• Countryside Cow parsley and seaweed
  • Country life Sailing, racing, real ale

With the cathedral city of Chichester providing its meanest seaside streets, West Sussex is a green and pleasant county, where seasons and hills roll gently, all against the ever-shifting backdrop of the sea.

Although much of West Sussex is in the South Downs National Park, there are no spectacular peaks or great dramas in this landscape; rather the promise of discovering the unexpected. What you may not expect is the rich quantity of space: a drive between sprawl-free villages may lead you up onto a big-sky point on the South Downs Way, or into ancient woodland. The seaside gets a little more crowded, with sailors, windsurfers and sandcastle-builders thronging the region’s pretty beaches and harbours, but the coastline is studded with ample beachside cafés and pubs. And, this being 21st-century England, there’s no shortage of fine food with which to fuel your explorations of this corking county.

Do go/Don’t go

All year round is great, as with much of the temperate south coast, but we particularly love May, when the country lanes are like green tunnels, and the seaside hordes have yet to descend. When there’s a big event on at Goodwood, the country lanes get gridlocked.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes You’re only a short skip from Gatwick (www.gatwickairport.com) in these parts | with Southampton Airport (www.southamptonairport.com) to the west | too.
  • Trains It takes around an hour and three quarters by rail from London Victoria to Chichester or Bognor (www.nationalrail.co.uk).
  • Automobiles Driving from London | you take the A3 south and peel off on to the A287 around Hindhead. The A27 connects Chichester with the rest of the south coast to the east and west. A car’s not necessary but will allow you more independence.
  • Taxis Chichester’s Central Cars has an office near the station (0800 789432; +44 (0)1243 780780). Arundel Cars are on +44 (0)1903 883366 (www.arundelcars.co.uk). Avowedly friendly and honest, the Ugly Car Co (0800 091 1912; www.uglycars.biz) operates throughout much of West Sussex.