Here Are Some Great Things To Do In Brighton!
Exploring the southern coast of the UK? The lively city of Brighton might make for a great stop! From the historic Brighton Palace Pier to shopping “The Lanes”, its wild nightlife, the sunny beach, and museums, this seaside city has loads of things to do during the day and at night!
We really like Brighton. Eric has been a bunch of times over the years – and together we’ve been once. That said, it’s only a quick trip by train/car from London to the coast. This makes Brighton (and the surrounding area of Hove) a great day trip if you’ve run out of things to do in London!
So, whether you are looking for free things to do to romantic things to do in Brighton tonight, we’ve got you covered! Here are 23 things to do in Brighton for solo travellers, couples, and families with kids!
Also, if you are planning a larger trip to the south of the UK or are travelling to Europe for the first time, here are a few more helpful posts:
- Exploring London? Top Attractions + A London in a Day Itinerary
- We Wrote a Master Guide on Day Trips from London (Brighton Included)!
- Our Experience Visiting Historic Stonehenge
- Things to Check Out in Bristol (Told by a Resident)
- Check out the Spa City of Bath (coming soon!)
Things to Consider When Visiting Brighton
If you are thinking about heading to Brighton when you’re in the south of England, here are some things that you should consider before you go!
General Information About Brighton
Brighton is located on the southern English coast in the United Kingdom. Officially, it’s Brighton + Hove (which is located to the west of central Brighton). The city is very close to the English Channel about an hour south of London which makes it a great day trip by train or car. Because of its geographical location on the south coast, Brighton is one of the sunniest places in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Brighton was originally founded as a fishing village (makes sense) and was turned into a resort/retreat city in the 18th century because of the beautiful beach and numerous sunshine days. This is still a huge draw for the millions of tourists each year!
Over time, the city has grown to one of the largest in the UK. The city is known for its inclusive communities that attract many young people in the arts + creatives as well as older people enjoying their golden years post-retirement. Because of this “inclusiveness”, Brighton has a very large LGBTIQ+ population – earning it the moniker of “unofficial gay capital of the UK”!
Best Time to Visit Brighton
Given that we’ve talked about how sunny and beautiful the city is, Brighton is best visited in spring, summer, and fall. The wettest month is technically January but winter in the UK sucks everywhere – sorry, UK. (Eric lived in Scotland for a year and – yeah – winter was not a happy time weather-wise!)
If you want to avoid the crazy busy summer tourist/holiday season of July and August, consider visiting Brighton in the “shoulder season” of May/June and then September. Eric was recently there in May and it was HOT. The beach and pier were packed, people were shopping, and the festivals had already started!
Getting Around in Brighton
Once you get to Brighton, walking around is a really good option since most of the top attractions/waterfront are packed together. That said, the city is actually pretty spread out and has some pretty good elevation changes. This can make walking to attractions or parks difficult. You could take the Brighton + Hove bus for some of the trips. You might also consider a taxi if you need a lift.
If you are a tourist looking to explore the city, you have a few options available to you. You can definitely get on the hop-on/hop-off Brighton sightseeing bus. We know these can be “touristy” but as a way to get around freely AND learn about the city – there usually are few better options!
If you want to be a little more active, you should consider hopping on a bike to explore the city. For this check out this top-rated bike tour around Brighton. This way you get to learn about the city and you also get around to see the sights and make the most of a few hours!
Where to Stay in Brighton
Since Brighton is such a popular destination to take in the sunshine, sea air, and nightlife, there are LOTS of accommodation options to choose from – from seaside hotels to quaint and quiet cottages nearby. If you are looking for a place to stay, check here for accommodations in Brighton.
If you are looking for hotels in Brighton and want to stay right at the seaside, then check out The Grand Hotel Brighton (shown above) or the Queens Hotel & Spa (shown below). We walked by them and their place across from the beach is absolutely perfect for a seaside getaway.
