Step back in time, on this day trip to Rye on a budget. This quiet medieval town, on the south east coast of England, has cobbles streets, stories of smugglers and ghosts. But if you want a more relaxed approach, then strolling through the local shops, pubs and restaurants for some goodies. 

Rye is just an hour’s journey from London and has somewhat been off the radar from tourists, making Rye an ideal place with less crowds to visit on a day trip.  

We have covered everything you need to plan your holiday, including budgeting tips. 

About 

The oldest and only remaining medieval fortification in Rye is the Landgate, dating back to about 1329.  

Smuggling became rife during the economic decline in 1301, with the Hawkhurst gang capitalising on smuggling commodities such as wool through Kent and Sussex.  

You could drink in the same place that the Hawkhurst gang would meet and learn more about the tunnels that link between two drinking dens. 

When to visit Rye 

England is seasonal, so it really will depend on when you want to visit Rye. 

If you are a budget traveler, then you’re better off travelling during the off peak, or shoulder months. But if you want to travel for the best weather, then you definitely need to visit in the summer.  

Rye is a quiet town to visit, even in the height of summer, tourists will be flocking to Camber Sands, to relax on the small sandy stretch of beach. This means, travelling in the summer to Rye, is still possible, without the hustle and bustle that you’d expect in a big tourist city.  

Travelling to Rye in winter 

December – March 

Winters are cold and can be wet, but will come alive with Christmas markets and decoration.  

Travelling to Rye in Spring 

April – June 

Spring brings warmer weathers but far fewer crowds.  

Travelling to Rye in Summer 

July – August 

Lovely hot summers, everyone will be heading down to the beach to make the most of the sunshine.  

Travelling to Rye in Autumn 

September – November 

Conditions similar to spring, but the golden foliage and abundant local produce to eat. 

Cobbled streets in Rye
Cobbled streets in Rye

Is it safe to travel to Rye? 

Yes, Rye is a safe place to visit. Of course, every place has some level of crime, if anything, tourists may encounter pickpocketing or theft. But in our experience as two female travelers, we didn’t encounter any safety issues.  

Although we didn’t encounter any issues, it is always best to be cautious, we are aware of our surroundings, research before we travel and try not to put ourselves in a position which is unsafe.  

As female traveler’s, we have some great tips on how to stay safe while travelling. By following these tips, you should feel safer to travel, be that as a solo traveler, or traveling as part of a family or group.   

What is the currency in Rye? 

The currency in Rye is the £ (pound) 

Overseas travelers will need to convert their currency into the £s. It is recommended to take enough cash with you for your holiday and a little bit extra for emergencies. You can also use debit or credit cards, but always check with your bank prior to travel. There could be a fee for overseas transactions. 

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Things to do on a day trip to Rye 

There’s a number of things to see and do on your fun packed day trip to Rye on a budget. You never know, you might find the Hawkhurst Gangs loot.  

To help you keep within a budget, we have included the free things to do in Rye first, before the paid attractions last, with any discounts you could pick up along the way. 

Mermaid Street 

Cost: Free 

Mermaid Street is famous for the unusual house names, such as A House with Two Doors, The First House, House with the Seat and The House Next Door. Not sure where the house names come from, but definitely makes the visit unique.

Here you can walk up one of the many cobbled streets in this small town. 

The Mermaid Inn 

Cost: Free 

The oldest part of the Mermaid Inn are the cellars, that date back to about 1156, while the bar and guest rooms date back to about 1420.  

The Hawkhurst gang are known to have frequented the Inn between the 1730s and 1740s, they may have discussed business and smuggle goods around the south east of England through the tunnels beneath the Inn.  

It is said that there’s a tunnel from The Mermaid Inn to The Old Bell, only a short distance away. 

The exterior of The Mermaid Inn
The exterior of The Mermaid Inn

It is said that the tunnels in the cellar of the Mermaid Inn were used by the Hawkhurst gang to escape the authorities and so they could smuggle the goods undetected.  

If you believe in ghosts and want to hear a few tales about ghost stories at the Mermaid Inn, then speak to the staff, we’re sure they could tell you a few tales. Alternatively, spend a night as a guest at the Inn, you might hear a bump in the night, or even sight a ghost, as many a guest have reported. 

The Mermaid Inn retains its period Tudor features with the black and white, wattle and daub and timber exterior.  

The interior looks just as it was hundreds of years ago. But the bar felt so small. It would have been pretty cramped for the Hawkhurst gang to talk business over a pint. But, we’re sure on a cold winter’s night, when the grand fire is lit, the room would be filled with warmth.  

