Dave and I just wrapped up our first visit to Brighton and enjoyed the lively little seaside town. Being a short train ride or drive from London, I imagine the beach scene gets pretty frenetic in the hotter months of July and August. But our short visit in mid-June allowed us to navigate the town with relatively few crowds during cool temps. Three days in Brighton is plenty of time to see the local sights (and a few a bit farther afield), especially if you’re looking for something to do other than lay on the beach all day.
Day One: Kemptown & Brighton Pier:
We arrived by train from London, which was less than an hour from Gatwick airport and quite affordable at £11 per person (one way). Not being familiar with the areas in Brighton, we chose a rental apartment close to the famous pier that also had a view of the sea. The apartment was also close to Kemptown which has a thriving gay and artist community, and is chock full of cafes and quirky shops. As mentioned, Kemptown is also home of the Brighton Pier (or Palace Pier), which hosts carnival rides for the kids and a restaurant and bar for the adults. Even if you aren’t traveling with children, take the opportunity to walk to the end of the pier for some pictures and maybe a cocktail at Victoria’s Bar. Walking along the ocean front promenade is a great people watching experience, and there is also an electric train for those who want to give their feet a rest. If you’re daring enough, you can zipline over the beach. Other attractions the kids may enjoy are the SEALIFE exhibit and the British Airways i360 with its breathtaking panoramic views. Disco, yoga and dining are also available while enjoying the scenery.Day Two: Royal Pavilion and Pavilion Gardens:
Our favorite attraction in Brighton was the Royal Pavilion. We walked by it on our way to dinner our first night in Brighton and mistakenly thought it was an event venue. After some research we realized it was actually a former royal palace and spent approximately three hours exploring the rooms open to the public (for a fee). If you enjoy history and/or interior design, the Royal Pavilion is a real treat. This palace is unusual and dramatic in every way, with its Indo-Saracenic architecture and extravagant Chinoiserie décor. The palace was a labor of love of George, Prince of Wales, (later King George IV), who planned the décor so that visitors would experience progressively more flamboyant and glamorous rooms as they navigated through the palace. Extensive restoration allows current visitors a brief glimpse of the grandeur and opulence, particularly in the Banquet and Music rooms. The chandeliers in these rooms are over the top and unlike anything we’ve seen before. If Louis XIV had visited these rooms I think he would have been impressed!
The gardens are equally impressive and a great place to walk, picnic, or nap. We were there on a warm, sunny day, and it seemed everyone was taking advantage of the beautiful green space. Buskers were playing their tunes and it was a lively (yet peaceful) place to spend an hour or two.Chilli Pickle – highly recommended (make a reservation!). Day Three: The Lanes
Spend one of your three days getting lost in The Lanes where you will be spoilt for choice of restaurants, pubs and boutique shops. The Lanes are divided in to the “new” Lanes and the “old” Lanes. The old Lanes are a maze of medieval alleys and pedestrian streets that offer a lot of photo opps. There are so many pubs and restaurants here you will be able to enjoy every type of cuisine your heart desires.Basketmakers Arms!
Day Trips from Brighton:
London is just over an hour by train and just £7 per person each way. Trains run every 15 minutes so we took the opportunity to meet up with some of our travel crew, Sean and Joey, who just happened to be in the UK at the same time. We attempted to show them some of our favorite places in the city, but it was absolutely crammed with tourists and was tough to really move around easily. Regardless, we were able to have a few drinks and a lot of laughs at the Lamb & Flag, an old historic pub in the Covent Garden area. Afterward, we took the Underground to the Southwark neighborhood for dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant in the city before heading back to Brighton. Spending time in the city with our wonderful friends was the highlight of our trip!
Arundel Castle is approximately 40 minutes by car or 90 minutes by train. Train travelers will have to change trains in Barnham to Arundel and walk another mile to the castle. There is adequate parking next to the castle for those who drive. This exquisite castle is the current home of the Duke of Norfolk and while touring the castle it’s possible to see family photos and other personal touches. There is an entrance fee to the castle depending on which package you select (£22 per person provides access to all the open rooms and the gardens). If you’ve had enough of the ocean, I strongly recommend a daytrip to the castle. Give yourself at least three hours for the castle and gardens, and perhaps another hour to explore the village of Arundel. Be sure to stop for a pint or a snack at the Swan Hotel.