foot of the hill, so even if you're visiting Worthing for a day it is a good idea to go for a walk up Highdown Hill (especially if you have a dog with you!).
Highdown Hill is owned by the National Trust, and there is some interesting history attached to the location. The remains of an ancient hill fort can be found at the summit, and throughout history the hill was used by ancient immigrants as an Iron Age fort, Bronze Age warehouse, Roman bath house, and a Saxon cemetery.
Going back even further in history, Highdown Hill is a chalk hill which was formed by sea algae that was squashed and squeezed into calcium carbonate, turning into limestone chalk. Many plants thrive on chalk soil and it is estimated that you can find more than 40 different plant species on the hill.
English Martyrs Catholic Church
Even if you're not especially religious, we'd recommend a visit to the English Martyrs Catholic Church. The building itself is incredible but make sure you look up - the paintings on the ceiling will take your breath away. It is the only known reproduction of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and was started in the 1980s (work on it never really stops). The design at this church is completed at a 2/3 scale of the original in Vatican City, and unbelievably the painting was done by Gary Bevans, a sign writer parishioner, who has no formal training.
Connaught Theatre & Cinema
The Art Deco style of the Connaught Theatre and Cinema is unmistakable and really quite impressive. It's almost a shame that The Dome Cinema is in Worthing too because Connaught Theatre is often overlooked, but if you have time to visit both then you absolutely should!
Brooklands Park and Lake
Between Worthing and Lancing (to the East of the town) you'll find Brooklands Park and Lake, an outdoor area that is well worth a visit. Here you'll find a lovely wooded area where you can walk, as well as a large lake which is home to lots of interesting wildlife. Although the area is currently undergoing some restoration as of 2022, we do hope it'll be open soon so we're including it in our list. The new restoration will also bring a number of new things to check out at the park, including a fitness trail and a contemplative garden!
Things to be aware of before visiting Worthing
If you plan to undertake any of the walks along the beach or up the hill, then definitely make sure you've brought suitable clothing and footwear. Like most areas of the UK, the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, so it's always best to be prepared.
Other than that, we'd say the best thing to be is prepared to stay a bit longer than you expected! You might be surprised at how much you enjoy your time in this town, plus you've got plenty of surrounding towns which are well worth a visit including Rustington and Shoreham-by-Sea.