20 Things To Do In Brighton

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Brighton is one of England’s most popular seaside destinations. The city is easily accessible by train from London and offers everything a traditional British seaside should, including a Victorian Pier, fish and chips and a laidback atmosphere. The city is filled with iconic landmarks, must-visit museums and some of the best independent shopping streets in the south of England. Fans of The Who’s album and movie Quadrophenia will recognise much of the city from the movie, with key buildings and locations visitable on a themed guided walking tour.

Brighton is also a key hub for the LGBT+ community, with Kemptown at its heart. Brighton is the ‘unofficial gay capital of Britain’ thanks to its inclusive and celebratory attitudes and nature. The city’s Pride parade is amongst some of the best in the country.

Explore Brighton’s coastal heritage by taking in the beach, the pier and the fishing museum. Brighton is filled with remnants of its Victorian seaside days, from the Victorian and Georgian buildings to the pier. If you plan on spending some time at this Great British seaside destination, here are the best things to do in Brighton.

Brighton, England

Top Tours

Colorful Brighton Beach Huts
Spending time on the beach is one of the fun things to do in Brighton today.

20 Things To Do In Brighton

The Brighton Wheel And Seafront
Riding the Brighton Wheel is one of the popular things to do in Brighton for families.

1- Explore Kemptown

Kemptown has a long-standing association with LGBT+ culture and communities.

The streets are lined with beautiful Regency buildings all adorning rainbow flags and bold and brightly coloured decorations.

Off the main streets are beautiful green gardens offering a tranquil escape from the busy streets.

Within the area, you will find gay bars, clubs, and businesses proudly owned by members of the LGBT+ community.

Kemptown is the best place in Brighton to shop for vinyl records, antiques and vintage fashion, with a large flea market and many boutiques.

Kemptown is one of the coolest neighbourhoods to visit and even made Time Out magazine’s Top 50 Worlds Coolest Neighbourhoods list.

2- Stroll Along The Royal Pavilion

Brighton Royal Pavilion against a blue sky
Exploring the Royal Pavilion is one of the things to do in Brighton.

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is one of the city’s most iconic and recognisable buildings.

This landmark is Grade I listed and was once a residency of royalty.

King George IV had the Pavilion built during the mid-1780s to serve as a pleasure palace.

The king chose Brighton as his palace’s location on recommendation from his physicians, who believed the coastal climate and waters would benefit his health.

Henry Holland designed the palace to be extravagant and reflect the king’s wishes to create something fashionable within the upcoming destination.

Today it is possible to visit the Pavilion inside and out to see how it may have looked during its use as a royal palace.

Royal Pavilion is at 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, Brighton and Hove, BN1 1EE. Skip the line and book your tickets here.

View Of The Exterior Of The Brighton Museum And Art Gallery
Visiting the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is one of the top things to do in Brighton.

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is the perfect destination in the city to inspire creativity and marvel at works of art from across the globe.

Current exhibitions at the art gallery include Finding Fabergé, a collection of forgotten Fabergé eggs and works of art, and One Minute Wonders which tells stories through illustrations of animals and plants.

One of the gallery’s most important and popular exhibits, Queer the Pier, focuses on the LGBT+ communities within Brighton and Hove and their history in the area.

The gallery is set inside the grounds of the Pavilion, so after exploring the artwork inside, take the time to wander the grounds and enjoy their beauty.

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery is at Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, BN1 1FN. A city sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus tour will get you to most places.

4- Visit The Brighton Dome

Brighton Dome is one of the most popular arts venues in the city and is formed from a concert hall, Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre.

The three venues are part of the Royal Pavilion Estate and are connected to the Royal Pavilion through a tunnel.

The Prince Regent had the concert hall built to serve as stables for his horses in an unusual circular shape, allowing the groomsmen to walk above the stable area below on a balcony, offering views of each horse.

At Brighton Dome, visitors can immerse themselves in the popular interactive art exhibit Van Gogh Alive or see a range of comedy performances from Frankie Boyle, Bridget Christie and Stewart Lee.

Brighton Dome is at Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UE.

5- Shop In North Laine

North Laine is a popular residential and shopping district in Brighton, only a short walk from the train station.

Like much of the city, North Laine has a trendy bohemian vibe filled with independent shops and cafes.

The Royal Pavilion is also inside the North Laine boundary, standing out from the Victorian terraces with its towering minarets and Indian touches.

During the weekend, the roads in and around North Laine are closed to traffic, allowing cafes and restaurants to spill onto the streets and allowing pedestrians more space to explore this independent quarter.

North Laine is an area of Brighton close to the train station.

6- Explore Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier buildings
Strolling along Brighton Pier is one of the classic things to do in Brighton, UK.

Brighton Pier is a Grade II listed pier, extending out into the English Channel from the beach.

Brighton Pier has stood since 1899 after the previous pier collapsed.

Since it opened, Brighton Pier has been a hotspot for entertainment, with a theatre built where the amusement park now stands.

Brighton Pier has been frequently used in music culture, from its appearance in Quadrophenia, a concept album and film from The Who, and in Brighton Rock, a gangster film.

