Fresh from our mini break to Brighton, I wanted to compile a few of our favourite spots we visited during our stay. For our first time in the East Sussex seaside resort, we didn’t have any firm plans in place. We knew we wanted to explore the lanes, spend some time on the beach and walk along the pier, but everything else was up in the air. It was the perfect escape, which came at exactly the right time for both of us. Whether you’ve been before or are planning your first visit, I hope this gives you an idea of what you can do for a short break away to Brighton.

Location: Brighton, East Sussex

I surprised Dan with a trip to Brighton last Christmas as it was on our list of places to visit in the UK, but with no date in mind we decided to combine it with his 30th birthday this summer to make it extra special. I ended up opting for a mid-September break in the hope it would be quieter and cheaper to enjoy a lovely three day getaway together, and we couldn’t have picked a more perfect few days in the glorious sunshine! Luck was on our side with the weather as we basked in 20+ degree heat for our entire time away and our Airbnb apartment was beyond perfect for our stay.

Where to stay in Brighton

You could opt for a hotel or bed and breakfast, but my personal recommendation would be an Airbnb. A little bias perhaps as this is what I chose but there are a number of benefits to it. If location is your main priority, then there are plenty of options in the centre that are in walking distance to a lot of the popular sights and attractions.

I’ve got my best friend Hana to thank for recommending the apartment we stayed in, it couldn’t have been more perfect for us. 

Located a couple doors down from the Artist Residence in Regency Square, the Airbnb boasts two bedrooms with a view of the West Pier and 360 tower, a free standing bath and a gorgeous living area with a kitchen. It’s an idyllic spot for anyone visiting Brighton for the first, or second, or third time…

I’m obsessed with the Roy Lichtenstein inspired artwork on the walls, and The Beatles cushion reminded me of my dad which made me feel at home straight away. 

How to get to and around Brighton

When I spoke to friends about our trip, the majority suggested that we take public transport rather than driving ourselves. Parking is expensive and from what we saw first hand, driving around the town is like London traffic. I’d recommend booking travel well in advance to make it more affordable, especially if you want to spend a little bit more money on accommodation. After booking this beautiful apartment earlier in the summer, I wanted to book our transport roughly two months ahead of our visit to make it as cheap as possible. Overall it cost me £40 for two returns via National Express to London and train from London to Brighton – making it £20 each for the entire journey! Alternatively, you could travel to somewhere on the outskirts and catch the bus into Brighton, but you may then need to plan your visit in more detail to allow for travelling to and from the centre. 

As our Airbnb was so central to everything we wanted to see and do, we didn’t need to spend any money on getting around during our stay. Another benefit to choosing accommodation in town. 

With so much to see and do, there can be an added pressure to try and pack everything in. To avoid any stress, opting to stay in the centre was a must for us and we decided to take in the sights without clock watching, taking our time to explore the local area and pop into any cafes and shops as and when we wanted to. It goes without saying that we were particularly excited to relax on the beach and watch the world go by, with all the amenities we needed within a short walking distance. 

What to see and do in Brighton

After settling into our apartment and freshening up after half a day of travelling, we decided to head into town and explore. The main high street was as you would expect any busy high street to be. Lined with popular chains like Zara, Topshop and Primark, you have to walk a little further inwards to find Brighton’s real hidden gems. We ended up venturing towards the lanes, perusing all the quirky independent shops as we went by. Dan suggested stopping off at a pub on the corner for a quick drink before we continued exploring 

It was his best suggestion of the trip so far. 

The Dorset pub, situated on the corner of North Road, is the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. With a glass of wine in hand, we people watched for what seemed like hours. It was a cracking start to our mini break. So many interesting characters walked the streets, some interesting outfit choices too, but the best thing about Brighton? Anything goes. That’s one of its many charms, there seems to be little judgement of who you are, what you wear and what you do (within reason!) I found myself caring a lot less about what I looked like too, which I embraced throughout the trip. It was refreshing and I hope that I’ve taken a little bit of this Brighton back home with me. 

Drinks drunk, we ventured across the road to North Laine.

The Lanes can be found in the city’s historic quarter, where you will find an extraordinary mix of vintage stalls and designer shops along a winding maze of narrow streets. I’d heard so many wonderful things about these famous streets of Brighton, it was at the top of my list of places to explore. 

