Visiting Seven Sisters Cliffs from London: Full Guide

By on Published: July 27, 2020 | Last Updated: September 7, 2020 in Europe, UK, Western Europe with 4 Comments

Visiting the Seven Sisters - London Day Trip Guide

One of my absolute favourite London day trips, there was no way my UK Staycation this year would be complete without a trip to see these sibling beauties.

And so it was that I, once again, ventured down to enjoy the beauty, walks and dramatic splendour of the Seven Sisters Cliffs along England’s south coast.

Although less well known than their white-cliff cousins in Dover, the Seven Sisters in Sussex are far more impressive, accessible and all-round amazing in my opinion, not least because of the uninterrupted views they offer, the delightful walking possibilities they hold and the array of cute villages surrounded them that all offer delicious pub food and locally-brewed pints.

So, if you’re looking for a nature-inspired London day trip that’s great on the scenery and easy on the budget, look no further than the Seven Sisters Cliffs, you won’t regret it.


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Why Visit the Seven Sisters Cliffs?

England, Seven Sisters, Cliff

Quite simply, you need to visit the Seven Sisters Cliffs because they are one of  London’s best day trips.

Indeed they are one of England’s great natural wonders and essentially form a very impressive, wildly undulating row of 7 towering, chalky, seaside cliffs.

Just a few hours from the capital, arriving at this wonderfully preserved, National Trust managed landscape will have you feeling like you’re a million miles from the smoggy city.

Vastness and boundless views of rolling green hills, dramatic chalky cliffs and turquoise ocean will greet you, as you gulp down huge lungfuls of fresh country air tinged with a twist of sea salt.

It’s invigorating and rejuvenating to say the least, and that’s before you’ve even embarked on a walk!

Because stroll along the top of these cliffs you certainly can and should do as you marvel at their height, contrasting colours and grandeur – not what you instantly imagine when you picture the English seaside that’s for sure.

Walking along the cliff tops here, and finishing on the beach, is a treat of a day and best of all, won’t cost you a penny.

So grab your camera, a few mates and your walking shoes while you head out of London for this easy but utterly uplifting excursion.

 

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Where are the Seven Sisters?

England, Seven Sisters, Me

The Seven Sisters are located in East Sussex, south of London, along England’s bottom coastline.

They form part of the amazing South Downs Way – a renowned walking trail that takes you through one of the country’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty.

As I mentioned, the Seven Sisters are just a few hours from the capital, which makes them both easy and accessible to visit.

Depending where in London you’re setting off from, the sisters are around 90km away from the capital.

The nearest city to the area is Eastbourne, with Brighton to the west, while the villages of East Dean, Seaford, Exceat, Friston and Litlington cluster around.

This is a rural and pastoral area so expect farm smells and hedgerow-hugging roads.

 

How to Get There

England, Sussex, Seven Sisters

By Car

There’s no question the easiest way to get to the Seven Sisters is to drive.

If you’ve got a friend with a car, then try and persuade them to take you, as sharing vehicles is way better for the environment and the wallet!

If you can’t get access to some wheels, then renting a car is definitely a possibility and again, quite budget-friendly if the costs are shared.

Check out Thrifty Car Hire for some great deals from London.

I travelled with a group of friends from Hackney to the Seven Sisters Cliffs on a sunny Saturday in July.

Even with the traffic, the journey took us under 2.5 hours and cost less than £10 in petrol each.

If you’re driving to the Seven Sisters too, you’ll want to travel around the A25, then down the A23 towards Gatwick Airport / Brighton before heading off on the A26.

The place to aim for is Birling Gap – where there are 2 National Trust pay and display car parks, as well as a cafe and public toilets.

Birling Gap is also where many of the walks in the area begin.

Parking here for the day costs just £4 and it’s a great way to support the National Trust too.

 

Take a Tour

Otherwise, if you’re not into driving, you can also enjoy a wonderful day tour from London to the Seven Sisters Cliffs, which will mean everything is arranged for you.

Simple and stress-free, taking a day trip down here will do away with the hard work of planning an excursion and just leave you to enjoy the day, which is great for solo travellers or those with a busy work schedule!

