Published: Saturday 14th May 2016
Written by: Betheny Ellis
Brighton, small enough to walk across with a rucksack in your most constrictive party gear or family in tow, but diverse and busy enough to leave you wanting more.
This coastal town has been attracting an eclectic array of day-trippers since the Regency years, and no more so than now. The sea exerts a magnetic pull on visitors who steam straight down the hill to the beach, pouring out of London trains and off the A23. Brighton welcomes every visitor with a colourful, gaudy, eclectic, vintage and friendly flair.
It’s the shopping, the nightlife, the sea air, candy floss-scented Brighton Pier, the Regency architecture, the starling-haunted skeleton of West Pier and the now controversial British Airways i360 tower which all add to Brighton’s rich and exciting charm. And that’s before we mention the intriguing, interesting and captivating people who call this seaside town home.
With never a dull moment and with a more than a lively nightlife, Brighton’s scene is more than rocking… So without further ado, here are some of the highlights, offering the must see, must do and must experience things whilst you’re stopping in Brighton.
For the shoppers
Head into the warren of criss-cross streets tucked behind the Royal Pavilion to discover 400 independent restaurants, cafes, secondhand and vintage clothes shops as well as home decor and record retailers which form the North Laine area of town. Mixing kitsch and funky and offering everything from cream teas and prosecco to tattoos and holistic massage, the North Laine has it covered. And you only have to fall off the train to find yourself right in the heart of this district.
If your shopping tastes are something a little more upmarket or mainstream, then deep within what was once the heart of the old fishing town you will find Brighton’s historic quarter; an intricate labyrinth of antiques and jewellery sellers as well as interior designers and high-end fashion labels. This plethora of purveyors can be found amongst hidden squares and elegant arcades all a stone's throw from the beach. It’s a delightful area to spend the day fixing your retail therapy needs whilst soaking up Brighton’s elegant Regency architecture. Stir in characterful fisherman’s cottages with quirky pubs, paved streets and stone walls and you have a shopping area with oodles of charm and a flick of cosmopolitan flair.
A recognisable ‘High Street’ amongst Brighton’s eclectic vibe. North Street runs through the centre of town. Lining its edges you will find all the traditional and notable high street fashion brands, coffee shops and eateries.
For the Diners and Winers
Take a relaxed late morning breakfast along Kensington Gardens or, for a global dining experience, pick out any of the number of restaurants and cafes within the heart of the Lanes. If you are looking for something really special you will find a fine selection of restaurants and eating houses in Hove, so close to Brighton they are almost one of the same. Or mosey along Brighton’s beachfront for a veritable selection of burger, pizza and fish and chip offerings that will tease the taste buds.
For the Night Owls
Kemp Town, which rather affectionately is otherwise known as Camp Town, offers Brighton’s best gay clubs. Though Rainbow politics and a thriving LGBT culture are not confined to this area's boundaries, the pink pound permeates the city and this is especially true of its nightlife, you will not be short of finding alternative night spots to dance the night away. But if you are looking for something with less of a club vibe, you will not be disappointed. There is plenty to see and do outside of Kemp Town, with a huge selection of alternative music venues showcasing live gigs, budding performers and DJ’s all across the city. Not to mention characterful bars and pubs giving Brighton’s night owls plenty to keep them occupied well into the early hours.
For the Family Frolickers
Brighton’s beach might be pebbly but it does not mean you can’t dip your toes into the sea or spend fabulous days enjoying deck chairs, ice cream and candy floss. Stretching out in front of the city, under the shade of the Brighton Wheel, it’s an archetypal seaside scene, complete with promenade and Regency architecture as its backdrop. Braver (and older) children will love the array of watersports on offer, including jet skiing and kayaking, as well as beach volleyball and a beach sports centre offering a selection of other beach side and water sports activities. Brighton’s Victorian Pier is a feast of amusements and fairground fun, with plenty of newspaper wrapped fish and chip nourishments, food stalls and sweet carts to fill the tummy and rot the teeth. For rainy days we recommend the huge and hugely impressive Sea Life Centre, to see all manner of underwater marine life from above and below.
The list is exhaustive, with a wealth of entertainment for all and everyone, the only limitation is your imagination. It's the city where vinyls and afghans rub alongside designer labels and luxury brands, and where buckets and spade holiday makers mix happily with party weekenders. A break away in Brighton will deliver more to your senses than you could dream of and will certainly leave you wanting to return for your next fix.