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

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.

Street in Brighton

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.

Marwood Coffee Shop, Brighton

North Laine

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.

North Laine, Brighton

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.

Lane in Brighton

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.

North Laine, Brighton

The Lanes

When I’m done exploring North Laine, I squeeze into The Lanes.

The Lanes, Brighton

This warren of alleys is a treasure trove of fudge shops, boutiques, and cool cafes awaiting discovery.

The Lanes, Brighton

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.

Marwood Coffee Shop, Brighton

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.

Choccywoccydoodah Brighton

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.

English's of Brighton

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.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton

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.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton

The Seaside

From the Royal Pavilion my day trip takes me to the seaside, the city’s main geographic event.

Brighton Seaside

Carnivalesque Brighton Pier furnishes as much sensory overload as ever, and the bright tents and shops are beacons of beachfront cheer.

Brighton Pier

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.

i360 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.

i360 Brighton

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.

i360 Brighton

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.

Brighton Beach

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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Day Trip to Brighton

20 Comments on Lady’s Day Trip to Brighton

  1. I went to brighton a few years ago for work and I remember it as a grey, really windy town. But somehow I found it very charming in spite of the terrible January weather. But lately I’ve been seeing a wonderful side of Brighton in lots of travel blogs and magazines so I hope we can organize a day trip during our next trip to London!

    • I’m glad you’re up for giving it another chance! I’ve been to Brighton in January before, too. It can be a bit grim in the winter. Hopefully you can return in warmer weather and enjoy your time there more.

  2. This post is so lovely and comprehensive! You really speak about all the coolest places in Brighton 😀 It’s a city I really love, and I want to try out more little restaurants and cafés when I go back. I’ll keep the Marwood Coffee Shop in mind, that cappuccino looks awesome! Also, I never fail to visit the Pier even if the weather isn’t great – I love Brighton beach, although the cobbles hurt the feet so much!

    Julia xx

  3. The last time I was in Brighton was November of 2013 and my goal was to get a photo from the south side of the Pavilion for that classic view. However, there was some sort of temporary tent/room built on the lawn completely blocking the view. I’d love to go back and get that photo I’ve been wanting for so long.

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