5 Top Reasons to Visit Chichester
February 10, 2019
by Rebekah Waller
Chichester is a quaint, historical city that sits approximately halfway between Portsmouth and Worthing on the south coast of England. With both boutique and high street shops, a plethora of eateries, fascinating architecture along its cobbled streets and frequent transport links to beautiful surrounding countryside, there are so many reasons to visit. I have highlighted five of my most recommended places to see below.
1. Chichester Cathedral
Nestled right in the heart of the city centre stands the prominent and imposing architecture of the 900-year-old Chichester cathedral. As well as its impressive appearance, the cathedral hosts many musical soirees throughout the year and the choir can regularly be heard practising as you walk through the grounds, so it’s the perfect place for any music lover. If relaxation and scenery are more your thing, within the grounds of the cathedral there is the delightful Cloisters café serving light meals and tasty treats at reasonable prices, as well as the beautiful Bishops Palace Gardens which are perfect for a short afternoon stroll or family picnic. The gardens can get quite crowded on a beautiful summer’s day though, so be sure to get there a little bit early to grab your spot! You may want to pack your binoculars too, as you might be fortunate enough to spot a pair of peregrine falcons who have nested on the South-Eastern turret of the cathedral for the last 18 years. The best part of all though, is that entrance to the cathedral is completely free, so there really is no reason not to visit!
2. Chichester Festival Theatre and Pallant House Gallery
If the arts are more your scene, then Chichester festival theatre and Pallant House Gallery are definitely both well worth a visit. Since opening in 1962, the theatre has hosted many popular shows and featured several famous faces from British film and television. Depending on when you visit, there are also opportunities to take part in workshops and guided tours, including backstage access too.
Pallant house gallery is home to a wide variety of art dating from 1900 to the 21st century. Housed in a beautiful 18th century Queen Anne townhouse, the exterior itself could be considered a work of art! Hosting a variety of exhibitions from renowned British artists, as well as public events for you to have a go at creating your own masterpiece, whether you are an appreciator of art or a more of a hands-on person, I would definitely recommend visiting.
3. South Downs National Park
A short drive or bus ride from Chichester, you will find the beautiful South Downs National Park. Stretching across 4 counties and covering approximately 100 miles from East to West, there are plenty of places to visit within this area of outstanding natural beauty. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can walk the entire 100mile trail that runs through the middle from Winchester to Eastbourne in approximately one week or cycle it within a weekend. For the slightly less ambitious or time restricted, the route can be broken into manageable sections and there are many books / websites which advise you on how to do this. Please note that there are limited public transport options and facilities on certain parts of the trail, so make sure you plan your route carefully and do some research before setting off. The views are breath-taking, so make sure you leave room in your backpack for a camera too!
4. Bosham and The Witterings
Located in the Chichester harbour area of outstanding natural beauty, less than 10 miles south west of the city, lie the picturesque villages of Bosham and the Witterings. You can easily access them from Chichester by bus, car or bike and they are perfect places to spend a leisurely afternoon.
At Bosham, take a stroll around the beautiful harbourside (although do make sure to check tide times before you go) and observe the many different species of wetland wildlife. In the village, you can also find an ancient Saxon Church, enjoy a spot of lunch on the quayside or have a go at paddle-boarding at the sailing club.
A few miles South of Bosham lies an area known locally as The Witterings, probably the largest and most well-known villages near Chichester, attracting hordes of visitors every year. With its blue flag and award-winning sandy beach, West Wittering is popular with both tourists and locals to spend a day soaking up the sunshine, although do expect to pay a premium for the privilege of parking close to the beach! With its independent gift shops and restaurants providing delicious food using fresh, local ingredients, East Wittering also has plenty to offer. One advisory thing to note is that traffic can get congested as there are few roads leading to the villages, so do go early if you want to make the most of your day.
5. Chichester City Centre
Being a thriving university town, as well as a traditional choice for wealthier ladies and gentlemen to live, Chichester has something for all ages. From fine dining eateries and classy cocktail bars to fast food outlets and traditional English pubs with live entertainment and great value student deals, there are options to suit every budget. If you’re a shopaholic, you will also love Chichester’s collection of independent high- end boutiques, as well as traditional high-street favourites. Need somewhere to take take the children? The city also houses plenty of entertainment options too, including a multi-screen cinema complex, a large ten-pin bowling alley, several museums and art galleries, as well as a couple of trampolining centres for those more inclined towards more physical pursuits. If you prefer to spend your time outd in the fresh air, you can also take a scenic cruise on a canal boat from the basin or amble along the towpath to watch the wetland wildlife at their best. Alternatively, take a walk around the city’s walls to really get a feel for Chichester’s history and further explore all that it has to offer.
Having lived near Chichester for most of my life, it is still without a doubt one of my favourite places to visit. So if you’re thinking about visiting England, or just want to explore more of your home country, I would highly recommend including Chichester and the South Coast on your list of places to visit, as there really is something here for everyone to enjoy!