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Uncover Brighton's best kept secrets

Close up of some food on Brighton beach

Escape the city and enjoy Brighton with vegan fish & chips

If you’re seeking a quick escape from London, hop on the Thameslink from London Bridge Station and head to Brighton. I visited this charming seaside town to find a perfect blend of natural beauty, delicious vegan and non-vegan food, unique shopping, and quirky art. Here’s how I spent a day trip to Brighton — the non-traditional way.

Morning: Scenic Undercliff Walk and Beachside Bites

Convenient and Affordable Travel

It was so easy to get to Brighton. I simply hopped on the Thameslink at London Bridge and in just over an hour the seaside was in view.

Discover the Undercliff Walk

View of Brighton seaside

My first stop was the Undercliff Walk and, more specifically, Rottingdean Beach! After a few cloudy days in London, finding this little-known beach was the highlight of my trip. Getting to the beach from the train station was a breeze. After arriving at Brighton Station, I immediately found the bus stop and hopped on.

I had been told to take the bus to the Brighton Marina and then walk the hour to the beach, but I was too excited - and hungry - to wait! Instead I took the bus directly to the beach and began the walk there.

Arriving at Rottingdean Beach was nothing short of magical. It’s been ages since I’ve been on holiday, and I couldn’t believe I was still in England. The water was incredibly clear and the beach was quiet with only a few families and dogs enjoying the sun.

View of the front of a cafe, and a close-up of a sausage roll

Before starting the walk, I stumbled upon this little beachside cafe called Molly’s Cafe. To my surprise, they had a huge selection, including homemade vegan sausage rolls! I ordered one to refuel for my walk, and was delighted by how warm the roll was and the touch of properly caramelised onions. After eating on the beach while enjoying the view, I was ready to start the walk.

The Undercliff Walk is a completely flat path with stunning views of the white cliffs and the clear blue sky—a scene that feels almost Mediterranean. The whole walk is 5km, but since I had a large bag with me, I was pleasantly surprised to see I could get off the path halfway through! But a warning, the steps to get back to main road are quite steep, so you’re better off using the road back near Molly’s Cafe if stairs aren’t for you.

Walking on the Undercliff Walk was such a treat. I'm so glad I made the trip a bit further from the busy Brighton Pier to discover this hidden gem. I’ll definitely be taking visitors in the future and can’t wait to go back!

 My only regret was that I had my laptop in tow. Otherwise I would’ve been running or cycling on the path! I could’ve spent the whole day on the path and at Rottingdean Beach but soon enough it was time for lunch and more exploring.

Midday: Vegan Fish and Chips and Seaside Strolls

Lunch at No Catch

View of the front of a cafe, and a close-up of fish and chips

After climbing those stairs about halfway down the Undercliff Walk, I headed back to central Brighton on the bus, although it is an option to walk all the way there. I had heard a lot about a restaurant offering vegan fish and chips made with tofu and seaweed and knew I had to give them a try.

There’s nothing like having fish and chips on the beach during a British summer, and you shouldn’t have to miss out on that experience as a veggie! I hopped off the bus at Brighton Pier and walked about 13 minutes from there, past more famous attractions like the Upside Down House and i360.

But this trip was all about the lesser-known side of Brighton, so I simply enjoyed my walk along the promenade while dreaming of some fried food.

I arrived at No Catch just a bit before they opened and was one of the first people waiting! The wait wasn’t long at all, but it is a popular spot considering how unique (and delicious) the food options are. The restaurant is just across the road from the promenade, so I was sure to get my meal in a takeaway box and enjoy it on the beach.

The meal was absolutely delicious. Both the ‘fish’ and the chips were freshly fried and had just the right amount of salt. The tofu had the same flaky texture as real fish and chips, and the chips themselves were proper, chunky chips; no skinny fries here!

The regular portion is so filling I couldn’t even finish my chips! But if you’re feeling extra hungry, you can opt for a large. An unexpected perk of the “tofish” was not being circled by seagulls! But trust me, they’re missing out because that was the best meal I’ve had in a while. It was all so fresh, fried, and perfect for a day in the sun.

Promenade Exploration

A table with decorative plates, and the sign of a shop

After devouring the last of my chips, I was ready to stroll along the promenade and take a look at the charming shops nestled in the arches. From handmade ceramics to woven hampers, there’s something for everyone.Close-up of an ice cream cone

I happened upon a pottery shop called 229 Studio, which claims the title of Brighton’s smallest pottery shop! I had never heard of it before walking by, but I’m so happy I came across it. This pottery shop was small but mighty, and had such lovely hand-thrown items with custom paintings on each. A bowl or vase from here would make such a unique housewarming gift, and I’ll definitely need to come back.

I took in paintings made by local artists and snapped pictures when I could. It’s good to note that some shops don’t allow photographs, which is understandable as their artistry needs to be protected! It also adds a bit of intrigue, you can only truly enjoy these hidden shops if you go and see them for yourself and speak with the shopkeepers. I highly recommend it!

