Hometown of the legendary Brighton Pier, is getting more popular among British and international tourists. And very rightfully so! If loads of tasty foods, great places for indie and high-street shopping, beach walks and vibrant cultural scene sound good to you, you shouldn’t wait any longer to pay Brighton a visit!
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How to get to Brighton
Brighton is only a 30-minutes-long train journey away from London Gatwick airport, which is very convenient if you are planning to fly in from an international destination. Brighton has its own city airport (known as Shoreham Airport), but that one is mostly used by private planes and helicopters, which is why you probably won’t find any convenient connections to Brighton directly. Gatwick Airport, on the other hand, is served by an abundant number of airlines, including quite a few low-cost options like EasyJet, Aerlingus or Norwegian.
From Gatwick Airport you can take a direct train to Brighton. Direct railway connections are also available between Brighton and London city (going from London Bridge, Victoria or St. Pancras Station). The journey will take approximately one hour, and the fares start at around 24 GBP. All trains from London arrive at the Brighton Mainline Station on Queens Road, which is within 10 minutes on foot from the city centre.
Getting to Brighton by bus/coach is a good option too! The travelling time will be longer, but if you are on a budget, buses might be a better choice for you, as the ticket fares start at around 15 GBP.
What to expect in Brighton
No special preparation is needed for your trip to Brighton, you can “come as you are”! Do remember general travelling etiquette for the UK, like obeying the smoking bans in indoor public areas or respecting the hours of night silence at hotels and hostels (since Brighton might tempt you with one or a few nights out, there is a chance you’ll be coming back to your accommodation late at night, so make sure you don’t disturb your fellow guests).
When you go out, the staff in cafés, bars and restaurants will most likely not expect you to tip, and you don’t have to worry that the servers have to rely on customers’ tips like in other countries. If you receive exceptionally great service, a tip will always be appreciated. Some places might add a certain percentage of service fee on top of your bill. If that’s the case, the amount will be clearly marked in the menu, so pay attention before you order to avoid any surprises when the bill arrives!
In Brighton, you can expect a very laid-back atmosphere, especially when it comes to clothing… or rather lack of same!
On 1 April 1980 Cliff Bathing Beach – Brighton’s naturist beach opened and became UK’s first public nudist beach. The naturist beach is situated at the eastern end of the main Brighton beach, and signs are provided to indicate where it begins. If you decide to go, respect the rules and specificity of the place, and if you don’t feel comfortable at naturist beaches, we simply recommend choosing another spot for your seaside relaxation – there are plenty of alternative options!
Last, but not least it is worth mentioning that Brighton has a very strong LGBTQ+ culture, and for decades now the city has been viewed as UK’s Pride Capital. LGBTQ+ pubs and bars are everywhere, and the general feeling of the city is highly influenced by its open attitude towards love, gender equality and fluidity and all sorts of personality and bodily expressions.
Things to do in Brighton
The list of our recommended Brighton activities is long and diverse, but nothing compares to a walk on the seaside (Brighton-darlings, an indie band named The Kooks even wrote a song about it!). Make your way to Brighton Beach in time for the sunset and grab a drink or have a taste of the famous fish & chips at one of the food stalls located alongside the waterfront. One of the most significant things to do near Brighton beach is a visit to Brighton Palace Pier. It is a popular spot among tourists and locals, so expect it to be crowded… and windy! But that’s a part of its English charm. On the pier, you will find more (simple, grab-and-go) food stalls as well as an amusement park with a variety of rides and attractions. You should also keep an eye and ear out for various events that take place on the pier. There are no regular happenings per se, rather seasonally determined like holiday markets or special comedy shows.
Regardless of whether your budget allows you to go all-in for a retail galore or not, and you have to settle with window-shopping, a visit to “The Lanes” is a must. Located just a few hundred metres from Churchill Square Shopping Mall (one of the most significant spots and a popular meeting point in Brighton), they are the most historic quarter of the city. Many of the buildings in the narrow alleys date back to 18th century! Besides its historical heritage, the area of “The Lanes” is known for shopping, which is definitely one of the top things to do in Brighton.
The neighborhood is bustling with various retail-options which will satisfy the more conservative buyer as well as the edgy indie-shopper. Further north from “The Lanes” (in direction of Brighton railway station) you will find North Laine. It is another charming, cosy shopping district, and home to over 400 different businesses. It’s the perfect place for (more) store-browsing, but around North Laine, you can also be sure to find loads of restaurants and cafés as well as entertainment venues.
Another popular pick among Brighton attractions would be the annual Brighton Festival. Prepare for a colorful celebration of visual arts, music, theatre and performance, dance, film, literature and much more! The festival runs for three weeks every May, and it takes place in different venues across Brighton. Another colorful and absolutely splendid festival is Brighton And Hove Pride. As mentioned earlier, the city was crowned as UK’s LGBTQ+ capital, and Brighton’s pride is the biggest in the country. Brighton And Hove Pride is not one single parade event, rather a festival on its own. This true celebration of diversity and all of the live’s shapes and colors takes place every August in Brighton’s Preston Park.
