If you want to let your hair down and enjoy yourself there’s no better place to go than the seaside city of Brighton on the South coast of England. Brighton is situated between the South Downs and the Sea and has been a popular tourist destination for many years. It’s a great place for families and adults alike with a wealth of shops, bars, clubs, restaurants and seaside attractions.
The Seafront and Brighton Pier
Whenever I go to Brighton I have to visit Brighton Pier. The pier is great fun and caters for everyone. From the arcades to the fun fair, it is designed for your entertainment. The pier was built at the end of the 19th century. It opened for the first time in 1899 and it is still a thriving tourist attraction today. Admission is free and visitors can have a drink in one of the bars, enjoy some traditional fish and chips in the restaurant or have fun on the numerous rides at the end of the pier.
The seafront is famous for its club culture. Visitors come from far and wide to enjoy a night in one of the bars, clubs and alfresco cafes along the promenade. There are also many family attractions along the seafront including the Brighton Sea Life Center which is both fun and educational with over 150 different species. Visitors can enjoy 57 displays from giant turtles and sharks to piranhas and poison dart frogs.
Volk’s Electric Railway is another popular attraction. The railway was opened in 1883 and claims to be the worlds oldest electric railway. The track is just over a mile long and runs in the Spring and Summer season from Aquarium (Brighton Pier) to Black Rock (Brighton Marina).
The Brighton Marina
Along the coast to the East of Brighton Pier you will find Brighton Marina, the biggest marina complex in Europe. Walk along the quay, admiring the impressive boats and yachts. There are over 1,500 berths as well as a leisure and shopping complex with a multiplex cinema, casino, bowling, restaurants and bars.
Brighton is popular with shoppers due to the fact that there is such a large variety of shops. From independent stores to well known chains, there’s something to suit everyone.
My favourite place to shop is at the Brighton Lanes. The historic lanes are crammed full of independent boutiques, antique, and jewellery shops, and when you’re tired of shopping there’s a wide range of interesting restaurants and coffee bars. The narrow streets are at the heart of Brighton old town and it makes for a very enjoyable shopping experience.
Of course if you’re looking for well known high street chains than these can also be found in and around Churchill Square Shopping Centre and the nearby Western Road. Churchill Square shopping centre is open 7 days a week and is located just 10 minutes walk from the railway station and 5 minutes walk from the beach.
The History of Brighton
Brighton is not just about the shops, clubs and bars. Brighton also has an interesting and colorful history which has shaped the feel and the architecture of the city. In fact my own Great Grandparents first met and fell in love at a polo match at the distinguished Preston Park back in the early 20th century.
Brighton experienced its most prominent change, from small fishing town to seaside retreat, when Prince George (later King George IV) started to visit Brighton frequently from 1783. He moved into a house which was later extended and transformed into the unique and stunning Royal Pavilion which you can see today. It was between the dates 1815 to 1822 that most of the transformation took place by designer John Nash who was also responsible for remodeling Buckingham House into Buckingham Palace. The Royal Pavilion is open to the general public and boasts lavish interiors from the royal bedrooms to the banqueting room. Visitors can view the grand furniture and art pieces on display, with some of the original items having been loaned from HM the Queen.
The city became even more popular with tourists in the 19th century due to a number of events including the building of a railway line from London, the construction of West Pier (later destroyed by a fire) and in 1899 the construction of Palace Pier (now known as Brighton Pier). The renowned Grand Hotel was also built in the Victorian era in 1864 and has a rich history including the infamous bombing in 1984 when the IRA attempt to assassinate the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher during the conservative party conference.
During the World Wars Brighton was at threat due to its seaside location on the South coast. This resulted in the middle section of Brighton pier being removed to deter enemy landings.
However after the World Wars Brighton again became a popular tourist destination.
There are many hotels, guest rooms and B & B’s in the town to accommodate the huge number of visitor’s that come to Brighton every year.
South DownsSurrounding Countryside
If you are visiting Brighton it would be a shame not to go for a walk on the South Downs. The downs stretch through Sussex and into Hampshire with the South Downs Way trail being 160km in length. The South Downs was recently declared a National Park. The announcement was made on 31st March 2009 and the park is expected to formally be created in 2011.
Along the downs near to Brighton there are many sites to visit including Devils Dyke the largest chalk land dry combe in Britain which benefits from having spectacular views, and Ditchling Beacon which is one of the prominent hill fort sites and has great walking trails and views across the weald.
As well as the beautiful scenery there are also many activities to participate in from walking, mountain biking, horse riding, kiting and paragliding.South Downs
Nearby to the Downs there are many picturesque Sussex villages including Clayton where you can see the famous Jack and Jill Windmills and Ditchling a historic village which has been popular with artists since the 1920s due to stunning scenery.