Car-free adventures aroundBrightonEast Sussex

book trains

Between the South Downs and the sea, Brighton is great for a staycation in any season, especially if you avoid the jam-packed summer months. Stroll through the characterful narrow shopping lanes or stride through the hills. Autumn, winter and early spring are the times to see starling murmurations over Brighton's atmospherically skeletal West Pier. You can spend a happy weekend or several days just wandering around Brighton's sights - scroll to the bottom for a few places to stay. And, for those who have already seen it, done it and bought the patchwork t-shirt, there are also some ideas for trips to take you further afield, using Brighton's first rate public transport.

  • County: East Sussex
  • Great for: beaches | good cafés and pubs | green destinations | history | museums | parks and gardens | romance | Shopping |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
Brighton & Hove Bus - on one of our car-free adventures around Brighton
  1. 3. Visit Stanmer Park

    Brighton’s largest park is northeast of the city, near the universities. It’s a lovely place to wander, with slopes of grazing sheep and cattle and a collective of alternative, organic and low carbon businesses.

    • How to get to Stanmer Park car-free: cycle along Lewes Road, which has revolutionary new bike and bus lanes. Or hop on bus 25, which runs frequently and stops at the entrance.
    • From further afield, you might want to catch the train to Falmer from Brighton station. Regular trains take about six minutes to get there. Cross under the main road, turn left on the far side and you’ll soon see the park gates on your right (see map below).
    • Keep going through Stanmer Park until you see Proud Country House and the church ahead of you. Beyond them, Stanmer village has a tea room and Fruit Factory (weekend juice and chutney stall). The park is home to the walled One Garden, Brighton Permaculture Trust and Earthship, and Stanmer Organics, plus there are bluebells in the nearby woods each spring.
    • From the stop opposite the church, you can catch weekend Breeze bus 78 hourly back to the park gates for free or back into Brighton.
  1. 4. Breeze up to the Downs

    Brighton has some cool buses that help walkers make the most of the area. The weekend Breeze buses, running all year to Ditchling Beacon and Devils Dyke, are a scenic delight. Sit on the top deck for the half hour ride to enjoy huge views over the rolling downs, out to sea and across the Weald.

    • How to get to Ditchling Beacon car-free: From Old Steine (Stop U) or Brighton Station (Stop D), catch bus 79. Ditchling was the site of a beacon fire to warn of invasions and before that it was once an iron age hill fort. From the top, walkers have a choice of routes.
    • You could follow the well-signed South Downs Way for six miles, past the Jack and Jill Windmills near Clayton, to Devil’s Dyke, favourite haunt of kite-flyers and landscape artists. Then catch bus 77 back again to Brighton.
    • Or walk down roughly three miles of paths and bridleways into Stanmer village for tea and catch bus 78 back into town.
    • Whichever of these you opt for, you can buy a Breeze Return, which lets you choose to come back via a different route.
  1. 5. Along the coast to Eastbourne

    There are miles of undulating white cliffs and colourful modern art galleries along the coast in Eastbourne. To see a bit more of the sea and get even further afield, try a ride buses 12X (not Sunday when you need 12, 12A or 13X) from Imperial Arcade, North Street or Sealife Centre.

    • The bus runs frequently Monday to Saturday and takes just over an hour to get there. On the way, there are beachside and then clifftop views as far as Peacehaven, when the route turns inland. Later it runs past the end of Cuckmere Haven and along the edge of the Seven Sisters country park. The road is fringed in spring with blackthorn blossom and all year round with yellow gorse.
    • From Eastbourne railway station, where the bus ends, stroll towards the sea to find the free Towner gallery with its huge multicoloured, jubilant mural and a lot of interesting art.
    • How to get to the Towner Gallery car-free: to get there directly, follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • Cross the road to the seafront and stroll round the moated Wish Tower, one of the Martello forts built to defend the coast from Napoleon. It’s now the site of a brand new French restaurant, Bistrot Pierre.
    • You can head back to Brighton by bus or train or take the train straight to London or wherever you like – part of the joy of car-free travel!
  1. Buses, bikes and places to stay

    • Brighton and Hove buses have a NetworkSaver Ticket that is valid for unlimited travel all the way to Eastbourne and back.
    • If you are making the bus journeys on the day you arrive in Brighton, a PlusBus ticket is even cheaper, valid throughout Brighton and from Shoreham to Seaford along the coast.
    • Hire bikes from BTN Bike Share and use their online cycle map to plan your routes.
    • Regency hostel or modern hotel? There are hundreds of options for all budgets… Brighton YHA hostel has private rooms in a grand regency house and is a colourful fifteen-minute downhill stroll or bus ride from the railway station.
    • Alternatively, you could check out the Jury’s Inn Brighton Waterfront in the old Thistle hotel, which compensates for its monstrous architecture with unparalleled sea views and a pool. Reopened in 2017 after a £5 million refurb, it backs onto Brighton’s characterful Lanes, narrow shopping streets lined with cafés, and faces the bronze-pebbled beach.
    • There’s a mind-expanding view of the Towner gallery’s colourful mural from the Devonshire Park Hotel, two minutes from the sea in Eastbourne.
  • Countryside walk - on one of our car-free adventures around Brighton
  • Stanmer Park fruit juice & chutneys - Car-free adventures around Brighton
  • Brighton & Hove Bus - on one of our car-free adventures around Brighton
  • Towner Gallery - car-free adventures around Brighton
  • Pretty lights on a Brighton Alleyway - on car-free adventures around Brighton