If you’re thinking of going to merry old England and you’re starting out in London, make sure that your next destination is Brighton. This is the cool, coastal, more laid-back cousin to the capital and we reckon you’ll love it.
There are about a million things to do in Brighton! We’re not kidding. This seaside city is known as much for being the open-minded home to a large LGBTQ community, as much as it’s known for its focus on creativity and the arts. It shows in just about every facet of the city, from the food to the nightlife, making it a super fun place to be.
Obviously, there are tons of touristy things to do here. But what about the more unusual things to do in Brighton? That’s where we come in. We’ve crafted this insider’s guide to help REALLY get to grips with what makes Brighton tick, showing you the lesser-visited sides to this awesome town.
Top Things to Do in Brighton
Check out the table below for our top picks for things to do in Brighton. Then, we’ll dive into the details of Brighton’s best attractions.
Board the i360 and view Brighton from above!
The British Airways i360 has the best views of the city, the sea, and the South Downs.
Discover Victorian Taxidermy at the Booth Museum
From narwhals and killer whales to birds and insects, the Booth Museum is full of weird and wonderful taxidermy.
Dance the Night Away under the Train Station
The Green Door Store is the best place to go for live music, good vibes and and an awesome night out.
Enjoy a Classic Date at the Palace Pier
Arcades, amusement rides, bars and restaurants make the Palace Pier the perfect place for a romantic day out.
Explore the Brighton Lanes
From thrift stores to high-end restaurants, the iconic Brighton Lanes make for a jam-packed day out.
What better way to see all the best sights in Brighton than by the power of the pedal? Yes, we’re talking bicycle. Simply hop on a bike and zip around on an express whirlwind of the city’s top sights. Pedal past the Pavilion, through parks, along the seafront; admire Brunswick Square, uncover the fishing quarter; and make sure to stop off for some tasty lunch along the way.
Brighton Bike Tour is one of the best outdoors-y things to do in Brighton, that’s for sure. Cuts walking time in half, which is great if you’ve only got a couple of days to see everything.
Brighton is full of awesome accommodation, but what better than to wake up with panoramic sea views? This Airbnb in Brighton lets you do just that, with space enough to sleep six people. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, the views will guarantee you peace and relaxation.
This Airbnb is has a private parking space, open-plan living space and a full kitchen. It’s walking distance from all major attractions in Brighton, including the Pavilion, Brighton Dome, and the Palace Pier.
3. Discover the Royal Pavilion
Planned by the de-facto royal ruler of the time, the Prince Regent, the Brighton Pavilion is a strange sight to see in such an otherwise very English setting. It’s a stunning building that sits right between Brighton center and Kemptown.
Its insane interiors can be accessed and viewed for a reasonable fee. However if you don’t fancy going in, you can admire the Royal Pavilion’s exterior from the park just round the back. The Royal Pavilion also hosts ice-skating during the winter.
- Entrance: £9.50-15.50
- Hours: 10:00–17:15
- Address: 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton BN1 1EE
Not a feature of Brighton until August of 2016, the British Airways’ i360 Brighton is a pretty cool observation tower sat right on the seafront. The ‘pod’ takes you 162 meters high, where you’ll get stunning views of the Channel, the South Downs, and the city. You’ll also be able to spot some artsy graffiti on the rooftops, which was once only visible to planes and seagulls.
Like all good things, there’s a bar on board – so you’ll be able to toast to a great trip while you’re at the top. Once you’re back on ground-level, relax at the West Beach Kitchen & Bar with some great food, and sea views.
- Entrance: £15.75
- Hours: 10:30-17:00
- Address: Lower Kings Road, Brighton BN1 2LN
You’re enjoying a sea-side vacation, so you might as well make the most of it! This Brighton Airbnb lets you stay in a cosy home above the water, in the heart of Brighton’s marina. Watch the sea-life below, admire the boats, and relax to the sound of the water.
This definitely tops the list for unique accommodation in Brighton, and has everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay. There’s a well-equipped kitchen, double bed and even a gin bar.
The actual city centre is slightly further away, but the marina itself is full of life. To get to Brighton’s main attractions, simply hop on the bus, enjoy the walk, or cycle down the promenade.
6. Have fish and chips on the beach
Whether you’re a local or just visiting Brighton, fish and chips on the beach is always a must. Bankers Traditional Fish & Chip Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants, but there are dozens to choose from. And if you haven’t tried it before, grab yourself a battered sausage as well. It’s proper good stuff.