At the end of Brighton Pier is the pier’s amusement park, which is filled with traditional British funfair rides such as carousels and helter-skelters, and a giant rollercoaster offering views over the English Channel.

Brighton Pier is at Madeira Drive, Brighton, BN2 1TW.

7- Rent a Bike

The Victorian Bandstand Near The Beach In Brighton
Gazing out at the ocean from the Victorian Bandstand is one of the things to do in Brighton.

One of the best ways to see a new city is by hiring a bike and exploring at your own pace.

Brighton has numerous locations across the city where bicycles can be hired and offers some guided tours on bikes.

If you are heading out by yourself, check on a map to find where you can rent your bike from, where you need to drop it back off, and what you can see and do in between.

If you are on a guided cycling tour of the city, your knowledgeable local tour guide will lead you to some of the most important and iconic locations in the city and will reveal their history.

Bicycles can be rented across the city or book one online here.

8- Go On The Undercliff Walk

For those looking for something more energetic during your time in this coastal city, look no further than a walk to Rottingdean, a neighbouring town, along the Undercliff Walk.

While this may not seem exciting at first glance, the route makes this journey very popular among locals and tourists.

The walk between the two destinations sees you stroll along the Undercliff Walk, a paved walkway that is towered over by large white cliffs.

The walk covers approximately 4.4 miles (7.08 kilometres) and has dramatic views across the sea barriers and over to France on the other side of the English Channel.

Undercliff Walk begins at Brighton Marina at Marina Way, Brighton.

9- Brave The Cold Water At The Beach

Colorful Striped Empty Deck Chairs On Brighton Beach, England
Renting a deck chair and spending time on the beach is one of the things to do in Brighton, England.

When visiting the seaside, a great thing to do is spend time on the beach itself, relaxing in the sun, enjoying a stroll, indulging in fish and chips or braving the cold waters for a paddle.

Brighton Beach is a Blue Flag pebble beach backed by a bustling promenade.

The beach is a great starting point for those looking to get out onto the water on surfboards, paddle boards or kayaks, many of which can be rented on the promenade.

Like many British seaside destinations, traditional deck chairs can also be hired, allowing you to sit and admire the view comfortably.

From Brighton Beach, you are close to many of the city’s most popular attractions, including Brighton i360, the Fishing Museum and Sea Life Brighton.

Brighton Beach is at 4 Madeira Drive, Brighton, BN2 1ET.

10- Admire The View At Brighton Marina Pier 

The Fun Fair At The End Of Brighton Palace Pier Illuminated At Night
Having fun at Brighton Palace Pier is one of the things to do in Brighton with kids.

While this pier is not as well known nor as popular with tourists as Brighton Pier, Brighton Marina Pier is still beautiful and offers excellent views over the marina.

The marina is the largest in the UK and offers much more than somewhere to moor your boat or purchase fishing equipment.

The marina area includes a large cinema, bowling alley, mini golf and many restaurants.

At the marina, you can take sailing lessons, hire jet skis, relax on one of the pier’s benches, and watch the world go by.

Brighton Marina Pier is at 6 Trafalgar Gate, The Stand, Brighton Marina, Brighton, BN2 5UY.

11- See 360-Degree Views At Brighton i360

Brighton i360 is an excellent destination in Brighton to get the best views from an unusual location.

Brighton i360 is a unique viewing gallery that transports visitors to a 138m (452.76ft) high tower inside a large clear-sided doughnut-shaped pod.

Inside the pod is the Nyetimber Sky Bar, allowing you to sip on a cocktail made by a local drinks producer whilst admiring the views.

The unique pod design allows visitors a full 360-degree view of the city and beyond, with the UNESCO Biosphere and the South Downs National Park visible from the top on clear days.

Brighton i360 is at Lower Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2LN. Skip the line and book your tickets here.

12- Visit The Fishing Museum

Colorful Brighton Beach Huts
Spending time on the beach is one of the fun things to do in Brighton today.

Uncover Brighton’s Fishing heritage at the small and quaint Fishing Museum in an old Fisherman’s arch on the seafront.

This unusual museum is tightly packed with exhibitions on Brighton’s history, from when it was first founded as Brighthelmstone in the 1700s.

The museum has many artefacts from the city’s finishing heritage, including equipment, protective clothing, paintings and advertisements.

The most unusual piece within the museum is their 27ft (8.23m) long clinker punt boat, a traditional fishing boat from Sussex, the county in which the city lies.

The Fishing Museum is at 201 Kings Road Arches, Brighton, BN1 1NB.

13- Visit Sea Life Brighton

Sea Life Brighton is the perfect family-friendly destination to learn all about sea life and the importance of our oceans.

Sea Life Brighton is located right at Brighton Beach, allowing you to enjoy the sea before or after your visit.

Eugenics Birch designed the world’s oldest aquarium in the mid-1800s.

Inside, the aquarium has filled its Victorian vaulted ceilinged rooms with a range of tanks filled with clownfish, sea horses and jellyfish, and many interactive exhibitions.

Unlike many other Sea Life destinations in Britain, Sea Life Brighton’s water supply is fed directly from the sea.

