It is not often that I get to write about my home town. But today I am going all in with the perfect day of adventure in Brighton, UK. As a city it is rammed to overflowing with opportunities to get active, watch sport, experience culture, visit pubs and find a late night party or two…
Modern life is doing a good job of putting a concrete and digital divide between us and the life we love. So how do you live in a city and still find the adventures you crave? Easy. Pick an amazing city!
If you’ve yet to visit, where have you been? Just 40 minutes from London, Brighton’s something else. It’s an enigma. Everyone has a different opinion about this place. If someone asks me where I’m from, it always kicks off a colourful conversation.
The centre is a patchwork of streets called the North Laines which set the tone. Bohemian? Perhaps. Trendy? To some. Odd? To many. But for those of us who live here, it’s just the way it is… from here it’s just a short hop over into the South Lanes (a rabbit warren of curios, cafes and craft beer venues).
My perfect day would be walking through both, headed to the sea. Yes, that’s what makes this a city with adventure sports potential: It’s low-level, planned on the back of a packet of cigarettes urban sprawl, but all roads lead either to the sea or the South Downs.
Every corner has a pub and most of them are busy most of the time. Many have outdoor areas which people spill into during the summer. In the winter you can find cosy old man boozers with a fire going. The bars and clubs are open until early morning – you are never far from the night of your life in Brighton.
But Brighton isn’t just about the party. The city hosts Premier League Football with the Seagulls playing at the Amex, Sussex play the country cricket in Hove, there is Brighton racecourse on top of the hill and a dog race track in Hove. If you are into sports betting there is always a live event you can attend and place a flutter on.
Added to all of this there is an incredible music scene with both bands and DJs playing most weekends and seemingly a festival of some kind every other week. Whether you are into shows, comedy, big bands, circus acts or lady boy shows there is something to entertain.
Plus the Royal Pavilion, a smattering of museums and art galleries provide some unique cultural attractions. Oh and did we mention the pier, sea life centre, and i-360?
While Brighton’s known as a party town, where pretty much everyone and anything goes. The perfect day here starts with the sunrise and a kitesurf or bike ride.
So here’s my perfect day of adventure in Brighton. Plus an explanation of how the city inspires, challenges, and always delivers a daily dose of action.
A good day takes a bit of planning. First up, I will be checking the forecast to see if conditions will be any good for kitesurfing. They often are in Brighton particularly from autumn through to spring. But I still get plenty of time on the water in the summer too.
Before the commuters pack into buses or crank up their car heaters, I’m checking out the wind conditions. Today is windless so I am putting on my biking gear and riding into the sunrise.
Bandana-wrapped face keeping out most of the chill, my legs are trying to find a rhythm and draw energy from the banana I just stuffed down my neck. Eyes squinting, I’m looking for a hill to jumpstart my heart.
If I fancy a bit of off-road I will head to Wild Park or Stanmer where there are plenty of mountain biking trails. But today I follow the seafront east and take on the hilly cliffs towards Peacehaven.
By the time I get back, Brighton is awake! I catch the sweet drift of fresh ground coffee in the air, pick up the buzz from the commuters and feed off the energy that only a city like this creates.
Daysack packed with a book, roll matt and goggles, I’m carrying some outrageous lime and courgette cake and a cup of ass-kicking organic coffee. It’s all to help set up a long sea swim and an even longer chill afterwards. Leaving friends sat shooting the breeze – which there often is – the water’s getting darker, brooding underneath.
A gull buzzes low as a few of us swim out to the buoys and look back on the city. Off to the east, past the haunted skeleton of one pier, there’s another. A classic English seaside feature. Cheesy, rackety but packed with charm. And even after living here for more than a decade, it’s got its place.
A couple of jet-skis bounce past a way out and closer in some paddle boarders and kayakers Cultursay hello as they head along the coast. Off toward the marina there’s a small fleet of yachts racing. The perfect reminder there’s plenty of water sports action here – as well as a volleyball park sat on real sand!
Off west, out of site, is Hove lagoon. Here you’ll find a cable tow wake park offering Brighton & Hove wakeboarding lessons, paddle boarding, windsurfing and dinghy sailing. But my thoughts return to land-based adventures.
From the beach you can see a hill rising from the nearby town of Worthing. Trace its contours north and you’ll see another reason Brighton’s got so much to offer. It’s on the edge of the South Downs National Park which skirt the northern edge of the city. Running from Winchester to Eastbourne there is great mountain biking and hiking.
After our swim we get on a bus to Ditchling Beacon, one of the best paragliding spots in Sussex, and head out of the urban and back to nature. The views are stunning as we walk west towards Jack n Jill’s windmills. Stopping for a drink in a country pub we then take a bridge across the A23 and walk up to Devil’s Dyke through a stunning valley.
As we complete the six mile walk the sun’s setting over stunning green Sussex countryside. We hop on a bus back to the city, and after a quick wash-up it’s out into the town.
First it’s food. With so much on offer you’ll never be short of options. Again this city inspires. Lebanese tabbouleh or my favourite, lahmacun (Turkish pizza with aubergine) fills the tank.
Brighton has been partying since George IV turned up in 1783 in search of some right royal shameless debauchery. And if that’s what you’re after, it still doesn’t take much searching to find it… The bars on the seafront are banging and there will be people partying until the sun coms up again.
So, we’ve made the most of the city from dawn till dusk. And thanks to its colourful social scene, we are about to push it out till dawn again. Pubs blur to bars, and back streets lead to clubs – the walk home is as the sun is rising.
Whatever you want from this city, it will deliver. Yes I’ll ride to a lake high in the Pyrenees, of course I love opening my tent door to foreign fields. But a day of adventure in Brighton shows there’s than enough to be found in and around the city. That’s why I’m here to stay!
We hope you enjoyed this guide to the perfect day of adventure in Brighton. Be sure to check out our Brighton and Hove adventure travel guide for more ideas of what to do in this great city.