Things to do in Sussex when it's raining

Days out, Seasonal, Activity

Posted by Clare Willcocks on 9th May 2021

Arundel Castle on a rainy day

It is every parent’s holiday nightmare – planning a lovely day at the beach, only to find out that it’s going to rain. While some activities can be enjoyed whatever the weather, some are simply meant for sunny days only. With this in mind, we have put together a selection of places to go in Sussex when it’s raining, just in case you have to divert your sunshine-filled plans to another day.

Most of our 13 suggestions are completely inside although some will need you to wait for a break in the rain to enjoy all that they have on offer. So, grab that brolly and head to one of these places to visit in Sussex when it’s raining where you will have a great time whatever the weather! We have a more general blog featuring things to do on rainy day around the UK for you to check out too. For even more ideas for places to go and things to do on your holiday, you can discover Sussex in our feature guide.

One place where you will feel warm and cosy is our Sussex cottages - take your pick and find your perfect relaxing retreat in the best locations in Sussex, come rain or shine!

Sussex cottages

Battle Abbey is good if you're looking for things to do on a rainy day in Sussex

Battle Abbey

Battle TN33 0AE

If your children love history, a trip to Battle Abbey will go down a treat. The amazing abbey, built on the site where the 1066 Battle of Hastings took place is brilliant for mini historians as they can wander around the ruins with an audio headset bringing the past alive – some of the abbey is under cover but not all, so you will have to wait for a break in the rain to see all of the ruins.

You start off with a short film telling the story of the great battle and then you can wander around the abbey to bring it alive. Children can stand on the very spot where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold and then go up to the roof to see the battlefield and imagine what took place there!

Not only are the interactive displays and exhibitions brilliant, but little ones can also find out if they are strong enough to carry a shield and sword into battle. Spend time in the shop where you can browse among medieval-themed souvenirs, swords, helmets and other dressing-up things and then head to one of the restaurants or coffee bars only seconds away from the abbey. For more inspiration for family attractions, take a look at our blog , The best days out for kids in Sussex.

How wet will I get? Much of the abbey is covered but there are outside parts that you will quickly need to head for if the rain stops. The museum is such an integral part of the experience that it is worth going for that alone; one of the best indoor activities in East Sussex for history buffs!

Similar rainy day attractions:

Cottages near Battle

Girl painting a pot at Little Gems on a rainy day in Sussex

Little Gems Pottery Painting

West Grinstead RH138LH

There’s nothing children love more than getting creative and Little Gems has an amazing array of unfired mugs, plates, jugs, pots, and ornaments for them to paint and take home, perhaps as a gift. The lovely staff will give children a hand and are full of ideas if they run out of inspiration. One of the most creative things to do in Sussex when it’s raining, you also get to take home your beautiful piece of pottery once it’s been fired; a unique souvenir of your holiday!

How wet will I get? Not at all – a lovely choice if you’re looking for indoor activities in West Sussex for a day the rain has set in.

Similar rainy-day attractions: 

Cottages near Horsham

The types of toys you might see if you visit the Toy and Model Museum on a rainy day in Sussex

Toy and Model Museum

Brighton BN1 4EB

Who can resist a visit to a toy museum? Children and adults alike will delight in the thousands of toys on display in a secret underground train station on the Sussex coast. Over 10,000 toys spread over 4,000 square feet come to life in front of your very eyes including spectacular model railway collections – many are behind glass as they are so precious but some are easier to see and interact with. Browse amongst the puppets and galleries, soft toys and dolls, and finish off at the museum shop before heading out for a bite to eat only minutes from the station. For more unusual museums to visit around the UK, you may be interested in this blog.

How wet will I get? Not at all as the museum is situated underneath Brighton Railway Station.

Similar rainy day attractions: 

Cottages in Brighton

Swimming is a great activity if you're looking for rainy day activities in Sussex

The Triangle Leisure Centre

Burgess Hill RH15 8WA

Indoor things to do in Sussex don’t get much wetter than this one! Though this experience will not keep you dry, at least you’ll be warm and having plenty of fun at the Triangle Leisure Centre! The leisure pool is sure to go down a storm with children, with features such as cascade falls, a beach area with buckets and squirters, not to mention the two flumes and indoor and outdoor rapids; there’s plenty to keep them active and happy for hours! Adults may prefer the 25-metre fitness pool with its eight lanes.

