Set on the very Southern edge of England and about 50 miles directly below London, Brighton is a gorgeous coastal city that attracts many visitors, and for good reason. It is a beautiful seaside resort that grew in popularity following improved transport routes to and from London which has helped secure its place as a favourite travel destination for local and foreign visitors alike. Living in the southwest, it’s a spot I love to visit because it’s so accessible for me and such a refreshing place to spend a weekend.
Seeing as we have a weekend to plan for, we’ll begin the list of recommendations with a coffee as it’s often the first thing I’ll look for when I explore somewhere. Luckily in Brighton, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to independent establishments to get your caffeine fix but if you try any spot around The Lanes for a drink, you basically can’t miss. Coincidentally (or not!) this is also a great place to go shopping, so once you’ve paused to fuel up you can then further explore The Lanes which offers a wonderful selection from fantastic, independent retailers that offer a whole host of goods.
If you’re not in Brighton to shop, The Lanes is set right next to Brighton Beach and the very famous Brighton Pier which was opened in 1899. In fact, one of the great things about Brighton is its walkability; exploration and discovery is always just a few minutes walk away. Brighton Pier is an obvious tourist spot but for good reason, it is one of the most famous examples of the classic British arcade pier. With attractions scattered throughout, including a roller coaster, it’s a popular choice for families to pass a few entertaining hours.
After seeing the pier, try taking a bike ride along the beach front with the recently installed bikeshare program. You can use it throughout the city in fact to get to the slightly further afield hotspots. The seaside of Brighton is a lovely sight as it’s kept its historic charm which is why, if you can catch a sunny day, cycling the length of the seafront provides not only stunning sea views but also you can see quite unique features such as the brightly-coloured beach huts or Brighton bandstand which is a really fantastic structure. To get a full panorama over both the city and the English Channel, head up the top of the i360; a viewing deck that offers glorious vistas from 135 metres above ground. A whole day could be spent along and on the seaside!
The Royal Pavilion
Venturing just a little bit inland and you are greeted with one of the most extravagant buildings in Brighton: the Royal Pavilion. Once a royal residence during the 19th century for King George IV who had it styled after Indian architectural fashions which is why it has the domed roofs and columns throughout. This lavish palace has been preserved in much of its original stylings as it now operates as a museum for the public to get a taste of what a holiday home could look like! Along with the ornate interior, the attention to detail continues outdoors as the garden holds a great variety of bright and beautiful flowers to discover.
Museums and Art Galleries
Brighton is a creative hub which you will probably notice immediately from the street art adorning many facades and buildings throughout the city. One of the best places to see art and culture in one place is the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. You’ll notice that the museum building is styled much like the Royal Pavilion as it was in fact originally part of the royal estate and so shares the same design inspiration as the Pavilion. The inside houses a massive collection of fine art, statues, fashion and textiles, archaeological discoveries and much more; a real treasure trove of historical significance.
If your artistic appetite isn’t quenched by the Brighton Museum, be sure to check out other local galleries such as Phoenix Art Gallery, Fabrica and Enter Gallery. These are just the ones I visited but there are plenty more gems to uncover!
The above suggestions are just a taster though, of course, as there is so much more to explore within Brighton and the surrounding area; Hove for example is just adjacent and somewhere I’d someday like to check out. Also, if you prefer more rural weekend escapes, the famous Seven Sisters Cliffs is about an hour’s drive east of Brighton which offers stunning views from both the bottom and top of the cliffs. There’s really a whole wealth of opportunity for sight-seeing and exploration in and around Brighton which I would highly recommend!
Jess Cleave works for Oak Tree Parks, who have over 50 years of experience in running quality residential retirement parks and owner-occupied holiday parks in the South West of England.