I’ve wanted to write this post for a long while. Unlike most UK cities, Brighton’s not full of museums, castles or cathedrals. Of course these are excellent attractions, which I adore seeing, but they can become tiresome and start to blend into one. I’m happy to say that the things to do in Brighton will be a breath of fresh air for you.
Of course, I might be a little biased in calling my home city one of the coolest places in the world. In fact, I’m definitely biased. But everyone who comes to Brighton speaks of a lot of the same things, namely, the energy and the quirkiness.
Quirky is definitely the best way to describe Brighton. Victorian sea-side jewel meets hipster city-life. One minute you can be surfing through thrift stalls, the next you can be lazing next to rainbow beach huts and the next you can be boutique shopping. So, what should be on your Brighton must-see list?
“In Brighton any man can sing anything—well, almost anything—in any language he knows.” – Anon
Visit Palace Pier
Whether you like pier rides or not (I’m not a big fan and they’re also pretty expensive!) enjoying a wander up and down Brighton pier will give you great views of the seafront and feels a little like you’re stepping back into Victorian Brighton. The old sweet shops, food stands and architecture are enough to marvel at and provide a great stroll. The churros are great too!
Try Brighton Rock
Brighton Rock is famed and a traditional seaside treat. It’s essentially a cylindrical stick with a swirling pattern of two colours of boiled sugar, normally in a mint flavour. The size of rock sticks can be a little overwhelming, but know that you’re not meant to eat it all at once! And it can come in individual slices for easier consumption, too.
Fish and chips on the beach, with a view of West Pier (fear not veggies and vegans, you can too!)
Of course, when visiting Brighton, it’s customary to take part in the traditional beach food. Although nowadays, you’ll find people eating everything from sushi to burritos, it’s still worth partaking in a tradition. And Brighton does have some of the best fish and chips and a great pebble beach to eat it on.
My personal favourite spot on Brighton beach is sitting in front of the West Pier. This area of the beach is a little quieted and the pier is a great sight. It’s been derelict since 1975 and has experienced fires and storm damage since, leaving us with the haunting rusting structure, that makes quite the spectacle.
And if you’re vegan (like me!) don’t scroll past this one! You better bet that Brighton, as the world’s most hipster city, has you covered. If you want a meal on the beach, I’d recommend Little Jack Fuller’s, a small fish and chip shop a short walk from the beach. On Wednesdays, they have an expansive vegan menu.
If you’re looking to sit down and eat, I’d recommend Earth & Stars, a small gastro pub in the North Laines that does a great battered tofu and chips (with samphire and a vegan tartare). Yum.
The Royal Pavilion
Whatever season you visit Brighton, you need to visit the Pavilion! One of Brighton’s most iconic sites is a former royal residence, and a well-kept example of extraordinary architecture. In the summer, stroll and picnic in the gardens, watch the very people-friendly squirrels and relax in the sun. In the winter, grab your ticket for the ice rink, I’d recommend going at night, when they light the Pavillion up in pinks and purples.
Explore The Lanes and The North Laines
The Lanes and The Laines? Yeah. We didn’t make this one easy for you.
The North Laines are the roads, shops, restaurants and markets North of North Street (one of Brighton’s main high streets). The roads are closed by day (until 5PM) so market stalls, cafes and restaurants line the streets and make for a busy, bustling atmosphere.
You’ll find a wide collection of shops, from small boutiques, plant shops, thrift stores, record stores, sweet shops and antique stores. Many of these will be second hand stores, one off shops and the more ‘hipster’ settings.
Cross back over North Street and enter The Lanes (towards the sea). These boutiques, pubs and shops are a little higher price and more bougie than the North Lanes. This is where you’ll find your high price tag items, although most of the stores are still independent. So whether you have some extra cash in your pocket or just want to window shop, it’s so much fun to explore the maze of alleys and streets.
Have a roast (again, Brighton has you covered, veggies and vegans)
When visiting any English city the rule stands: have a roast. Vegan, veggie or not, test out some of the local pubs and try a Sunday lunch. Honestly, there’s too many pubs in Brighton for me to recommend a particular roast, so just explore!
Visit Brighton Komedia
Everything from live comedy and music to theatre and cabaret. Brighton Komedia is an independent venue that hosts a wide range of entertainment and has managed to capture the energy of Brighton really well. Located deep in the heart of The North Laines you can’t miss it (the tights give it away – if you know, you know).
Experience Brighton Pride
If there’s one time I’d recommend coming to Brighton, it’s the first weekend of August, the weekend of Brighton Pride. Brighton has long stood as a heart of the LGBTQ+ scene. So, you can expect great things from Brighton Pride. It’s a weekend everyone in the city unites in enjoying and honestly, I’ll never quite be able to put the energy into words.
I’ve personally never attended the actual festival, although with headliners such as Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and this year’s Mariah Carey – I have no doubt that it’s a good show. My Pride itinerary usually starts with the parade and then meeting with friends, chilling on the beach or in the parks and seeing where the day takes us.
Bottomless brunch on the beach
An idea that seemed to get popular in London and be adopted by ‘Little London’ is Bubbly brunch. Unlimited prosecco at breakfast (what could possibly go wrong?).
I went for a bubbly brunch last summer at The Tempest. And when they say unlimited prosecco, they really do mean unlimited! And the food was lovely too. Although, the only vegan breakfast option was avocado on toast – which I love, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of everybody else’s fry ups.
Experience Brighton from up high
With the installment of British Airways’ i360, you can now ‘take a flight’ above Brighton and see the views of the sea and the city from a 360° glass pod, 450 feet in the air. I’ve never done it myself, so I can’t speak for the views, but I have heard good reviews! They also have a bad weather guarantee so you can return again if the visibility is bad at the time of your flight.
Or if you’re looking for something a little more adrenaline filled, zipline down Brighton beach. Immediately east of Brighton Pier, you’ll find Brighton Zip, the longest and fastest zipline on the South Coast.
Try Brighton Street Food Market
Street Diner BN1 (usually just referred to as Street Diner) is a weekly congregation of food stalls bringing cuisines of all kinds to the centre of Brighton. They cater for all diets and tastes and the food is usually custom order, so you can have it exactly how you like, ready to be enjoyed sitting in the sun on the green or on the go.
My personal favourite stands are Desert Island Dosas, which serve dosas (a rice flour pancake filled with a dry potato curry) with a cauliflower curry and salad on the side and The Hopping Bakery, whose brownies I couldn’t pick a favourite flavour of and most of which are vegan – could we ask for more?
To get there, start at Brighton’s clocktower, cross over westwards (towards Boots) and head up Queen’s Road towards Brighton Station. The Street Diner (you’ll smell it before you see it!) is on the small green on your first right. Street Diner is open every Friday between 11am and 2:30pm but will close in bad (wet) weather.
Hopefully that’s given you a taste of Brighton. As I said, Brighton’s my home town, so I could go on and on with this list. If you want any specific recommendations, do reach out! I’ll be happy to recommend what I can.
Happy travelling! Love, Ella-Rose xx