Sit on the beach and admire the view of skeletal West Pier. It burnt down around 20 years ago, but it’s left a stunning structure and has become a major attraction in Brighton. Just watch out for those seagulls!
My missus travels with all her clothes in ziplock bags: don’t be like my missus. UP YOUR PACKING GAME!
Packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise its volume too so you can pack MORE.
Or, y’know… you can stick to ziplock bags.View Our Fave Cubes Or Check Out the Sacks!
7. Visit the South Downs National Park
Britain’s coastline has to be seen to be believed. We’re serious: far from the image of a dreary, grey old country with not a lot going on, the South Downs National Park is nothing short of spectacular. This seascape lies just outside of Brighton, and is known as the ‘Seven Sisters’ due to the undulating, seven white cliffs.
Visiting to the South Downs National Park is easily one of the best things to do in Brighton. They can make a nice break from the city, and there are plenty of hiking opportunities further inland. Devil’s Dyke is very popular for this, it was formed at the end of the last ice age, and has a number of walking trails to choose from.
- Entrance: £7.20-9
- Hours: Open 24 hours
- Address: North St, Midhurst GU29 9DH
8. Hit up Brighton Open Market
Located in London Road, this place is one of the lesser-known attractions in Brighton that really sums up the creativity and hipster feeling of the city. The Brighton Open Market dates back to the 1880s, although it has changed a tad over the years.
The Brighton Open Market is a great place to go for street food, sample local produce and arts and crafts. It’s a great spot that’s generally missed by tourists, and gives travelers the chance to get to know the real Brighton.
- Entrance: Free to browse
- Hours: 07:00-19:00 (Monday-Friday), 07:00-17:00 (Saturday), 10:00-17:00 (Sunday)
- Address: Marshalls Row, Brighton BN1 4JU
9. Dance the night away under the train station
There are plenty of places to drink and dance late into the night in Brighton. It’s got a pretty awesome nightlife, and there’s always something happening no matter which day of week. For the most part, sampling the nightlife comprises basically the best non-touristy thing you can do in Brighton. Somewhere like the almost hidden Green Door Store is pretty much THE place to be. Just five minutes from Brighton railway station, underneath it, in fact, this place feels like the heart and soul of Brighton.
Visiting this fine establishment is one of the best things to do in Brighton at night. It’s cool, it’s got DJ sets, live music, and is a LOT of fun. Afterwards, there’s nothing better than ending the night with fish and chips on the beach as the sun comes up. Take it from a local – that’s the proper way to experience a night out in Brighton.
10. Laugh out loud at a comedy show
If you’re not one for dancing in basement clubs, or fancy a change from the pubs, then you might want to hit up a comedy show in Brighton instead. One of the best things to do in Brighton at night has to be taking a little trip to Komedia, for stand-up comedy to cabaret.
When it’s not night time, there are other things to enjoy at this Brighton institution. There’s a record fair every Sunday morning, and is one of the more hipster things you can do in Brighton.
- Entrance: £1 per ticket (with a maximum £6) for online booking
- Hours: varies from show to show
- Address: 44-47 Gardner St, Brighton BN1 1UN
11. Wander the amazing Brighton Lanes
They might not sound like much, but honestly, The Lanes is a super (and we really mean super) cool place to visit in Brighton. A series of winding alleyways and narrow pathways criss-crossing and threading through each other, this area of Brighton is a bustling bastion of cool cafes, vintage stores, fashion boutiques and a whole ton of other shops that you never knew you needed.
If you have a sweet tooth, definitely check out Roly’s Fudge Shop in The Lanes. Fudge is a classic British sea-side treat, and you can watch it being made int he store. Cloud 9 is a great place if you fancy coffee and cake, and Donatello’s is the place to go if you’re craving pizza.
If you’re in Brighton on a weekend, the Lanes is positively buzzing.
12. See some taxidermy at the Booth Museum of Natural History
It’s a free museum and that, for us, automatically makes it one of the best free things to do in Brighton. What makes it even better is that it was set up in the mid-19th century and is basically a collection of one eccentric Victorian guy: Edward Booth (Big Ed or Boothy to friends). There’s a lot of taxidermy going on here, as well as insects, a lot of skeletons, even a narwhal and a killer whale. There are even some dinosaur bones here. Like the Victorian museum collection of your dreams, it’s a fascinating insight into the British “curio” obsession of the 19th century.
