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Winter beach trip for family of 5 with 3 young adults

After our week in London over Christmas break we want to take our young adult children to the ocean, as we live in the Midwest of the US and haven't done been to the ocean with them. Our middle child would love to go to Brighton, and we want to see the Seven Sisters as well. Another option would be to go to Whitstable. Unfortunately, the southern and southeastern trains are not running over the holiday break! A bus ride to Brighton is 3 hours, while a bus ride to Whitstable is 2 hours. I have a few questions: how wild is Brighton over the holidays? We prefer quieter places to stay, yet love vegan/ vegetarian/ethnic food and artsy shops. Is it worth a 3 hours bus ride? How easy would it be to get to the Seven Sisters walking path during the winter?

Posted by
6113 posts

Are you talking about a day trip to Brighton and the Seven Sisters as a day trip from London or are you staying there? It would be a push to do all this in one day, particularly as it will be dark by 4pm.

It looks as though there will be engineering work on the line (a fairly common occurrence when there are no rail commuters at Christmas) - there maybe a bus replacement service for the element that is closed.

There is far more to see in Brighton than in Whitstable and more places are likely to be open in Brighton over Christmas. There are more vegan/veggie food options in Brighton. I wouldn’t describe it as wild. It is cosmopolitan. Whitstable has a few good art galleries and is known for its oysters.

There is a bus service (12X bus) from Brighton to the Seven Sisters area - I think the best section to walk is from Friston down to the coast, down Crowlink Lane.

Posted by
33123 posts

But do be aware of late December weather on the south coast.

There can be frequent storms and when there is one you will not want to be either at the top of the cliff at Seven Sisters (people are swept off by the wind or losing balance, not much to hang on to) or at the bottom of the cliff - there are often cliff falls in and around bad weather where whole chunks of the cliff-face come down onto the beach.

Also, as is common at many if not most English beaches, there is no sand at Brighton. You will be walking on shingle.

Not to discourage you - just to make sure that you go home with the same number as you arrived with - knowledge is power.

You already seem to know that there will no or nearly no public transport in London on Christmas day itself.

With Christmas Day on Saturday this year, and Boxing Day being a Sunday, the already very thin public transport on Boxing Day will be even less on a Sunday Boxing Day. With a Boxing Day Monday Bank Holiday expect what runs to run to nothing better than a Sunday schedule.

Posted by
33123 posts

I'd agree for what you are looking for that Brighton might be the better choice than Whitstable.

Posted by
76 posts

How do you feel about hiring a car. If you were going to drive on English roads, that would be a good time. They will be a lot quieter due to so many people being off work. I believe Brighton is not car friendly but maybe surely there must be somewhere to park near the sea (ocean).

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you for all of your input! This is helpful. We plan to stay 2 nights as a break from London rather than make it a day trip. And we are open to hiring a car. Any other beach suggestions? I'd thought about Camber Sands, too or Broadstairs or Hastings, or even Norfolk. Thoughts?

Posted by
5353 posts

What are you looking for in a beach? Is it sandy windswept dunes or pebble beaches but with Victorian piers and a seaside resort ambience?

Posted by
25 posts

Either would be fine. We are looking for a place that is walking distance to the sea, not a big city, and the potential for day trips. We do like to be able to take scenic walks.

Posted by
27346 posts

I spent a few nights in Brighton in 2017, day-tripping via public transportation to Lewes (sort of on the way back to London) and Arundel (on the other side of Brighton). Neither of those towns is on the coast, but I enjoyed wandering around both of them. Brighton has an appealing quirkiness, and I enjoyed the Royal Pavilion.

Posted by
3806 posts

Camber Sands, without a doubt. Soft, clean sand dunes.
Brighton has shingle (as someone else said) which means you're walking on rocks.
I'd choose Camber Sands and just relax, walk on the beach, listen to the ocean and eat fish and chips.

The Guardian newspaper listed it as one of the 10 best beaches in England.

Posted by
33123 posts

I think I've been confused by changing names.

I thought we were helping 3 different groups with London locations but I think it is only 2.

I thought that treycorene and CAlice were two different groups - CAlice are you the same person as treycorene????

Are you the same as jebarnes, too?

Posted by
6113 posts

Camber Sands is bleak in the winter and many cafes and restaurants won’t be open.