With both of us being Marvel fans, we couldn’t resist popping into Dave’s Comics, where we found loads of old comics dating back to the 1970’s for only 50p each. 

If it’s a bargain you’re looking for, whatever your treasures may be, you’ll find them in The Lanes. 

If shopping isn’t your bag, there are so many other sights to take in. We took a detour and stumbled upon the Royal Pavilion on our way back to the beach. 

The iconic building is home to many original pieces of artwork lent by The Queen, amongst other spectacular displays. The pavilion was closed to the public until the 21st September so we didn’t have a chance to go in on this occasion, but with its regency charm it’s easy to see why it’s a popular place to visit for both locals and tourists. 

From the seaside palace, it was only a few minutes walk to the famous Brighton Palace Pier. 

A stroll down Brighton Pier felt really nostalgic, despite never setting foot in Brighton before. There was a familiar feeling about the place, taking me back down memory lane to old family holidays where I would spend hours playing on the 2p machines and beating my dad at air hockey.  Perhaps it was the old signage that gave me memories of the 90s, or the same unusual characters lingering in the shadows of the arcade as they waited to cash in on numerous games. 

Either way, it was exactly as I hoped the pier would be.

Sunshine or showers, I can see why people travel from all over the country to step foot on Brighton beach. It’s long and spacious so at no point did it look overcrowded, although I can imagine in the height of summer this may be a different story. 

I hold fond summer memories of hobbling across pebble beaches in my jelly shoes whilst holding on to my mum or dad for dear life. This time I had trainers to comfortably guide me over the stones – and Dan’s hand to hold on to, just in case

We spent some time sat on the beach, throwing stones as far as we could throw them into the sea. It was at this point that I felt like I had finally switched off from home and work life. I revelled in the moment I was in, without any past or future thoughts scrambling around in my brain. 

Sea air really does work magic. 

As we were about to head back to the apartment to get ready for the evening, we witnessed the most beautiful sunset. 

As the Airbnb was only a couple minutes walk, we had some time to relax and unwind with wine and snacks before heading out again for the evening.

Dan had booked for us to take a trip up the British Airways i360, which we were lucky enough to experience during twilight. 

450ft up in the sky, you can walk around the pod and admire the views across Brighton & Hove and beyond. There is even a bar on board if you fancy a glass of fizz as you take in the sights. It was a real highlight of our visit so I’m thankful for Dan surprising me with tickets. 

This escape above the clouds is a must if you visit Brighton. 

Coming back down to earth and you are greeted with the upside down house. Great for a photo opp, it’s something we can look forward to doing on our next trip. 

Just a stones throw away from the West Pier is the Bandstand, which is also worth stopping by for another great view of the beach and beyond. 

I was expecting it to be a lot busier, but perhaps we were lucky with our timing!

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle, why not walk down towards the Marina which is to the left of the Brighton Palace Pier.

The beach was much quieter this end and if you carry on walking you’ll end up at a shopping hub next to the yacht harbour where you can eat and drink overlooking the sea. Bliss!

Where to eat and drink in Brighton

Returning home feeling a stone heavier but being worth every last bite. Brighton really is a foodie’s dream. 

Our first stop when we arrived off the train from London was a coffee shop called Mojo, which we visited a couple of times during our trip. Situated on the main street straight down from the station, you can opt to sit out or in to enjoy your coffee and cake. Another great spot to sit and people watch… are you sensing a theme here? 

After wandering around the lanes on day one of our mini break, we decided to take a coffee and cake break. Spotted on our way back through the North Laine, we stopped off at artisan coffee shop Trading Post Coffee Roasters

The cafe offers a great selection of cakes to serve up with their freshly roasted and brewed coffee, as well as offering a generous food menu with locally sourced ingredients. As someone whose favourite pastime is going out for coffee, I was in my element.

I teamed my oat milk latte with a perfectly baked salted caramel brownie which Dan joined in on too.

We loved the place so much that we stopped by again for brunch on our final morning. 

Naturally I chose the Avo on toast with feta and a poached egg, whilst Dan devoured a sausage and bacon sandwich on white bloomer. The portions were generous and the coffee was delicious, well worth the £20-£25 spent. 

