29 Apr 19 / Brighton
Top Things to Do in Brighton
Brighton would be a great place to be even if it weren’t on the coast, but having the beach is a wonderful bonus. Only an hour away from London by train, Brighton has something for everyone. From the delightfully kitsch pier to great shopping and amazing nightlife.
Let's have a look at the best things to do in Brighton starting with the top three pay-for attractions.
Built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, as a seaside palace, the Royal Pavilion is an incredible building. Transformed by John Nash between 1815 and 1823, it's opulent mock-Mughal style is impressive enough from the outside but you do really need to go inside too. This was a prince's 'party palace' and, as well as the intricate architecture, there are decadent interiors and spectacular artworks to admire. Embrace the exotic and enjoy this ornate, Grade I listed landmark – a must see during any visit to Brighton!
SEA LIFE BRIGHTON
SEA LIFE Brighton is in the world's oldest operating aquarium. This underground attraction was built in 1872 and is definitely not just for the kids. The Victorian architecture feels likes you're in a church while you get to meet eels, tropical fish, rays and sharks. After you've touched a starfish in the rockpool, why not extend your visit with a ride on a glass-bottomed boat or with a behind-the-scenes tour?
BRITISH AIRWAYS i360
Designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield – the duo behind the London Eye – the British Airways i360 opened in 2016 at the point the West Pier used to reach the beach. A 25-minute 'flight' on Brighton's newest landmark offers views across the city, the South Downs, miles of coastline and even to the Isle of Wight. Love it or hate it as an addition to the Brighton skyline, the views are really impressive.
The tower is 162 metres tall and the glass doughnut-like passenger viewing pod climbs to a height of 138 metres (that's 450 feet). Each flight can have up to 175 people and you're free to walk around and get a drink at The Nyetimber Sky Bar inside the pod. Or when back on the ground, treat yourself to afternoon tea in the traditional West Pier Tearoom housed in a reconstructed 1866 West Pier toll booth.
TIP: Save up to 35% on Brighton's top three paid-for attractions –, the Royal Pavilion, SEA LIFE Brighton and British Airways i360 – with the Brighton Explorer Pass.
Brighton has an 8-mile long seafront with the Brighton Palace Pier as the central focal point. This Edwardian Grade-II listed pier is the place to play arcade games, go on fairground rides and devour lots of treat food from fish and chips or sticks of Brighton rock to and candy floss and freshly-cooked doughnuts. Walk to the end of the pier to look back at the city, then watch the sun go down while resting on a blue and white striped deck chair.
The iconic cobbled alleyways of The Lanes are the coolest streets in Brighton (and not just because this is where you'll find Hotel du Vin Brighton!)
These narrow streets of sixteenth-century buildings are perfect for meandering as they embody the spirit of Brighton. You'll find independent cafes and boutiques, record shops, book stores and street art. Snoopers Paradise is a wondrous vintage emporium and it's hard to leave without buying something you didn't know you needed. And Choccywoccydoodah transforms chocolate into wonderous sculptures with a strong sense of fun. The 'Bar Du Chocolat' cafe inside means you can enjoy chocolate heaven with friends too.
BRIGHTON MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
Located in the Royal Pavilion garden, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has fine art and pieces from ancient Egypt to twentieth-century design, fashion and exhibitions from contemporary artists. The fine art galleries are worth seeing as is the iconic crimson Salvador Dalí sofa modelled on Mae West's lips. The 'Images of Brighton' gallery looks at the history of a medieval fishing town to the diverse and forward-thinking city it is today.
BRIGHTON TOY AND MODEL MUSEUM
Seasides often bring about childhood nostalgia which is what makes the Brighton Toy and Model Museum so much fun. In an archway under Brighton railway station you'll find one of the country’s best collections of model railways. There are over 10,000 objects held here with a focus on early twentieth-century toys. As well as the railways, there are Steiff teddy bears, Meccano kits, Corgi cars and puppets too.
Based in the heart of the North Laine, the Komedia is considered to be the UK's top comedy venue. Both household names and up and coming artists perform here and it's always worth booking in advance. The all-year programme also includes theatre, cabaret, family entertainment and live music plus great bars and food.
Brighton Dome is the more cultured sibling of the Brighton Centre. The multi-arts venue has a programme of classical and contemporary music, dance, theatre and poetry. Each May, Brighton Dome produces the internationally-acclaimed Brighton Festival. And the 200-year old Grade I listed building is connected to the Royal Pavilion by an underground tunnel, apparently built so that the overweight George IV could visit the royal stables unseen.
Brighton Marina is the largest marina in the UK. As well as enjoying the waterfront location you could see a movie at the cinema, go bowling, play glow in the dark golf or go shopping. Watersports enthusiasts can get out on the water with a sailing lesson or jet ski fun. And everyone can enjoy watching the boats in the harbour from one of the many restaurants and cafés, including the fabulous Chez Mal Brighton.
There’s certainly no shortage of activities in Brighton, and if you’re planning a weekend in the city, Hotel du Vin is the perfect base, located right on the waterfront and in the heart of Brighton city centre. View our exclusive offers and book online today.
Laura Porter - Travel Writer for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin