Get your vitamin sea and explore a fun beach town within an hour of London! A day trip from London to Brighton is easy from central London and worth planning a visit. You’ll get to spend a little time by the seashore AND be treated to endless shopping and dining options. There’s a reason it’s a favorite destination for hen parties and stag dos!
Brighton has long been known as Britain’s favorite seaside town, but it wasn’t until the Prince Regent aka Prinny aka King George IV discovered it in 1783 that Brighton became known as the place for royal fun and fashion. The Fashion (wealthy) had already been flocking there for the sea cure promoted by Dr Richard Russel and Brighton soon became renown as a swanky hot spot for discerning clientele. From bathing machines to race courses, it was all the rage.
One of Brighton’s most distinct monuments to this excess is the Brighton Pavilion. King George had architect John Nash transform a humble building into a new royal palace complete with minarets, domes and gilding in 1786. Well worth a visit if you’re a fan of Regency architecture and exotic royal extravagance. The Pavilion is at the epicenter of Brighton.
If you’re taking the train from London, you’ll be coming into Brighton Station (BTN), at the top of Queens Road. Following Queens Rd. all the way down leads directly to the beach. You’ll be able to see and smell the sea! But to get a feel for Brighton first, either walk or take a taxi to the intersection of North St. or Church St. and turn left. Both streets straddle the grounds of the Pavilion if you want to head there first. There’s also a North Road just to make things confusing.
For your day trip from London to Brighton:
Want to get a bite first or have a wander among the shops? Head down Queens Road. Here’s a few options:
- By turning left on North Road you’ll be in the North Laines area, with oodles of small funky independent shops and restaurants.
- Or keep walking and turn left on Church St., then keep going and you’ll run into the Pavilion or if you turn right down Bond St. you’ll find more shops and restaurants.
- If you’ve headed all the way down Queens Road to North Street, (Boots is on the corner) turn left on North St. then right on Ship St. You’ll walk down into the Lanes, another funky chic shopping district with restaurants, pubs and bars. As you keep walking through the Lanes to East St. you’ll see High street retailers such as All Saints and Jigsaw.
All streets lead down to the beach and Brighton has it’s own surfy scruffy boho beach culture. It’s easy to walk along the Kings Road and soak up the sun and seaside vibe, but you can also take the steps down to a lower walkway that’s freckled with little beach huts, restaurants and bars. A perfect spot to get that quintessential dish, fish and chips.
It’s not called shingle for nothing. Brighton’s beach isn’t sandy, instead it’s made up of small to large pebbles, which makes it challenging to walk on but still a perfect spot to sit and soak up the sea air, watch boats on the Channel and relax after a shop-a-thon. If you’re up for a carnival atmosphere, stroll out on the Brighton or Palace Pier built in 1899.
Brighton is a fun, buzzy spot to visit, I can highly recommend it for a day trip from London. The Regency architecture, young vibe and shopping all combine into one unique destination.
The easiest way to get to Brighton from London is by train. From London Victoria to Brighton is about an hour direct. I highly recommend using Trainline to book your tickets. Super easy. There’s also an app. (The train to Brighton is a Southern train and also stops at Gatwick Airport.) You can book and pay for your tickets online or through the app, then pick them up at the station. It’s a popular destination so book up to 12 weeks in advance to get the best pricing for your day trip to Brighton.
Getting around Brighton:
It’s very easy to walk from the station into the hub of Brighton. It’s literally about 10-15 minutes to the shopping areas I’ve described. However if you’ve shopped till you drop and you don’t feel like walking back up the hill to the station, Brighton-Hove radio cabs are plentiful. They’re managed under the City Council and are relatively inexpensive. The app is useful to pre-book, but you’ll see the blue/green/white taxis everywhere if you want to hail a taxi on foot.
I learned it’s not good to hail another taxi if you’ve already booked one, so keep that in mind if you’re a taxi virgin as I was. Enjoy your trip to Brighton!