After our whirlwind 3-day trip so London, we ventured to the coastal town of Brighton, about 1.5 hours directly south of London.
Although Brighton’s proximity to London makes it a very easy day trip from the downtown, its often referred to as London on the Sea, because of its similarities with London – including its cosmopolitan atmosphere and crowds. Even still, Brighton is much smaller and more compact than London. Plus, its location on the English Channel provides great coastal views and can leave you feeling refreshed (and slightly sleepy) from all of the salty air.
How to Get to Brighton – Brighton is accessible by car and bus from London, but the fastest way (usually) is to take the train leaving mainly from London Victoria or London Blackfriars stations. We booked our tickets in advance via the Gatwick Express train which cost about $80 roundtrip for four people. Once we arrived in Brighton, it was about a 20 minute downhill walk from the train terminal to the main attractions and a little further to the beach. Just keep in mind the walk back to the station may take you a little longer as, in most cases, you’re walking uphill.
What to Do in Brighton – If I had to compare Brighton to something in the U.S., I’d say it’s a mix of Coney Island, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Santa Monica Pier, Huntington Beach, and a good, old fashioned, traveling summer carnival. It offers more than a days worth of activities to keep kids and adults busy and, like London, there is something for everyone, especially in the summer.
11 Things to Experience in Brighton, England
1. Ramble through the narrow streets of The Lanes to peruse unique clothing boutiques, vintage antique stores and stalls, quaint coffee shops and numerous souvenir stores. You can seriously get lost in these shops (and the streets) for hours – we certainly did!
2. Take in the incredible views as you walk the extra long and historic Brighton Palace Pier. Tip – when you’re at the beach level walking up to the pier, be sure to get a panoramic shot of the pier to remember it in its full glory.
3. Try your luck at the vintage and modern arcade games, also located on the pier. Make sure you get your selfie next to Zoltar, the fortune-teller!
4. Brave the carnival rides at the end of the Pier. There were way more rides crammed onto this pier than you would expect, which is kind of scary, as are some of the rides. But my kids were brave souls and selected the Air Race as their risky ride of choice – luckily they lasted the full ride with no technical issues, laughing all the way.
5. Sample traditional English carnival food like fish and chips, Cornish pasties and fairy floss (aka cotton candy in the U.S.).
6. Watch the waves and surfers as you stroll on the pebble beach. Or grab an ice cream treat and enjoy it in one of the colorful striped beach chairs.
7. Venture over 500 feet up the Brighton i360, the tallest moving observation tower, for a panoramic views of Brighton and the coast.
8. View interesting street art and other quirky/artsy pieces all around the city.
9. Ride the old-fashioned, beachside carousel – or wave at the kiddos as they spin around!
10. Spend time around the gardens and grounds of the Royal Pavilion and take in the beautiful Indo-Islamic architecture (that reminds me of the Taj Mahal). There is an entry fee if you want to view the inside, but the gardens and grounds are free.
11. Grab a pint at the many pubs/restaurants. If weather permits, be sure to get an outdoor seat so you can people watch (so many characters to see!). It was fun to watch various performers wander through the outdoor seating, including the Birdyman, a gentleman who peddles whistles.
And there you have it – 11 not-to-miss experiences in Brighton! So if you’re looking for a quick, easy and entertaining day trip from London, give this beachside beauty a try!
Ciao and Happy Travels!