Things to do in Brighton, England
This seaside town of Brighton is found on the South East coast of England in a county called Sussex. Brighton is also unofficially known as the LGBT capital of the UK. We have been to Brighton on many occasions, and this is where we both met, but haven’t been to Brighton in about 10 years, considering it is on our doorstep. We both commented on how much the atmosphere and many of the bars and clubs have changed. Even with these changes we still love Brighton, as much as when we first met on a warm summers evening.
The first known settlement in the Brighton area was the Whitehawk camp, based in Whitehawk Hill. Later the Romans arrived and built a Roman road from London down to the Brighton area. When the Romans left, the Anglo Saxons resided here and called the region ‘Kingdom of Sussex’, which is the name of the county in which Brighton is situated. Brighton was best known as a fishing town, with this it gained in popularity. The fishing town soon declined and so did popularity. This was soon to change in the 18th century, when it became a drinking hot spot, and popular seaside and sea water bathing destination. The real boom for Brighton was in the 19th century when the London to Brighton train line was built which allowed day trippers to the seaside. Many of the buildings and architecture around the town is still seen with the Victorian features such as the hotels, and Brighton Palace Pier (Brighton Pier as it is also known). Prior to the West Pier and Brighton Palace Pier Brighton, Brighton had a chain pier, but this didn’t last long. On any seaside coast the pier is very prominent and this is thanks to the Victorian era, which we think is important for the seaside and the origins of the Victorian period.
Things to do
There are many things to see and do in Brighton, one of the most loved towns on the seaside coast. Here are some of the things to do:
Brighton Pavillian/Royal Pavillion
Cost: Adult £13.50 per person, audio guide £5 per audio and available in certain languages.
King George lV visited Brighton for the first time in 1783, and fell in love with the place. The king was also advised by his doctor that the sea air would be good for him which led to the commission of building the pavilion. At one point there was just a breakfast room, dining room, and a library, before it was extended to a new dining room, conservatory and stables with a riding school before further extensions took place to what you see today. After the death of King George Iv in 1830, King William IV would often visit Brighton and stayed at the pavilion, but sadly when Queen Victoria came to the throne and visited Brighton, she didn’t like the pavilion or Brighton due to the lack of privacy. Plus the palace wasn’t big enough for her growing family. Instead the Queen much preferred The Isle of White and built her own royal palace for her visits in the summer. Many of the fixtures and fittings were removed from the pavilion and taken to either Buckingham Palace or Windsor castle. Some of these fixtures and fittings have been returned to the pavilion over the years, but not all of them, and only replica’s stand in its original spot, while the originals still remain in Buckingham Palace or Windsor castle. During the early part of first world war, the pavilion was used to look after sick or injured Indian service men, in later years of the war it remained as a hospital for the limbless.
Our first sighting of Brighton Pavilion was over 10 years ago and it just reminded us of the Taj Mahal in India. We have never been inside the pavilion until now, and now wished we have ventured inside a lot earlier. If you are in Brighton, it is one place you must visit. What is incredible is the real feel of a once working palace. Photography and videoing is forbidden within the pavilion which is disappointing. Each room is incredibly furnished in a different theme, and the king enjoyed hosting many parties here. The kings most prized room was surprisingly the kitchen and this is evident in the size and the equipment they used at the time. Most of the features are the originals which make it all the more interesting. When Queen Victoria came to the throne and visited the palace she didn’t like Brighton and at one point was going to demolish the palace, which led to her removing the possessions from the palace to which many of them are still in Buckingham Palace today. We did notice a very musty old smell but this is likely to happen in an old building which isn’t lived in but brings a bit of authenticity for the visitors. What we also like about the tour was going through the little unseen areas such as the staff corridors etc., it gave us the real feel of the once busy and running Palace. It also gives a bit of an insight into how Buckingham Palace would be run today when the current queen is in residence. There are no tour guides but you can purchase an audio guide to provide you with information as you proceed through the pavilion. What I also love about the tour, is that you can take the tour at your own leisurely pace. As we are slow travellers, we spent the entire afternoon inside the pavilion and would visit again. We can see why King George IV loved Brighton and loved his palace that he built.
Brighton Pavilion gardens
The beautiful gardens surrounding the palace are free. In the summer many people are seen relaxing and soaking up the sun, families often come here with a picnic, or like we did and explored the garden and observes some of the flora and fauna. Hidden under the trees, is a lovely but small café serving hot and cold drinks.
British Airways I360
Cost: £14.50 per person for an adult
The British Airways I360, or Brighton I360 was opened in August 2016. The observation tower stands at about 162 metres (531ft) on the seafront with 360 degree views of Brighton and the ocean. This was built were the once West Pier stood between the seashore and the sea. This was designed and built by the same company who built and designed the London Eye, with a gift shop, and café below serving a selection of hot and cold food and drinks.
Sadly it was raining on the day of our visit to the I360, this resulted in the views being restricted and disappointing. When you arrive it is similar to going through an airport, you produce the tickets, go through security, wait for the pod to arrive before embarking and up we went. In security it is more informal were you have a body search and your bags examined. You have to be there 15 minutes before the ride. It was a savour for us getting out of the rain, yet would have been much better if the weather was sunny as we would have encounters better views of the town and the coast. There is a bar in the pod selling soft drinks and alcoholic beverages and some nibbles, with full 360 degree views. The ride takes approximately 20 minutes, it moves smoothly and slowly up to the top and stops for a about 5 minutes before slowly and smoothly descending back to the bottom. The views would have been amazing had it been a clear day, as it is possible to see Beachy Head in Eastbourne and The Isle of White.
Brighton Palace Pier/ Brighton Pier
There were once three piers only a short distances from each other along the seafront, yet Brighton Palace Pier is the last remaining pier. The pier was opened in 1899, and quickly became the most popular landmark in Brighton. In its early days there was a reading room but later it was converted into a theatre, and it is said that Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin once played here in their early careers. In the early 1900s the pier had some further alteration, with the pier widened and the clock tower added. Sadly in 1973 a storm damaged the pier’s theatre and it was never used again, for this reason it was removed and a domed amusement arcade was put in its place. There is now a fairground at the end of the pier with rides for entertainment. Piers along the coast are quite predominant and most piers originate from the Victorian period when travel to the coast was booming and when seaside trips was at its height. Along the pier there is an amusement arcade, a pub and club, and fairground rides. This is a fun place for children and families.
Brighton Palace Pier always draws us, simply for the temptation of the fish and chips, the arcades and the ice cream. We are not fans of rollercoasters and fairground rides so we would normally avoid this, but once we have reached the end of the pier, we love to look back towards the town and watch life go by us. Any time we visit the coast be that Eastbourne, Brighton or Hastings, a visit into the arcades is high on this list. With so many different games to play and potential prizes to win it just brings back those childhood memories.
The Lanes and North Laines
The Lanes are little streets and alleyways with small shops and cafés. What stands out are the various graffiti work on many of the buildings, but look more like art work on a large canvas than graffiti.
The North Laine was once a slum area but this is no longer visible as new pubs, cafes, theatre and museums make this the cultural quarter.
After visiting the Pavilion, we took a stroll around the these small streets and alleyways, just exploring and seeing if there was anything which took our interest.
The beaches are full of pebbles, but still a lovely spot to sit back sunbath or swim in the sea waters. Along the seafront many of the Victorian architecture shines through.
This is a housing, shopping, restaurants, and boating marina just east of Brighton town, with a bowling complex and even a casino for entertainment. A great place for families or a relaxing night out with friends.
Brighton Marina can’t compare to the beautiful Eastbourne Sovereign Harbour, as Sovereign Harbour is cleaner, and has a much better area of beauty. On the other hand Brighton Marina may not have the beauty but has a better variety of food outlets and activities to do. In our opinion, we still prefer Sovereign Harbour over Brighton Marina.
