Brighton made its name in Victorian times but there’s nothing outdated about it today. Full of life, colour and history, Brighton makes a perfect cheap weekend break.
Brighton may border both the sea and the South Downs, but its specialty lies in slick city living, rather than as a base for outdoor pursuits.
For well-heeled streets and lattice-windowed boutiques, wander around the conventional ‘Lanes’ between antiques, jewelry and designer labels. A rush of lively new restaurants now make The Lanes a cheap place to stop for lunch – without losing any of their charm.
For a free lesson in chocolate sculpture, drop by Choccywoccydoodah on Duke Street.
For the boho version of twisting lanes, head to the North Laine area. Here funky cafés, craft shops, vegetarian shoemakers and mystic healers cluster together in between brightly painted signs and slogans.
The Brighton Pavilion
Technically called the Royal Pavilion, this onion-and-lace creation took its inspiration from 19th Century India and the lavish tastes of the Prince Regent. It’s free to visit the outside, with tickets on sale to see the exotic fixtures and fittings that remain in excellent condition.
Again, technically called something else (The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier), this somehow combines noisy fairground rides and arcades with a seaside Victorian touch. The Brighton Pier forms a striking landmark along the coast, and a salty, entertaining place to stroll along – traditionally with fish and chips in one hand (and possibly Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock in the other.)
Fluorescent pink cylinders of sugar, with letters you can still read all the way down. Who can resist? Batches of these peppermint flavoured sticks are sold all along the seafront.
Oh, alright, there’s a downside. While there are deckchairs and beach huts, the beach itself is all pebbles and rumours persist about just how far away the sewage pipe really runs…
In fact, you can tour the Victorian Sewage System and make up your own mind, so long as you book in advance.
From Brighton Station (trains run regularly to London), everything can be reached by foot, although at times the notorious sea breeze and steep hills can make for a bracing experience. Parking is difficult and expensive.
– unless you buy a ticket for the Brighton Pavilion (or Sewage Tour) everything above can be done for free. Just one of the reasons why I think Brighton is perfect for a cheap weekend break.