One of the best things to do at Sea Life Brighton is to get hands-on with an interactive Rockpool experience where you can stroke starfish and learn more about these intelligent creatures.

Sea Life Brighton is at Marine Parade, Brighton, BN2 1TB. Skip the line and book your tickets here.

14- Ride The Volk Railway

Volk Railway is a heritage railway that runs along Brighton’s main seafront.

The railway is a narrow gauge electric railway and the world’s oldest electric railway.

Volk Railway opened in 1883, forming a key part of Brighton’s Victorian pleasure beach.

Each car on the railway is well-preserved and maintained, as the cars used today are from Victorian origins.

As you journey along the railway’s one-mile (1.61 kilometres) track, you will see vast stretches of sea, sky and, of course, the beach.

Volk Railway is at 285 Madeira Drive, Brighton, BN2 1EN.

15- Drink Coffee At An Independent Coffee Shop

Brighton is filled with a range of independent shops, cafes and restaurants and is known for its wide range of independent coffee shops serving locally roasted beans in trendy surroundings.

Brighton, as a city, drinks more coffee than any other in the UK, so it is no wonder that some of the best coffee in the country is served there.

Those seeking an ethical pick-me-up should try a drink at Bond St Coffee, where the beans are ethically grown, single-origin and transported to their destination at the coffee shop by electric car.

For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a moment of calm in a cosy basement filled with squashy armchairs and mid-century furniture, a cup of coffee at Twin Pines is a must.

16- Hunt For Treasures While Antique Shopping

Brighton is well-known for its excellent range of antique and vintage shops selling everything from furniture and clothing to kitchenware and craft kits.

North Laine Antiques and Fleamarket is the perfect destination if you are looking for a statement piece from your home, as it stocks a wide range of glistening typewriters to intricately painted ceramics.

Oasis Antiques, located in Kensington Gardens, is instantly recognisable thanks to its green shop front and local artist works in the window.

Brighton Flea Market is unmissable thanks to its bright pink exterior and gallery-style interior layout.

The best way to shop for antiques in Brighton is to locate a range of shops on a map, and explore without a key piece in mind as you never know what you may find.

17- Have A Pint At The Cricketers Pub

Beer glass and bottle on wooden countertop in a pub, close up.
Going on a pub crawl is another thing to do in Brighton after dark.

The Cricketers Pub is the oldest pub in Brighton, dating back to 1547.

The pub’s interior is warm and traditionally Victorian in style, with its textured flock wallpaper, velvet seats and plenty of gold-framed prints, adverts and photographs.

The pub has a unique, grizzly history, attracting many to its doors.

Derrick Carver, the first landlord of The Cricketers, was burned as a martyr due to his religious beliefs.

It is also widely believed that Jack the Ripper, the infamous Whitechapel murderer, drank in the pub.

The Cricketers has also made its name in literature and is written about in Brighton Rock, a novel by Graham Greene.

The Cricketers Pub is at 15 Black Lion Street, Brighton, BN1 1ND.

18- Look For Bargains At Snoopers Paradise Flea Market

Woman and man looking for antiques at a flea market.
Shopping in a flea market is another activity in Brighton.

Snoopers Paradise Flea Market is the perfect destination if you are looking for an unusual antique or vintage find.

You’ll find an eclectic collection of old cameras, vintage watches, banana-shaped telephones and much more.

Flick through one of the market’s numerous boxes of old black and white photographs to glimpse the past or wander its maze-like walkways in search of a hidden treasure.

In the attic, known as Snoopers Attic, more than 20 local designers and makers are based selling their unique designs, prints and clothing.

Snoopers Paradise is at 7/8 Kensington Gardens, Brighton, BN1 4AL.

19- Wander Around The Lanes

The Lanes is a small neighbourhood in Brighton that was once the heart of the fishing town.

The Lanes is appropriately named as it is formed of many narrow twisting lanes and alleyways lined with shops and opening out into small cafe-filled squares.

The shops in The Lanes are mostly independent and include designer boutiques, galleries, jewellers and plenty of cosy pubs and tea rooms.

While in The Lanes, explore the Old Police Cells Museum, which offers free tours of the 200-year-old cells located underground.

Look out for Black Lion Lane, an alleged King Charles II escape route, as you wander the streets.

The Lanes is a neighbourhood in Brighton. You may like this food tour.

20- Sip Cocktails In Brighton’s Best Bars

Shot of two fruity cocktails on a table in a bar.
Sipping cocktails in a bar is one of the relaxing things to do in Brighton, UK.

Brighton is a popular destination for its nightlife, bars and clubs, which all offer a range of delicious cocktails.

Expect each bar to be uniquely designed and decorated, with fun themed drinks, friendly staff and great atmospheres.

Gung Ho is the perfect cocktail destination for those looking for something a little more experimental, as this bar prioritises seasonal ingredients such as sea buckthorn, lion’s mane and passiflora.

Indulge in the Tumi drink at trendy Potting Parlour in Kemptown, made with mezcal, Pisco, orgeat, bitters and a rich coating of chocolate ganache around the rim of the glass. Join this bar crawl to discover local watering holes.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.