If you are passing through Brighton for a night and looking for a cheaper (but still nice) place to stay, there are a few hostels as well. You can check here for hostels in Brighton.
Specifically, check out the YHA Brighton (shown above) – it’s located right at the waterfront (facing the city). We had a friend who worked there for a few months and she always spoke highly of it (plus YHA is a trustworthy brand from our experience with them).
Things To Do In Brighton, UK
Okay, so now that you have all the right information about visiting Brighton – let’s dive into the top things to do all over the city! This is a pretty good list of the popular things (and a few smaller gems) but we will add to it as we get back and explore!
Visit The Historic Brighton Palace Pier
There is perhaps nothing more synonymous with the Brighton sunshine and waterfront than the Brighton Palace Pier. The first pier was actually built back in 1823 and was just a chain pier for docking ships. Over time, small food and souvenir shops were added and it became more of a fun than a functional place. Over the years, storms damaged the old pier and the current pier (as we see today) was opened in 1899.
Today, the pier has been named one of “the finest piers in the world” which is quite the distinction! The pier is free to enter and walk about (it wasn’t always free). At over 1,700 feet long, there’s plenty of pier to walk along! While much of the pier has been upgraded to modern games and food stalls, the decor remains largely from the old days. This is what gives the pier that classic charm!
In the middle, there is a large arcade with loads of old and new games. You can earn tickets to buy prizes – and this is a very popular thing to do with kids! We played a few games when we were there a couple of years ago and had a blast. At the end of the Pier you will find a small amusement park with rides for kids and adults. There’s everything from a small roller coaster to bumper cars and a hunted house ride!
As for food, there are stalls for famous fish and chips as well as ice cream, coffee, a beer, and loads of other sweet treats you can dream of. The best part of the pier is the fact that there are deck chairs which are free to use – as long as you can find one that is currently unoccupied.
Overall, the Brighton Palace Pier is an absolute must-see when you visit. It is lovely and representative of the city’s seaside identity. With something for everyone – for the adults and especially for the kids – go and enjoy the sunshine down at the Palace Pier! If you want to enjoy the Pier (and the rest of Brighton) you should consider booking a local Brighton guide for a casual tour of the city!
Address: Madeira Dr, Brighton BN2 1TW, UK
Relax At The Brighton Beach & Boardwalk
Another of the main attractions in the seaside town of Brighton is – of course – the massive Brighton Beach and boardwalk! Following basically the entire length of the city’s waterfront, the beach in Brighton has been influential in shaping the city from an old fishing port to a thriving resort city.
The beach itself is made of small pebbles so it’s not actually sand – but honestly, they are quite nice to sit on AND you don’t get sand everywhere when you do go for a swim and have to clean up the towels to leave of the day! The beach itself it pretty regulated with life-guarding stations and swimming flags to follow. Make sure you do follow the rules because the currents at this part of the coast can be dangerous.
On the beach, you’ll find deck chairs for rent (whereas on the Pier they are free to use) so keep that in mind if you want a chair. The beach is also nice because it’s very large – meaning that there’s room for everyone to have their own personal space no matter how busy the place gets (even in the summer).
Just behind the beach is the main roadway and walking boardwalk. This walking path at road level and beach level is absolutely loaded with things to do and check out. From shops and restaurants to activities like zip-lining and mini golf, there is something for everyone. There are even sports courts, a carousel for kids, and other attractions like SEA Life and the Brighton Fishing Museum (see both below in this post).
At times, the boardwalk is almost overwhelming because there’s so much to see so just take your time, slow your walk, and enjoy the waterfront art, food, music, beer, whatever! While you are walking along, you will also see a metal structure in the water. This is called West Pier which was an old pier. It fell into despair and the remains burnt down in 2003. That said, the place where it met the land is now used for the base for the i360 Tower!