There’s also a soft play adventure zone for children under 12, so why not make a whole day of it? If there are no children in your party, you might enjoy the opportunity to treat yourself to some pampering in the health suite!

How wet will I get? You’ll stay extremely dry as a spectator but once you’re in, you’re in!

Similar rainy day attractions: 

Cottages near Haywards Heath

Smugglers adventure is a fantastic indoor attraction in Sussex

Smugglers Adventure

Hastings TN34 3JJ

People think of Hastings as just a traditional seaside town with a beach and fair but there is so much more to do, especially in wet weather. The town is home to an amazing assortment of places to visit, including the Fishermen’s Museum, the Shipwreck Museum and the Smugglers Adventure Experience. Here you can discover the secrets of the smugglers as you are led through acres of underground caverns, passages and tunnels with over 70 life-size characters, eerie lighting and dramatic recreations, led by the notorious smuggler Hairy Jack. It’s certainly one of the most intriguing things to do in Sussex in the rain!

You won’t be able to resist the smell of fish and chips, burgers and candy floss and there are lots of places to enjoy all of these; just pick somewhere you can sit inside! Make sure you don’t leave without visiting one of the little seafront shops for sticks of rock and postcards to send to friends at home – children can write them while waiting to be served instead of wishing they were out on the beach.

How wet will I get? Hardly at all, just walking between attractions. The museums and caves are inside and there are lots of places to eat nearby.

Similar rainy day attractions:

  • Shopping at The Lanes

Cottages near Hastings

Bluebell Railway - rainy day attractions in Sussex

Bluebell Railway

Uckfield TN22 3QL

The spectacular Bluebell Railway operates a 22-mile return trip between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead and is run by a dedicated team of volunteer railway enthusiasts. You can view the stunning collection of vintage carriages in the main station museum and then hop aboard a carriage for your trip on the vintage steam locomotive.

There is also a host of interactive screens and games to entertain the kids although games such as spot the animal are great for tiny tots as you tour through the beautiful English countryside. Perhaps leave the picnic for a sunnier day and take advantage of the snacks available on board or have something at Sheffield Park before you go.

How wet will I get? Not at all – watch the rain outside as you snuggle up under a warm blanket.

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Uckfield

Union Mill - Visit if you're looking for things to do on a rainy day in Sussex

Union Mill

Cranbrook TN17 3AH

This working windmill which majestically looks down on the town of Cranbrook, over the border from East Sussex into Kent, is a wonderful experience for little ones who can not only see the mill, but find out how it works. Children can even mill their own flour – they are given a handful of grain as they go in, they then watch how the milling process works and finally take it away as flour in a little bag to show their friends back home.

They are also given a certificate and badge to take away so they will really feel that they have done something special. Afterwards, head to one of the cafes only seconds away from the windmill which serve scrumptious milkshakes and cakes, then head home via some of the other beautiful windmills in the area, stopping to take photographs for the children's holiday journals.

How wet will I get? Not at all, just put the umbrella up in between the windmill and cafes.

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Cranbrook

Bewl Water in Kent

Bewl Water

Lamberhurst, TN13 2QB

You can’t beat Bewl Water – just a small hop over the border into Kent from East Sussex, it’s the largest stretch of open water in the South East and surrounded by 800 acres of field and woodland. You can sail and windsurf (if you are already experienced) or take a trip across the lake on the Bewl Belle ferry if you prefer your action out of the water. There are lovely long walks but also shorter ones that you don’t have to commit to if you are not sure how bad the rain is going to get. There is bike hire available which is great fun but you might want to give it a miss if it’s muddy or too wet.

If you find that you do need to warm up, there is a restaurant and café on the shoreline which has amazing views across the lake and is the perfect place for a lovely hot chocolate and yummy piece of cake!

How wet will I get? We won’t lie to you. You will get wet. Very wet. But wrap up in waterproofs and wellies and have fun. Just make sure that little ones are wrapped up and warm and that you promise them lots of lovely treats when you head inside to the café afterwards!

