Discover South Downs National Park: Best Things to do and Places to eat

Best things to do and eat in South Downs National Park

My husband’s family recently moved from St. Albans (close to London) to West Sussex more specifically into the South Downs National Park. This means I have had the great opportunity of exploring this area on several visits to the family. South Downs is massive and includes many charming and quintessentially English villages. (Check out this map of the South Downs.) From the winding narrow roads to tasty pub food to beautiful nature adventures-it is a wonderful place to visit. South Downs National park has many attractions to experience and to enjoy. PLUS, it has Jane Austen’s house!! What?!?! Amazing. So keep reading scrolling to discover the best things to do in South Downs National Park and the best places to eat in South Downs National Park.

Don’t forget, Pragmatic Travelers only recommend what I have actually experienced! All photos were taken with my phone.

Check out our guide to the seaside: Cornwall.

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Best things to do in South Downs National Park: take a walk.
I mean look at this view on a random walk in the South Downs!

A Few Resources…

I stay with family while in the area so I don’t have any recommendations on where to stay. You can check out this hotel search with pictures, recommendations, etc. The South Downs is in the counties of Hampshire, East and West Sussex so I have included hotel searches for all three. East Sussex Hotels. Here is the hotel search for West Sussex.

Map of Restaurants and Things to Do in South Downs National Park

Best Restaurants in South Downs National Park

  • Garton’s Coffee House, Midhurst- Lovely small café with good coffee. Nice place for a lunch and coffee on their patio. Perfect location for exploring Midhurst and Cowdray Ruins. 
  • Lime & Spice, Midhurst- Nice place to enjoy Indian food. Across the street from Cowdray Ruins. 
  • Afternoon Tea in the Walled Garden at the Cowdray Estate, Midhurst- Gorgeous setting and wonderful scones. Perfect for an afternoon. Book in advance.
  • Cowdray Farm Shop and Cafe, Midhurst- Charming, tasty, filled with local goods but expensive.
  • The Kennels, Goodwood, Chichester- Beautiful grounds and wonderful afternoon tea. Lovely atmosphere and rooms. Definitely a more formal experience.
  • Upperton Winery, Petworth- Lovely view from their outdoor area. Enjoyed a flight of their champagnes.  
  • Basmati Indian Restaurant, Petworth- Very good traditional Indian food. Highly recommend!
  • The Half Moon, Midhurst- This local and cozy pub has a new team running the kitchen. Their Sunday roast was massive and quite tasty. They even had vegan options. Excellent choice for a roast.
  • Frattelli by Amore, Midhurst-We ordered some take away from Fratteli and the pizza was excellent. Very thin crust with great cheese and toppings. Great spot for pizza.
  • Golden Leaf, Midhurst- Decent spot for Chinese takeaway. Right in the center of town.
Great thing to do in South Downs National Park is visit Jane Austen's House.
Jane Austen’s House, Chawton: A great thing to do in South Downs.

Best Restaurants Near the South Downs National Park

  • The Duke of Cumberland Pub, Haslemere- Gorgeous pub. The garden has multiple levels, full of plant life and a small stream. Wonderful place for a pint. 
  • Banyan Restaurant, Haslemere Excellent, excellent Indian food. My favorite restaurant in the area. Great service inside an old pub.
  • The Ship Inn, Langstone- Gorgeous views on the water. Great food. Can’t beat this!
  • Loch Fyne, Portsmouth – Great outdoor eating area in Gunwharf Quays. Lovely oysters and seafood. 
  • Thyme & Chillies, Chichester- Excellent Indian restaurant. The food was incredible as well as the service. Beers were cheap and tasty. Highly recommend getting their Thali. It was delicious!
One of the best things to do in South Downs National Park. Visit the Cowdray Heritage Ruins in Midhurst
Cowdray Heritage Ruins, Midhurst

Best things to do in South Downs National Park

  • Seven Sisters Country Park, South Downs National Park – Infreakingcredible. Magnificent chalk cliffs, views and walks. Paid parking with the National Trust. 
  • Cowdray Heritage Ruins, Midhurst- A ruined Tudor house destroyed in the 1700’s with some restoration in the early 1900’s.  Enjoyable to explore the ruins. Near Cowdray House is a farm stand which sells delicious foods and meats. It is also walking distance to the center of Midhurst which has a few restaurants and some shopping. 
  • Petworth is a must visit-An incredibly charming and beautiful English village. I love my time wandering around and visiting Petworth House.
  • Midhurst and Petersfield, England – Hop in the car and explore these quaint English villages.
  • Jane Austen’s House, Chawton – A MUST DO if you enjoy Jane Austen. It is the house she spent the last 8 years of her life. It has wonderful artifacts and information. Loved the whole experience. 
  • Arundel Castle, Arundel- Head straight for the magnificent castle on the hill when it opens. The castle is nearly 1000 years old with the oldest part being a large mound built in 1068.  Wonderful tours and filled with history. Once done, head towards town to enjoy tea and lunch. Note: The Castle does close in the Winter.
  • Woolbeding Gardens, Midhurst- Excellent gardens. Only opened in the summer. National Trust sight.
  • Walking in South Downs National Park– Many many areas to walk, hike and explore. I have enjoyed the walks around Midhurst. Here are my favorite walks:
    • Benbow Pond Walk at Cowdray Estate-A loop that features wildlife and is close to the center of Midhurst and the Cowdray ruins. Could be a great place for a picnic. Parking is available. For the GPS, postcode: GU28 0AZ.
    • Stoughton Down & Kingley Vale-4.5 circular walk/hike with excellent views and goes through charming English towns like Stoughton. One of my favorites.
    • Get lost on the public footpaths. So many of my favorite walks was exploring public footpaths. Just bring your phone in case you get lost…speaking from experience here!
Best things to do near South Downs National Park-Visit Brighton.

Best Things to do Near South Downs National Park

  • Explore Chichester, England-Plenty of shopping, exploring and eating! Chichester Cathedral is worth a visit as it is quite beautiful. Great shopping pedestrian zone.
  • Get in that car and explore Portsmouth and Southampton. Both are very large cities with plenty of shopping and restaurants.
  • Day trip to Brighton-Spend plenty of time exploring the Lanes and the Pier. Plenty of yummy food and shopping to enjoy.
  • Go Kayaking with Fluid Adventures. I loved my experience with this company. We kayaked/canoed from Godalming to Guildford along the River Wey Navigation. It included a series of locks that we had portage which was different and exciting. The river was gentle enough for all ages. The scenery was just stunning. Fluid Adventures were quick to communicate and provide great gear and instructions. Wonderful experience.
  • Spend some time in Guildford. A buzzing town on the beautiful River Wey. Really an exciting town to visit.
  • Day trip to Winchester-Wonderful historical place to visit. I loved my time at the Winchester Cathedral. Jane Austen is buried there.

Your Thoughts…

Have you visited the South Downs National Park area? What are you favorite places to eat in the South Downs? What are your favorite things to do in the South Downs National Park? What should we go and experience? Share your comments below!

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