Address: Along Madeira Dr, Brighton BN2 1ET, UK
Experience The British Airways i360
Speaking of the i360 Tower, how about a ride up over 138 metres to see the English coastline and beyond! Sponsored by British Airways, the i360 is actually a vertical observation deck which pulls riders up via cable in a giant donut-shaped observation deck. The best part? The ride lasts for 30 minutes and the platform is also a bar which means you can have a drink (glass of champagne) up in the sky!
If you know that you want to go up the tower for the awesome experience, you can buy your tower ticket in advance. This is a good idea since crowds in the summer are big and there is only so much space for people on each ride. Keep that in mind for when you visit! You can also visit the base where you can find a gift shop and small restaurant/cafe.
Address: Lower Kings Road, Brighton BN1 2LN, UK
Explore the Royal Pavilion & Pavilion Gardens
Another of the top attractions in Brighton is no doubt the Royal Pavillion. Originally built beginning in 1787 as a private royal residence for George, Prince of Wales, the Palace has been added to and used for different functions over the years (it was a wartime hospital, actually). The unique architecture is unlike other buildings in Britain – this is a nod to the Indo-Saracenic style found in India!
Today, the Palace is a top attraction owned by the city of Brighton which you can go inside and tour. There are many lavishly decorated rooms with old furniture, artwork, and other statement pieces from centuries ago. The audio guide is worth the price to learn about the history and there’s a terrace tea room where you can overlook the grounds, too!
The grounds themselves are quite beautiful and have a few other things to check out. They even put on a skating rink in the winter time! In any case, if you want to visit the Royal Pavilion, you can check here for your Royal Pavilion admission ticket.
Once you are on the grounds, you don’t have to enter the Pavilion. You can simply walk about the Pavilion Gardens and enjoy your surroundings. The gardens/grounds are full of well-groomed paths which wind through different areas with flowers throughout. Eric just found a spot on the lovely grass (along with many, many others) and just enjoyed a bit of a lay down in the sunshine.
If you explore the gardens enough, you’ll come across a popular little cafe that basically borders the downtown area known as the Lanes. On the day Eric visited, there were loads of people having a drink or a small bite to eat (shown above). The atmosphere was just really lovely so definitely check them out when you visit!
Address: 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton BN1 1EE, UK
Wander The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Located in the Royal Pavilion Gardens, the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery was originally opened in 1861. The collection of town art, worldly pieces, and natural history specimens outgrew their space quickly. The Museum was moved to the present site in 1873 and hasn’t looked back since!
Today, you can visit the museum – redone in recent years – to explore various exhibits ranging from photography to ancient artifacts, fine art, fashion, and rotating exhibits focussed on modern culture, Brighton’s history, and more! Basically, check it out because there is something for all interests inside. You can learn more about visiting here.
Address: 12A Pavilion Parade, Brighton BN1 1EE, UK
Dive Into SEA LIFE Brighton
Opened all the way back in 1872, SEA LIFE Brighton is actually the oldest working aquarium in the world! Located right down on the boardwalk very close to the famous Palace Pier, you can dive in (pun intended) to this underwater world. The exhibits are under the main boardwalk – with historic stone arches making for a cool experience.
Inside, SEA LIFE has over 150 different species – from sharks to turtles and crabs to many, many fish. Kids can touch some in the interactive part. You can also walk under the massive central tank in the glass tunnels or float above them in a glass bottom boat! If you want to visit SEA LIFE, you can get your SEA LIFE Brighton Admission ticket here.
Personally, we are not fans of aquariums ourselves and have not visited SEA Life in Brighton. However, since it is the oldest aquarium in the world, we decided to mention it in this post. Please do your research and decide for yourself if you want to visit this attraction.
Address: Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1TB, UK
Lounge At Preston Park & Preston Manor
Should you be looking for yet another historical experience in Brighton, check out Preston Manor. Located in the what was the old village of Preston, it’s now part of the city of Brighton. The manor itself has been built in phases – from the original building in the 13th century to a large chunk completed in 1738. These days, the manor house is a museum showing a great example of upper-class life during the Edwardian Era. You can learn more about visiting Preston Manor here.