Similar rainy day attractions: 

Cottages near Wadhurst

Gaudy sign at The Lanes shopping area of Brighton

Shopping at The Lanes


The rain doesn’t seem so bad when you’re ducking in and out of shops and cafes, and the labyrinth of shops that make up The Lanes area of Brighton are the perfect sheltered alleys for a spot of wet-weather retail therapy. Following your nose along the cobblestone streets, you’ll be tempted by an eclectic mix of independent shops, making for hours of indulgent, and relatively dry, fun. The shops are interspersed with eateries; you’re never far from a thawing cuppa on a cold day, or a delicious bite to eat to fuel the rest of your shopping experience.

How wet will I get: You’ll have to dodge the raindrops as you dash between shops.

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Brighton

See an opera at the Glyndebourne Opera House

Glyndebourne Opera House

Lewes BN8 5UU

Stunning Glyndebourne Opera House sits in the heart of the Sussex countryside, host of the magnificent Glyndebourne Festival of world-class opera. As beautiful outside as it is atmospheric inside, the venue has a fantastic schedule of performances, presenting six productions each year. When it comes to things to do in East Sussex when it’s raining, few experiences would leave you with such a feeling of awe and inspiration as watching an opera in these magical surroundings.

Nestled comfortably in your seat, lights dim, watching an opera unfold on stage before you, it doesn’t matter if the rainfall is on a biblical scale outside! With dining options too, you’ll be in your own little bubble.

How wet will I get? Not a bit!

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Lewes

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle

Arundel, BN18 9PA

Striking Arundel Castle is the stuff of fairy tales, with its crenellated turrets, captivating gothic architecture and opulent interiors. Delve into the history of the castle, learning about the tapestries, furniture and artwork which adorn the ancient walls. Friendly guides impart their knowledge on all aspects of the castle’s fascinating past, and historical events bring history to life. While this is a great attraction if you’re looking for rainy day activities in Sussex, if the wet weather abates, you can head outside to enjoy the wonderful gardens which include a Kitchen Garden, Glasshouses, Rose Garden, and Tropical and English Gardens.

How wet will I get? This is perhaps not one of the best things to do in West Sussex when it’s raining non-stop, but on one of those days with breaks in the showers, you can shelter in the castle and get out to explore when the rain eases.

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Arundel

Visiting Sealife Brighton is one of our top rainy day activities in Sussex

Sea Life Brighton

Brighton BN2 1TB

Whether you’re a family looking to escape the wet weather, or a couple dodging the showers, days out in Sussex when it’s raining don’t get much better than the amazing underwater world that is Sea Life Brighton. Over 5,000 creatures call the aquarium their home, and you can admire them all through underwater tunnels, in the enchanting Rainforest Zone and even onboard a Glass Bottom Boat (additional charges apply). Interactive displays add to the fun, including a bio-florescent tropical shore and dazzling UV coral in the Day and Night Ocean Experience.

How wet will I get? Not at all!

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Brighton

See the lifeboats at Shoreham Harbour Lifeboat Station

Shoreham Harbour Lifeboat Station

Shoreham-by-Sea BN43 6RN

This is definitely one of the more alternative indoor attractions in Sussex, but an interesting one which is sure to leave a lasting impression, particularly on the younger members of your family! Shoreham Harbour Lifeboat Station is a state-of-the-art facility, with volunteer tour guides to show you around, and a gift shop to pick up souvenirs and support the RNLI. There are three floors to explore, with displays, information, and exhibits to help you get more out of your visit. You can ogle the lifeboats from all angles and you might even have a chance to meet the crew and talk to them about their experiences.

If you’re lucky enough that your visit coincides with one of the crew’s organised exercises, you’ll be able to watch the lifeboats launch from the viewing platform.

How wet will I get? Not at all when you’re inside, perfect to escape a shower.

Similar rainy-day attractions:

Cottages near Shoreham-by-Sea


Find all these cool visitor attractions on our handy map.

Planning a holiday in Sussex?

If you’ve been inspired by our list of things to do in Sussex on a rainy day, and are feeling intrigued to discover the area for yourself, take a look at our wonderful selection of cottages. Not only do they provide the perfect cosy space to hunker down and relax while it’s pouring outside, they’re also ideally situated for exploring, whether or not the sun decides to show its face.

Sussex cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.