You also get a guide with a day trip, so you will learn a lot more about the area and will likely visit more of the South Downs area too, which is perfect for geology, history or travel bluffs and a great bonus!

 

By Train and Bus

Otherwise, for the shoestring travellers among you, you’ll be delighted to know you can also get to the Seven Sisters in Sussex very easily using public transport.

The first step is to catch the train from London to Brighton.

These trains usually leave from London Victoria or London Bridge stations, and you can use the great, free app Citymapper to plan your journey from wherever you are in capital to these stations.

National Express buses also run from Victoria Station (the coach part) to Brighton. These are cheaper than trains (winning) but do take longer (think around 4 hours) so may not be ideal for a day trip.

Trains to Brighton usually take 1 hour.

Both the bus and train journeys to Brighton can be booked via Trainline – the amazing one-stop travel shop which makes it easy to compare journey times and prices.

I highly recommend booking as far in advance as possible to score the best deals and using the Trainline app for eTicket storage and live departure information.

Once in Brighton, seek out the #12, #12a or #12x buses, all of which will take you to the village Seaford near the Seven Sisters.

These buses depart regularly, but it can be worth holding out for the 12x as this is an express service and therefore much quicker.

From Seaford, it’s then a 1.5km walk to reach the cliffs via Cuckmore Haven.

Alternatively, you catch a train to Eastbourne and then a bus to the village of Friston.

Doing things this way round will mean you and start from the other end of the Seven Sisters, which are a 3.5 km walk away from Friston.

 

Seven Sisters Walks

England, Seven Sisters, Walking

Whichever you decide to travel to the Seven Sisters cliffs, one thing you have to do when you get here is enjoy a walk, a classic English ramble.

Now that may be from either Friston or Seaford, but, if possible, it should also be along the top of the cliffs.

Walking along, up and over the Seven Sisters Cliffs really does allow you to take in their beauty in a whole new way, and from several different angles!

If you begin in Birling Gap you can do the wonderful return walk over the 7 sisters from Birling Gap car park to Cuckmere Haven – a river inlet and beach area just a short distance from Seaford.

You can either return back over the cliffs the way you came, or return via a longer but very beautiful inland route that passes through West and East Dean, giving you the best of both country and coast.

If you’re coming from the Seaford end you can walk the Sisters in reverse – starting at the amazing Coastguard Cottages which sit above Cuckmere Haven and provide an absolutely stellar lookout point.

From here, you’ll then want to walk east towards Birling Gap and perhaps even beyond it a little to take in Beachy Head – England tallest chalk cliff and home to the iconic Belle Tout lighthouse.

Both of these walks make up part of the magnificent 160km long South Downs Way, which is, in turn, part of England’s Coastal Path.

If you’re feeling like something longer than a day, these 2 incredible National Trails provide a wealth of walking delights and are both well marked and easy to navigate.

For other shorter walks, I highly recommend checking out the free app All Trails, which gives many great possibilities in and around the Seven Sisters area.

Although the walks in this area general include going along the undulating clifftops at some point, i.e. up and down over the Sisters, they aren’t usually too hard or difficult and wouldn’t be what I consider strenuous walking.

Shade is minimal on the cliff tiops, but you get the full force of rural and pastoral England, backed by the sea, at its best.

 

Places to Eat and Drink Nearby

England, Seven Sisters, Me Feet

 

After the journey down from London, then a good walk and all that sea air, it’s quite likely that your day trip to the Seven Sisters Cliffs might end with a good pint and a delicious meal in a local pub.

Personally, I think this is the only way to do it!

A great place nearby that I recommend is The Plough and Harrow in the village of Litlington – a short drive from Birling Gap, this historic and quaint pub has some great food (veggie and vegan friendly), as well as a lovely beer garden.

The Beachy Head pub also gets good reviews, as does the Cuckmore Inn in Seaford.

Any of these would make a good option for a lovely end to the day before heading back to London.

As always, if you are driving back to London, please do not drink and drive.

 

Places to Stay Overnight

England, Sussex, Cuckmore Haven

Amazingly you can actually spend the night in the Belle Tout Lighthouse which is now a quirky Bed and Breakfast and would provide incredible views of the Seven Sisters.

