Car-free adventures aroundBrightonEast Sussex
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.
1. Walk down to the sea
A city for all seasons, Brighton isn’t just for summer, when the beach is packed and the Lanes are heaving. A frosty winter hike over the South Downs, a spring stroll along the pebbles or through bluebell woods can be just as rewarding. Brighton’s blue and bronze seafront is just fifteen minutes on foot, downhill from the railway station. There are buses too, but it’s a lovely walk down colourful pedestrianised streets, past the museum and pavilion and through the Lanes, a historic maze of alleyways lined with shops and cafés. See the map below for a good walking route.
- Brighton railway station has regular direct Thameslink trains from London Blackfriars, St Pancras, Bedford and Cambridge plus Southern Trains from Victoria (about 65 minutes).
- Brighton Museum, right opposite the iconic pavilion, has some fabulous collections of decorative arts and gay culture.
- There’s a new archaeology gallery, opened in 2017, featuring a small Roman era bronze stag, found by a local detectorist, and an ancient amber cup from a grave in Hove.
- The Royal Pavilion has a winter ice rink and is worth a visit too if you have time.
2. Have some great food
Make sure you have time to explore the quirky cafes and lovely network of narrow shopping streets that are part of what makes a day out in Brighton such an adventure. The shops here are treasure troves of vintage and unusual items: clothes, records, wholefoods and jewellery. And when you’re ready for refreshments, there are lots of great options.
- The colourful Curry Leaf cafe in Ship Street serves up Indian street food at lunch times as well as thalis, dosas and delicately spiced curries in the evenings. They’ve got plenty of veggie and vegan options and have made impressive environmental commitments too – the packaging is all compostable. There’s a new branch in Kemptown and a kiosk at the station – very handy for a train journey, especially on a cold day when sarnies seem a bit bleak.
- The veggie/vegan Wai Kika Moo Kau in pedestrianised Kensington Gardens is five minutes’ walk from the railway station and serves sustaining all-day breakfasts in a cheerful setting.