It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve been in England for my semester abroad, and I’ve gotten to visit around 7 cities so far. Three of which have been over the past weekend; London, then Manchester, and finally, Brighton.
They all seemed so different while I was planning the day trips that I didn’t know which one I’d like the best. By the end, though, Brighton definitely won out. Here’s why Brighton has been my favorite English city yet:
I knew when I got off the train that I was going to love Brighton. It definitely had a beach town feel. The vibe was very happy and relaxed, and with the sea being visible at only three blocks from the station, the whole city center is easy to navigate.
Getting to Brighton
Since Brighton is more of a tourist destination, we had no trouble catching a train from Oxford. They ran about every hour, and the price was reasonable for a round trip with open return £50. Ordering tickets online also gave me peace of mind and made the whole process smoother, plus we successfully avoided the price surprise fiasco of the day before.
The train ride is around 3 hours, and though it didn’t give us any problems, we had to make some transfers and use the Tube in London, so that was a bit confusing.
Royal Pavilion and Gardens
On our way to the beach, we spotted a bunch of little watchtowers rising up above the apartment buildings, and took a detour to investigate.
After passing through the gate we entered a large courtyard and got a full view of what we learned was the Royal Pavilion. Thankfully, there was a little welcome station that told us what it was, because it had rounded dome towers that made it look like a cross between a Russian Palace and a Mosque.
Apparently, the Royal Pavilion was built by the English king Greg to be what he described as a “pleasure home”. Weird name, right?
Like I described before, the Royal Pavilion is a super unique looking building, and you really have to walk around the entire place to see all of it. You can go inside too, but it’s £20 and that was too expensive for us.
I don’t feel like we missed out though. We had a grand ole time walking through the small gardens, and found ourselves in another courtyard where a guest orchestra was performing an outdoor concert!
A lot of people had set up picnics to listen to the orchestra and enjoy the gardens, it was so pleasant, and the birds added another interesting element. Pigeons and seagulls were flying in circles above everyone like a giant bird-tornado.
The most recognizable feature along the coast is for sure the Brighton Palace Pier. So naturally, we explored here next.
There are a lot of food stalls and shops along the boardwalk, followed by a giant arcade and a theme park. It was pretty loud and crowded, but thankfully there are walkways around all the paid attractions so we were able to walk around the pier and enjoy the view of the English Channel.
If you look closely, you can really see the antiquity of the pier with its stained glass panels and wrought iron railing. There are also free lounge chairs that you can borrow and put wherever you’d like.
We found the Palace Pier to be a polarizing attraction. I loved the antique feel of the place with all of the silly signs and carnival fun, but one of my friends thought it was tacky and hated it.
I guess you’ll just have to visit and decide for yourself!
After leaving the pier, we walked about two feet down the shore to hang out at the beach. It was the reason we were there after all!
This beach is a rocky one, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a sunny, sandy destination! The water is also really cold, which is to be expected in England, but there were people swimming laps, so it’s not impossible! The water is also very still, so this is a perfect beach for watersports like kayaking and fishing.
My friends and I waded in the green water for a little bit, but we spent most of our time looking at the smooth, pretty rocks and shells.
Another thing to note, I was also pleasantly surprised at how clean Brighton beach is for being so touristy!
Because Brighton is the textbook definition of a beach town, the carnival atmosphere doesn’t stop after you leave the pier!
Just west of the Palace Pier, we wandered down the walkway and looked around in a bunch of kitchy-cute art shops. Along the way, we passed a fishing museum that I’m sure would’ve been cool if we’d had more time. There are no shortage of bars and restaurants, and there’s even a carousel right on the beach.
I legit felt like I was walking through a movie set.
Jubilee Clock Tower
The sun started to set, so we grabbed a quick dinner on the way back to the train station.
We must have picked the right street to walk down, because all of the sudden there was a giant clock tower on one of the street corners. It had 4 regal looking faces on it, so I knew it was something historical.
Turns out, it’s the Jubilee Clock tower, and a pretty sight to see if you’re walking down Queen’s Road!
I already spoiled it in the introduction, but Brighton has been my favorite English city to visit so far, I even prefer it to London!
I think that I like it so much because of it’s bright and fun atmosphere that you soak in right after stepping off the train. It’s small and easy to navigate around; we didn’t have to use any transport while in the city, so that also took a bit of stress off too.
Another good thing about Brighton is that you can easily explore it in a day. I’m glad to say that I felt satisfied by the end of the day without feeling as though we’d missed anything. It really makes for a perfect day trip from anywhere you might be staying in South England.
Annnd that’s all for this weekend of crazy train adventures! If you want to see where else I went, the articles for London and Manchester should be up soon, (hopefully hehe).