I honestly think this would be an absolutely epic place to stay longer in the area if you didn’t have to scamper back to London.

There’s also plenty of cosy Airbnb properties in the villages around the Seven Sisters that make for great overnight options, especially if you’re travelling as a family or with a group of friends.

Sign up to Airbnb here and get up to £35 off your first booking.

 

Things to Know Before You Go

England, Seven Sisters, Me in Wind

One of the most important things to know when you visit the Seven Sisters Cliffs is that safety is paramount.

This includes not drinking alcohol if you’re driving back to London, as well as ensuring you walking safely along the clifftops.

The cliff edges here are very high and dangerous, so although getting close to the edge may proving tempting when trying to get that epic shot, it’s simply not worth it.

Strong winds and the serious issue of erosion, which undermines the stability of the cliffs here, are real factors to consider.

You’ll also want to bear in mind the weather at the Seven Sisters and make sure you pack accordingly – see my top 5 recommended items below.

In the winter months, it can be freezing, wet and windy here, so waterproofs are a must.

In summer, it can be seriously hot and there’s little shade protection, so do ensure you bring sunscreen as well as a cap or appropriate sunhat with you.

I’d also bring plenty of snacks and water as there are few to no facilities in the park and you’ll have to come prepared with all that you need.

Ditto, toilets – go before you leave home!

 

5 Essential Packing Items

England, Sussex, Seven Sisters Cliffs

And finally, here is my list of the top 5 packing essentials you shouldn’t head to the Seven Sisters Cliffs without:

#1 A Good Camera – No doubt you’re going to be snapping like crazy in this amazing landscape and need to ensure you have a good camera to do the place justice. I love my Sony A6000, which is light, compact and great for travel. You also can’t go far wrong with a GoPro Hero on an active travel day.

#2 Decent Walking Shoes – No point coming this far and not being able to enjoy a walk along the Seven Sisters. Get prepared therefore and ensure you have a decent pair of walking shoes – these cross trainers from New Balance are ideal (and totally stylish too).

#3 Light Waterproof Jacket – Whatever the time of year, you have to remember this is England after all, a country in which the heavens can open at any given moment! Don’t get caught out and instead ensure you have a good lightweight and waterproof jacket with you. This North Face one is perfect.

#4 Compact Hiking Day Pack – I never go on any day trip without a sturdy backpack that will fit everything I need to be comfortable. This super featherweight one from Marmot is my go-to, because it folds down to nothing and is water-resistant.

#5 Sarong – And finally, I would never head off the to Seven Sisters without a sarong. In fact, there’s very few places (full stop) that I’d go to without a sarong. The most versatile, light, compact and useful travel item going, for the Seven Sisters you could definitely use a sarong as a scarf against the wind and as something to sit on when you get to the beach. You can also use it to wrap up anything that needs extra protection in your bag, the list goes on and on…

 

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I really hope you enjoyed my guide about visiting the Seven Sisters in Sussex from London and found the information useful.

Have you been to the Seven Sisters cliffs?

Have any extra info to help a fellow traveller out?

Then please drop it into the comments box below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 4 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Saqibah Ali says:

    This is a brilliant review! Thank you very much. How long would you say it took to do the hike of the cliffs? I want to plan how much time i need to walk back to the bus stop to get the bust back to the train station (for the journey home)

    Thanks!

    • Steph says:

      Hi and so glad to hear you like the blog 🙂 The hike from Birling Gap to Cuckmore Haven and back can be down in around 3 hours. So allow 1.5 hrs for a one way walk with time to stop and take pics etc. Remember some of the hills are quite steep! Hope that helps 🙂

      • Saqibah Ali says:

        Thanks so much for your response. I am planning to visit tomorrow, do you think i need to wrap up or will i be quite hot wearing a longline hooded jacket? Thanks!!

        • Steph says:

          Hi, great to learn you are planning to visit tomorrow. Not sure on the forecast, I haven’t checked, but it’s been a bit wet and blustery in London today, so likely a jacket and some warm layers is a good idea! Take a good backpack, so you can always de-layer if you warm up when tackling those hills! Enjoy! Steph 🙂

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