The popular coastal resort of Brighton is vibrant, intriguing and full of fun. The city of Brighton has such a wide and varied range of things to do, this article will likely not do it justice – but we’ll give it a go!
Brighton lures in many tourists on day trips from London, especially on a warm and sunny day – but as you’ll discover, one day in Brighton merely scratches the surface of this impelling and lively city by the sea.
And it isn’t just a summertime destination, there is so much more to Brighton than the beach. You can pretty much visit at any time of the year and find it bustling with life and things to do.
What you should know, there is always something going on in Brighton!
21 Things To Do In Brighton
Shopping In Brighton
Brighton is a shoppers paradise. You could literally spend the whole day exploring the various distinct shopping areas;
1. The Lanes
If you are limited on time and want to get a real taste of Brighton, head straight to The Lanes. You’ll find a collection of little twisty narrow lanes, leading to unique, diverse and independent shops. The historic Lanes area are home to plenty of jewellery and antique shops, as well as designer boutiques, alongside delicious restaurants and pubs.
2. North Laine
Over 300 independent shops within less than half a square mile. The exciting range of shops include the popular Vegetarian Shoe Shop, alongside stylish studios selling local artwork, vintage boutiques, music shops, gifts and plenty of opportunities to stop off for a recharge in one of the friendly bars or cafes and soak in the buzzing atmosphere.
3. London Road
Located to the north of Brighton, London Road encompasses an area rich in history with a mix of independent and specialist shops. The country’s oldest working cinema, The Duke of York’s Picturehouse is in the Preston Circus area, where you can step back in time and watch a movie (current, classic or independent are all available) with a glass of something from the bar.
Elsewhere in the London Road area is the home of Brighton’s most famous market, the Open Market, selling local eggs, meat, cheese, fruit and veg and fresh fish. All from Sussex’s best food producers.
4. Kemp Town
A laid back area just off the seafront with a mix of independent quirky shops, vintage second hand shops, cafes, pubs and bars. Kemp Town is home to most of the city’s gay nightlife. There are some great pubs, places to eat, with more of an emphasis on independent businesses. It is well worth a explore of this vibrant chilled out part of Brighton.
If the taste of freshly made bread is your thing, do not miss Real Patisserie. It is served as fresh as you can get, made from beginning to end on the premises. They also freshly make a huge selection of pastries, and if you get there early enough, they might still be warm from the oven.
Brighton Sea Front
Many day trippers from London head straight to Brighton beach. With so much going on along the pebbled coastline, it’s easy to understand why.
5. The Beach Front
On the beach, west of Brighton Pier, you will find the bohemian Artist’s Quarter with a range of art studios and housed in what were once Fisherman’s arches. Some beautiful artwork can be bought here and I recommend a stroll down here. Further down towards the old pier are the West Pier arches with some retail outlets selling a range of items including children’s clothing, home ware and other gifts.
Brighton beach, on the English Channel, is a bustling and atmospheric area. Go for a walk along the lower promenade lined with souvenir shops, bars, cafes and art galleries.
On warmer days, grab a cool drink at one of the beach side bars and soak in the cosmopolitan atmosphere surrounding you. When day turns to night, the bars and clubs open for people to party the night away under the Victorian beach front arches.
6. Volks Railway
During the summer months (April to September), you can catch a ride on the Volk’s Railway, the oldest running electric railway in the world. Volk’s Railway dates back to 1883 and has a long and interesting history. Passengers can start their ride by Brighton Aquarium on the seafront, all the way down to Brighton Marina.
7. Punch and Judy
There are very few traditional Punch and Judy shows left in the UK, once a firm favourite of visitors to seaside resorts. Children would watch in delight at the famous puppet show. Luckily, Brighton is still fortunate enough to have one of the most talented puppeteers putting on this classic British seaside event. The shows take place on the lower promenade outside the Brighton Fishing Museum.
8. Palace Pier
The Grade II listed building has a history dating back to 1823. It has of course seen many changes over the years, including complete rebuilds due to storm damage. If you fancy a typical fish and chip dinner, head to the famous Palm Court Restaurant on the pier. If you are taking your food away, just watch out for the persistent seagulls overhead, they have no fear and think nothing of swooping in for your portion of chips.
Elsewhere on the pier are amusement arcades with fruit machines galore, and right at the end, a fairground with dodgems, ‘turbo coaster’ and other typical fairground rides. Classic stalls can be found in the fairground area, including Tin Can Alley and Hook a Duck.
If this all seems like too much excitement, grab yourself a deckchair and a traditional piece of Brighton Rock and watch the fascinating world of Brighton pass by.
If you happen to still be around at sunset during the winter months, you might be lucky enough to see the delightful display that the starlings like to put on. The starlings are returning to roost from across the Sussex countryside.
9. British Airways i360
If you want to get the perfect view of Brighton from up high then head to the British Airways i360. From a large glass viewing pod you will glide up to a height of 450ft where you can spot all of Brighton’s well known landmarks, the beautiful coastline and the South Downs National Park.
There are plenty of museums in Brighton to suit all interests. They make the perfect standby for rainy days in Brighton, or equally, as they are small museums, can be combined with many of the other activities in Brighton.
10. Royal Pavilion
A building quite unlike most others, unique and exotic, a wonder and an absolute must see. The Royal Pavilion is an incredible sight and was once the palace of Prince Regent (George IV.) When you first set eyes on it you can imagine it in India, which is the style that the prince requested the architect John Nash design it in.
From the outside the Royal Pavilion is visually stunning – and inside is equally amazing. Be prepared for your jaw to drop when you see the interior. The ‘Banqueting Room’ is incredible, and as for the chandelier, weighing in at a hefty 1 tonne, you just know this room is going to impress.
11. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Located in the entrance of the Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery features interactive displays including fine art and design, fashion and 20th century art.
12. Brighton Fishing Museum
In the Fishing Quarter on the seafront, the Brighton Fishing Museum showcases the rich history of Brighton’s fishing and seaside life.
13. Old Police Cells Museum
Book a tour of the historic police cells and learn about Brighton’s criminal past at the Police Cells Museum. Tours are free but must be booked in advanced.
14. Brighton Toy Museum
Situated under Brighton Station, over 10,000 exhibits on display, the Brighton Toy Museum is one of the finest collections in the world. Displays include train collections, Corgi, Dinky, puppets and Budgie Toys.
15. Brighton Marina
Indulge in a spot of boat watching as you stroll around the modern Brighton Marina. There is a selection of specialist shops, including home furnishings, gifts, fashion and books. Elsewhere you will find a variety of cafes and restaurants of every cuisine. The Marina is also home to a bowling alley, cinema and casino.
If you fancy getting out to sea, you can take a boat or sea fishing trip. Choose a mini cruise to suit you, take in the Sussex Coastline including the West Pier, Palace Pier, or further along towards Seven Sister’s Cliff and Beachy Head near Eastbourne.
From the Marina you can walk along the undercliff to Rottingdean, a picturesque seaside village. The walk is about 3 miles long with incredible views out to sea and breath taking white cliffs, with beach access for a spot of rock pooling. Keep an eye out for any fossils! Stop off for a refuel at the highly recommended Ovingdean Undercliff Cafe.
Rottingdean was mentioned in the Domesday book, becoming en vogue in the 19th century amongst writers and artists. Rudyard Kipling lived here from 1897 to 1902 in a house he rented and wrote some of his famous stories, including some of the ‘Just So’ titles.
The gardens were restored by The Rottingdean Preservation Society and opened for the public to enjoy in 1986.
The High Street in Rottingdean provides plenty of opportunities for refreshments, with a choice of 5 pubs and various independent tea rooms, cafes and restaurants.
17. City Sightseeing
A hop on hop off bus tour of Brighton starts at Brighton Pier. Get on and off at any of the stops along the route. Tickets are valid for 24 hours. The tour is in operation from April to September.
18. Brighton City Walks
A 90 minute walking tour of historic Brighton. Tours run most days by an experienced guide who will tell you all about the history and story of Brighton. A great way to learn all about Brighton from someone in the know.
19. Only In Brighton
Unique walking tours of Brighton lasting 80 minutes. Be entertained as you learn some intriguing and unusual insights into the city.
Other Tours – For a wider choice of tours including Ghost Walking Tours, Offbeat Brighton, Mods & Rockers Brighton please see the official Visit Brighton website.
20. Brighton Events
There is always something going in in Brighton, from Foodies Festivals, the UK’s biggest celebration of food and drink, to the largest arts festival in England, Brighton Fringe taking place throughout May.
Brighton Pride is another event not to be missed – it usually takes place at the beginning of August and is one of the most well known and popular Pride events in the world.
The Artists Open Houses Festival is the largest of it’s kind in the UK where around 200 artist’s homes and studios open up to the public to show the work of over 1,000 artists. It usually takes place in May.
21. South Downs National Park
Easily accessible by bus, bike or car, the South Downs National Park has incredible views, walks and rolling hills.
A great way to get around is by bus, get a Discovery Ticket for unlimited travel for the day across the South Downs.
Alternatively, ‘Breeze up to the Downs’ is a network of 3 buses linking Brighton to Devil’s Dyke, Ditchling Beacon and Stanmer Park.
What’s top of your things to do in Brighton? Let us know in the comments!