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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 04 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

From the Prince Regent to the Mods and Rockers of 1960s counter-culture, everyone falls in love with Brighton.

Unashamedly hedonistic, this seaside city is all about fun, from the glittering lights at the end of the pier to the cutely cluttered vintage shops around North Laine, and the bar-lined streets that ring with the sound of hen parties every weekend.

Not that it’s all raucous pleasures: Brighton has reinvented itself in the last decade, with restaurants worth travelling for, and charismatic boutique hotels to stay in. But the sea remains its greatest draw; with kayaking, SUP, kite-surfing and sailing all on offer, alongside a good old-fashioned paddle.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Brighton Pier

Brighton, West Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

An icon of British seaside history, Brighton’s Victorian pier offers the white-knuckle fairground rides, old-fashioned arcade games and fish and chips. The quintessential beach experience from a by-gone era.

Best for ages: Any | Free

Sussex Wine Region

Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

This emerging wine region has similar topography to France’s Champagne area, with vineyards producing award-winning bottles and laying on tastings and tours.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Royal Pavilion

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

Brighton’s most distinctive landmark – a domed Regency pleasure palace that looks straight out of Delhi, restored to its original splendour.

Best for ages: 10+ | £6

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

A person wearing colourful facepaint and a colourful painted bodysuit stands mid-performance in front of a crowd
Experience

Brighton Festival

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

Not as well-known as Edinburgh’s but more alternative in spirit, Brighton’s May festivals encompass food, live music, art and theatre at venues across the city.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 1 month

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A low angle of the Brighton i360. Angled upwards towards the blue sky.
Experience

Brighton i360

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

Stroll around this donut-shaped glass pod as you ascend a 162m viewing mast in the centre of Brighton, offering you 360-degree views of city and coast.

Best for ages: 6+ | £17

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The facade of Brighton Museum and Art Gallery within the Royal Pavillion. Taken on a sunny day.
Experience

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

Set in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion complex, this eclectic collection is a hotchpotch of contemporary paintings, textiles, puppets, masks and eccentric furniture.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Overview >
the inside of Brighton Toy and Model Museum. The floor has black and white chequered tiles, and there are model aeroplanes hanging from the ceiling above the till.
Experience

Brighton Toy and Model Museum

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

A temple to nostalgic childhood moments, this quaint museum has toy trains and cars, stuffed toys and retrospectives of brands such as Lego. 

Best for ages: Any | Free

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Overview >

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Brighton Bike Tours

Brighton Bike Tours

Brighton

Brighton is always an exuberant blend of color, culture, and trend-setting vibes, and has long been known as the London by the Sea. Submerge...

£35 | Rating 4.98 / 5 [108 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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City Sightseeing Brighton Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Brighton Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Brighton

Choose from a 1 day or 2 day ticket and embark on a fabulous sightseeing adventure through Brighton! This seaside resort town boasts many at...

£15 | Rating 4.20 / 5 [54 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Cycling Tour of Brighton City

Cycling Tour of Brighton City

Brighton

Brighton is always an exuberant blend of color, culture, and trend-setting vibes, and has long been known as the London by the Sea. Submerge...

£35 | Rating 4.93 / 5 [89 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Fun, Flexible Treasure Hunt Around Brighton with Cryptic Clues & Hidden Gems

Fun, Flexible Treasure Hunt Around Brighton with Cryptic Clues & Hidden Gems

Brighton

A fun and different way to see Brighton! Solve satisfying clues and follow beautiful maps sent to your phones. Spot things other people ta...

£10 | Rating 4.89 / 5 [73 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Blanch House

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

A chic boutique hotel in buzzing Kempton, with one of the city’s coolest cocktail bars.

Official star rating:

Artist Residence Brighton

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

A hip, bohemian art-themed hotel in a stunning location at the head of Regency Square.

Official star rating:

My Brighton Hotel

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

lively, high-concept design hotel conveniently located in the heart of the North Laine area, a stone’s throw from the city’s shops and main attractions. 

Official star rating:

Drakes Brighton

Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom (UK)

A deliciously decadent boutique hotel right on Brighton seafront, set in a renovated Georgian townhouse. 

Official star rating:

When to go

Brighton is busy whenever the sun shines, but July and August can be unbearable, as the town fills up with thousands of partygoers and families heading for the beach. Bright, crisp autumn (September to November) and early spring days (March to May) are the best time, when the beach belongs to the locals and its historic shopping quarter, the Lanes, remains unclogged by tourists.

These are also the months when you can browse the fab shops in peace, and get a table in the top restaurants without having to book in advance. The Brighton Festival – a nationally-recognised art and cultural event – takes place every May.

Getting there and away

Brighton is about a 1.5-hour drive from London, and there are excellent rail connections from London’s Victoria or London Bridge terminals, with a journey time of about an hour. Gatwick Airport is a 30-minute drive away, too (20 minutes by train).

Getting around

Eminently walkable, the station is at the north end of town, with Queen’s Road leading you directly to the beach. On the left, North Laine is a clutch of streets home to small cafés and vintage shops, while further south are the famous ‘Lanes’, a lattice of alleyways dotted with funky boutiques and coffee houses.

At the seafront, head east to Kemptown – Brighton’s vibrant gay village – or west to the Regency streets and squares of Hove.

Where to stay

Brighton is a party town, so your location really depends on how much sleep you want to get. Kemptown is where most of the serious partying goes on, while the further west you get towards Hove, the quieter things become. Many of the bigger hotels are actually on the seafront, and although they offer wonderful views, they overlook the busy main road that runs along the prom.

Many of the best hotels are squirrelled  away in the Regency squares and streets between Brighton and Hove – still an easy walk to where the action is, but far enough removed to feel peaceful.

Where to shop

Most tourists head to the Lanes to shop and eat, but the North Laine area is the locals’ choice; a lattice of streets dotted with boutiques, ethnic shops and vegan restaurants and a classic Brighton vibe.