North Norfolk is lovely, but very tidal, so you are likely to see lots of mudflats with the sea half a mile out. I love this area, but your children may get bored.

I would suggest Brighton for its vibe and ease of access to the beach, Rye where you can take a walk to the beach through the Rye Harbour nature reserve, Hythe for its interesting Royal Military Canal and coastline, St Margaret’s Bay for walks on the cliff tops, Deal for its castle and further away -Aldeburgh/Southwold in Suffolk.

Posted by
25 posts

I apologize for the bit of confusion. I am new to posting and thought I could ask a question under another the jebarnes post, but have learned that's not how this forum works. And yes, I am the OP of this post

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks, everyone! I will see about hiring a car to give us flexibility, though our oldest assures us 3 hours by bus is not that big of deal for a weekend adventure

Posted by
25 posts

One thought we have is to stay in Whitstable because it would be quieter, and then day trip to Canterbury. My daughter is majoring in medieval studies and would like to explore Canterbury. I've checked and there are restaurants in Whitstable open over the holiday....

One concern we have about Brighton is that it might be too big for what we're looking for: lodging that is walking distance to the ocean, not a big city, and the potential for day trips. We REALLY want to see the white cliffs but aren't sure about how winter might affect this.

Posted by
27346 posts

I haven't been to Dover, but I know I've read comments to the point that the white cliffs are best seen from the sea rather than from land. I've never seen a UK person recommend a land trip to see them for travelers without a lot of time.

I day-tripped to Canterbury from London and definitely enjoyed it. The walking tour offered by the tourist office was good, and the cathedral was a highlight. The historic center was very nice, but at the time of my visits to the two towns--Canterbury in late August or early September and Brighton in early September, Canterbury felt a lot more touristy. It has a small area of tourist interest, and it was impossible to ignore the presence of a bunch of other people just like me. In Brighton, on the other hand, I walked both east and west along the waterfront and wandered around town not feeling as if there were tons of outsiders around. The particular days I chose to visit may have been a factor, but that was my experience.

Edited to add: Booking.com shows a lot of hotels within a few blocks of the waterfront in Brighton: https://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?label=gen173nr-1DCAEoggI46AdIM1gEaIwCiAEBmAExuAEXyAEM2AED6AEB-AECiAIBqAIDuAL4s-MBsACAdICJDEwNzgzZDNkLWZhYWEtNGUyYy1hNjZjLTMzNmVmNTVmNjA2MdgCBOACAQ&sid=befb33fd76956fe552db78b5441fa3a4&sb=1&sblp=1&src=index&srcelem=sb&errorurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.booking.com%2Findex.html%3Flabel%3Dgen173nr-1DCAEoggI46AdIM1gEaIwCiAEBmAExuAEXyAEM2AED6AEB-AECiAIBqAIDuAL4s-MBsACAdICJDEwNzgzZDNkLWZhYWEtNGUyYy1hNjZjLTMzNmVmNTVmNjA2MdgCBOACAQ%3Bsid%3Dbefb33fd76956fe552db78b5441fa3a4%3Bsbpricetype%3Dtotal%3Bsig%3Dv1N9zi9IFO%26%3B&ss=Brighton+%26+Hove%2C+East+Sussex%2C+United+Kingdom&isskiarea=&checkinyear=2021&checkinmonth=12&checkinmonthday=23&checkoutyear=2021&checkoutmonth=12&checkoutmonthday=27&groupadults=2&groupchildren=0&norooms=1&bh4ukeepfilters=&fromsf=1&ssraw=brighton&acposition=0&aclangcode=en&acclicktype=b&destid=-2590884&desttype=city&placeidlat=50.822729&placeidlon=-0.150568&searchpageviewid=932d857cbe980098&searchselected=true&searchpageviewid=932d857cbe980098&acsuggestionlistlength=5&acsuggestionthemelistlength=0#mapopened

Posted by
25 posts

Oops, I didn't clarify which white cliffs! We'd see the white cliffs starting at Brighton and maybe toward the Telescomb cliffs. We'd really like to see the Seven Sisters but know weather can prevent this in the winter.

Posted by
25 posts

I would love to go to Suffolk and Norfolk! So many helpful ideas here.