We love it. There’s even a cafe. We’d even say this is one of the best things to do in Brighton with kids.
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday), 14:00-17:00 (Sunday)
- Address: 194 Dyke Rd, Brighton BN1 5AA
13. Go to Brighton Palace Pier for some fun and games
A cool 120 years old, and extending an impressive 525 metres out into the sea, Brighton Palace Pier is absolutely a must when visiting Brighton. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or with kids, the Pier makes for a great day out. Head inside the aptly named Palace of Fun for all the old school seaside arcade games – classic 2p machines, crane machines, and everything in between.
There’s also some amazing rides: cups and saucers, rollercoasters right by the sea, dodgems and more. For smaller children, there’s trampolines and the Dragonfly ride – some soft play, too. Tip: book yourself a wristband online before your visit, it’ll save you 25%!
- Entrance: Free
- Hours: currently closed
- Address: Madeira Dr, Brighton BN2 1TW
Get your cash stashed with this awesome Pacsafe money belt. It will keep your valuables safe no matter where you go.
It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash or a passport copy. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to.)Hide Yo’ Money!
Where to Stay in Brighton
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Brighton.
Best Airbnb in Brighton: Spacious Near the Sea
This place is perfect for families and it might even be one of the best Airbnbs in Brighton. A short walk to the beach, this apartment is close to Hove Station and well connected to the rest of Brighton.
Spacious and bright, this two-bedroom BnB in Brighton is fully equipped with a kitchen, dining area and living room. Enjoy free wifi and Netflix in this stylish and welcoming apartment.
Best Hostel in Brighton: The Grapevine
Brighton is full of amazing hostels. Right on Brighton’s seafront, the Grapevine is the perfect location for travelers, backpackers, and students on a budget. Featuring dorms and private accommodations, the rooms are clean and equipped with bunk beds and basins.
Best Hotel in Brighton: Fab Guest
In the heart of Kemptown is Fab Guest, a charming and quirky boutique hotel. This is one of the best places to stay in Brighton, as it’s a short walk from trendy restaurants, stylish bars and vibrant nightclubs.
Each of the hotels 14 rooms are fully equipped with comfortable beds and everything you need for an unforgettable stay in Brighton.
Additional Tips for Visiting Brighton
- Beware of seagulls. They’re fine, unless you’re holding chips. They will swoop for your chips. They hang out by the Pier, so just make sure to cover your food up if you’re eating outside.
- Brighton’s pretty popular on weekends, especially during summer. If you can, visiting during the week. The Lanes are way quieter at this time, and the beaches are almost empty.
- Bring a good water bottle with you and avoid buying single-use plastic ones!
- If you’re arriving from the train station, stop off at The Hope and Ruin (about halfway down the road towards the sea, on the right hand side). It’s a quirky bar that’s very characteristic of Brighton, and will give you the best welcome to the city.
- Invest in travel insurance! You never know what may happen on the road.
- Find cheap flights. Every once in a while, a killer deal pops up.
- Brighton’s Fringe is one not to miss. This open-access UK festival is a great way to experience the talented art scene on offer.
FAQ on Things to Do in Brighton
Here are some quick answers to common questions about what to do and see in Brighton.
Don’t forget your travel insurance for Brighton
It’s good to get lost sometimes, but it’s also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.
There’s one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans… World Nomads!
Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance or read our in-depth review of World Nomads’ coverage. And then… let the shenanigans begin. 😉
Brighton is the kind of place you visit that makes you think, “Yeah, I could live here.” It has that vibe to it. It’s also a super budget-friendly area, so those traveling on a budget won’t have to cut many corners. There’s the obvious stuff that draws day-trippers and tourists alike: Brighton beach, the pier, the fish and chip shops all along the beachfront.
But beyond that is the Brighton of its creative residents, its fun-loving students, the beautifully faded glamour of its history as a resort town, and the stunning nature just on the doorstep. Visiting Brighton gives you Hove, The Lanes, and dancing in hidden nightclubs. It’s a city that will be up there as one of your favourite spots in the UK.
Bye for now, but not forever!
If you want MORE top-tier Broke Backpacker content like this, then sign up for our weekly newsletter below to get the latest and greatest!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!