Exploring Brighton — Britain’s Beach Town
While I was living in Madrid, a friend of mine happened to be studying abroad in the British city of Brighton. I had heard of it before, but not much, and had never been, so I went ahead and booked a trip to this fun beach city on the UK’s southeastern coast. Brighton was such a breath of fresh air. Being by the ocean and being close to nature are things I really value, and in Brighton you really do get both of those. It feels like a very cool, progressive, young city, as it’s mainly full of students and young families. It’s an easier, slower pace of life than London, and despite the freezing temperatures in October, everyone was down to party.
I’ve been to different towns on the coast around the UK, but Brighton had a much livelier feel. Most British beach towns feel quite sleepy, Brighton felt fun and exciting. It’s a bit of the best of both worlds, since you’re only an hour outside London, but if you take a bus out of the city you can find beautiful national parks and quiet, sleepy villages. I stayed with my friend in the neighboring town of Hove, which is also a fantastic place to stay in or check out if you’re visiting Brighton. I didn’t actually go to the beach since it was freezing out, but that is one of the main things to do here.
Brighton is pretty easy to get to and pretty easy to get around. If you’re flying here, fly into London’s Gatwick airport. This is key because it’s pretty close to Brighton, and any of the other London airports will take you at least 2 hours to get to. Once you land at Gatwick, take the train directly from the airport to the city center, it’s super quick and easy. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour and is a comfortable ride. Once you’re in the city, the public buses are a great way to get around. You can literally just tap your credit or debit card when you get on the bus and it’ll charge you the fare, so you don’t have to buy a ticket or take out cash. Walking is a great way to get around the city center, but the buses are also really easy and convenient. The buses also take you to Hove, the neighboring city, as well as some smaller towns nearby.
Brighton’s a smaller city without a ton of famous monuments or museums, but the real sightseeing can be found outside of the city. Brighton’s surrounded by plenty of natural beauty on Britain’s southeastern coast. There are, however, plenty of fun things to do in the city as well.
- The Lanes: This is the main thing to do in downtown Brighton. Cute, small lanes wind through the city center with cute little shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes mixed in. This picturesque neighborhood feels very old, and you definitely realize you’re in Britain while you’re here. This is a great place to spend an afternoon shopping after a mid-day coffee, or an evening checking out pubs.
- Churchill Square: This big shopping center is close to The Lanes and has all of the major stores, even many American ones, which was great for me after coming from Spain. It’s in a great location, and a good place to come for any “American” stuff you might miss.
- Seven Sisters: Don’t leave Brighton without coming here! An hour long bus ride outside of the city and down the coast is this amazing site. This national or regional park (not sure which) is a beautiful hike through an open field, along a pond, toward the Seven Sisters Cliffs, which are completely breathtaking. These chalk white cliffs drop off steeply into the English Channel, where you can look out over the water. The hike is maybe an hour and it’s pretty flat, so it’s very doable, and the views are stunning. If you walk about 2 miles further you’ll get to the tiny village of Birling Gap, but I didn’t manage to get that far. Next time! You can take the Brighton & Hove public transit buses both ways, which makes the trip quite affordable. Price: ~ £12 round trip for the bus.
Since Brighton attracts a younger, liberal crowd, vegetarian options were plenty (which I was so excited about). Brighton’s got such a great restaurant scene and I probably didn’t even scratch the surface, but all the food I ate here was awesome. I’ve left below some recommendations, they were recommended by my friend who was studying there!
- Fatto a Mano: This brick oven pizza place was great, they make personal pizzas with thin crust, but super soft dough. This was one of my best meals in Brighton, and I highly recommend it.
- The Breakfast Club: This cozy brunch spot in The Lanes has cool toasts and more traditional American brunch food. They also have a great selection of brunch cocktails. Come here hungry for a full brunch experience!
- The Flour Pot: This cute little bakery and cafe is located in the neighboring town of Hove, and a must if you’re staying there. The coffee was great, and the pastries, sandwiches, and other baked goods were all fresh and healthy. I think they’re pretty vegan friendly, too!
- Wahaca: This trendy Mexican spot is a great place to grab tacos and margaritas. It’s somewhat tapas-style, so get a bunch of stuff, it’s all super good! I think this place might be a chain throughout Britain as well.
Since Brighton is a university town, the nightlife is pretty fun and lively. There are plenty of places to go, and honestly I’d recommend just walking around and going in wherever looks fun to you! Still, as always, I have some recommendations.
- Temple Bar: Not sure if they’re modeled after the original location in Dublin or not, but this cool pub has some great craft beer on tap, as well as two stories and a cool atmosphere. It’s more of a trendy than a dive-y pub, if that’s your thing.
- Molly Muldoon’s: This place is definitely a traditional Irish pub, and it reminded me a lot of pubs I’ve been to in rural Ireland. They had a live band and everyone was dancing, it was really fun and lively!
If you can’t tell already, I absolutely loved Brighton. Brighton’s the kind of city I could see myself living in for a long time, as it has all of the big city amenities and progressivism while still having more of a calm, slower pace of life. If you’re going to be in London for a bit, go check out Brighton for the weekend! And definitely add it on to your UK trip.
For more pictures of this beautiful place, check out my Brighton album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/186442686@N07/albums/72157712655853018
Originally published at https://www.bloggingintransit.com on August 19, 2020.