The hotel on the other hand, looks grand, with period features, even the furniture’s antique. The guests can sit back and relax in the dining room or the small lounge. A fire place keeps guests warm on a cold night. 

Ypres Tower 

Cost: £4.00 (€4.68 – $5.54) per adult, £3.00 (€3.51 – $4.15) per child, children under 16 free 

Opening times: March – October 10:30am – 5pm, November – March – 10:30am – 3:30pm 

There’s so much to see and do here and for £4.00 entrance fee it’s well worth it.  

The Ypres Tower was built in about 1249 and has had many uses over the years. It’s been a defensive tower from the French, a private home, a mortuary, a prison and now a museum. 

On first appearances, it looks like a castle and much of the inside has that cold and airy castle feel. We couldn’t imagine how people could have lived here, especially in the winter when it gets cold. 

After you purchase the tickets on the ground floor, head straight to the basement.  

The basement is quite compact, but is a good opportunity to learn about medieval history, with medieval armory on display. Kids will love to experiment with the various medieval weapons. Fear not, for safety reasons, the weapons are behind glass, with a hole for the hands to touch the weapons.  

While compact this is an excellent interactive display. 

Back on the ground floor are the original prison cells. You can experience being held in a prison cell. The small, cold brick cell with no window or ventilation, that’s punishment enough once the door was slammed shut on you.  

Ypres Tower
Ypres Tower

One of the cells has been converted into a still room, with the herbs and plants that have grown in the towers garden. 

The third cell of the prison has the Gibbet and skeleton suspended from the ceiling. The murderer John Beards was kept in this exact cell before he was hanged. It is then said his body was on display in the Gibbet on Gibbets Marsh for over 50 years. 

John Beard was a butcher, who intended to murder the mayor for fining him. Instead, John murdered the mayor’s brother-in-law by accident. John’s punishment was imprisonment, before his subsequent hanging and then the body remaining on Gibbets Marsh in Rye. 

After you have finished exploring the cells, head to the first floor to learn more about the changing of England’s coastline over the thousands of years.  

Surrounding the walls on the first floor are different police uniforms. You can see the different styles of uniforms worn over the years.

Make your way to the balcony for amazing views across Rye, just below you’ll see the medieval garden and the women’s prison. Yes, that’s right, they would have held women prisoners here too.  

A second balcony leads off for further views out over Rye Marshes and the rivers that lead to the sea. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Camber Castle from here.  

Kids will love to learn more about smuggling, with a great interactive display with commodities that would have been smuggled into Rye. Commonly smuggled goods would be wool, tea and more.  

Exterior of Ypres Tower
Exterior of Ypres Tower

Once you have finished exploring the tower, head down to the medieval garden and women’s prison for more exciting stories. 

This would have been the exercise yard for the inmates. Now it has become a garden growing different types of herbs. Can you identify each herb by looking at it and smelling it?  

Only one room of the women’s prison can be explored. But you’ll notice how much more comfortable the cell would have been compared to the cold dark male prison.  

The women’s cell is larger, it feels so much warmer and homely. Sadly, only the one cell is on display, with the upper floor roped off. As you move into the cell, a projector comes to life to tell a story of the type of women that would have come here to be held and the conditions in the women’s prison.    

You won’t be disappointed when you visit Ypres Tower on a day trip to Rye. 

Church of St Mary the Virgin 

Cost: £4.00 (€4.68 – $5.54) per person 

For more great views of Rye, you can climb to the top of the Church of St Mary the Virgin.  

Purchase the tickets on the ground floor and then make your way up the stair case until you reach the top. 

Anyone who suffers from claustrophobia may not want to climb the church, as the corridor is narrow. As you progress along the corridor, it feels like it gets narrower. It doesn’t of course.  

At the end of the narrow corridor is a large room, with the clock pendulum. If you are quiet, you can hear the clock ticking.  

The view from the Church of St Mary the Virgin of Ypres Tower
The view from the Church of St Mary the Virgin of Ypres Tower

You can see the full working of the clock mechanism, with the cogs moving on each tick. To protect little children and adults from touching the working clock, it is enclosed in a glass case. 

The last part of the climb to the top of the church is via a steep narrow staircase and corridor which leads past the massive bells, before you exit the small door to the platform at the top of St Mary the Virgins church.  

You can admire the bells before you reach the platform. 

Once you have reached the top, you’ll enjoy the incredible 360 degree views out over Rye and the surrounding landscape.  

Timing is key, if you want to be at the top of the church when the times chime out and those big bells do their job. 

Now you have the hard task of going back down those narrow steep staircase and corridor, but it was well worth it for those views.  

