Do you ever feel like time is going by too quickly? I could have sworn I’d traveled to Brighton in the past year, but my last trip to the East Sussex seaside was three years ago. When I realized that, I was so astounded I decided it was time to take a day trip to Brighton.
Day Trip to Brighton
And now I’m here and glad to be back. Less than an hour by train from the UK capital, this funky city on the English Channel is one of the easiest day trips from London.
Brighton has long been associated with hedonism, from the days of George IV’s indulgent Royal Pavilion to the modern pleasure piers stretching their arms into the sea. And that’s to say nothing of its non-traditional contrast to London’s more straight-laced culture.
The first thing I’m excited to do is explore the vibrant colors and soak up the off-beat vibe. My starting point is North Laine, one of the best places to see Brighton at its brightest.
First I come across streets full of houses so colorful I wonder if I’m in Notting Hill. Then I stumble upon tiny lanes with overgrown gardens that remind me of London’s mews.
And soon I arrive at the pedestrianized shopping streets. Contents push out into the road as stores offer everything from retro dresses to vintage sunglasses. This place is ripe for retail indulgence.
When I’m done exploring North Laine, I squeeze into The Lanes.
This warren of alleys is a treasure trove of fudge shops, boutiques, and cool cafes awaiting discovery.
One of them is the rebellious Marwood Coffee Shop. I stop to fortify myself with a cappuccino, hoping the staff members don’t kick me out for being too mainstream (they don’t). I love the decor—mannequin legs double as table legs here—and the coffee is every bit as good it looks.
Caffeinated, I work my way through The Lanes, unearthing everything from vintage gems at jewelry shops to confections at Choccywoccydoodah that look like they walked straight out of a Dracula-themed burlesque show.
But it’s not all irreverent here. I stop for lunch at English’s of Brighton, a seafood restaurant steeped in tradition. Oysters from Lindisfarne go down a treat as I sit at the bar chatting to the friendly staff.
The Royal Pavilion
And then my day trip to Brighton continues with a visit to the city’s most famous attraction: the Royal Pavilion. This opulent 18th-century pleasure palace delights inside and out, never ceasing to awe me with its sumptuous interiors and meringue domes.
I spend most of my time in the gardens, taking in the purple hues and admiring the imperial overstretch of the flower beds. Even the greenery embraces the rebellious culture here.
From the Royal Pavilion my day trip takes me to the seaside, the city’s main geographic event.
Carnivalesque Brighton Pier furnishes as much sensory overload as ever, and the bright tents and shops are beacons of beachfront cheer.
On the site of the historic West Pier, which succumbed to a fire in 2003, a new attraction has risen. Marks Barfield Architects, who designed the London Eye, has brought Brighton the British Airways i360. Designed to offer the same kind of gradually unfolding views as its London counterpart but in a defiantly different format, the i360 is unique to Brighton.
The world’s tallest moving observation tower, it glides up to 450 feet (138 meters) for 360-degree views of the city and coastline. And it opens today.
I get a sneak peek on a press preview, riding the doughnut-shaped observation deck up and down the towering pole. Classic English weather means I don’t get the views I hope for, but I can still see the beach and seafront as I ride to the foggy top.
Photography is tricky due to glare, which is a major downside for me as a travel blogger. But on a brighter day with better views I’m sure I would enjoy seeing the East Sussex coast around Brighton and Hove. In fact, I’ve already received an email offering me a free second visit, as everyone that experiences this type of less-than-stellar visibility on the i360 is promised.
Back at the bottom, I leave the waterfront and get ready to depart the city. I’ve had a great time rediscovering Brighton, and it’s nice that my day trip has coincided with the opening of its newest attraction. I just hope it doesn’t take me three more years to come back again.
If you visit, you can read more about the city in the Time Out Brighton Shortlist. You can get it here.
What would you do on a day trip to Brighton?
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