Sought for by both tourists and locals, Brighton lies on the south coast of England. Picture it as a marine oasis just a 1 hour train ride away from the hectic life of London.
You can find plenty of cool things to do in Brighton in any season, but the summer months are when most events are scheduled to happen.
If you’re heading over to Brighton straight from Gatwick Airport, you’ll spend no more than 30 minutes on the train before you can smell the salty sea air. Once you reach your destination, you can start exploring without wasting any time, as the Brighton Railway Station is right in the heart of the city.
So if you’ve got some time on your hands and fancy a short break from the UK’s mainstream attractions, be sure to visit this fun beach town.
Brighton has a vibrant cultural scene, and will strike a chord with those looking to share in its non-conformist atmosphere. Making the headlines as “Britain’s hippiest city” or “a city of misfits”, the so-called London-by-the-Sea will charm you with its quirky vibe.
If you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that the best way to get around and make the most of Brighton is by foot. The city is compact and you can find the major attractions in the centre, with the seafront promenade within easy reach.
The public transport network, however, is well developed and you can easily get around by bus if you’re on a tight schedule or don’t feel like taking out your map.
Without further ado, let’s dive into a list of cool things to do in Brighton.
CitySpareSpace’s Curated List of Cool Things To Do in Brighton
1. Take a walk along Brighton Beach and Seafront
Best known for its beaches, Brighton is home to a beautiful seafront just perfect for taking a long stroll early in the morning or a romantic walk at sunset.
If you’re looking for sandy beaches in the sun, you should be warned that you won’t find one in Brighton. While the beach may be all pebbles, don’t be disappointed. You can still join the crowds of locals and travelers who come here to sunbathe and enjoy the sea breeze.
You will find yourself distracted and entertained by the many attractions lining the promenade. From the colourful beach huts to restaurants and seafront dinings to the British Airways i360 observation tower to the Brighton Wheel, you’ll find loads of cool things to do on the Brighton seafront.
2. Visit the Brighton Palace Pier
If we were to choose one landmark that pins Brighton on the tourist map, that would be the Brighton Palace Pier. With a long history dating as far back as 1899, the Pier is a popular entertainment venue.
Whether you’re visiting in summer or in winter, whether you’re looking to have fun or simply watch the scenery while eating the iconic fish and chips, the Pier has something for everyone.
From live entertainment to Christmas markets and eateries, there is always a list of events and attractions waiting to be discovered.
What’s the best way to get here? The Palace Pier is easily accessible from the railway station either by foot or public transport.
If you prefer to walk, you might want to consider luggage storage to make the most of your trip without worrying about dragging your bags.
Walking from the railway station to the beach is pretty straightforward. Just follow the road from the main exit down Queens Road and West Street for 10-15 minutes and you’ll reach the seafront.
3. Window shop in The Lanes
If you’re traveling on a budget, you may be reluctant to visit an area of the city known primarily for its “shop til you drop” culture. But don’t miss out! The Brighton Lanes are more than just a shopper’s paradise.
A visit to The Lanes will take you to Brighton’s historic heart, where an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, galleries, and live performances awaits. Delight your eyes with the jewelry shop windows, grab a coffee and wander through the labyrinth of alleyways.
If you have a taste for vintage, be sure to stop by some of the iconic antique shops. If you’re lucky, you might discover live jazz music performances as you stroll through this bohemian area of Brighton.
4. Take a tour of the Royal Pavilion
Price: standard fee £9.00 (5-18 y.o.), £15.00 (>18 y.o.)
No guide on cool things to do in Brighton would be complete without a mention of the Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence turned into a unique museum.
The building impresses with its exotic architecture, which is an impressive mix of Chinese and Indian styles.
The entrance fee may be a bit pricy for the budget traveler, but there are many discounts that you can take advantage of. For example, if you’re traveling with a friend, you can get a 2 for 1 discount when you travel by train.
365tickets also allows you to book discounted tickets or save money by purchasing combo tickets if you’re planning to visit several sights.
5. Get cozy in front of Brighton’s Beachfront Cinema
Price: From £17.00
Are you traveling to Brighton in the summer months? Then you might be lucky enough to enjoy a magical cinematic experience right on the beach.
The Luna Cinema first staged a month-long programme of open air screenings in Brighton in 2018. Following their initial success, the screenings became a summer tradition on the Brighton beach.
The cinematic experience is complemented by the usual amenities one would expect to find in a traditional cinema, such as food and an on-site bar.
6. Explore Sea Life Brighton
Price: From £10.50
Did you know that the building hosting Sea Life Brighton is the oldest operating aquarium in the world? The Brighton aquarium opened to the public in 1872 and has been the venue for many events and exhibitions ever since.
One of the most emblematic features of the interior is the Victorian Arcade, a majestique corridor, lit up by a panoply of colors that will sweep you off your feet. Here you can explore the magic of marine life, participate in feeding demonstrations or hop on a glass bottom boat.
If you have some extra money, be sure to add the aquarium to your list of cool things to do in Brighton. You can find Sea Life Brighton right next to Brighton Pier, so there’s no need to spend extra cash on transportation.
7. Check out Anna’s Museum of Curiosities
Perhaps you like to wander off the beaten track and avoid the mainstream tourist sights. If that’s the case, you will love this hidden jewel not far from the city centre.
Anna’s Museum of curiosities is anything but your typical museum. The entire exhibition is on display in an obscure shop window on a side alleway on Upper North Street, away from the prying eyes.
The exhibition belongs to Anna Rubinstein, a young girl known as Brighton’s youngest taxidermist. She started collecting things when she was 7 (she would be 20 by now, based on this interview) and generously decided to share her natural history finds with the world.
Passers-by are warned not to knock on the door and rather admire the exhibition from a safe distance. Do, however, make sure to get close enough that you can read the labels describing the items, each handwritten by Anna herself.
8. Take a picture of the Upside Down House
Price: Free to photograph; £5.00 to enter
Ever dreamt of walking on the ceiling? Museums and strolls along the seafront are enjoyable, but, if you want to make your trip truly memorable, you can’t leave Brighton without visiting the Upside Down House.
The proposition of the inverted house is simple: a unique optical illusion experience and a good few fun pictures that will have the social media likes pouring in. If you want to experience life upside down, then this is your chance.
This quirky building can be found on the seafront, between the British Airways i360 and Brighton Beach Club.
9. Experience life as an inmate at Alcotraz Brighton
Price: From £30.99
Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone, this immersive experience will make you dive right into a prison environment. As an “inmate” at Alcotraz, you’ll get the chance to smuggle alcohol into the well guarded prison to get bespoke cocktails made for you.
You can expect to spend your time behind bars watching the bartender inmates mixing exquisite cocktails and enjoying the drinks in your orange jumpsuit.
If you’re up to some mischief, this theatrical immersive experience may satisfy your thirst for adventure. Remember that this is a bring-your-own venue, so you’ll need to bring/smuggle your own alcohol.
10. Brighton Fringe/Brighton Festival
Price: Free/Price depends on event
Brighton Fringe is the largest arts festival in England, which happens every year.
Brighton Fringe is from 5 May – 4 June 2023.
In 2019 Brighton Fringe brought together over 604,000 people in the audience and featured a whopping 1034 events in 164 venues. This bohemian festival welcomes all artists and art forms, with no criteria in pace to limit the performers’ participation.