When I moved to the wind-battered seaside city of Brighton from showery urban London, on some days, weather took on a new meaning. In London, navigating a rainy walk could usually be done with an umbrella. This is possible in Brighton, too, but on some wet-weather days, driving seaside rain and choppy wind perform an energetic, umbrella-destroying duet. At its most dramatic, a rainy day at the seaside feels like dancing tango with a tornado and a monsoon.
Not all days are this extreme, and on the flip side, it’s meant I’ve learned to live in all weathers. It took a while but I now get excited for a windswept seafront walk, a rainy summer swim or winter sauna session. A rainy day in Brighton means you can still get out and about to do things. So, if you’re finding yourself wondering how to spend a rainy day in Brighton, here’s a quick guide to help you lose yourself in Brighton on a rainy day.
Things to do in Brighton when it rains
Go to a local museum
You can’t go wrong with a trip to Brighton Museum or a snoop around the Pavilion, but over the years – and researching Secret Brighton – I’ve enjoyed discovering all the little independent museums scattered around the city – here’s a guide to get you started. Each one tells a different story about an aspect of Brighton, while some of them are also free to get in.
The Fishing Museum on the seafront is a good option if you find yourself caught out and needing shelter. Another favourite is the Booth Museum, near Dyke Road Park. This is Brighton’s museum of natural history, and it’s free to get in. They also run fascinating backstage tours so you get to see the secret collections which contain millions of items not on display. If you’re staying near the centre of town or on the seafront, you could tie in a visit with a wander through the ‘Notting Hill of Brighton’.
Go indy shopping in Brighton
If museums aren’t your thing, Brighton is the capital of independent shops. You could easily spend a morning or afternoon shopping in the North Laine alone, dodging the rain. This is the city’s most colourful area, packed with shops in traditional Regency buildings. Here, you can buy anything from hippy skirts and second-hand books to designer home wares and organic cosmetics.
To get going, here are 20 of my favourite shops in Brighton I return to. For chocolate gifts, I love recommending this nostalgic old chocolate shop tucked up a lovely Hove side street. Not many people know that they supply Fortum and Mason in London and make everything on site in the secret factory above! Brighton’s is well known for its vintage shops, but when it comes to vintage clothes shopping, it’s hard to know where to start. Hopefully this guide to the coolest vintage clothes shops in Brighton will help, and a trip to this Aladdin’s cave for kitsch gifts will be memorable.
Have a sea swim and a sauna-spa
There’s something romantic about being in the sea when it’s raining, don’t you think? Sea swimming is such an institution in Brighton, but obviously the conditions need to be calm, not windy, for it to be safe.
Also outside on the seafront is the Beach Box Sauna Spa in my ‘secret Brighton beach club’ offers an invigorating outdoor Finnish sauna experience, which will warm your cockles on a rainy day. You can dip in the sea during your sauna session, and then sit by the fire after to dry off. It’s magical, in any kind of weather, and you’ll remember it for years to come.
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Curl up in the cinema
Going to the cinema is another of the best ways to spend a rainy day in Brighton – especially as it means you get to hang out in a vintage cinema. We’re lucky in Brighton to have one of the oldest cinemas in the country to visit. It’s located in Preston Circus area and still going strong, and has lots of comfy seats, including a balcony with sofas!
It’s called the Duke of York’s Picturehouse and it also has a newer branch at the Komedia comedy club, in the North Laine area. Both show films during the day, so you can escape the rain while you’re shopping and forget your surroundings for a couple of hours. Oh, and did I mention they serve wine?
Go for a drive in the countryside
What’s great about Brighton, is that it’s minutes from some of the country’s most beautiful countryside. So, if you’ve got access to a car, going for a drive through the rain-soaked country lanes around Brighton can be fun and romantic. To get started, here are some off-the-radar villages to hop around, a guide to little-known wineries that do tastings, and some cosy historic country pubs to discover.
Pack a little picnic, a flask of hot chocolate, perhaps and you’re all set if it’s pouring. Or here are four of the coolest cafes in Sussex to drive to – a seafood cafe in a giant piece of driftwood, a Thai restaurant in a bookshop, a cafe in a giant greenhouse and an old-fashioned diner.
When you’ve done everything else, embrace the rain in Brighton!
Do Brighton like a local and embrace the seaside rain! Don’t let it keep you inside. Throw on all your waterproofs, your wellies or walking boots and go for a walk around the backstreets, or head to the seafront to watch the dramatic weather, the frothy messy waves exploding onto the pebble beach. Hunt for urban treasures, like these beautiful ghost signs.
that’s how to spend a rainy day in Brighton
However you choose to spend your rainy day in Brighton I hope you have a good time and that the grey skies don’t get you down. This city has so much to offer that a little rain can hardly make it less appealing.