Brighton is fun in summer, but sometimes the crowds can be overwhelming. As a local, it’s essential to find your own little piece of seaside paradise away from the crowds, which requires effort and exploration. So if you live in Brighton and need new ideas or are visiting the city and like to have an escape hatch up your sleeve, I’ve written this post for you. Here are my favourite secret summer spots for escaping the crowds in Brighton I’ve discovered so far, which I’ll update as I go:
Secret summer spots in Brighton
1 Kemp Town Beach. I’d rather be punched in the face than compete with the crowds on Brighton beach near the Palace Pier™. There I said it. Although I’m not a regular sea swimmer, if I do fancy a dip – or just want to hang out at the beach – I’ll make my way to this lovely spot at the east end of Madeira Drive. Don’t be put off by all the traffic, though. Most of the people who park up here tend to head west to join the crowds walking along the seafront between the two piers, so you’ll only share this bit of beach with a handful of people. It’s also great because it’s close to a cool beachfront cafe-bar for coffees, cakes, snacks and beers (see next entry).
2 White Cloud Coffee and Bison Beer Beach Bar at Sea Lanes. Together, these two places on Kemp Town beach make a cool beachfront cafe-bar with views across to the Palace Pier. White Cloud opens from 8am for coffee, pastries, homemade flapjacks as well as boozy hot chocolates and espresso martinis in the evening and Bison Beer from 12 noon until 11pm during the week and midnight at the weekend. You turn up, listen to the music, have a coffee, maybe an aperol spritz, share a pizza and leave happy. You can reserve tables but they save lots of space for walk-ins. What’s not to love?
3. The Beach Box Sauna! I’ve talked about this beachfront haven a lot, that’s because it’s become a big part of my life. I love that it feels as though you’ve stepped into another country when you walk through the gate; as the background noise of the hustle and bustle on Madeira Drive fades away. It replicates the traditional Scandinavian sauna experience and features three wood-fired saunas – two set inside converted horse boxes and a new one made out of upcycled materials, a plunge pool, cold showers and a fire pit.
4. Duke’s Mound gardens. You’ll find this hidden shingle oasis where the famous Sussex Square tunnel emerges onto the seafront. It faces the naturist beach, but don’t worry – you can’t see anyone on it as they’re hidden behind a mound of pebbles. It’s a nice quiet spot to gather your thoughts on Saturday morning. Grab a coffee from Marmalade and make your way here.
5 Brunswick Square: a quiet garden with a sea view. It’s probably because it’s set back from the sea and surrounded by a fence this beautiful hidden treasure is always quiet. You’ll find it at the Hove end of the seafront. Its beautiful central garden is surrounded by listed Regency houses, one of which you can snoop inside. If you want privacy, there are lots of little benches or a little picnic spot under the trees. If you forgot your picnic, you’re not far from this amazing deli for treats.
6 The Preston Manor garden close to this place is an Edwardian kitchen garden where the owners would have grown herbs and vegetables. Today, it’s open to the public, although not many people know about it so it’s always quiet. It’s a tranquil escape from the busy main road in and out of Brighton and the crowds in Preston Park, with cobbled paths, a lily pond and a curious little miniature pet graveyard.
7. Hollingbury Hillfort. While all the tourists queue up to pay loads to go on the i360 promising a panoramic view over Brighton, we’ll be using the money saved on a bottle of red wine and time spent waiting walking to Hollingbury Hillfort for a picnic with a free seaview! This ancient monument has one of the best views across to the sea and the setting for a killer sunset. It’s also the starting point for a refreshing hike around the Sussex countryside, into Stanmer Woods, Wild Park or further into the South Downs.
8. Racehill Community Orchard is one of the city’s best-kept urban secrets. Unless you know it’s here, or someone tells you about it, you wouldn’t stumble on it. That’s because it’s nestled in the middle of Whitehawk Nature Reserve, three acres of lush, wild landscape overlooking the city and sea, hidden from plain sight in the middle of an inner-city Brighton housing estate.
I’d also love to know the places you go to for escaping the crowds, if you’re willing to share!