48 hours in south east England
Despite its stunning coastline and quirky destinations, south east England can often be overlooked as a tourist destination. Brighton is always a great place to spend a day or two, and if you extend your stay in the area a bit longer, there’s plenty to see and do further along the coast too.
Upon arrival in Brighton, your first step should involve some retail therapy. Built as part of the original settlement in Brighton, the Lanes have developed into one of the UK’s most iconic shopping destinations. Both sides of these narrow streets are packed with picturesque shops and restaurants, including iconic design boutiques and quirky vintage stores. Shop till you drop on North Laine or indulge your sweet tooth at the world famous Choccywoccydoodah.
After some retail therapy, head down to the seaside for a variety of top entertainment. Brighton’s iconic Palace Pier is one of the most popular attractions in Britain, and with good reason. Combining modern amusement park rides with traditional seaside attractions, Brighton Palace Pier offers fun for all the family.
Be sure to take a stroll along Brighton’s seafront too. The city offers a unique blend of Victorian architecture and modern culture, making it unlike anywhere else in the world. For the best views, take a trip up the i360, a unique moving observational tower which offers unparalleled 360-degree views across Brighton and the English Channel. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Beachy Head and the Isle of Wight from the highest point!
Finish off your Brighton adventure with a trip to one of the most intriguing restaurants anywhere in Britain. Thewitchez Photo Design Café might not sound particularly appetising, but the graphic designers who work in the building can cook up a tasty meal too! Serving up classic European dishes (usually with a Polish or German twist) in a unique and exciting setting, these witchez sure are working magic in Brighton.
As you might expect from a seaside resort, there’s a multitude of hotel options in Brighton, ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to tower blocks from the biggest hotel chains. Artist Residence Brighton is the standout place to stay though; every room has been designed by professional artists and designers to be utterly unique without sacrificing any luxuries.
Venturing further along the coast
Of course, Brighton isn’t the only highlight in south east England. On your second day in the area, head east along the coast (either by car or via local transport) to discover a wealth of natural beauty, including England’s iconic white cliffs.
Just past the town of Seaford, you’ll find the Seven Sisters National Park, named after the seven (soon to be eight due to coastal erosion) chalk cliffs found in the area. Follow the paths down to the coastline, and you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the cliffs from above and below.
Further down from the Seven Sisters is the towering Beachy Head – the largest chalk cliff in Britain. There’s plenty of spectacular views from the top, although the height does mean it’s not for the faint-hearted!
After a lot of walking, it’s time to kick back and relax for a bit. The Beachy Head Pub can be found at the top of the cliff, offering exceptional views and a traditional English pub atmosphere. If the sun is shining, grab a pint and soak up the rays from the outdoors section, or rest up indoors if the weather has taken a turn for the worst.
Eastbourne is the closest town to Beachy Head, making it the ideal next destination. Happily, there’s also plenty to do. If you’d like to get a different angle on the coastline, head to Sovereign Harbour and jump on one of the regular boat tours. Thrill seekers can also sign up to go diving from Eastbourne, with opportunities to explore the numerous wrecks at the bottom of the English Channel.
It’s possible to get just about anything to eat in Eastbourne, but if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, the oddly named Half Man! Half Burger! is well worth a visit. Offering a wide variety of towering, delicious burgers (including multiple vegan options) in a cosy atmosphere with great contemporary music, it’s the ideal way to top off your day of adventure.