As one of Britains most unique and colourful cities, Brighton is the ideal place to take a day trip to from London, if you want some sun, sea, sand, and eclectic and bohemian shops. Easily accessible by car or train from the centre of London, you can be strolling up and down the pier within about an hour and a half of leaving the capital.
If you have a rented car then the quickest road from London to Brighton is the one that runs directly there, the A23 (later the M23 as you get further down it). Although it is prone to traffic jams and delays at peak periods and bank holidays, if you are driving it is the easiest route to follow. If you get onto the A23 anywhere south of the river, it will take you directly to Brighton, down to the seafront if you stay on it long enough.
There are regular trains from Victoria directly to Brighton station, and you can also easily get a train from either London Bridge or Waterloo, if you change at Clapham Junction or Waterloo. The train services are fast and frequent and can save you a lot of money in parking when in Brighton, as long as you do not mind the fifteen minute walk down to the seafront from the station.
Brighton has existed in some form since the time of the Domesday Book at least, but first became hugely popular with holiday-makers in the mid-nineteenth century, when the arrival of the railway made it easy to get to from London. Nowadays, it is a haven for media professionals, and is so convenient that it is often known as London-by-the-sea.
One of Brightons greatest attractions is the Brighton Pavilion, built as a pleasure palace by the sea by the Prince Regent (later George IV), it is a spectacular example of imperial architecture, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Regency period. The Palace Pier is the one still remaining pier, and it houses many traditional seaside attractions, including a funfair and fish and chips restaurant.
Brighton is also home to the worlds oldest still-operating electric railway, which runs along the seafront up to the Pier. The Lanes are a series of small alleys containing interesting boutique shops, and they lend shopping in Brighton a unique and bohemian feel. If you are looking for a unique present for someone, the Lanes are bound to offer something distinctive.
Prime attraction, of course, is the beach. The seafront bars and shops mean that, in good weather, the beach is usually bustling. It is worth remembering that it is a pebble beach, however, and that there is no sand, so flip flops can be uncomfortable. There are many temporary or seasonal attractions on the beach from street artists to Zorbing to beach volleyball. What you will find there changes each time you visit.
If you are looking for a seaside retreat from London, but one where you can get back to the city easily, Brighton is the ideal spot. Be aware, however, that the last train back to London leaves before 11:30 at night, so do not get too swept up in the nightlife and hustle and bustle of this unique, diverse city.