Places to visit in Brighton
The city’s Royal Pavilion is definitely one of the top picks among Brighton places to visit. The beautiful building originally raised for George, the Prince Regent, used to serve as a royal residence, and its architecture amazes many. The structure is raised in Indo-Saracenic style, which is associated with 19th century India rather than 21st century southern UK! In spite of its unique building style, the pavilion (by some also referred to as Brighton Palace) does not clash with the city at all, and the surrounding gardens with a cozy café are a great place to go if you want to have a relaxed afternoon. During your summer days out in Brighton, you can be sure to see many street entertainers around the gardens.
The Royal Pavilion Gardens are also home to Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, a great pick if you are wondering what to do in Brighton and are longing for a culture trip! The museum has an expansive collection of artworks and design objects, and its temporary exhibitions aren’t afraid to explore topics like identity or fashion trends, often approaching the themes through the lens of the LGBTQ+ community.
You can also satisfy your fine art craving at Brighton Photography Gallery. There you can enjoy temporary exhibitions and purchase photo works too! If you are rather in the mood for performing arts, Brighton will not disappoint either! On New Road, in near proximity of the Royal Gardens, you will find Theatre Royal Brighton. Its wide program includes ballet, comedy, opera, children’s shows and various musical performances. With a wide offer catering to fine arts admirers and theater fans, Brighton won’t disappoint architecture enthusiasts either! A site worth mentioning is (visible throughout the whole city) St Bartholomew’s Church on Ann Street. Not only is it an incredible landmark (use it for navigation if you tend to get lost!), but its architectural design will take your breath away. People claim it to be most impressive from the inside though, so make sure you’re not only checking it out from a distance!
Last but not least, this guide has something for… dessert enthusiasts! You don’t have to enroll on a food tour to pay a visit to Choccywoccydoodah – Brighton’s famous chocolaterie! Choccywoccydoodah was born in Brighton but has since expanded to London, and it is not only a place where you can treat your taste buds, but it’s a feast for the eye too! The chocolaterie describes itself as “art and design focused”, and the concept definitely shines through. Prepare yourself for chocolate cakes in all forms and sizes, chocolate sculptures, chocolate drinks and bite-size goodies to give you a (tempting) taste.
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Where to stay in Brighton
UK’s coolest seaside town offers you plenty of options when it comes to accommodation. Depending on whether you travel alone, with your significant other, with a group of friends or maybe even as a family with kids, you will be able to find the perfect place to stay.
There are many hotels alongside the seashore, covering an area that stretches from Brunswick Town to Kempton. If you are looking for a more affordable (and maybe less conservative, compared to traditional hotels) accommodation, we suggest looking around “The Lanes”. They are filled with small, inexpensive hotels, and there are many hostels around the area too! It’s a great pick for young travellers who will love the lively vibe of the neighbourhood for sure!
A very convenient pick in terms of getting to your accommodation from Brighton Railway Station would be to stay in the area of North Laine. It’s a very trendy neighborhood, so prepare for somewhat higher prices. Because if its convenient location, the area would be a great pick if you are only planning to stay in Brighton for a few nights. With its many restaurants and cultural venues, it’s a good option for couples! Try looking for a homey boutique hotel or an AirBnb.
If you’re a solo traveller on a very tight budget, don’t think twice: go couch-surfing! Because of the adjacent universities (the University of Sussex and University of Brighton), the city is filled with young people, happy to welcome and connect with travellers.
Tours to do in Brighton
When visiting Brighton there are good options for interesting tours both within and out of the city, but if you want to escape the urban structures for a bit, we recommend a tour to Seven Sisters Country Park. The park is a perfect spot for an active holiday break, and many tourists go there to hike and for the breathtaking view of chalk cliffs and the winding river. Birling Gap, a visitors’ centre on one of the more popular hiking routes, has a cafe, where you can recharge and have a rest. Do not worry though, the hike is not difficult, and if you are moderately active in your everyday life, you should not experience any problems on the trail.
If you aren’t intimidated by longer travelling time, a trip to the world’s famous Stonehenge can be easily arranged from Brighton. The structure, often referred to as British Cultural Icon, is dated to a period between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, and the site is officially on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The distance between Brighton city and Stonehenge is approximately 90 miles, but the trip is usually done in one day. On the way to the ancient site, many tours stop in (also UNESCO-listed) town of Bath, giving the tourist time to explore Bath Abbey and Roman Baths complex.
Recommend budget tours in Brighton
- The Brighton Quickie – A Private 20 Minute Helicopter Tour of Brighton
- South Downs and Seven Sisters Half-Day Small-Group Tour from Brighton
- Cycling Tour of Brighton City
- Only in Brighton Walking Tour
- Sailing Sunset Cruise from Brighton
- Secrets of the Lanes Walking Tour in Brighton
- Full Day Small-Group White Cliffs of Sussex Tour from London
- Thorpe Park with Transfer from Brighton, Crawley or Burgess Hill
- City Sightseeing Brighton Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- Oxford, Windsor and Eton
- Warner Brothers Studio Tour – Making of Harry Potter
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