Best Things To Do In Brighton, England
Hey Dreamer and Wanderer, it´s part two of my England trip! I started the journey in London, where I spent the weekend. Afterward, I met up with a good friend I initially met on a past trip to the United States, but he lives here in England. He invited me to his new home in Herne Bay, so I stayed at his place for almost a week. The next stop that I chose was Brighton to explore more of the Southern Coast of England. I was so excited about that! And I hope you, too, when you go ahead and learn about Brighton’s best things to do.
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Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, England
Brighton is a city on the southern English coast in East Sussex. Officially, it’s two cities in one; the City of Brighton and Hove. The former fishing village was turned into a resort town in the 18th century because of its beautiful beaches and brilliant weather conditions. Due to the location in the very South, it´s one of the sunniest places in the entire United Kingdom.
The city is about 53 miles/ 86 kilometers south of London. Two hours by car or one and a half by train makes it an excellent destination for a day trip. But I recommend staying in Brighton and Hove at least for a weekend so that you can explore the city itself and the surroundings and enjoy shopping, nightlife, and the beach.
Today, the city is one of the largest in the country and is known for its inclusive communities. Young people in the arts and creatives and older people enjoying their golden years post-retirement. It´s also known as the “unofficial gay capital of the UK!”
How To Get Around In Brighton, England
To get around in Brighton and Hove is pretty straightforward. You can often walk around, especially in the lower areas at the waterfront and top attractions.
However, there are substantial elevation changes from the train station down to the seafront. Taking a taxi or bus can be a good choice, especially when you just arrived at the station with all your luggage and need to find accommodation first.
I usually take a chance of a city tour via Hop-On Hop-Off buses*. It´s the best way to learn about the city and get around to see the sights simultaneously!
Best Things To Do In Brighton
And now to the exciting things. The actual sights. What you need to see or do while you´re in Brighton and Hove and a few “nice to have´s,” too.
Best Things To Do At Brighton´s Waterfront
Brighton Palace Pier
The Brighton Palace Pier is the one Must Do in the entire town. What would be a visit to the city without visiting the Pier?
The original pier was built in 1823 and was meant to be a chain pier for docking ships. However, food stalls and souvenir shops were added over the following years, and it became more fun than a functional place.
The Pier, as it exists today, was eventually opened in 1899. It´s over 1,700 feet/ 500 meters long and free to enter and walk around.
You can find arcades, food stalls, and even a small amusement park at the very end of the Pier. When the fairground is open, you can ride some small roller coasters, bumper cars, a haunted house ride, etc. Unfortunately, they were closed when I visited. I was always a fan of haunted house experiences, so I tried it a couple of times but wasn´t lucky.
Anyway, it´s fantastic to walk around and watch the city and the beach from that perspective.
Brighton Beach And Boardwalk
The next logical attraction to enjoy is the Beach and the boardwalk from the Palace Pier. You need to follow the waterfront, and you´re right there.
Brighton Beach and the boardwalk are the main reason why the city evolved from a small fishing village to a thriving resort town.
The pebbled beach is fantastic to sit on and observe the waves hitting the beach, watch the sunset, or wander up and down. When you want to swim, make sure to follow the rules of the lifeguards and swimming flags.
Alongside the beach and the boardwalk, the Pier offers a wide range of food, drinks, ice cream, souvenir shops, and loads of art galleries and workshops. Don´t forget to get some Fish and Chips. What could be better to enjoy some while sitting on the beach and watching the buzzing life of the Pier and waterfront area?
British Airways i360
While walking down the boardwalk, sooner or later, you´ll encounter the newest attraction in Brighton; the i360 Tower. At the British Airways i360 Tower, you can go up over 138 meters to see the English coastline and beyond! At the top of the tower is a giant donut-shaped observation deck with a 360 degrees panoramic view and a bar. The ride lasts for 30 minutes. You can buy your tower ticket in advance to avoid a long waiting time.
Volk’s Electric Railway
Volk´s Electric Railway is the oldest electronic railway in the world and is located right on the waterfront of Brighton. It was opened in 1883 by Magnus Volk and brought you to Brighton Marina. It´s quite a walk, so if you have a chance to ride alongside the sea, then why not? It´s usually open from March to October.
I would have loved to have a ride, but I had no luck. It was still closed for the season at the time I visited. Maybe you´re luckier than me.
SEA LIFE Brighton
Another of the world’s oldest attractions is the Brighton Aquarium, where today Sea Life is calling it’s home. Opened in 1872, it´s the oldest continuously operating aquarium globally!
You´ll find it near the entrance of Palace Pier, right under the boardwalk. Dive deep into this underwater world and be amazed by over 150 different species, from sharks to turtles and other mammals. Notable highlights are walking in glass tunnels under the central tank or floating in a glass-bottom boat.
Best Things To Do In Brighton´s City Area
Royal Pavilion & Pavilion Gardens
Of course, Brighton is not the waterfront only. There are plenty of attractions in the city area, too. One of them is, no doubt, the Royal Pavillion & Gardens.
It was built as a private residence of George, Prince of Waler, in 1787. After Queen Victoria (according to the audio guide, she didn´t like it very much, and after an incident in public, she never returned to it) sold it to the city of Brighton.
What makes the Royal Pavillion so special is the architecture. It´s an Indo-Saracenic style inspired by India and other Asian cultures. Different from all other palaces I´ve seen so far.
Today, you can visit the Palace and the Gardens. You can wander through the different rooms and see how their former residents lived. You can also attend a guided tour, rent an audio guide, or use the free WiFi and download the app, where you can listen to the guide for free.
The gardens themselves are free to enter. You don´t need to buy a ticket for walking around the grounds.
