UK’s most underrated seaside town named – ‘beautiful even on grey winter days’

When asked to think of the most popular seaside towns on the south coast, Worthing probably won’t spring to mind.

It’s earned a reputation for being a hub for retired people over the past few decades, but look a little closer and you may be surprised by the neighbour of bustling Brighton.

For culture lovers there’s plenty to see and do, starting at Worthing Museum which is home to one of the most significant costume collections in Britain plus a number of temporary exhibitions from local artists.

Worthing has strong literary connections. Jane Austen spent the autumn of 1805 residing at Stanford Cottage, while Oscar Wilde holidayed in the town in 1893 and 1894, writing the Importance of Being Earnest during his second visit.

Today, Colonnade House has rotating exhibitions and provides affordable workspace for aspiring artists to work together and across disciplines.

There are three theatres and one of Britain’s oldest cinemas, the Dome. 

Keen to lose its image of an ageing, out-of-touch town, Worthing now boasts a pop-up sauna Fire, Salt and Sea right on the beach which has attracted visitors looking for something a little different.

Private sessions are available but you can also partake in a community dip for £15 per person.

While near the beach make sure you take a stroll down the elegant pier. At 960 feet long it features both the Pavilion Theatre and Pavilion Atrium Bar plus an amusement arcade in the middle of the pier and the South Pavilion which is home to a tea room. 

One visitor wrote on Tripadvisor: “Having recently visited Brighton and Eastbourne piers, Worthing Pier was a breath of fresh air. It benefits from being near the town centre, which gives it a lively and upmarket vibe.

“There is an interesting art display as well as historic photographs documenting its history. The restaurant near the end of the pier looks delightful and also serves great breakfasts.

“If you are keen on funfairs, and the tackiness that accompanies them, you may prefer Brighton or Eastbourne, but if you just want to enjoy the fresh sea air in a lovely setting, this is probably the pier for you.”

Another unique experience is Highdown Gardens, tucked away in the Southdown National Park which overlooks the sea.

The established gardens offer a botanical paradise that’s well worth a visit even on a gloomy day.

Visit in the summer months and you can enjoy Crabshack, which serves seafood on raw-wood benches and has an outdoor deck strung with lights. 

There’s also an al fresco food court in an old multi-storey car park which has deckchairs on artificial grass and offers sundowners and wood-fired pizza.

The established gardens offer a botanical paradise that’s well worth a visit even on a gloomy day.

Back in the 18th century the town was a hotspot for wealthy travellers keen to follow in the royal footsteps of Princess Amelia, the daughter of King George III who was sent to the town in 1798 to recover from injury.

This was the time of sea swims to boost health and Worthing’s clear waters and mild climate made it the perfect choice.

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