Craving an ice cream cone on the boardwalk and some sand in between your toes? When first moving to London, this can seem like a distant dream – but after a quick search on the web and a few convos with some Brits – we found that Brighton would be the answer to our longing for proper summertime.
At only a 60 minute train journey from central London, getting to Brighton could not be easier! We woke up early on a Saturday and hopped on a direct train from Victoria. Seemed like as soon we blinked, we were there! The first thing on our agenda was to have breakfast, and Bill’s was the answer. They make awesome, seasonal dishes and offer some seriously delicious juices. After brekkie, we decided to take our time walking around to see what this town was all about.
We started out in an area of town called “The Lanes”, an winding maze of streets and alleyways that were once the heart of this fishing town. These small streets now house an eclectic mix of antique shops, artisanal jewellery designers, coffee roasters, and cafes – just to name a few! It definitely has a “shop local” type of feel, and has been this way for years, which I love that they have preserved. We wandered in and out of the little alleys taking a peek at what all of the different traders had to offer. Once you’ve reached the outskirts, you will end up on North Street, the main high street in Brighton. Admittedly, we did do a bit of shopping as we waited for the weather to warm up! Excuses, excuses…
Another popular attraction in Brighton is The Royal Pavilion, which was built for King George IV as seaside holiday escape. I found it hard to believe that this was a building that belonged to English Royals when I first saw it, because the architecture is so different from anything I’ve ever seen in England, let alone Europe. Turns out, it was redesigned in the 1800’s, and during this time of exoticism (the alternative to the classic Regency style), the designer used heavy influences from China and India. Totally explains why it looks like the Taj Mahal! 😉 To be honest, this wasn’t on our Brighton bucket list, but if royal residences interest you, definitely check it out! We walked by, and just taking pictures of this place and the incredible gardens & grounds that surround it was enough for me.
At this point we were finally ready to hit the beach! We headed in that direction and were greeted by a beautiful seascape. Honestly, the beach here is HUGE! And there is a really old-school looking pier (I’ve since learned that these were referred to ‘pleasure piers’ in their heyday) with rides, games, cotton candy stalls, and striped beach chairs! Sort of felt like we were transported back to the 30’s. We did a lot of people watching – taking selfies, going on rides, devouring pre-lunch bags of candy… it was really so fun. We both agreed it felt like it could have been Seaside Heights many, many years ago. What also reminded us of Seaside is the birdcage like structure off in the distance in the middle of the water – it creepily resembled the Jet Star remnants left in the ocean after Hurricane Sandy. Turns out this is the remains of West Pier, that once caught fire, and although there were plans to rebuild, it never happened. Heavy storms have further damaged the structure over the years, and it seems at this point what’s left is there just for a memory. But don’t worry, we won’t end on a low point! On shore opposite what remains of the West Pier is the very new British Airways i360 – an observation platform 530 feet in the air. This enclosed viewing pod provides 360 degree views of Brighton and surrounding areas. And if that doesn’t sound impressive – I recently read that the structure is on deck to receive a Guinness Book of World record accolade this year. Not only is it the world’s first vertical cable car, it is also the tallest moving observation tower in the world! Pretty cool, right?! Ironically we happened to be in Brighton two days after the grand opening so we didn’t dare try and attempt trying to go up on the first open Saturday – surely the queues would be extra long. This will definitely be on the top of our list if we ever get back there!
Like I mentioned, the beach at Brighton is huge – not only long, but very wide as well… meaning lots of room for lots of people! The beach has nice sand, getting a bit pebbly as you get closer to the water. They have beach chairs you can rent for the day, but we opted for just lying on our towels. We went for a quick dip in the water, it was pretty cold, but a nice relief from the heat! All along the beach is a promenade filled with bars, restaurants, food and ice cream stands, as well as beach shops. It’s definitely a great place for families as everything you need is right at your finger tips. We walked along the strip and decided sitting right on the beach with a cold drink and sounded like an ideal plan. We ended up at Lucky Beach Cafe and shared a lunch of fish & chips and yummy fish tacos! This place also had some amazing drink concoctions! Joe had his first ever cokespresso, which is exactly what it sounds like and is delicious! I opted for a spicy ginger limeade, made with fresh red chillis! I want another one right now!
The rest of the day was spent lounging on the beach and enjoying the UK summertime before taking one last stroll through the Lanes and back to the station. It was the perfect day escape from the craziness of London. As two beach kids, it’s a great feeling knowing we can easily hop on an hour train and be hanging by the water in no time. Safe to say that Brighton is our happy place 🙂