The Lanes, the Clocktower & North Laine
In this area, you find yourself in the most historical area of Brighton; the Lanes. Here you can do all your (souvenir) shopping if you like. If not, then stroll through the lanes and small alleys and soak in the unique atmosphere. You´ll find everything from places to eat, drink, and hang out to small shops, many jewelry shops, and other shopping possibilities.
Near Churchill Square Shopping Centre, you´ll find a historic Jubilee Clock Tower built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria´s Golden Jubilee.
Not to forget about North Laine near the train station and north of the Lanes. With more cafés, shops, and restaurants, you´ll find everything you need to enjoy a day in the city of Brighton and Hove.
Brighton Open Market
What would be a visit to a vibrant city such as Brighton without having a stroll at a market? The Brighton Open Market is a large indoor venue with shops, stalls, coffee shops, and street food selling everything possible. Art, soap, honey, handmade craftwork, and more. It´s pretty close to the train station and North Laine, so it´s perfect when you fancy stretching your shopping experience for a bit longer.
Level Gardens, Queen´s Park, And Other Parks
There are plenty of parks in and around Brighton for those who are more into some green. There is Level Garden, one of the oldest public spaces in Brighton. Near Open Market, it has a rich history dating back to the 18th century. Here you can find kids’ play areas, a skate park, fountains, and green lawns.
Queen´s Park was established around 1825 and is another public park in the city. A pond, a café, and the “Pepper Pot.” A 60 feet (18 m) tall cylindrical structure topped with a dome and a green metal urn. It was built to house a water tank and pump. Over the years, it had various usages like printing and publishing the Brighton Daily Mail, an observation tower in the Second World War, or an artist’s studio.
One more green space to mention is Regency Square. You can wander the park and wonder about the iconic townhouses that tell you about many years of history.
Initially built in 1818 as Belle Vue Field, this square took ten years to complete and was slated as housing for the upper social class.
Due to war and the development of hotels and tourism in Brighton, the place has changed over the years.
More Parks are the Hove Park and the Hove Green in the city’s west end.
Brighton´s Museums & Galleries
For museum and art lovers, there are plenty of chances to dive into the artists’ scene of Brighton. To mention a few of them, you´ll find a list of the best ones below.
The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
The Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is located in the Royal Pavilion Gardens and was initially opened in 1861 and was moved one more to a location with more space for all the exhibitions and artifacts. Today you can explore a range of exhibits like photography, ancient artifacts, fine art, fashion, and several rotating displays.
Brighton Fishing Museum
Back to the waterfront, you´ll find the Brighton Fishing Museum. There is no admission fee, a complete fishing boat, and perfect when visiting with kids.
Booth Museum Of Natural History
Booth Museum of Natural History was opened in 1874 by Edward Thomas Booth. As the name already implies, it´s full of birds, butterflies, insects, fossils, minerals, and actual bones! All for the natural history lover. It´s also known as one of the largest collections of British birds in the country.
Brighton Toy And Model Museum
Something interesting for me is the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. If you love toys and you´re here with kids, this is the perfect place to see how toys have developed in time.
Old Police Cells Museum
My personal favorite is the Old Police Cells Museum. To be found in the basement of Brighton Town Hall, you can wander through the cells used to hold some of the most dangerous criminals at that time. Over 200 years of history are written on the cell walls!
Book a guided tour to save your spot in advance, as they are rare, especially during the busy summer season.
Hove Museum & Art Gallery
In the west of the city is the Hove Museum & Art Gallery located. Housed in an old villa, this museum has many old toys, old films/film equipment, crafts, art, etc.
“Art Republic” Brighton Gallery
As mentioned in the beginning, Brighton is a place for art lovers. Not only for artists themselves but also for those who want to look at it or even buy it. In North Laine, you can find a colorful gallery by “Art Republic,” home to one of Britain’s most extensive limited edition contemporary art prints collections.#Travel #England South Coast and visit #Brighton in County #EastSussex. Perfect for a fantastic #holiday or a #weekend trip from #London. Find out what you can do in this vibrant and colorful city. #thingstodo #unitedkingdom Click To Tweet
Things To Do Outside Of City Center
Preston Park & Preston Manor
A bit outside of the city center and quite a walk Preston Park & Preston Manor is situated. This area was the old village of Preston; it’s now part of the city of Brighton. It´s a forty-minute walk or a short drive by taxi or bus.
The manor itself took quite a while. The original building was built in the 13th century, but some add-ons were completed in 1738.
The manor house is a museum showing a great example of upper-class life during the Edwardian Era. As one of Brighton’s largest green spaces, Preston Park has loads of lovely paths, a pond, cafes, bowling lawns, and more.
If you want to visit one of the natural attractions nearby, you should think about planning a day or two more for your visit to Brighton. Seven Sisters Country Park is a unique place consisting of about 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, a meandering river valley, and open chalk grassland.
Whether by car or bus, it´s approx an hour from Brighton, just outside of Eastbourne. (Why not visit Eastbourne, too, at this chance?). The easiest way is hopping on one of the buses stopping at the waterfront. Or take a guided Seven Sisters and South Downs Tour* from Brighton.
Explore these hiking trails alongside the cliffs offering stunning views of the English Channel with peaks like Beachy Head and valleys like the Birling Gap (and its beach).
The one thing on my list that I hadn´t had the time for was Devil´s Dyke. Also part of the South Downs, it offers plenty of hiking trails and beautiful views of the Sussex countryside. One more reason to visit again.
Pin for later
Brighton was one of my favorite places I visited during my England road trip. As soon as I settled in the guesthouse and left it for a first orientation walk, I immediately bonded with the city´s vibe. I could live there for a while and absorb the atmosphere. Whenever you have a chance to vacation in England and don´t know where to go, I highly recommend going to Brighton. Have you been to Brighton and Hove yourself? Let me know and tell me about your best experience below in the comments.