From Berlin to Brighton for the weekend

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Early morning easyJet flight

Last weekend I had the chance to escape Berlin and visit Brighton for the first time. The last time I was in England was already over 5 years ago, so I was long overdue for a visit. And even though I’d spent 5 months living in London, I never visited Brighton—not to mention any other part of the UK outside of zones 1 & 2 on the London underground…

I was invited to Brighton (often called “London-by-the-sea”) by their tourism board to explore the city’s extensive LGBT and gay history. Without ever visiting the city, I always thought of Brighton as a hedonistic, gay-friendly party town by the sea (much like Tel Aviv). After a short weekend in Brighton, I can confirm that Brighton is a fairly hedonistic, very gay-friendly beach town where much fun is to be had….and if you’re so-willing, lots of history and shopping as well.

Taking an early-morning easyJet flight from Berlin’s Schönefeld, I arrived at London Gatwick before 9am and was in Brighton a quick 30 minutes later. By 10am I was sitting in a cafe enjoying a proper English breakfast—beans, toast, sausage and a grilled tomato!

English breakfast in Brighton

My weekend in Brighton would end up fulfilling all my favorite English cliches—from tea time to funny words. Maybe because I’m such an anglophile or just because it’d been a while since I was in an English-speaking country, my weekend in Brighton was one of the best I’d had all winter. (Probably helped that the sun popped out a few times, too…)

Besides seeing all the touristic sites in Brighton, I also learned quite a bit about the city’s history and a few of its plans for the future. With all the events happening around the UK this summer (from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrating 60 years of royal reign to the Olympics & World Pride), Brighton is set up pretty well for tourism with a few of its own big events. The city’s LGBT Pride is expected to be one of the biggest yet (though it’s no longer a free street-party, but now a paid festival). There’s also an annual arts & culture festival at the end of May.

Brighton is probably best known for its party-town atmosphere (it’s on the beach, you know?) but I was surprised to see so many independent shops and interesting stores throughout the city (especially around North Laine). I guess I should’ve expected as much from a beach town, but the amount of stores was completely overwhelming. Walking around the town, I realized there’s more to Brighton than just a hyped up nightlife.

Brighton reminded me a lot of the beach towns I used to visit in New England (especially those along Cape Cod). Yet Brighton felt bigger and more like a city on the beach, not just a town. I suppose in a city with a royal palace (the Royal Pavilion), it’s hard to be a small town….

Brighton AIDS memorial

Some highlights from my Brighton weekend:

  • Window-browsing the indie shops around North Laine
  • Visiting Brighton’s Royal Pavilion—a Royal Palace now owned by the city with a very unusual and distinct style & design (more on this later)
  • Proper cocktails from some of the city’s best bars (Berlin could learn a thing or two about making cocktails)
  • All that British stuff: fish & chips on the Brighton Pier; tea time at a kitschy cafe; Sunday roast!

Stay tuned and subscribe for more posts from my weekend trip to Brighton! You can also find more information about the city on their official tourism site: http://www.visitbrighton.com/

Blogs published by Adam Groffman • Please note some posts do make me some money, but I never sacrifice my integrity in exchange for a favorable review. Read the full disclosure policy.

14 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. The meal looks awesome!

  2. Hey, Adam, don’t suppose you’re going to be in London for World Pride, are you? If so, come hear us (The London Gay Men’s Chorus) sing the night before at Southwark Cathedral, by London Bridge. It’s ‘free’ entry (i.e. £10 suggested donation) but we’re doing the full concert performance, so should be a blast! Repertoire ranges from Wagner to Morrissey to Gaga, so something for everyone! :-)

    • I’d love to go to World Pride this year, but with everything happening in London this summer, things are just going to be too pricey and too crowded for my taste!

      Love the range of songs, though – sounds like it’ll be awesome! Would you be interested in writing a guest post for http://mygaytravelguide.com about your choir and World Pride?

      • Wow, thanks. Sure, I’d be interested. Never done a guest post before though, so any pointers you’ve got would be welcome. Do you want a previous “How to get there, what to do,” kind of post or a personal recounting after the event? DM/email me!

  3. I love the looks of that English breakfast — delicious. I haven’t made it to Brighton on my trips to England. Now I’ve got a few reasons to do it, including all that “British stuff”!

    • Definitely try to visit Brighton on your next trip. Still can’t believe I lived in London for 4 months and never made it down there. It’s such a quick and easy trip—and a really nice city with a lot of character!

  4. I went to Brighton for work once a week when we lived in London and it always felt like going on vacation for a day :) Love the laid-back atmosphere, the pubs & bars and just strolling though the Lanes. Shocked to hear that they charge now for Pride- Brighton Pride was always one of my favorite Prides.

    • Awww I’m jealous that you lived in London… And the Lanes were probably my favorite part of Brighton—so much amazing shopping!

      Charging for the Brighton Pride was a bit of a controversy from what I understand. Last year was the first time they charged for it and apparently they still had record attendance. This year it’s being managed by a different organization (I met the guy, actually, on this press trip) and there will apparently be much more disclosure and more of the money will go back into the Brighton community. Could actually end up being a good thing, but I’m not certain if I would actually pay to go to a Pride festival.

  5. Great post! It was really good to meet you on the trip. I agree about Brighton resembling parts of of New England!

    • It was so nice to meet you too, Julie!

      Thanks for commenting :)

  6. I love Europe. I went from Austin to Houston this weekend, and that felt like a big deal. But Berlin to Brighton, now that’s a vacation!

    • Em! It’s still possible to take a weekend trip to Europe from America—especially if you live on the east coast…

  7. I’ve been to Brighton once in the winter. OMG the city was covered in ice and it was a bit of an emotional disaster but I would love to visit again when the weather is warmer. Glad to know easyjet offers flights to the city. I’m totally craving a proper english fry-up

    • Wow, with all the time you lived in London, I’m surprised you only made it once…and in the winter! I assume most people visit just for a quick trip but at least during the summer!

      Regardless, Brighton was pretty nice even on a less-than-summery day.

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