28 great things to do in Worthing
- Credit: Gareth Snow
Follow our insider’s guide to a day out in the Sussex town, from a visit to the pier to seeing the New Forest ponies at Cissbury Ring
The vibrant seaside town of Worthing has long been a lure to tourists – among them Oscar Wilde, who lived here for a season and struck up a liaison with a local youth. So enamoured was he of both that he named the lead character in his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, after the town.
And another beloved British author found inspiration here – Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, which was adapted for the BBC last year, is thought to be based on her experiences in the town. More recently, Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter lived in the attractive environs of Ambrose Place, where he is honoured with a blue plaque.
Worthing today has all the charm of a traditional seaside resort, with its attractive pier and promenade, along with a vibrant sense of small town community.
Although property prices are increasing, it’s attracting businesses and homeowners priced out of Brighton, imbuing what the Guardian rather sniffily called “Terry and June country” with a dollop of cosmopolitan culture.
In the morning...
There can be few lovelier ways to start a day in Worthing than with a stroll up Cissbury Ring. This historic local landmark is the site of a Bronze Age burial ground and Iron Age hill fort.
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Today it yields beautiful views over the town and along the coast, and a chance to say hello to the New Forest ponies who graze here. Alternatively, Highdown Hill in Ferring offers panoramic outlooks over the town and Downs. Highdown Gardens, home to so many rare and exotic plants that the whole garden has been named a National Collection, re-opens in late summer and rewards a visit.
Upon reaching the town itself, a stroll along the seafront comes highly recommended. It has a more traditional feel than neighbouring Brighton’s sometimes-hectic promenade, with the Worthing Lido offering entertainment and amusements.
Worthing Pier was the 2019 Pier of the Year and has interesting artworks depicting town life, and plenty of benches to enjoy the view. The Art Deco Southern pavilion is being refurbished at present to accommodate a new extended eating spot.
A little way along the seafront is the Dome cinema, which played a key role in the 1987 film Wish You Were Here, starring Emily Lloyd. The spectacular Edwardian cinema opened in 1911 and offers sumptuous surroundings in which to enjoy a film.
From there, head down the Steyne – there are often events in Steyne Gardens and there’s an ice rink there in the winter. Turn left onto Warwick Street, which has an array of interesting independent shops and eating spots.
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery is currently only open for pre-booked visits on Saturdays, with a programme of scheduled talks also on offer. It has a very comprehensive costume collection as well as exhibits relating to local social history.
Do ensure you pay a visit to Liverpool Gardens, an attractive crescent distinguished by the Desert Quartet by Dame Elisabeth Frink – Grade II-listed male busts atop plinths. The street leads onto the main shopping precinct, Montague Street, which is largely home to a range of high street names.
Worthing Observation Wheel is back on the seafront until at least October, with a possible extension until November if the autumn weather stays clement. From the wheel, the largest in the south-east, punters can enjoy views across Worthing and the South Downs.
As night falls, enjoy a sundowner at one of the town’s interesting new bars: try micro-pub Brooksteed Alehouse in Farm Road or at weekends Worthing Gin is served from their tuktuk on the seafront opposite the Travelodge.
Theatre and comedy are provided at the Connaught and Pavilion Theatres and the Assembly Hall. For live music (when social distancing measures allow it), The Factory is a relatively new venue which has staged some interesting acts.
Day on a plate
Bungaroosh café on Bath Place serves artisan Brazilian café and a concise but delicious Mediterranean-inspired menu: visit for a lazy brunch or casual lunch.
The CrabShack on the seafront is fun and relaxed (and only open for takeaways at the time of writing) - think fries loaded with crabmeat and Sussex smokies – while Aunty Bunny’s Hut in the Montague Quarter serves a fusion of Caribbean and Spanish flavours.
For high-end dining, try Ami Bistro on Rowlands Road or Masterchef champion Kenny Tutt’s Pitch on Warwick Street (now also home to a cookery school). And for sweet treats, Boho Gelato on Montague Street comes highly recommended.
Paul Holden, editor of the Worthing Journal
I have lived in Sunny Worthing for almost 40 years and would not wish to live anywhere else. It is a vibrant community with good people. Yes, it has its faults but there are many many worse places to live. ’Twixt sea and Downs – people born in Worthing have a head start in life.
Worthing is a great place to bring up children: we spend sunny days by the seaside, playing 2p machines along the pier and eating fish and chips from Chipwicks on Brighton Road.
We have some greats bars and restaurants here too. My perfect Worthing night out would be cocktails at Rockinghorse , followed by a meal at Pitch or Finch.