Let’s be clear: the sunniest part of England won’t be as sunny as the sunniest places in Spain, Portugal or France. England doesn’t record many daylight hours with bright skies and it doesn’t enjoy particularly warm weather. But while it ranks well behind countries with most sunshine hours in Europe, you can still find parts of England that are noticeably sunnier than the rest of the country.
How much sunshine are we talking about? I’ll give the answer shortly, describing five counties of England that enjoy the highest number of hours of sunshine. I’ll also list specific cities that have the most sunshine according to the Met Office data. For a general overview of all major UK cities, check out my article on the sunniest cities in the UK. You may also want to read my article on the number of sunny days in London.
Top 5 Sunniest Counties in England
I looked at the top 25 sunniest cities in England and ranked the counties where they’re located by the number of sunshine hours per year that the sunniest place gets. Here are the top five sunniest parts of England.
1. West Sussex
West Sussex is the sunniest county in England. The sunniest city not only in England but also in the United Kingdom is located in West Sussex. It’s Chichester and it records 1,919 hours of sunshine per year. Chichester is also the third warmest city in the United Kingdom.
The seaside town of Bognor Regis located 7 miles of Chichester is an alternative for those who’d like both the sunniest climate in England as well as live on the coast.
How do these places compare to, say, Central London? Very favorably. The difference is a staggering 360 hours of sunshine more in the West Sussex area. The sunshine hours aren’t distributed equally throughout the year, though. We’re talking primarily about much sunnier warmer months. In the sunniest month (July), you can expect over 50 hours of sunshine more than in London.
Birmingham gets 418 fewer hours of sunshine than Chichester. Meanwhile Manchester, the third gloomiest place in the UK according to my ranking, gets 654 fewer hours of sunshine. If you’re craving more sun, moving from any of these cities to West Sussex could dramatically improve your sense of well-being.
2. East Sussex
The second sunniest county of England is East Sussex. Brighton and Hove is the sunniest city in this part of England. According to the Met Office, it records 1,892 hours of sunshine a year. That’s 27 fewer hours of sunshine than Chichester.
Brighton and Hove is the sunniest major coastal city in the United Kingdom. Whether you prefer a sandy beach or a shingle beach, both are definitely more enjoyable with the greater amount of sunshine the area gets.
Two of the top 25 sunniest English cities are located in Essex: Southend-on-Sea and Chelmsford. Southend-on-Sea enjoys 1,884 hours of sunshine (just 8 fewer hours than Brighton and Hove) and is the third sunniest place in the UK.
Chelmsford is noticeably less sunny, recording 1,644 hours of sunshine and ranking #12 in the United Kingdom.
Among the top 25 sunniest cities in England, three are in Hampshire: Portsmouth (ranked #4 in the entire United Kingdom), Southampton (ranked #8), and Winchester (ranked #21). The cities get respectively 1,772, 1,706, and 1,579 hours of sunshine per year.
This makes Hampshire the county with the highest number of cities with noticeably more sunshine than the English average.
Portsmouth and Southampton are also the warmest cities in the United Kingdom. While the differences aren’t that huge compared to London (the daily mean temperature is 0.76 °C higher), they still offer some of the warmest and sunniest weather conditions in the country.
Cornwall is not only blessed with a milder climate and beautiful landscapes. It’s also home to the city of Truro, the fifth sunniest place in England. It enjoys 1,758 hours of sunshine. Combined with its warmer climate (as the sixth warmest city in the UK), it’s one of the best options for those who are seeking sunshine and mild temperatures.
The Isles of Scilly aren’t as sunny as Truro but they’re the warmest places in the UK. They have very mild winters and mild summers. Daylight hours are as sparse as in the rest of the country in the winter. But the place has a very favorable climate anyway if mild temperatures and relatively sunny weather are your priorities.
After these top five sunniest counties, other sunny English counties include: Kent, Devon, and Wiltshire.
Looking for More Sunshine? Move to the South Coast
The sunniest places in the UK are mostly located on the south coast of the country. The coastal area between Southampton and Brighton offers most options, with the sunniest climate. Alternatively, if distance to Central London is a factor, Southend-on-Sea is another option worth considering.
Your second best option is South West England. Cornwall, Devon, and Wiltshire have cities with the highest number of sunshine hours. Out of the big cities in South West England, Bristol is also an option to consider. It has 1,658 hours of sunshine, compared to 1,758 in Truro in Cornwall.
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