I did have Cafe Marmalade on my list of cafes I wanted to visit for breakfast (Google it, it looks gorgeous inside!), but with limited time we stuck with somewhere that we knew could guarantee to tickle our taste buds for a reasonable price close to where we were staying. 

One place that was on my list that we did end up at for brunch on our first full day in Brighton was Gail’s Bakery.

I’d heard so many wonderful things about the cafe online that it was a no brainer. From the friendly service to the array of mouth-watering cakes and bakes to choose from, I only wish we could have returned one more time before we departed Brighton. 

Dan opted for the Free-Range Sausage, Fried Egg & Mayfield Swiss Cheese (no egg, extra cheese for my man) which came with tomato relish on a Cream Bun. Oh my goodness, one cheeky bite and I thought I had made a mistake with my order… 

Then one big mouthful of my Blueberry & Buttermilk Pancakes with blueberry compote, creme fraiche and maple syrup and I knew I had chosen what my stomach was craving. Although I could have easily devoured Dan’s dish too. 

They serve their Baker’s Breakfast until 3pm so you can get your fix most of the day. Why not check out their menu here and arrange a visit – they have a bakery in London too!

If it’s lunch with a view you’re after, why not visit the Palm Court Restaurant on the Pier. 

We stopped off for a bite, still full up from our brunch, in the afternoon of our second day in Brighton. Perusing the menu and checking out what was on everyone else’s plates, the fish and chips were tempting me. Alas, we just ended up ordering two portions of chips (with a glass of wine for me – when on holiday!)  

I was either too hungry or not sure how appetising it looked on camera, but I haven’t got any photos to share. Take my word for it though, the dining area was lovely (despite what you may imagine for a restaurant on a pier) and the food and service was brilliant. 

I had done a little bit of research before our visit for the best burger bars in town, which is where I discovered MEATliquor. 

Aside from the cool aesthetic, the food was incredible. 

Dan went for the Philly Cheesesteak and Green Chilli Cheese Fries (which he may have later regretted – they were HOT!) 

I went classic with a Cheeseburger and Fries. In my eyes, you can’t go wrong with that… and I’m not good with too much heat.

It was on the slightly pricier side of the budget, but worth the money in my opinion. If it’s a filthy burger you crave, MEATliquor will tickle your fancy for sure.

If it’s an Italian that you fancy, then Donatello is your place.

Our friends had recommended this place to us if we fancied a ‘decent, affordable meal’. They weren’t wrong, although I think they undersold it slightly. We had a beautiful date night with three courses, every single plate just as delicious as the last and top class service. 

Trying to choose a dish from all the options took a while (the menu is amazing), we opted to share the Burrata con Prosciutto e Rucola to keep our belly rumbles at bay. 

One Aperol Spritz for me and an Italian beer for my boy, we ordered our main courses. 

Again, I chose a classic – Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s a meal I rarely ever cook at home so it was a tasty change to what I would usually go for – pizza or spinach and ricotta cannelloni. The only thing I have to say about Bolognese is that there is always SO much of it, but Dan was happy to help me out with finishing it. It’s a hard job, but someone had to do it… and he gets to do it frequently with me!

He ordered the chicken pesto pasta dish, which was delicious. So much so that he devoured the entire plate before I even got through half of mine. 

We couldn’t resist sharing a dessert after and a coffee on the side for me. After overhearing the waitress talking about the gelato options, we were sold on the Coppa Carmen – Amaretti biscuits soaked in Amaretto liqueur withvanilla ice cream, espresso coffee and whipped cream. 

It was every bit the dream, as you’d expect it to be. I wish I had more room in my stomach to finish it, but alas, Dan had to man up and get the job done. He really does have it hard sometimes!

Situated on the corner of Brighton Place, I’d highly recommend lunch or dinner at Donatello if you’re seeking delicious Italian food in a great location. 

With several bars nearby, we ended up having a nightcap at The Mesmerist. They had a live band too so we sat with our drinks whilst listening to some music, chatting about the highlights of the day. 

I could go on and on about what else we loved about Brighton and what else you can see and do whilst you’re there, but I truly think you need to experience some things for yourself. I’m glad that we didn’t plan or research too much before our visit, we made our own judgement whilst we were there and chose where to go based on where we fancied going in the moment. 

Brighton, you wonderful place.

We can’t wait to visit you again soon – and hope you reading this are also inspired to take a mini break.

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