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Arundel, West Sussex, England: A visitors guide updated for 2020

Arundel is a beautiful cathedral town nestled in a steep valley of the South Downs National Park. It is dominated by its striking medieval castle at the top and very picturesque River Arun below.

It is situated only 6 miles from the sea, the coast of which boasts some of the best beaches in the South East. The town itself is home to a large selection of very pretty Georgian and Victorian period houses as well as a disproportionately large number of independent galleries and studios for the size of the town. A highlight is the hugely popular and highly renowned arts festival at the end of August every year.

This article aims to provide a guide to the town should you be thinking of visiting or find yourself there and be looking for inspiration on what to do.

Highlights of a day trip to Arundel

The top 10 sights of Arundel

Below is an interactive map of the top 10 sights in and near Arundel:

The sights are: 1) Arundel Castle 2) Arundel Cathedral 3) Arundel Museum 4) The Arts Crafts and Antiques Market 5) Swanbourne Lake 6) Arundel Wetlands 7) Bignor Roman Villa 8) Walking in the South Downs National Park 9) Lunch in the garden at the Black Rabbit pub 10) Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre
Note: The number 8 trail marks the Littleton Farm to Amberley section of the South Downs Way

Who is Arundel ideal for?

Arundel is ideal for you if you enjoy immersing yourself in a bit of history and culture and combining it with outdoor activities such as wildlife watching, outdoor swimming and walking in the countryside.

As such, it is popular with couples, small groups and young families.

Arundel as a day trip

Depending on the time of year you visit and what you feel like doing at the time, you may want to do all or a selection of the below:

Arundel Cathedral
Arundel’s spectacular Cathedral is situated at the top of the hill on London Road. It is open from 9am-6pm daily and entry is free. The building is regarded as one of the best examples of Gothic revival architecture in the French Gothic style in England.

Once a year, a famous Carpet of Flowers is laid for visitors to see a few days before the Corpus Christi mass (60 days after Easter). It is also a venue for the highly popular Arts Trail around the town supported by the Arundel Festival in late August. All year round there are concerts and recitals being held here so it’s well worth checking out any performances during your visit.

Arundel Museum
Arundel museum is an excellent showcase of local history. It is run by a group of passionate local volunteers and has won a collection of awards since opening at its new premises next to the river on Mill Road, opposite the Lower Castle Gate. Entry is £4 per adult. During the Festival, it showcases the work of local student’s GCSE and A Level artwork, very unique in its offering to the general public and which is very highly regarded.

Shopping for antiques and collectables
Arundel is home to a large collection of quirky antique, craft and arts boutiques. They can be found all over the town and you can find yourself getting absorbed for hours at a time finding all sorts of treasures.

Contemporary Art Galleries
Arundel is a great place to enjoy contemporary art. The following galleries are highly renowned:
Zimmer Steward Gallery located on 29 Tarrant Street showcases emerging and established contemporary artists through a number of exhibitions every year. It is open Tues-Sat 10-5pm.
Gallery57, also located on Tarrant Street, is home to Ann Symes, herself a practicing artist. The gallery is open Thursdays – Sundays 10.30-5pm, from 12pm on Sundays.
Arundel Contemporary can be found at 53 High Street and represents artists from the UK and around the world. Open from 10-4pm daily, except Wednesdays.
The Arundel Gallery Trail is a free walkable open house art event which happens as part of the festival at the end of August every year. It supports artists and professionals at all stages of their careers and national and international standing.

Arundel Wetland Centre
This centre is located further along Mill Road on the right hand side. It is a great place to watch a huge diversity of wildlife with boardwalks that take you over the water and boat safaris in the reedbed channels. There is lots to do for children such as pond dipping, feeding the geese and having fun in the wildlife themed playground. The centre is open all year. An adult ticket costs £10.88; child £5.85.

Lunch in the garden at the Black Rabbit
The Black Rabbit pub is further still down Mill Road. It is about a half an hour walk from the town centre. On a warm day in the summer, there is no better place to enjoy a pub lunch than in the garden here overlooking the river. It is very popular with the locals and can get extremely busy in the holidays so it’s worth booking ahead or getting there early.

Arundel Lido
The Lido is open from May to September and offers outdoor swimming with stunning views of the castle above. There is a big pool and smaller padding pool for young children. Trees offer shade on a hot day in the surrounding grassy areas and there is a café for refreshments.

Opening times vary with the holidays (it opens at either 10am or 12pm) and a typical day ticket costs £8. It is located on Queen Street towards the train station on the south side of the river. There is a ticketed car park but in the summer it’s advised to arrive early as spaces can be tricky to find.

Arundel Festival
This event is the highlight of the Sussex summer for many and is held around the last 10 days of August every year. It is the largest volunteer-led, community based art festival in the South with hundreds of events from street entertainment, to music, the hugely popular Gallery Trail, Dragonboat racing… the range of events and activities is huge and is a must-see if you visit during this time.

Arundel as a day trip

Arundel is surrounded by a host of great attractions. Below are some of the highlights:

Petworth House
is an extraordinary grand building nestled in 700 acres of beautiful park land with the largest herd of fallow deer in England. It is home to a spectacular fine art collection with special exhibitions and events throughout the year.

It is managed by the National Trust so you can expect all the usual facilities that go with this such as a good café and gift shops etc. There is a paid for car park if you park at the house itself, or if you just want to access the park and take your dog for a walk, you can park in the Deer Park car park further along the A284 from the main house car park.
Charges apply to non-National Trust members of £4, otherwise it’s free.

Bignor Hill Car Park is located above Bignor Roman Villa and should you have the advantage of having a car to take you there (it’s a very steep climb otherwise but you can walk to the top too), plus the time to indulge, it’s the most fantastic hidden gem of a spot with views all the way to the sea on a clear day in one direction, and far across the Sussex countryside in the other.

There are walks in all directions, you can access the South Downs Way from here and it’s a perfect place to relax and have a picnic in the summer.

Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre is an open-air industrial heritage museum great for families to experience 150 years’ worth of the South’s working past. It is open Wednesdays to Sundays 10-4pm with events and exhibitions going on throughout the year.

Chichesterlink to article from here

Climping Beachlink to Climping in Top 10 Beaches article here

Littlehampton Beach link to Littlehampton Beach in Top 10 Beaches article here

Visiting Arundel – Summary of logistics

Arundel is less than 2 hours’ drive from London, and is only an hour and a half from London Victoria direct by train (which is on the Gatwick airport line). This makes getting here very easy.

Arundel is a very small town, and as such it is easy to walk around and navigate. If you prefer, it’s possible to take a guided tour which costs around £10 per person and takes about 2 hours, or a little bit extra if you want to add a vintage cream tea afterwards.

The train is also direct from London Victoria station, and from here it takes under an hour and a half. A single adult ticket would be about £32.30 and off-peak return £32.40 for a day trip or £39.30 anytime return within one month. Arundel is accessible from the south coast rail line too so can be easily navigated to from cities such as Brighton or Chichester where bus links are very good too.

The latest train timetables can be seen here: https://www.thetrainline.com/
The latest bus timetables can be seen here: https://www.stagecoachbus.com/

Arundel’s train station is located 15 minutes’ walk from the town centre. You come out of the station onto the A27 which is a busy main road but you follow the pavement along to the roundabout where you take the 2nd exit along The Causeway with the river to your right and castle straight ahead into the centre.

Arundel itself makes for a great weekend away and there are a selection of very nice places to eat and drink. If you can indulge in more time, Arundel is surrounded by an array of interesting things to do nearby which are explored in the section ‘Why stay longer in Arundel’.

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