When I lived in London, day trips and weekends away were a part of the routine. Be it catching a cheap flight deal and spending a few days in Prague, taking the train to Paris, or a bus up to Scotland, exploring new cities was a normal way to spend the weekends. And it wasn’t always about getting out of England. Cool, new places were often just a short bus/train ride away.
Brighton was one of those cities. Once a sleepy village, now the most visited British destination after London, this popular seaside town draws over 8 million visitors a year. It’s family-friendly, student-friendly, and gay-friendly. It’s a great destination for the young, the old, the conservative, and the open-minded.
Stepping off the train, I was immediately drawn to Brighton’s quirky character reverberating through its narrow streets. The brightly coloured shops, the old English feel, and the bohemian atmosphere gave this little town a particular appeal. But it was more than Brighton’s looks that made me fall for this little seaside gem.
Brighton really comes to life during the summer months, when the Brighton Beach becomes a dream for Londoners looking for a seaside escape close to home. Come on a sunny July weekend and you’ll find the 8km pebbled beach covered with visitors soaking up the rare English sun.
Or even better, follow my footsteps and come during the week to enjoy a little peace and quiet away from the crowds. Even though the weather wasn’t suitable for tanning, the brightly coloured lounge chairs scattered on the beach offered a great spot to relax, unwind, and enjoy a mandatory plateful of fish and chips.
The Brighton Pier was a destination in its own. It doesn’t matter if you are 45, 25, or 5, you are bound to love the pier. It is home to dozens of seaside stalls, two amusement arcades, and rides for all the family. The carousel was by far my favourite.
The area that was once a part of the original fishing village of Brighton, is now simply a maze of twisting alleyways filled with antique shops, designer boutiques, and funky restaurants and cafes. Food for Friends is one of the visitor’s favourite, along with Thewitchez Photo Design Cafe Bar, and Riddle and Finns.
Tea lovers – don’t miss an afternoon tea at the quirky Tea Cosy! This charming place is filled with royal memorabilia and quirky decorations plastered on the walls. They have a great selection of cakes, Yorkshire tea, and very reasonably priced afternoon tea. Nomnomnom!
The Party Scene
Brighton has always been a popular destination for party goers. The town is home to two universities, a large student population, a vibrant gay community, and a lot of new age hippies, working hard to make sure there is never a dull evening in this seaside town.
Brighton is a frequent choice for hens and stag do’s and a frequent host of festivals and events, ranging from the famous Brighton Festival, Brighton Fashion Week, Brighton Food and Drink Festival, and many more. I didn’t get a chance to experience Brighton’s nightlife, but there were no shortage of pubs to quench our thirst throughout the day.
I visited Brighton for just a day, but I wish I stayed for longer. Every time I turned a corner, I discovered something new worth exploring, be it the impressive Royal Pavilion, the inviting Pavilion Gardens, or one of Brighton’s many eccentric shops, museums, or art galleries.
This snug little town seemed infused with an air of excitement, youthfulness, and an old English charm. How could I not be lured by its appeal?
Essential Travel Info
How to get there: Trains to Brighton run from Victoria, London Bridge, and the below-ground level of St. Pancras stations in London, taking about an hour. You can also travel by bus. A trip from Central London will take about 2 hours.
How to get around: Brighton is small and easy to get around on foot. Cycling is also a popular way to get around.