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Things to do in the Rye area 

If you have planned to spend longer than a day trip here, then we would recommend these other things to do.  

If you have the time, it might be possible to squeeze these into your busy Rye itinerary. 

Camber Sands 

Cost: Free but you will need to pay for parking 

Camber Sands is the only golden sandy beach on the East Sussex coast, making this a popular resort to visit.  

But what with all the popularity, comes a busy beach location. If you are thinking of spending longer than a day in Rye, then head to Camber Sands either early morning, or late in the evening.  

Of course, by visiting later in the afternoon/evening, it will be much cooler, but when we visited, there was only a few people left on the beach. 

Camber Sands as the sun is going down
Camber Sands as the sun is going down

By arriving late, parking is free and with plenty of space. Only negative, is that all the restaurants and cafes are closing for the day, or closed.  

Take a lovely evening stroll along the golden sandy beaches and watch the different colours dance across the sky as the sun goes down.  

How to get around Rye 

Here are the best ways to get to and from Rye. 

Air 

The closest airport to Rye would be, London Gatwick. However, you will need to catch a train into London, before taking a further train to Hastings or Ashford International and then onto Rye.  

If you are arriving via another airport such as London Heathrow, Luton, Stansted or any other airport in the UK, then you will need to take a train into London, before catching a further train to Hastings or Ashford International and then onto Rye. 

Car 

The best method to get to Rye would be to drive and then park your vehicle in the car park.  

The roads are easy to navigate and parking is aplenty. 

Bus 

There is a bus service from Rye to Camber. To save on the limited parking in Camber, you could park in Rye and catch the bus to Camber Sands.  

Just keep an eye on the bus time tables to make sure you don’t miss the last bus back to Rye. 

Train 

If you are visiting Rye on a day trip on the train, then you’ll need to take a train to Hastings or Ashford International, before changing to a train to Rye.  

How to day trip to Rye on a budget 

Are you wanting to visit Rye on a budget? We have you covered. 

Do you ever wonder how people travel so often? Or how people travel the world full time? That’s simple! Travellers like us, plan, research, save and budget for our holidays. Do you want to travel as much as possible or full time? All you have to do, is follow our simple tips on how to travel on a budget.  

You’ll need to research where you want to go, when you want to travel, what you are prepared to spend on accommodation and how much you intend to spend per person per day for meals to establish your budget. Try some of these tips and techniques to be able to save more on your budget and travel more.  

  • Try travelling off season, as prices are often at their cheapest. By Booking off season, you could save more money compared to travelling during the summer months or school holidays.  
  • Book your flights in advance to pick up the best deals and book mid-week dates. Weekend travel tends to be more expensive.   
  • When shopping around for deals, search via incognito browser or clearing your browser history regularly. In our experience, we have shopped around for deals, before checking a week later and the price alters due to the tracking cookies. If you search in incognito browser, you should have a more accurate deal.   
  • By registering with airlines for airmiles, you collect airmiles for every booking you make with them. As you collect the miles, you can apply the points to future trips, upgrades, or free flights.  
  • This links with the above, with certain credit card providers, they’ll offer points on airmiles for purchases you make on the card. The more you spend, the more points you could receive which in turn gives more savings on travel deals, upgrades, or free flights.  
  • Many attractions offer discounts for online ticket purchases, plan your holiday by visiting the attractions website and book tickets where appropriate.   
  • Check out what attractions are free, or what days are free entry, that way you could save more money, but also keeping within your budget.  
  • Are there any free classes in the area that you could be interested in? You could learn more about the culture, by taking up a class, but you would still have an adventure.  
  • Accommodation can sometimes be a real budget killer, staying in a hostel is cheaper and a great way to meet new people.   
  • If a hostel is not ideal for you, research what types of accommodations available. You could pick up a bargain by staying in a small B&B or hotel.  
  • Public transport can be inexpensive, especially if you can pick up a discounted public transport card. In our experience however, walking is the cheapest and best way to get around. It’s healthy for you, and environmentally friendly. But by walking, you can stumble upon a hidden gem that you may have passed by on public transport.   
  • Prior to your trip, research the places to eat, check out their menu and price before you travel. Once you have found the places you want to eat, within your budget range, then include this in your itinerary. It’s also a good idea to have a budget in mind for how much you want to spend per person, per day, per meal. Our budget is £10.00 per person, per meal, per day, totaling £30.00 per person per day. If we can find a place that serves what we like for less, then we are saving money even before we travel, bonus.  
  • We would also recommend buying groceries from the local supermarket. The food is often cheaper and buying food can last for a number of days, meaning your money has gone further just on food.  

