What was once a holiday destination for the middle and upper classes of the Edwardian and Victorian Era, is now a bohemian seaside city full of hedonistic pleasures and a thriving LGBTQ+ scene. Brighton is awash with bright street art, exceptional coffee culture for the bustling student population, and a food and drink scene to explore for days on end. The fewer questions you ask about Brighton, the more you'll enjoy it. It makes a perfect day/night trip from London!
Brighton's currency is the British Pound (£). £1 = €1.19 / $1.30 (as of 2022).
Top 5 things to see
Brighton Pier and West Pier
Brighton is home to two piers (sort of). Brighton Pier, a fun Edwardian pier that stretches into the sea, is home to the city's carnival rides, candy floss stalls and views out into the sea. It's worth a visit to explore what Edwardian England once enjoyed.
However, nearby are the skeletal remnants of West Pier which burned down in 2003. There were no casualties, as the pier closed in 1975 and had caught fire twice before, but nonetheless, it's a stark and emotive juxtaposition next to Brighton's still thriving pier. Visitors gather for the sunset as it sparkles behind West Pier and seagulls flock to their home for the evening.
Moving away from the beach is the bohemian neighbourhood of the Lanes. Narrow streets lined with bars and cafes, eclectic independent fashion shops and second-hand music shops housing instruments you never knew existed! Pastel houses shining in the sun remind you're by the coast. There are regular flea markets too,so you're sure to find the perfect souvenir!
One of the most bedazzling palaces, Brighton's Royal Pavilion sticks out immensely in the seaside city, as though it were airlifted from the Maharaja's court. The opulent party palace was once the coastal escape of Prince George, Prince Regent, and then George IV. It's a sight to see at sunset: the lights of the building shine upward, putting every intricate details and curve of the exterior into relief against the purple and orange backdrop. The extravagance carries on inside, but we'll leave that for you to explore.
Tickets cost £17/£10.50 for adults 18+/children.
Europe's biggest marina provides pretty views of the boats and the sea. It's a fun adventure and a pleasant location for a morning coffee in the sun. It's Hollywood-style walk-of-fame is set nearby the oldest electrical railway (dating from 1883); every 15 minutes it whisks passengers along the seafront, making it a fun activity for families.
A newly-built attraction opened in 2016, the i360 at 162m-tall is the world's most slender tower and is directly by the seafront. An elevator takes you to the glass "doughnut" - 138m high and provides you with, on a clear day, exceptional views of the sea and the Sussex Coastline for miles. There are also fancy restaurants and bars if you'd like to while away the time with a drink.
Tickets cost £17.50/£11.75/£8.75/free for adults 25+/16-24/4-15/0-3.
i360 Tower Tickets Website
Where to eat and drink
Brighton has one of the highest concentration of pubs in the country - if not the highest. Whether its pub food in a historic setting dating back centuries, or iced coffee to cool you down from one of the newest cafes in the city, Brighton has it all. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan eateries across the city too.
Don't forget to pick up a stick of rock from one of the vibrant, tacky seafront shops!
The Flower Pot Bakery on Sydney Street will pull you into the cute cafe with the smell of fresh bread and croissants. Its coffee is strong and its eclectic sandwiches and rich, flaky pastries will provide you with a good start to the day.
Kooks gives an obvious nod to musical influences with rock paraphernalia plastered on the walls. But its food is a hit too - plus brunch is served until 5pm!
The Pond serves up exceptional Asian street food in this microbrewery, pulling the best locally-sourced pints along with great vibes. Its broody dark-navy facade will draw you in even more.
Black Mocha is a must if you like light lunches alongside a strong iced coffee and people-watching. The cakes and brownies are decadent, you'll be spoilt for choice.
Terre à Terre's international menu is perfectly constructed without any meat in sight. Its vegetarian menu plays on classic fish and meat dishes - the beer battered halloumi and chips are a must order.
Isaac At is an intimate fine-dining restaurant tucked away near Valley Gardens. The young team serve up fabulous tasting menus for £60, or the set menu for £40.
For the adults
William the Fourth on the corner of Church Street and Bond Street has an extensive craft beer and cocktail menu. Its Sunday roasts are highly regarded too, so if you're in the area, pop along!
Brighton Rocks by the beach is one of Brighton's best cocktail bars. Part of Brighton's historic LGBTQ+ community, Brighton Rocks welcomes all comers to the bar and pairs small plates with high-quality cocktails.
Tipping is not required in Brighton. If you want to round up your bill, or put the odd coin or two in the "tipping cup" in cafes then you can! But it isn't necessary.
Brighton is a safe city, but like any city when it's busy just be careful of your belongings when walking the narrow Lanes. The city can get raucous at night, especially student nights; again just be safe - British students are harmless bunch, but they like a good night out!
Two Passports Top Tip: Brighton Beach is rocky!
Don't expect Brighton's beach to be soft and sandy. It is notorious within Britain for its rocks and pebbles; without the right footwear it's uncomfortable to walk on, so bring adequate shoes or be prepared for sore souls.
Be careful of the water's temperature. This is the English Channel we're talking about, not the Gulf of Mexico. The sun could be blazing at 30 degrees celsius, but the water will remain pretty cold.
When to Go
Low Season: October to February
Long nights and very windy due to be located on the coast. There are spurts of bright sunshine making for a nice, quiet time to walk along the beach and have it to yourself in the morning.
Shoulder Season: March to May and September
Days are warmer and the crowds get busier too. Students make the most of the outdoor space instead of being huddled inside bars and clubs throughout winter. It's a good time to go, but the weekends can get very busy with UK residents, especially from London, visiting Brighton.
High Season: June to August and UK Bank Holidays
Very hot and busy with tourists. Book accommodation and attractions well in advance.
Two Passports Top Tip
UK Bank Holidays are select Fridays and Mondays throughout the year. These are non-working days, creating long weekends, and they are popular for domestic tourism. Families from across the UK descend to the seaside towns and Brighton is one of the most popular. Do try and avoid booking over Bank Holiday weekends to stay clear of the high fees. Research these dates before booking as they change year-by-year.
How to Get There
Travelling by train
Trains from London leave from either London Blackfriars (1h 10m) or London Victoria (1h). A single/return costs £23/£30 through the Trainline.com.
Travelling by coach
Coaches to Brighton leave from London Victoria Coach Station. Booking weeks in advance through the National Express, these can cost as little as £5 and take 3+ hours.
Travelling in the city
Brighton is a very small city and totally walkable. If you need to use the buses due to mobility issues, then you can buy tickets on the bus - often these are cash only.