Why you will love Brighton!
When my train from London rolls into Brighton I always feel excited as I see the rows of terraces houses stretching down to the seafront. This city has a kind of crazy magic to it, wrapped up in decades of significance to so many generations of teens and social misfits. Even as far back as Jane Austen's time, Brighton was known as a risque place: after visiting for a little sea-bathing, Lydia in Pride & Prejudice decides to elope with an officer in a fit of sexual passion. You can also visit the famous Royal Pavillion, with its beautiful Indian-style design, which George IV built before he was king so he could secretly spend time with his mistress away from the royal court. Brighton found infamy in the 60s for clashes between the Mods and the Rockers, which is why much of the iconic film Quadrophenia was set here.
Since the 90s, it has arguably been the gay capital of the UK, which alongside having the only Green Party member of parliament, really indicates strongly what a lovely, open-minded community this city has. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan places to eat, and always loads of arts events to attend. Being only an hour by train from London, it's the place people flock to lie in the sunshine by day and party at night. It's not a big city but it has so much heart and history it is definitely worth a visit!
Watch out for:
- Pebble beaches: being one of the best seaside spots near London, it was the first beach that I went to after moving here from Australia. So I was so confused when I turned up and discovered the beach had no sand! It's all pebbles! Some people really like not getting covered in sand. For me, it's just a bit weird but that's what makes it a quintessentially English beach.
- Places to stay: Brighton is a very popular place to visit but not being a huge city, it means all its accommodation options (hotels, hostels, and Airbnb) tend to book out far in advance and can be quite expensive. Don't leave it till the last minute to try to find a place to stay, especially on weekends where there are big events on there, as you quickly discover camping is your only option!
- The Lanes: Brighton is famous for this cluster of narrow pedestrianised streets in the main section of town. Filled with little independent stores and cafes, it is a great area to wander around. Further up towards the station, there is also North Laine (but careful not to get them confused).
- Pride: once a year, Brighton shines its crown as the gay capital by hosting a massive city-wide Pride event. I was so surprised when I visited in 2015 how much it is a day for everyone in the city. It's a really lovely party weekend!
- Hove: Brighton and Hove are actually two towns that form one city and they run pretty seamlessly into one another. So it is definitely worth exploring beyond the centre of Brighton to find great cafes and restaurants in other areas.
- Traumfrau: this queer club night tends to move around venues, hence why it is not on my map. Best check their website for upcoming event locations.
- Vegetarian/Vegan heaven: Brighton is right up there with Berlin and Melbourne in terms of being incredibly vegetarian-friendly! From Iydea and Rootcandi to Planet India, pretty much everywhere you go there will be a feast of options. There's even an entirely veggie pub: The Prince George on Trafalgar St.