Get to Know Brighton
Nestled between the sea and the Sussex countryside, Brighton is a vibrant, colourful resort, famous for its beachfront cool and iconic tourist attractions. The town is also known for its nightlife, shopping, festivals and arts scene. We had 3 contributors to this blog (thank you Emily, Alex and Jess), so we have stacks of recommendations of things to do and places to go! Be inspired by the best of Brighton…
This exotic Indian-style palace is in the centre of Brighton. Built in 1798 as a royal seaside retreat for the Prince Regent (George IV), it has a colourful history, even serving as a military hospital during World War I. Admire the stunning interior now restored to its original grandeur and explore the Royal Pavilion Gardens, where you will also find the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery; curated exhibitions and diverse collections bring together art and history to tell stories about the city and from around the world.
Brighton residents get into the Pavilion half price if they show proof of address, and it’s 10% cheaper if you book ahead online too.
Photo: Brighton Pavilion – Qmin
Indulge in the ultimate British seaside experience of eating fresh fish and chips at the end of Brighton Pier!
Opened in 1899, specifically as a ‘pleasure place’, the iconic pier was an immediate hit and still has millions of visitors every year, making it one of the favourite attractions in the whole country. A waterfront theme park featuring restaurants rides and arcade games, from traditional fairground favourites to all the latest gaming mayhem, there is something for all. If you are a thrill-seeker, there are rides to make your stomach leap and your head spin – try the Turbo Coaster if you dare!
Photo: Brighton Palace Pier – YouTube
The Sea-Life centre by the pier is the second oldest operating aquarium in the world, having opened in 1872. It has pretty impressive Victorian architecture, housing state of the art attractions including Day & Night, where you can take a colourful underwater journey to experience a coral reef as it transitions from day to night.
This special attraction is a 162-metre observation tower on the seafront of Brighton, offering the best sea view in the UK. Tickets start from £12 for students and there are also residents’ discounts. Various events are held here including yoga in the sky, so start your weekend with an uplifting fusion of yoga and Pilates high above Brighton, followed by a group breakfast club of mini granola pots, fresh fruit and super smoothies.
With the long days approaching, the i360 is the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset with your friends, or a romantic evening, ending with drinks and dining among the stars at the elegant restaurant within the pod. For an exhilarating challenge, try the i-Drop experience – plunge 450ft towards Brighton Beach, taking in the sweeping costal views as you glide through the open air.
Photo: British Airways i360 – Visit Brighton
Enjoy a breath of fresh air along the coast or countryside.
Brighton by bike
Grab a Life Bike (you need to download the BTN Bikeshare (SoBi) app) and cycle along the seafront to Hove. Get fish and chips from Wolfies near the station, takeaway beer from Bison on Church Road, and take them to the beach (watch the seagulls!)
Or take a Bike Tour – ideal for those pushed for time and wanting to explore all there is to discover in Brighton and Hove. There’s a range of rides to choose from, including street art tours and twilight tours. Prices start at £15 per person, and tours can last between 1-3 hours! A fun and healthy way to see the city!
Take a hike
If you miss your family pooch, get on Borrow My Doggy. Emily says ‘Brighton is the most dog friendly city I’ve ever found – most cafés have dog treats, and most pubs and shops let them in. Also, most of us seem to own dogs, so there are plenty to be walked!’
For a few quid, hop on the bus from town to Ditchling Beacon or Devil’s Dyke to walk in some of the most picturesque countryside and views you’ll ever see.
Photo: Ditchling Beacon – National Trust
Grab some beers and some boules and play on the Level, which also has a skatepark.
Visit Hove Lagoon, with its boating lake and watersports arena, where you can learn to wakeboard and windsurf in a controlled environment. Really fun stuff!
While away an afternoon strolling around this delightful warren of narrow streets and passageways, packed with cool cafés, traditional pubs, quirky boutiques, antiques, bookstores and art spaces. The quaint 16th-century buildings ooze character and you’ll find everything from vegan shoes to vintage fashion.
Photo: The Lanes, Brighton – Visit Brighton
Alex recommends this treasure trove in the North Laine area: ‘Probably the best antique/second-hand store I’ve ever seen. Just a maze of amazing knick-knacks.‘
Check out the covered Market on London Road for eggs, cheese, fruit and veg, and take empty containers to fill up with shampoo, detergent etc. Some really good cheap lunch places in there too!
Restaurants & Food Places
Home to giant, healthy and nutritious sushi burritos that are perfect for on-the-go eating, Happy Maki is all about high quality, forward-thinking vegan food with zero compromise on flavour. They are passionate about offering people truly sustainable sushi; their company ethos of ‘fish free sushi’ aims to raise awareness of overfishing and ocean health issues. Founder Anna loves the outdoors, especially the ocean, and wants to do her bit to keep you and the environment healthy. For every wrap you buy, they donate money to plant a tree and feed a child. Increasingly popular at festivals and street markets, head down to Happy Maki to see what all the fuss is about.
If you want a healthy, cheap lunch, go to this colourful eatery on Western Road for the £7.50 all-you-can-eat buffet. Tasty salads and hot dishes, with plenty of choice for vegetarians and vegans. Nutritious, delicious and great value!
