48 hours in south-east England
A mix of quirky city culture and serene coastal countryside, the south-east of England offers as much to party-lovers as it does to laid-back walkers - so if you want to spend your days walking amongst white cliffs and your nights spent in vibrant pubs and bars, it could be just the place.
Well-known hotspot Brighton is an exciting blend of cocktail bars open until the small hours, unique shops full of never-to-be-seen-again fashion pieces and welcoming LGBTQ+ culture! The other side of south-east England’s charm is the chilled-out countryside, which ranges from the dramatic views and invigorating fresh air of Beachy Head to the serene, meandering Seven Sisters in the South Downs. There’s so much to experience along the south coast, so come and see for yourself why so many have fallen in love with this special part of the world.
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 in the North Laine or enjoy a stylish lunch at The Ivy, Brighton’s most sophisticated and colourful bistro and bar.
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 thrilling 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 an inimitable setting, these witchez sure are working magic in Brighton
After dinner you will want to try a cocktail or two at one of Brighton’s many funky bars or traditional (but always with a twist) pubs. For a bar that encapsulates the city’s fun-loving personality, swing by Mrs Fitzherbert’s. This vivacious venue and outdoor terrace is officially open until ‘way past your bedtime’ on weekends, and is a shrine to all things rich and kitsch. With quirky décor and a unique cocktail menu to match, this is a great place to start for a classic Brighton night-out – you never know where the night might take you!
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. Discover more at VisitBrighton.
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 such an invigorating hike, 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 in the cooler months.
Eastbourne is the closest town to Beachy Head, making it the perfect destination to visit next. 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 two-day adventure.