Once a sleepy fishing village, Brighton started growing when it became popular to take holidays by the sea. Now it’s a busy but chilled-out city with a gorgeous long pebbled beach, a thriving gay scene, great nightlife, and a diverse shopping experience. It’s a really popular weekend getaway from London and many people have chosen to live here instead of the capital and commute in to work every day. There are many annual events, one of the highlights being the London to Brighton bike ride, where thousands of people take part and the atmosphere is electrifying. Another summer event is Pride which lasts for a week and where you will have indescribable amounts of fun.
Things to See and Do
The Beach – The beautiful pebbled beach stretches from the neighbouring town of Hove, all the way to the Brighton Marina Village. It makes for a great walk and there’s usually lots going on in the evenings during the summer. There is a nudist area, and just beyond the marina is where the surfers catch waves. Fishermen also line the piers and the marina.
The Royal Pavilion – Take a tour of this interesting seafront building built in the early 1800s with an Indian-themed exterior and Chinese-themed interior. Entry: approx. US$15
The Palace Pier – A nice place to take a stroll and enjoy stunning sea views, as well as to have a go on tacky arcade games or pick up a tasty snack.
The West Pier – This iconic Brighton landmark was built in 1866 and enjoyed until 1975 when it fell into disrepair. In 2003 a fire spread through the pavilion, made worse by the fact that firemen couldn’t reach it due to collapsed walkways. Nowadays the burnt corpse of the pier can still be seen and there are plans to eventually restore it.
Sea Life Centre – Walk through an underwater tunnel at the oldest working aquarium in the world. Entry: around US$30
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery – Located in the Royal Pavilion’s gardens, the museum and art gallery showcases all sorts of exhibitions and displays with many old images and interesting historical facts about Brighton. Entry: about US$8
Fabrica – Another art gallery, however, this one focuses on contemporary international artists who display fascinating large scale works and installations and is housed in an old church. Entry: Free
St. Bartholomew’s Church – This unique church is well worth a visit. It’s one of Brighton’s known landmarks, has an interesting interior and is also one of the tallest churches in all of Europe.
Backpackers – Baggies Backpackers has dorm rooms from around US$25 a night and has a huge range of facilities including free tea and coffee, lockers, a music room and a book exchange.
Bed & Breakfast – For English seaside charm, the Strawberry Fields Hotel is minutes away from the pier, will serve you breakfast in bed and has rooms starting from US$100 a night.
Luxury – The regal Queen’s Hotel has a prime location on the seafront offering amazing views. There is a bar and bistro, free buffet breakfast and a pool and spa. Rooms start from around US$150 a night.
Brighton doesn’t have an airport but London Gatwick is only 30 minutes away by train and the capital itself is only about an hour away depending on if you catch a fast train or 20 minutes more if you catch a slower one. Tickets can be bought from around US$6 upwards depending on when bought and for what time of day.
Buses – Due to a high population of students and commuters who don’t own cars, Brighton’s bus system is extensive and reliable. Pick up a CitySaver day pass and you can get on any service you want.
Trains – To get out to a nearby town, Brighton’s centrally located station has plenty of services to the nearby suburbs. Try going to Lewes, a medieval town with a beautiful castle which is only 20 minutes away.
Taxis – Hail a black cab on the street or call Streamline taxis for a private service. A pricey but convenient way of getting around the city, especially after dark.
Street Food – Head to the stalls by the pier to try cockles and mussels, crab sandwiches, and oysters fresh from the sea. Price guide: Budget
Japanese – Pom Poko is a cute little café that serves up delicious Japanese treats in a social atmosphere where diners all sit together on mixed tables. Price guide: Budget
Luxury Dining – For the best seafood restaurant in the city head to English’s of Brighton where you can take a table and pick from the a la carte or set menu. Alternatively, just pop in for a glass of champagne and a plate of oysters at the beautiful marble-topped oyster bar. Price guide: Expensive
Pub – The Prince Albert is covered in murals of famous artists from throughout the years so it’s not hard to miss. Upstairs you can watch up and coming indie bands for as little as US$8 a ticket.
Cabaret – For a decadent night where you might leave a little bit shocked, Proud Cabaret not only puts on a great show, but also serves up delicious food and drinks. Tickets start from around US$15.
Club – Under the Victorian arches by the seafront is a great club which has changed hands and names many times but which is now simply known as The Arch. Famous DJs abound and avid clubbers will not be disappointed with the large two-room two-floor venue.
Shopping and Markets
Boutique – Brighton is a shopper’s dream and visitors who head to The Lanes will find independent store after store stocking unique quirky one-of-a-kind items. The Lanes are also home to a multitude of eateries and bars for those much-needed regular shopping breaks.
Alternative – North Laine is an area full of hippies and rastas, goths and punks, and everything alternative. Pick up a bong, a herbal remedy, some baggy travellers’ pants/trousers, or maybe some fairy wings.
Market – Head to Brighton Open Market for a traditional market scene where buyers and traders negotiate excitedly over fruit and veg, meat and poultry. The focus is on fresh organic produce but there are also antiques, garden tools and furniture, and arts and Crafts.