Photo: Foodilic, Brighton – Trip Advisor
Another favourite cheap lunch is the sliced pizza in Infinity Foods & Bakery (tucked in the back corner of the shop) in North Laine – they do gluten free and vegan pizza by the slice too.
There’s some debate over the top pizza spot: Emily’s favourite is Fatto A Mano, Alex’s vote goes to VIP (Very Italian Pizza), while Jess loves the fantastic vegan pizzeria – Purezza, which is the top-rated pizza place for the area on Trip Advisor.
Hidden in the Lanes of Brighton, Cloud 9 is the place to indulge in the most delicious cake creations and scrumptious ice cream! Treat yourself to a slice of their famous rainbow cake (they were the first in the UK to bake it!) or work your way through their irresistible homemade ice creams – from classic chocolate to strawberries and cream. Cloud 9 also offer a great range of vegan options so there are temptations to suit all tastes!
Photo: Cloud 9 rainbow cake – Trip Advisor
Hugely popular for a cheap meal is Pompoko, a small Japanese restaurant near the Brighton Dome – you’ll probably have to queue, but it’s well worth the wait. (Really popular with students for the prices!)
Equally awesome, though slightly more expensive, is Bincho Yakitori. The menu changes every week, it’s by the sea and has a cracking range of imported Japanese craft beer.
You just can’t beat BBQs by the beach in the summer – no restaurants required!
This is Brighton & Hove’s own unique chain of coffee stores. Emily’s barista friends say they serve the best coffee they have ever tasted and they have a very sustainable business approach. They even offer barista courses!
A gem of a café located in Kemptown, serving fresh food, salads, mouthwatering cakes and good coffee. Known for fabulous flavours and a welcoming atmosphere, it’s a brilliant place for breakfast, with homemade local bread available to buy. They have recently expanded with a new takeaway place directly across the road.
The café is very popular, so be prepared to queue outside on a Sunday morning for your coffee hit, but it’s worth the wait. Emily recommends a beautiful early evening walk along the seafront (upper level) to Marmalade, buy your coffee and stroll back at sunset.
With a simple mission of providing products aimed at fuelling health and happiness in the most positive way, Wolfox offer juices, smoothies and other amazing treats that give healing and nutritious benefits. They have a great range of cold-pressed juices (which is the best juicing method for preserving the nutrients in the fruit and veg, so you absorb the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals). The ideal place for an early morning boost, or a pick-me-up between lectures!
Best of the rest
Bars & Pubs
A dapper looking lounge bar in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes, which has three floors of individually styled rooms, where you can enjoy good food or exotic cocktails. It is stylish and sophisticated, without being pretentious, and hosts the best themed nights and parties throughout the year, ranging from burlesque to circus nights.
Drink relax and play! A dedicated gaming bar on the seafront, serving great food. They have a wall of free board games to play if you are a customer, and a bunch of video games. (There’s also one in Dalston, London).
For more games, visit one of Alex’s favourite pubs – it has a sizeable VR gaming area for your friends to play around in, remote-control racetrack, escape rooms, great beers and it hosts events like student nights, retro gaming days and music, all the time.
Wednesday night is 2 for £12 on sausage and mash in The Geese, a great little pub on Southover Street in Hanover (halfway up the hill).
Photo: The Geese pub, Brighton
If you want to try beer made in Brighton, have a pint at any of the pubs owned by Brighton Bier: The Bierhaus, Haus On The Hill, Free Haus.
Bison Beer, North Lane – bar/pub, kitchen, bottleshop and brewery.
This independent beer bar stocks a huge range of craft beer from around the world with a keen interest in the Sussex beer scene. In Spring, Bison Beer will once again partner with Sea Lanes on Kemptown Coastline, popping up a beach bar and street food joint, offering some of the best sunset views around – the perfect spot to sink into a deckchair and truly live your best life.
Photo: Bison Beer
While everyone knows that Pride is a great time to visit, Brighton Fringe is also a fantastic event where you can catch amazing theatre at bargain prices. Most of the acts that will go on to the bigger Edinburgh fringe trial their shows here, so you can tell your friends you saw them before they were cool.
Brighton is famous for being one of the best places for comedy in the south (outside London). There are multiple comedy nights around the city but the most prestigious is the Krater Comedy Club at the Komedia – always a great night out.
Proud Cabaret hosts murder mystery shows, burlesque nights and cabaret in one of the best retro arenas in the city.
If you’re brave enough, spend a scary night down at the Old Brighton Nick, or head to the basement of Brighton’s Town Hall and become immersed in history as you spend the night in the old police cells; the site is reported to be haunted by a Chief Constable who was murdered by a prisoner in 1844. There are also numerous reports suggesting the building may be full of troubled souls that were incarcerated in the cells (likely abused by early policing methods). Challenge yourself to a ghost hunt in the after dark eeriness!
Crazy golf just got crazier! Spend a fun hour or so with friends at Brighton’s UV mini golf courses. Putt amongst life-size neon Jurassic creatures and glowing Tropicana wall art. For even more fabulous experiences, visit Globalls during festive periods, as they undergo intensive seasonal makeovers!
Photo: Globalls – My Guide Brighton
If you have other suggestions for things to do in and around Brighton, OR if you’d like to write a feature on your favourite city, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Brighton:
Other places in this series:
Get to know London
10 fun affordable things to do in & around London
Note: Information and prices correct at the time of publication