Walking along the arches was one of many free activities I did in Brighton, but I did stop for a scoop of vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream. If you’re looking for a hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of the pier, this is it.

Just a short walk from the main attractions, I was surprised to see so many amazing shops and cafes without the long queues. Many shops along the arches sell ice cream and plenty offer non-dairy options, but a vegan version of mint chocolate chip was something I’d never seen before! It was a real treat under the summer sun and perked me up. If you’re in Brighton, it’s definitely worth venturing a tad bit away from the touristy spots to have a more relaxing experience.

Afternoon: Antiques and Artistic Adventures

Treasure Hunting at Snoopers Paradise

View of the front of a shop, and a close-up of a table of items for sale inside the shop

I’m a lover of all things vintage, so Brighton is already a paradise to me. But after leaving the promenade and venturing into town and away from the shore, I stumbled across the aptly named Snoopers Paradise.

Snoopers Paradise is a massive antique store filled with everything from 70s cameras to Victorian hairbrushes. It’s a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

While there, I had a look at secondhand clothing and jewelry, 19th century newspaper clippings, magazines from the 60s, and much, much more! I didn’t buy anything, but I get so much joy from eclectic shops like this one.

It’s so special to step into a place and feel like you’re in a time machine. There are many vintage stores in Brighton, but if you only ‘snoop’ through this one, you’ll be set!

Creative Break at Redfish Fine Art and Coffee Shop

Closeup of Red Fish shopfront

I was admittedly really tired after all the sun and window shopping and was ready for a coffee.

I could’ve picked up a coffee anywhere, but I heard about this unique local cafe and immediately knew I’d have to pay a visit. I walked on over to Redfish Fine Art and Coffee Shop, where the main draw for me is the crayons and papers on each table.

I ordered a drink and talked to the barista, who ended up being a Texan-Brit local to Brighton! As an American living in the UK, it was a great surprise to meet him.

I  then sat down to relax for a bit and just doodle. I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive at first, as it’s been a while since I’ve drawn just for fun. I looked around for some inspiration and just let myself have fun coloring, scribbling, and drawing silly little sketches.

I also noticed a small kiln in the coffee shop, which makes me think that pottery might be a special option at this cafe as well!

This spot would be great for kids, who can enjoy coloring while the adults unwind. It was very affordable and a restful creative break after exploring the town all morning.

Evening: Quirky Art and Cozy Wine Bars

Unique Art at Dog and Bone Gallery

Closeup of red telephone boxes as part of an art gallery

I was feeling quite artsy after my coloring sesh and decided to see if I could find a ‘secret’ art gallery I had heard about. There are many red phone boxes in Brighton, but two of them actually contain a mini art gallery.

I set off to walk to the hidden gem that is Dog and Bone Art Gallery, which was located nearby in a slightly more residential area of Brighton. The walk itself was short but the road leading up to it was very, very hilly. I was sweating, but it was worth it once I found the peaceful square where the tiny gallery is located. 

Housed inside the classic red phone boxes were funky, abstract paintings on mini square canvases. The art exhibited at Dog and Bone changes frequently, so you’ll likely be surprised every time you go!

This was a fun and free way to see some art, without having to visit a stuffy museum (or go indoors on such a beautiful day!).

Relax at Mange Tout Wine Bar

View of a cafe with people sitting at tables outsideBefore I knew it, it was time to head back to London. I admired the white Victorian houses on the walk from Dog and Bone towards the station, which looked extra beautiful under clear blue skies.

I had some time to kill before the train, and decided to grab a drink at Mange Tout, which I had noticed earlier while walking about.

I chose it for its terrace seating in the sun and proximity to the station, making it the perfect way to end my day trip. Mange Tout is a cozy wine bar with a great selection and light snacks, but the weather meant I fancied an ice-cold gin and tonic.

I had a look through my pictures from the day and was amazed by how much I saw and did in Brighton, marveling at the fact that many of the activities were free! In fact, the highlights of my trip (the Undercliff Walk and Snoopers Paradise) cost me nothing at all!

Journey Home: Relax and Reflect

I caught the train from Brighton Station back to London Bridge just in time. The peaceful ride was the perfect opportunity to rest my eyes after a day of sun, sea, and discovery.

With an off-peak fare and my Railcard, it cost me less than £15 to get to and from Brighton! This was exactly what I needed for a budget-friendly trip outside of London.

Final Thoughts

My time in Brighton was absolutely perfect and much needed after a few rainy weeks in London. It was my third time in Brighton, so I was excited to make the most of my familiarity and visit a few hidden gems that I wouldn’t see on the regular tourist route.

From scenic walks and vegan treats to quirky shops and art, Brighton has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, foodie, or art enthusiast, Brighton promises a memorable escape from the city.

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