Travelling really doesn’t have to be expensive, we have implemented these simple steps to allow us to still travel but have that adventure and so can you!  

Check out the below to help you budget for your day trip to Rye.  

United Kingdom Travel Costs

Where to eat in Rye 

Why spend money on eating out in Rye, when you could make your own food. If you purchase the food from the local grocery store and make it, not only will it be healthier (you know what you’re putting into it) but it’s a good way to cut your budget in half. 

Sandwiches, pastas and salads make for a great packed lunch or picnic, while packing fruit and healthy snacks for on the go on your day trip to Rye. Most of these foods are cheap to buy, easy to make and pack, ready for your adventures in Rye. 

If you’re travelling as a couple or family/group, you could set your budget for less than £10.00 (€11.66 – $13.83) a day rather than £10.00+ per person per meal. 

I’m on holiday, why would I want to make my own food, when I could eat out in restaurants or cafes and eat English food? You need to decide what is more important. Spending all your savings on one adventure, or saving money, keeping to a tight budget, but still having an adventure and then having another travel adventure later in the year. 

If you wanted to eat English food but still stay on a budget, why not set yourself to have one meal in a restaurant or café and have your home cooked packed food for the other meal. That way you are still saving a little but also indulging a little by eating out.  

The best way to keep within your budget, is researching the places to eat before you go. Go online and check where you could eat and check their menus before you travel. This will give you a good idea on the prices for a main meal and drinks. If your price is above your budget, move onto the next place until you find somewhere that’s within your budget.  

To help you plan your trip, why not download the FREE travel planner, that way you can plan and budget for your holiday. Simply complete the planner as you plan and research your trip to Rye. 

Don’t forget you need to maintain your hydration. This will increase your food and drinks budget. To keep things to a minimum, drink more water. Water is free and easy to come by. We have a water pouch plus reusable water bottles that we fill to keep us hydrated.    

Not everyone likes plain water, so add a little bit of fruit juice, again it is cheap and the best way to stay within your budget.   

You can easily set a budget of £10.00 per person per meal just as we did.   

Do you need ideas on where to eat in Rye? Then check out these places: 

Fletchers House 

We stopped at Fletchers House, which is a tearoom and restaurant for lunch. 

This old medieval building retains its period features with the large fire place and dark beams that run along the room. 

We order our lunch of Chickpea & Lentil Patties with beetroot relish, roast sweet potato wedges and fresh salad and Crab sandwich with salad and crisps. 

The food was nice, in our opinion the patties were a little bland with little flavour, but that beetroot relish was amazing, which really lifted the whole dish. Sweet Potato wedges are always delicious. The crab sandwich however was full of flavour and was fantastic. The best dish had to be the crab sandwich and would happily eat it again. 

Simon the Pieman 

The Brits and our tea, or in this case afternoon tea. No adventure can ever miss off stopping for afternoon tea.  

If you didn’t fancy having a cup of tea and a piece of cake before walking past the café, you will be after looking at all the cakes on display in the window.  

There is limited seating so get there early to not be disappointed.  

With any afternoon tea it has to come with a scone, jam and cream, plus we ordered carrot cake.  

The scone was served as it should be, lovely and warm. The carrot cake was quite a large slice, which we were very happy with and a sweet butter cream on top.  

The butter cream on top was a little sweet, but other than that the taste was great. 

What to pack for a day trip to Rye?  

Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.   

You’re only going on a day trip so you won’t need to pack a suitcase, but you may wish to pack some spare clothes and the essential items. 

If you’re crossing any borders, you’ll need to pack the all-important passport and tickets.  

Why not head over to our post on what to pack for a trip to the UK. In this, we provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.    

We love Rye, but there are some more beautiful seaside towns you could visit in East Sussex. And what better way to explore these towns, than a road trip!

Conclusion 

We have admired some amazing views and learnt so much more about medieval history from our day trip to Rye on a budget. We don’t want you to miss out on travelling just because you feel it isn’t affordable. Because it really is. To help you travel more, we have provided you with all our tips and advice on how you can visit Rye on a budget. 

We hope you enjoy visiting Rye, but don’t be scared of the ghost stories, we didn’t see any ghosts on our visit. We are just more intrigued by the stories of the smuggling adventures.   

Have you visited Rye? What was your favourite thing to do in Rye on your day trip? Did you set a budget and keep to it? Maybe you haven’t been to Rye yet? Let us know, by leaving a comment below. 

If you liked this post, please share it. 

Day trip to Rye on a Budget
Day trip to Rye on a Budget
Rye on a budget
Rye on a budget
Day trip to Rye
Day trip to Rye

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