Located outside the city centre a little bit, Preston Manor is still easy to get to via bus or car. If you are visiting Preston Manor, you’ll likely also want to check out Preston Park. As one of Brighton’s largest green spaces, Preston Park has loads of lovely paths, a pond, cafes, bowling lawns, and more. You’ll also find the old Preston Park velodrome – an unevenly shaped cycling loop once used for competitions (and prone to controversy over its shape)!
Address: Preston Rd, Brighton BN1 6SD, UK
Ride Volk’s Electric Railway
Want to ride the oldest electronic railway in the world?! Then head for the Brighton waterfront for Volk’s Electric Railway. Created by local inventor Magnus Volk, the railway line was opened in 1883 and hasn’t missed a beat since!
Eric visited Brighton and on that particular Saturday the railway was closed. Unfortunately for him, crews were doing maintenance and cleaning up garbage around the waterfront area. Maybe you will have better luck riding when you visit?
The train ride seems great for kids – and it actually takes you all the way to the Brighton Marina along the waterfront so it DOES also serve a practical function from March to October. You can learn about ticket prices and station locations on the official website. You can bet that when we return we’re going for a ride!
Address: Volk’s Electric Railway Visitor Centre, Madeira Dr, Brighton BN2 1EN, UK
Shop The Lanes & North Laine
If you are into shopping (and even if you aren’t), you’ll likely end up wandering the Lanes. Located just back from the waterfront to the west of the main Palace Pier, the Lanes are Brighton’s central “downtown” shopping core. The winding streets and hills make for an interesting walk through all the big brand shops you’d expect to find with a few boutique ones, too. There are also places to eat, drink, and just hang out to people watch.
At the top of the Lanes (close to the Churchill Square Shopping Centre), you’ll find something called the Jubilee Clock Tower (shown above). Built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, it’s an old clock tower which is pretty to look at (locals either love it or hate it) – and is functional, too! It’s also just a good way to get your bearings as you wander about that area of the city.
Brighton is a city of “communities” with many different neighbourhoods making up one big city. Another historical area to check out in Brighton is North Laine. Located north of the Lanes (main shopping area) and very close to the Brighton train station, this Bohemian neighbourhood is absolutely loaded with boutique shops and more cafes than you could visit in a whole month!
The roads/alleys make up a giant grid system with nice architecture throughout – so just wander through for the experience… but you’ll likely be drawn into SOME shop that suits your interests! Eric didn’t have time to stop anywhere when he last visited but he scouted out cafes for when we go back together!
Address: The Lanes, Brighton, UK + North Laine, Brighton, UK
Visit Brighton Dome
If you wander Brighton near the Royal Pavilion, you might notice a beautiful looking building called the Brighton Dome. This is one of Brighton’s premier art venues where they host over 600 art performances from music to comedy, spoken word and more! Aside from having a show that might interest you when you visit, the Brighton Dome also plays a huge role in putting on one of the most celebrated arts festivals in the UK – the Brighton Festival!
When you walk by, you might notice just how beautiful the building is – this is because it has over 200 years of history tucked away! The venue was once built as stables for the horses of Prince Regent. Over time, the venue has transformed into a skating rink and a military hospital during the First World War.
You can even do tours of the building if the history fascinated you enough! Check out the Brighton Dome website here.
Address: Church St, Brighton BN1 1UE, UK
Explore The Brighton Fishing Museum
A really neat museum to check out at the Brighton waterfront is the Brighton Fishing Museum. With free admission and a whole fishing boat tucked away inside, this small museum is worth checking out. Eric wandered in and ended up staying for quite a while reading the information and looking at the historic photos from decades and decades ago!
As we said, admission is free but you can make a small donation at the door. If you are travelling to Brighton with kids, this might be a good place to check out since there’s old footage being played inside alongside artifacts like a ship’s wheel, colourful signs, model boats, and the 27 foot “clinker built punt boat” fishing boat in the main hall! You can learn more about the museum here.
