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Making the Most of a Brighton One Day Trip from London

Discover things to do on a Brighton one day trip from London. Explore Brighton on a London day trip. Make the most of a 1 day Brighton itinerary.

We recently spent a long weekend in the London area. We flew in and out of Gatwick Airport and decided to take the train to Brighton for the day. 

Brighton is a seaside town just 30 minutes by train from Gatwick Airport and an ideal day trip destination on the day of arrival or departure.

Let's explore how to make the most of a Brighton one day trip from London with this travelogue covering my personal experience visiting Brighton by the sea for a day.

Brighton Pier and Ferris Wheel

Exploring North Laine

We stepped out of the Victorian station into an overcast morning. I admired the ornate wrought iron lampposts lining the main street. We turned left and walked up a flight of stairs leading into North Laine. 

North Laine Steps in Brighton England

We were greeted by colorful street art. We looked down impossibly narrow alleys, which were designated for cyclists. A local shop sold finished works of art and other supplies. 

I liked the one-eyed crocheted creatures staring at us through the window. We stumbled upon an even more striking array of street art. 

One-eyed crocheted creatures in Brighton UK

Colorful shops and restaurants lined the narrow lane. I had never seen an architectural salvage shop before. 

Tempting as it may have been, we decided not to have our tarot cards read when we walked past a fortune teller.

Tidy Street

The name Tidy Street was a perfect fit for the area. We walked down a narrow street lined with antique and bric-a-brac shops. 

Roly's fudge was another tempting treat, but we decided to save our appetite for later. We soon found ourselves in the middle of a street art mecca. 

Brighton England street art

The subjects of the art ranged from the Smurfs to an urban apocalypse to charitable institutions to urban military pawns. Hip hop and funk tributes completed the scene. We couldn't wait to see what else Brighton had to offer.

Brighton Beach

Of course, we went to Brighton's famous beach. In one direction, we could see the pier full of traditional amusements. In the other direction, the path wound past a colorful carousel and a variety of shops and restaurants. 

Carousel on Brighton Beach

In the distance, we saw the remains of an old pier, which was all that remained of the West Pier that burned down in 2003. 

Remains of West Pier in Brighton UK

We strolled along the path past artist and souvenir shops. We admired the carousel up close. An old wooden boat added character to the walkway. 

We discovered a lonely smokehouse standing on the shore. We went into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for fish and chips. The portions were huge.

Fish and Chips on a Brighton One Day Trip from London

Brighton's Royal Pavilion

Sated, we made our way up the staircase to the Royal Pavilion, one of Brighton's most famous attractions.

Brighton is renowned for King George IV's extravagance. He transformed the Royal Pavilion into an Asian-inspired pleasure palace.

We strolled around the exterior and admired the facade and gardens.

Exterior of Royal Pavilion Brighton

Some brave sunbathers sat outside in the garden despite the chilly temperatures.

Photography was not permitted inside, but the tour of the Royal Pavilion was captivating. My favorite features included a long hall lined with Chinese bobble-heads and the dining hall with an enormous gilded dragon chandelier. 

The dining room frequently hosted 20+ course dinners of epic proportions, which must have contributed significantly to King George's obesity and ill-health in later life. 

The Royal Pavilion was a sight to behold and is a must-see for any trip to Brighton.

The Lanes

We strolled from the Royal Pavilion towards The Lanes, a series of charming, narrow shopping streets. I appreciated the contrast of old and new architecture along the way.

We checked the time at the gilded clock tower at a nearby intersection.

More street art appeared along the gritty sidewalks.

We meandered deeper into The Lanes and we soon found Angel Food Bakery.

Whoopie pies at Angel Food Bakery in Brighton, UK

We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the peanut butter whoopie pies on the counter. We also tried a coffee cupcake with a Crunchie bar on top, which was delicious. 

While we were eating, we noticed a print on the wall by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which reminded us of our 2 day trip to Glasgow.

We knew we had arrived at The Lanes when we saw The Lanes Traders Arch. We strolled through the winding shopping streets, ducked through a small passage, and emerged into a bright courtyard full of cafes. It was a popular spot on a Saturday afternoon.

🔎 Sidewalk Safari Spotlight

Looking for other London day trip and weekend ideas? Why not explore England's maritime history with a day in Greenwich or a day in Portsmouth? Take the train to Canterbury and Dover and take a detour to Faversham and Rochester on the way. You could steep in academic history with a trip from London to Oxford or visit Bath UK.

Brighton Palace Pier

We stood at the entrance to Brighton Pier and admired the Victorian architecture. We looked back at the beach, which was dotted with people. 

The pier was full of carnival games. We were tempted to play the skill cranes, which offered large, plush Android toys, but they cost 2 euros each, so we decided against it. 

We changed a pound into 2p coins at a beautiful stained glass kiosk. We tried our luck at a much more affordable game of skill, where you roll a 2p coin down a chute and the sweeping action of the bar below pushes coins out of the slot. 

Entrance to Brighton Pier

We spent about 2 pounds and ended up with a plastic orange keychain! A bit overpriced, of course, but it was a fun 10 minutes. 

We named it Twopee Brighton after our destination and how we got it. Outside, a tarot reader was calling out to people. The Horror Hotel and other thrill rides were making people scream with delight. 

We circled back and exited the pier, walking along the sea-foam green path. The oldest electric railway station in the world, which was still operating, sat alone by the beach. We looked back and admired the view of the pier.

Umbrellas on the beach in Brighton England

Dinner at an English Pub

Feeling peckish, we headed back to Brighton's North Laine to find a bite to eat.

Many of the top restaurants in the area were booked out, so we stopped at the North Laine Brewhouse.

The interior decor was reminiscent of Old England, with wrought iron light fixtures.

A huge wooden bird sculpture hung dramatically from the ceiling.

We tried a sample of the house ales, which were clearly made on the premises.

We ordered a meat pie smothered in gravy and a surprisingly delicious chicken salad with feta and a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Overall, it was a satisfying meal.

The Pump House

The Pump House was our final stop in Brighton. It was a cozy retreat from the world outside, with its warm dark wood interior. 

The Pump House in Brighton England

We ordered a couple of British ales, which were always a tasty treat but could have been colder. However, I find that drinking warm beer is part of the experience in Britain, so we just went with it. Cheers!

Return to London

As we walked back to the train station to return to London, we saw a height chart outside Paint Pots, a pottery painting shop. 

The chart had a variety of celebrities from all walks of life, ranging from Yoda, fairies, and Oompa Loompas at the short end to Shaq and Kareem Abdul Jabbar at the tall end. We smiled at the creative display as our exciting day trip adventures in Brighton came to an end.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Making the Most of a Brighton One Day Trip from London
Making the Most of a Brighton One Day Trip from London
Discover things to do on a Brighton one day trip from London. Explore Brighton on a London day trip. Make the most of a 1 day Brighton itinerary.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog