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From beaches to big beats, bohemian Brighton has heaps of things to do for both day trippers and those pleasure-seekers looking to spend a number of days there.
A coastal city that prides itself on its pier, arts and LGBTQ scene, Brighton is only an hour away by train from London.
From shopping in North Laine to cool cultural hubs and even an upside down house, here is guide to the best things to do in Brighton 2023:
Table of Contents
Things to do in Brighton
How to get to Brighton from London?
Brighton is an easy day trip from London and there are regular trains that run all day.
As at March 2023, the cheapest day return from London to Brighton is £9.55, from London Bridge station or Blackfriars station when booked in advance using a National Railcard such as Two Together.
1. Brighton Beach
Brighton beach is one of the best seaside escapes on the south coast. Given it can be less than an hour by train from London, the pebbled beach is always packed, especially on weekends and bank holidays.
Brighton Beach is free to visit (although you will have to pay for hiring deck-chairs) and you are welcome to take your own food and drink / picnic, as long as you tidy up afterwards.
The sea water is also very welcoming and you can easily swim here in the summer months. Brighton Beach has several areas where lifeguards keep an eye on swimmers.
You can also use reusable BBQs on the beach in selected areas after 6pm. Perfect for a day of swimming followed by some beachside beers and bangers (sausages).
Address: Brighton Beach, Madeira Drive, BN2 1ET
2. Brighton Beach Seafood
If sunbathing or relaxing isn’t your thing, Brighton Beach also several fresh seafood shacks are dotted along the way, offering oysters, whelks and crabsticks – if you are feeling brave, try jellied eels, a traditional english dish served cold which isn’t for everyone (definitely not us).
One of the most popular beachside seafood spots is Sea Haze shellfish bar. Run by the Hayes family, the Sea Haze is a traditional fishmongers with fresh fish and seafood – try a cone of cockles, whelks, mussels or prawns and enjoy them alfresco on the beach.
Address: Sea Haze, 207 Kings Road, BN1 1NB
3. Volk’s Electric Railway – reopens Easter 2023
In the mood for something more sedate? To the left of Brighton Pier brings you to Volk’s Electric Railway, operating in the southern months.
It is the oldest operating electric railway in the world, having part-opened in 1883. The railway line runs from the Brighton Palace Pier to Black Rock Station near Brighton Marina.
Volk’s Electric Railway opens daily in 2023 from (April 7th to September 30th).
Address: Volk’s Electric Railway, 285 Madeira Drive, BN2 1EN
4. Brighton Pier / Palace Pier
Dating back to 1899, Brighton Pier is a must-visit and one of the most popular free things to do in Brighton.
From fairground attractions to arcade machines and candy floss stalls, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Brighton Palace Pier.
As well as numerous free deck-chairs to sit in with your ice-cream, there are several bars, restaurants and tea-rooms to soak up the sun in.
Brighton Palace Pier is open daily from 10am to 8pm as at March 2023 and is one of the best piers in the UK – I guess you could call it ‘peerless’… (sorry!).
Address: Brighton Palace Pier, Madeira Drive, BN2 1TW
Like seaside piers? Visit Hastings in East Sussex >
5. Brighton Fish and chips
Fact – you simply have to do fish and chips* on the beach when you visit Brighton – it is the law! (* or nearest vegan / veggie equivalent).
Several cafes and kiosks along the beach offer fine fish fare, starting from about £5 for a small portion of fish, chips and mushy peas.
Whilst they can vary in quality (generally you get what you pay for in Brighton), our main advice is to watch-out for the seagulls – they’ve been known to swoop down and dive bomb for chips.
The best rated fish and chip shops include RYBYA (The Fish Likes To Swim), Bardsley’s and Captain’s Fish and Chips. You’re welcome!
6. North Laine
Bohemian, kitsch with a dash of retro (but enough of us), the North Laine is spread over several streets and is an eclectic mix of vintage shops, cafes and record stalls, with around 300 retailers in total vying for your attention – and wallet.
Characterised by the colourful murals and street-art / graffiti, from craft fairs to craft beers, this is an awesome afternoon of fun, hopping from place to place. A really fun thing to do in Brighton.
Address: North Laine, East Sussex, BN1
7. Snoopers Paradise
The living reincarnation of Aladdin’s Cave, Snoopers Paradise is a historic treasure trove of stalls selling an array of antiquities, artefacts and retro goodness, found on North Laine.
Several of the stalls in Snoopers Paradise also specialise in old toys and annuals so you can relive your childhood under one roof (a bit like being in your very own episode of the BBC’s Bargain Hunt). Photography is prohibited inside so best to put your camera away before entering.
It is free to browse the fine flea market that is Snoopers Paradise – entrance is via a vintage turnstile and it is open 7 days a week from 10am to 6pm.
Address: Snoopers Paradise, 7/8 Kensington Gardens, BN1 4AL
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8. Brighton Royal Pavilion
When you first see the Brighton Royal Pavilion, you can be forgiven for thinking you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and have accidentally arrived in South East Asia.
Very different from any other seaside dwelling we’ve seen before, Brighton Pavilion is an exotic and luxurious former royal residence built for King George IV. It is a Grade I listed building, dating back to 1787 that has been well maintained over the years.
Situated in Pavilion Gardens (popular for picnics and street musicians), this lush Brighton landmark features on all the town’s souvenir postcards and magnets and has been used as a filming location for movies such as The Current War, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Richard III and The End of the Affair.
Address: 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, BN1 1EE
9. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Just across from Brighton Royal Pavilion, this magnificent museum houses both permanent and temporary collections, specialising in art, design, fashion and style. It also houses a rather charming gift shop full of cool prints and gifts.
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery admission is usually £7.50 per person to get in which includes an annual pass – it is free for local residents. Prices correct as at March 2023.
There are also a couple of weekends every year when Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is free for all to visit (we visited for free during an Open Heritage weekend).
Address: Royal Pavilion Gardens, Pavilion Parade, BN1 1EE
10. Brighton i360
One of the best and most original viewing platforms we’ve seen, Brighton i360 is situated right next to the beach, offering coastal vistas (you can also see the former, burned down West Pier) and views of the town.
At the top over 160 metres high, prime panoramic views of the coast unfurl below you.
Unlike similar viewing platforms we’ve tried, in the Brighton i360 you are free to wander around – if you are after something a little different, Brighton i360 also do special events like ‘Yoga in the Sky’ or afternoon tea.
Address: Brighton i360, Lower Kings Road, BN1 2LN
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11. Brighton Upside Down House
If you are leaving Brighton Beach one day and stumble across an upside down house, don’t worry (unless you’ve been to the pub for a long session)… the upside house is meant to be inverted.
Already popular in Asia and with another one in Shepherd’s Bush in London, the Upside Down House Brighton is the first coastal location and a popular beachfront attraction
With interior furnishings including an upside down jukebox and mountain bike, this is a unique photo opportunity spot and a fun thing to do in Brighton. Prices start from £5.95 per person as at March 2023.
Address: Upside Down House, 42-43, Kings Road Arches, BN1 2LN
12. Brighton Beach Carousel
An English seaside tradition since Victorian times has been to ride on a carousel – Brighton Beach is no exception with one of the most charming carousels you’ll find in the UK. You can ride on a horse, in a carriage or even on a chicken (but no clucking around).
Located right on the beach and part of Brighton Palace Pier, it costs £3 to ride on the carousel as at March 2023.
13. The Lanes / Twittens
Brighton’s The Lanes are a series of small alleyways and side streets that house dozens of shops, bars and restaurants. Part of Brighton’s old town area, some of The Lanes date back to the 16th century.
A curious mix of the old and new, one of the oldest buildings here is The Cricketers Arms pub which was built in the 1540s. Also look out for the more modern Quadrophenia Alley, a nod to the mods.
Maze like, it can be quite easy to get lost in the Lanes but well worth your time to escape the hustle and bustle of Brighton – they are also known locally as the Twittens (nothing to do with Elon Musk we hasten to add).
A local institution, Komedia has been kicking around for over 25 years and is an award-winning arts and cinema centre in a prime position in the North Laine.
We first went to Komedia back in 2014 to watch Delphic perform (where are they now?!).
Playing host to over 700 performances every year, you can find out what’s on at Komedia during your visit by checking out their listing posters outside or visiting their website.
If you are only in Brighton for the day, the Komedia cafe / bar also does a brisk trade with heaps of alfresco tables overlooking the Laine outside
Address: Komedia, 44-47 Gardner Street, BN1 1UN
15. Brighton Open Market
Brighton’s only outdoor covered market, this is more of a regular local’s haunt with fresh fruit and veg stalls, several cafes, artist’s studios and some quirky gift stalls.
If you are limited for time, we’d recommend you visit the Laines over this, but if you want to escape the sun and tourist hordes, Open Market might be more up your street.
Address: Marshalls Row, BN1 4JU
16. Brighton Marina
Brighton Marina is chock full of chain bars and restaurants, overlooking the harbour. From Five Guys burgers to Wetherspoons and Pizza Express, you’ll pretty much find every high street restaurant here (shame there aren’t more independents here).
Given Brighton Marina is a half hour walk from the town centre (and the paving on the last stretch is a little ‘rough’), we’d only recommend this on a sunny day, if you are visiting Brighton over several days and fancy some moderately priced food and drink in the sun with fresh sea-air.
Address: Brighton Marina, East Sussex, BN2 5UP
17. The Undercliff Walk (or cycle)
Stretching 5km (just over 3 miles) in length along the seafront, the Undercliff Walk goes from Brighton Marina to the seaside village of Saltdean along the chalk cliffs. Along the way, you’ll see wildlife and birds nesting in the rocks
Given the length, you may rather cycle along the Undercliff Walk (there is ample room for both pedestrians and cyclists).
18. Brighton Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Bus Tour
Look out for the open top bright red double decker buses in Brighton. As well as going along the seafront and stunning coastal views, you’ll get to see all the major Brighton things to do including the Sea Life Centre, Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion (entry fees separate).
Grab a seat on the outdoor top deck and listen to an audio commentary about Brighton by plugging in your headphones to the seat in front (headphones are included as part of the package price).
One or two day passes are available for the hop on hop off bus tours and the price includes a free networkSAVER ticket for use on the local bus services – bonus!
19. Jubilee Square
One of the best places for street food in Brighton, Jubilee Square is an open space that holds regular festivals, special events, farmers markets and pop-ups. At Christmas, a huge Christmas tree takes pride of place in Jubilee Square
Most weekends at Jubilee Square, you’ll find street food stalls – on our last visit, there was even a booze bus!
Jubilee Square is located in Brighton’s cultural quarter between the Pavilion Gardens and North Laines, next door to the Jubilee Library.
Address: Jubilee Square, 17 Jubilee Street, BN1 1GE
20. LGBTQ+ Brighton
Brighton is renowned for its LGBTQ+ scene and like Soho in London has some of the best and most popular gay bars in the UK.
Most of the gay bars are located along the eastern edge of Marine Drive, close to Brighton Palace Pier.
Popular gays bars include Club Revenge (check out their rainbow rooftop!), R Bar, The Brighton Village and the Queen’s Arms. Sadly, Brighton’s oldest and original gay club, The Bulldog Bar closed at the end of 2022.
21. Brighton Colourful Beach Huts and Houses
One of the prettiest and most Instagrammable places in Brighton has to be the brightly coloured beach huts on the beach, near Hove.
In the summer months, you’ll spot locals / families relaxing and spending their days in the sunshine in the beach huts at Brighton.
Also, there are many streets of colourful houses in Brighton including these pictured near the North Lanes.
22. Brighton Food Tour
The V.I.B (Very Independent Brighton) Walking Food Tour is a foodie tour that takes in seven local eateries and diners representing the very best of Brighton’s food scene. Dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian options can also be catered for.
23. Brighton Zip Line Experience
What is better than the longest zip line on the south coast? The longest zip line directly on the beach!
The Zip Line Experience is a year round attraction and 32 metres off the ground – zip along by yourself or do the dual zip line and race against your friends or family.
A ride with real ‘altitude’, soar past the sea and reach super fast speeds as you zip straight into the hull of a boat landing stage on Brighton beach.
24. Historic Brighton Pubs
Brighton has some classic British pubs to enjoy including several on the seafront. Our recommended pubs include:
The Pump House
A traditional pub with mediaeval cellars dating back to the 18th century
Address: The Pump House, 46 Market Street, BN1 1HH
A 16th century boozer with a cute beer garden out front overlooking The Lanes.
Address: Druid’s Head, 9 Brighton Place, BN1 1HJ
The Black Lion
Over 500 years and located on the site of one of the oldest breweries in the world, the Black Lion oozes history – and also does damn fine pints!
Address: Black Lion, 14 Black Lion Street, BN1 1ND
The Market Inn
Built in the 1800s, The Market Inn is a top traditional tavern with accommodation and a nice beer garden out front.
Address: The Market Inn, 1 Market Street, BN1 1HH
25. Brighton Breweries
Brighton is blessed with a bevy of breweries including some right on the beach – Brighton Bier Brewery and Taproom has amazing views of the coast and does some cracking craft bier…sorry beer too.
NB Brighton Bier’s beachfront taproom and shop is temporarily closed as at March 2023.
Close (ish) to Brighton Marina, Loud Shirt Brewery & Taproom is a new Brighton brewery that opened in 2022 and is open every Friday and Saturday (check out their Hazed and Confused New England IPA).
Closer to the town centre, UnBarred Brewery & Taproom started in 2014 and opened their bright and breezy Unbarred Brewery taproom in 2019. Their core pour craft beer range includes Joosy IPA, Albion Helles Lager and Bueno Shake Milk Stout. Yum!
Brighton Bier beach taproom; 73-75, Kings Road Arches, BN1 2FN
Loud Shirt Brewery & Taproom, Unit 5, Bell Tower Industrial Estate, Roedean Road, BN2 5RU
UnBarred Brewery & Taproom, 19-23 Elder Place, BN1 4GF
26. Have a Pint at Brighton’s Oldest Pub
Cheers – you’ve made it to the end of our ‘best things to do in Brighton’ article. Our final suggested activity is to seek out Brighton’s oldest pub, The Cricketers and have a pint.
All that walking around Brighton can be thirsty work, especially in the summer months so reward yourself here at the Cricketers. With the site dating back to the 16th century (1547), this is one ancient ale house.
Upstairs, sup your cider or sauv in the Green Room, named after famous novelist Graham Green (who also used to drink here regularly).
Pub grub dishes at the Cricketers include Sunday roasts, fish and chips, Cricketers Burgers, tater tots and crusty ciabattas.
Address: The Cricketers, 15 Black Lion Street, BN1 1ND
27. Brighton Beach Volleyball (Yellowave)
We reckon the recent resurgence in UK beach volleyball might have something to do with Top Gun II: Maverick. Brighton is no exception as several beachside volleyball courts are available to hire.
Yellowave beach volley courts in Brighton are the UK’s only permanent beach front sports venue which are open all year round. You can play between 2 to 6-a-side and a one hour beach volley ball court can be hired for £28 an hour (cheap if you organise two teams of 6!).
Next to the beach volley courts, you’ll find the Barefoot cafe which does a mean English breakfast with incredible beach views – Buddha bowls are also popular here.
Address: Yellowave Beach Sports Venue, 299 Madeira Drive, BN2 1EN
28. Shelter Hall Brighton
Street-food on the seafront? Yes please – Brighton’s Shelter Hall has seven different food kitchens, ranging from bao to burgers, ramen to Pizza plus a couple of cocktail bars and craft beer pop-ups.
The street food choice is great but the best bit of Shelter Hall is the awesome beach views, especially from the balcony on the upper deck.
You’d do far worse than take ‘Shelter’ here for the day, enjoying drinks and soaking up the sunshine views – open 7 days a week from 10am daily.
Address: Shelter Hall,Kings Road Arches, Shelter Hall, BN1 1NB
Here are some highly rated accommodation options if you decide to stay for longer than a day trip!
Friendly and comfortable hostel close to the train station with on-site bar, terrace and lounge area. Both dorms and private rooms available. Check out prices and availability for Kipps Brighton
A Room With A View
Grade II listed Georgian hotel located on the seafront – most of the rooms have sea views. Check out prices and availability for A Room With A View
Townhouse hotel featuring boutique-style themed rooms inspired by pop culture, glamour and music located on the seafront. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Pelirocco
The Grand Brighton
Renaissance style hotel located a 10-minute walk from the Pier on Brighton’s seafront, with stylish cocktail bar, restaurant and terrace. Check out prices and availability for The Grand Brighton
3-star townhouse hotel in the heart of the town centre and less than a minute’s walk from the beach. Check out prices and availability for Blanch House
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