Brighton, the largest and most well-known beach town on the English Channel, spans for five kilometres along the South Downs’ pebbled and often rugged chalk shoreline.
Brighton, formerly a fishing hamlet with small, winding streets, blossomed into an attractive holiday resort where England’s aristocracy rested in stylish baths and hotels under the curative impact of sea air in the 18th century.
Charming Regency terraces, the beautiful Palace Pier, and the Royal Pavilion, the exotic summer palace of George IV, one of the country’s most colourful and eccentric rulers, are all reminders of this time.
Despite the fact that Brighton’s famed pebble beaches are now lined with souvenir stores and amusement arcades, the city remains a culturally active destination and one of the most popular locations to visit in England, particularly in the summer.
The popular Brighton Festival each spring, horse races in the summer, and the legendary London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in November are all part of the town’s bustling schedule of activities.
Brighton is also a fantastic destination for sports aficionados. Highlights include sailing, kitesurfing, and diving, as well as hiking and bicycling along the downs or through the numerous beautiful open places, such as the ancient Stanmer Park just north of town.
Check out our list of the best tourist attractions in Brighton for more information on these and other interesting things to do in this renowned coastal town.
The Royal Pavilion is hard to miss. The building’s magnificent peaks and spires appear to be more at home in India, despite its location in the heart of Brighton, mere feet from the sea.
That was clearly the objective of architect John Nash, who created the summer residence in the Indian Mogul style for the Prince of Wales (later George IV).
Highlights of the palace include the Banqueting Room, with its magnificent oriental décor; the Royal Bedrooms; and the tent-like Music Room, which is best seen on a guided tour. There are audio guides available.
A classic afternoon tea in the Royal Pavilion Tearoom is a genuine pleasure.
The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is located in the pavilion’s old Royal Stables and Riding School. This first-rate museum is worth seeing for its amazing collection of Art Deco artefacts, costume exhibit with 18th-century clothes, and the outstanding Willett Collection of porcelain and ceramics.
There’s even a decent (if modest) Egyptian Gallery that’s worth a look. On the premises, there is a gift shop.
Brighton’s address is 4/5 Pavilion Buildings.
A journey to the beach would not be complete without a stop to a pier, which features amusement arcades, joke shops, and fish-and-chip kiosks. Brighton’s Victorian-era Palace Pier, with its beautiful ironwork and majestic location, is without a doubt one of the country’s most appealing such attractions.
Palace Pier, which protrudes into the sea like the top deck of a steamship on spindly iron legs, is the only survival of the town’s three original piers (one was wrecked by a storm, and another sits derelict along the town’s coastline). Built in 1891 and reaching 1,700 feet from the coast, it hasn’t lost any of its allure.
In addition to dining and shopping, the pier offers a variety of entertaining activities, such as state-of-the-art thrill rides and gaming arcades.
Brighton’s address is Madeira Drive.
There are a plethora of entertaining things to do near Brighton’s Palace Pier, many of which are only a short stroll away along the promenade. Volk’s Electric Railway is a delightful distraction for families travelling with children.
This narrow gauge line, built in 1833 and the world’s oldest functioning electric railway, runs down the seaside from the pier, with three stops to catch the train.
With a length of 1.25 miles, a ride may also save a significant amount of time walking between attractions. You’ll pass the Brighton Fishing Museum along the route, which has intriguing displays on the town’s roots and long history as a fishing town.
Through the Black Rock station, the railway also connects to Brighton Marina. Make time to explore the marina, which provides excellent shopping and dining options.
You’ll want to depart at Aquarium station to see SEA LIFE Brighton. This updated attraction, originally known as Brighton Aquarium, was founded in 1872 and today houses more than 100 different types of sea life.
Brighton Visitor Centre is located on Madeira Drive.
The lively small lanes known as The Lanes served as the heart of the old fishing hamlet of Brighthelmstone, as Brighton was previously known. The lovely 17th-century cottages, with their colourful wooden facades, are now antique stores, boutiques, galleries, and cafés.
Old Steine, a former village green, is located to the east of The Lanes. It is presently a well-kept area that extends to Grand Parade, a gorgeous promenade lined with trees and flowerbeds.
North Laine, an arts-inspired retail district with an eclectic mix of boutique shops and antique stores, galleries, and cafés, as well as entertainment venues, is also worth a visit.
Meeting House Lane in Brighton is the address.
The British Airways i360 Viewing Tower, without a doubt one of the most magnificent new attractions on England’s south coast, is a must-see on any Brighton itinerary.
This 531-foot-tall seaside tower, which replaced the Brighton Wheel as the town’s highest building (the wheel has since been demolished), debuted in 2016 to much fanfare as the world’s first vertical cable car and tallest moving observation tower.
The structure’s circular viewing platform, which resembles a gigantic needle (and is referred to as a “vertical pier”), can elevate up to 200 passengers to heights of 453 feet for a breathtaking view of the surrounding region and over the English Channel.
A tearoom and gift store are also available. Check the availability of the attraction’s food and drink options and plan your visit around one of their regular special events for a genuine treat.
Lower Kings Road, Brighton is the address.
A favourite hobby is strolling around Brighton’s residential sections, which have exquisite Regency-style terraces and squares. Street after street of historic residences with circular bay windows and iron balconies can be seen west of the town centre, leading towards Hove.
The greatest examples may be seen at Regency Square, Brunswick Terrace, Brunswick Square, and Adelaide Crescent, which is designed like a horseshoe.
Sussex Square, Lewes Crescent, and Arundel Terrace are also worth viewing east of the town centre. Preston Manor, another great example of historic building in the area, is available to the public and vividly represents life at the turn of the century.
Preston Drove, Brighton is the address.
From early to late May, the annual three-week Brighton Festival invites artists from all over the world for performances ranging from symphonic and religious concerts to jazz and comedy plays.
Among the 400 or so activities provided by this diverse festival are film screenings and performances.
Despite the diversity of the repertory, 19th-century music predominates. The Royal Pavilion, the Brighton Dome, the Theatre Royal, and local churches are among the venues.
The Brighton Toy and Model Museum, located beneath the town’s train station, houses a large collection of antique, unusual, and one-of-a-kind toys from the United Kingdom and Europe.
The museum’s extensive collection includes ancient Hornby model trains, Steiff teddy bears, Corgi die-cast vehicles, and various dolls, toy troops, farmyards, circuses, aircraft, and puppets.
Other notable collections include a plethora of toy vehicles, building sets, boats, plush animals, zoos, and character play sets. A one-of-a-kind train set showcasing local tourism spots is really entertaining.
The museum store and foyer also include a handy Visitor Information Point, which provides maps and literature on local events in Brighton.
Brighton’s address is 52-55 Trafalgar Street.
The Booth Museum of Natural History is another Brighton destination that is well worth a visit. It is noteworthy for housing one of the greatest collections of stuffed birds in the United Kingdom. A rich collection of insects, fossils, and skeletons are among noteworthy.
The museum, which opened in 1874, is also home to the (in)famous “Merman,” a Victorian-era fake monster that many people thought to be genuine at the time.
Check out the amazing audio-visual displays that describe the adventures of Edward Booth, the museum’s “Victorian gentleman” founder.
Brighton’s address is 194 Dyke Road.
The Bluebell Railway, located just a few miles from Brighton, is an intriguing piece of Britain’s technical legacy.
This fully operational railway runs 11 miles along the boundary between East and West Sussex, connecting Sheffield Park and East Grinstead. From here, you may take a train to London or Brighton.
The railway’s collection comprises 30 antique engines and around 150 carriages and waggons, the majority of which are pre-1939. It is famous for being the world’s first preserved steam passenger railway to conduct a public service.
There are themed train journeys available, such as gourmet dining, murder mystery nights, and Thomas the Tank Engine excursions for children. Book an afternoon tea trip onboard one of the attraction’s vintage dining carriages for a memorable treat.
Sheffield Park Station is located in East Sussex.
While not quite Wacky Races, the Royal Automobile Club’s annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run has the most odd automobiles you’re likely to witness.
Since 1927, the world’s longest continuous motoring event has been held practically every November and attracts entries from all over the world.
Typically, 500 pre-1905 automobiles undertake the journey, their drivers keen to put their vintage vehicles through their paces on the famous 60-mile run from London’s Hyde Park to Brighton’s beachfront.
The event draws large crowds of onlookers and visitors who line the road to cheer these often slow-moving machines on to the finish line.
Finish Line, Madeira Drive, Brighton.
The breathtaking vistas of Brighton and the English Channel from Brighton Racecourse, located high on the Sussex Downs, give a distinctive backdrop to the races staged here during the spring, summer, and fall.
It is recognised as one of the country’s most intimate racetracks (horses cross the line no more than a few feet from the crowd).
Horseracing aficionados may have a terrific day out at one of the country’s oldest tracks (1783). On-site, there is a restaurant and snack alternatives. A picnic space is also provided for those who like to bring their own food.
Brighton’s address is Freshfield Road.