Address: Kings Road Arches, 201, Brighton BN1 1NB, UK
Discover The Booth Museum Of Natural History
In case you want to learn a little bit while you are in Brighton, check out the Booth Museum of Natural History! It was originally opened in 1874 by Edward Thomas Booth as the Booth Museum (hence the name). This colourful museum is full of bird, butterfly, and insect specimens along with fossils, minerals, and other bones that have been added over the years! Today, at over 500,000 specimens, the Museum is among the largest collections of British birds in the country!
It was designated a Natural History Museum in the 1970s and is still considered a trend-setter as one of the first museums to utilize “Victoria-style dioramas” – meaning the specimens were depicted usually in action and with natural decor so that visitors could observe them in their “natural habitat”. You can learn more on the Booth Museum of Natural History website.
Address: 194 Dyke Rd, Brighton BN1 5AA, UK
Browse The Brighton Open Market
Given that Brighton has a vibrant creative, alternative art scene, it makes sense that there is a market place to serve the needs of an inclusive community. Enter: The Open Market! This large indoor venue is full of shops and stalls that sell everything under the sun – and we mean everything!
From coffee shop and places to eat to stalls selling soap, honey, old signs, and more – you can find loads of interesting things at the Market. Eric wandered through the bottom level and it was great to see people hanging out, buying local, and creating a sense of community! Located just a short walk from the Brighton Train Station, we’d recommend a visit because you never know what you might fine! You can learn more about hours, location, and vendors at the Market website.
Address: Marshalls Row, Brighton and Hove BN1 4JU, UK
Check Out artrepublic Brighton Gallery
Again, if art work is your thing, Brighton is the place for you. Located in North Laine, you can find a colourful gallery by artrepublic – a place curated by experts with an eye for art with over 25 years of experience.
The gallery in Brighton is known to have one of the largest collections of limited edition contemporary art prints in Britain! Just go in and have a wander around – you’ll find some pretty big names up on the wall! You can learn more about the gallery here.
Address: 13 Bond St, Brighton BN1 1RD, UK
Visit St. Peter’s Church
If checking out churches is your thing, Brighton has a few which stand out. You’ll find St. Peter’s Church located just a short walk from the waterfront (on the way to the Open Market). Built in the 1820s in pre-Victorian Gothic Revival architectural style, the church is unofficially known as “Brighton’s Cathedral” – and it was under renovation when Eric visited! In any case, you can learn more about visiting the church here.
If you’re really into churches, St Bartholomew’s Church is another one that you might want to check out. The church was built back in the 1870s und Eric stumbled upon this brick marvel while walking back from the Open Market. He didn’t pop inside but the detail from the outside was unexpected and really something!
Address: York Pl, Brighton BN1 4GU, UK
Attend The Brighton Centre
If you’re in the mood for a bit of performance fun, then you might want to check out what’s going on at the Brighton Centre. This massive complex is one of Brighton’s largest venues for music, comedy, and other meetings of national importance. Located right down along the Brighton waterfront, there’s usually something going on most times of the year so check out the website to see if there’s a show that interests you!
Address: Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2GR, UK
Explore The Brighton Toy And Model Museum
If looking at toys, toys, and more toys is your thing – or you’re travelling to Brighton with kids – then the Brighton Toy & Model Museum is definitely for you! Located just under the train tracks of Brighton Station, you’ll see the red signs to enter. Inside this first area (where you buy tickets) you will already get a sense of the sheer number of toys they have on display.
It’s so colourful – it’s really sensory overload! Eric ran out of time and didn’t go all the way inside but we will when we return to Brighton! Check out the website for prices and hours to see the over 10,000 items!
Address: 52-55 Trafalgar St, Brighton BN1 4EB, UK
Lounge In The Level Gardens
Lounging in the green spaces around Brighton is not a difficult feat to accomplish – even if you find yourself north of the water quite a ways! Located right across the street from the east entrance of the Open Market, The Level is a massive green space with something for everyone.
As one of the oldest public spaces in all of Brighton, The Level has a rich history dating back to the 18th century! These days, inside the space – quiet and protected from the busy streets – you can find kids’ play areas, a skate park, fountains, and green lawns for lounging. There’s even a cafe onsite should you get a bit of hunger creeping up! The Level is such an important community space that it even has its own website to see what’s going on!
Address: Union Rd, Brighton BN1 4ZN, UK
Get Locked Away At The Old Police Cells Museum
Looking to get your fix of Brighton history and crime all in one? Visit the Old Prison Cells Museum! Located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall, you can wander through the cells used to hold some of the most damned of criminals. Over 200 years of history are written on the cell walls – literally!
To visit, admission is free BUT you have to book a guided tour in advance. So if you know you want to visit (especially in the busy summer months) make sure you call or email ahead! You can check out their website for getting in touch to book a visit!
Address: Town Hall, Brighton BN1 1JA, UK
Wander Queen’s Park (And The Other Brighton Parks)
If you haven’t had enough of the parks in Brighton yet, there’s one more you might want to check out. Queen’s Park was conceived around 1825 and has been a public green space ever since. You’ll find features like a pond, a cafe, loads of green space, and something called the “Pepper Pot”. What’s the Pepper Pot? You will have to go and check it out! The park is located to the east of the Palace Pier and north from the waterfront a few blocks – but definitely walkable.
While we’re here and talking about green spaces in Brighton for the last time, check out Hove Park and Hove Green (two different “Hove” named green spaces) in the city’s west end. Hove Park has a cafe and the Hove Park Railway – a tiny train for kids!
Address: 25 West Dr, Brighton BN2 0QU, UK
Enjoy Hove Museum & Art Gallery
Located in the west end of the city, The Hove Museum & Art Gallery is a place to visit if you want to learn about history and have a group with lots of interests. Housed in an old villa, this museum has many old toys, old films/film equipment, crafts, art, and more. Turns out, Hove was a big film/cinema producing area back in the day! You can learn more about visiting at the Hove Museum website.
Address: 19 New Church Rd, Hove BN3 4AB, UK
Check out Regency Square
If you want to dive into an interesting aspect of Brighton history, then head to Regency Square for a wander about! Originally built in 1818 as Belle Vue Field, this square (now right across the street from the i360 Tower) took 10 years to complete and was slated as housing for the upper social class.
Over the years, the space transformed due to war and the development of hotels/tourism in Brighton. These days, you can wander about the green park and have a look at the iconic townhouses. There’s a war memorial, too. You might even consider stopping into the Regency Restaurant for seafood or classic pub grub and a drink or stay the night close to the waterfront at beautiful Hotel Una!
Address: Regency Square, Brighton BN1 2FG, UK
Bonus: Take A Day Trip To The Seven Sister Cliffs
If you’ve got some more time to spare while you’re in Brighton or the south coast of the UK, you might want to check out the Seven Sister cliffs! Just a short drive from Brighton (about an hour), the white chalk cliffs (like the cliffs of Dover) outside of Eastbourne are well worth the trip. The hiking trails along the cliffs offer stunning views of the English Channel – with peaks like Beachy Head and valleys like the Birling Gap (and its beach) offering visitors places to check out.
As we said, you can drive to the cliffs – to the west of Eastbourne (aim for Cuckmere Haven), you could take the train to Eastbourne from Brighton (but then still have to cab or bus to the cliffs). The other option is to hop on a Seven Sisters cliff tour from Brighton to make the most of your day!
Location: Outside of Eastbourne, BN20 0AB, UK
And there you have it – some of the best things to do in Brighton! The southern English coast is full of awesome things to check out. You are certainly not limited if you head for Brighton and want to explore more! We will cover these towns, beaches, hikes, and castles in the south of England in posts coming up real soon! In the meantime, enjoy the sun in Brighton!
As always, Happy Brighton Waddlin’,