There are a number of transport links to Brighton, we personally drove down as it took us about 30-45 minutes to get there, and then we parked up in a good little car park we know. We prefer to drive as it is more convenient and not restricted to times of public transport but this is individual preference.
The main London to Brighton line runs regularly, and is a direct line to Brighton. This is easy for a day out from London to visit the coast. There other train links available to Brighton from the southern coast of England too.
There are a number of buses in an around Brighton. There is a bus service from Tunbridge Wells in Kent which take approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours. There is a bus link along the coast from Seaford and Eastbourne to Brighton, and many bus services around the Brighton area.
The road links in and around Brighton are good, with the road from London to Brighton coming off the M25. There are other road links across the coast making this accessible depending on where you are travelling from. When we visit Brighton, we always drive, as it is more convenient for us living further in the country side, and with limited public transport. When we drive it takes about 30-45 minutes.
There are a number of car parks in the city and along the seafront. If you are lucky you may be able to find on street parking, but this normally carries parking restrictions. The car park we use is The High Street car park on the High Street in Brighton, and is an underground car park. This car park only accepts card payment and can be quite expensive. The car park is very small, narrow and with limited parking spaces, but we have found it is relatively safe especially late at night. Parking in Brighton is expensive! It is also possible to park on the seafront, with pay and display. Parking at Brighton Marina is free, but maximum stay in 3 hours, and is specific for visitors to Brighton Marina.
Places to eat
There are many places to eat in Brighton, mainly around the lane and the North Laines.
We stopped at a little Italian restaurant called Pinocchio, the food is good, and very good portion sizes. Shams ordered pasta and I chose a pizza. I couldn’t eat all of the pizza so I asked to take it home, which they kindly packed up for me.
We also stopped for food at Brighton Marina in a South American restaurant and the food was amazing. There are various dishes from all over southern America so had the chance to try something different and something we have not had before. I ordered the ribs which came with a small salad and fries, while Shams ordered a vegetarian beetroot and bean burger. We like to try something different every time we are out. Shams much preferred the ribs, while I really enjoyed the burger. We would highly recommend the south American restaurant as it is different, and the restaurant is located in other areas of the country too.
There are many events held in Brighton, but one we have been to many times, and is very popular, is the LGBT pride. This normally covers 3-4 days event over a weekend in August with the main pride parade starting at Hove Lawns, and proceeds along the seafront and finishes at Preston Park. We have been to many pride parades over the years and just love the colours, costumes and the atmosphere. This event is expensive as prices are normally doubled, but this doesn’t stop many people from far and wide coming to celebrate this annual event. If you are coming from outside of Brighton to see the Pride event, and need somewhere to stay, then hotels, hostels etc. will be booked out fast so you will need to book well in advance. You now have to purchase a ticket to enter into Preston Park. The park has a great atmosphere with the party vibe continuing into the early hours of the morning. This is a fun sociable, friendly and a great family day out.
Bars and clubs
Brighton is of the places to go for a good night out. Brighton is known (unofficially of course) as the LGBT capital of England but also very diverse. The nightlife is fantastic with many bars and clubs to dance the night away. Brighton has one of the largest LGBT communities, and great for a night out. Here is a list of our favourite LBGT bars and clubs to visit in Brighton that we would recommend to you:
This is my favourite place to visit, located on Prince’s Street. The first thing that we noticed with the Marlborough was that its tucked away, were no one can see it. When you go inside it has the same Victorian architecture and feel about it. This is an all lesbian bar and the only lesbian bar in Brighton. Men are only invited in with female guests and it attracts a crowd of young and old. The Marlborough has a small theatre upstairs for shows while downstairs there are 2 separate bars. The big plus is the pool table. Shams isn’t keen on the place as it be very cliquey among its patrons, and we felt we are outsiders of the clique, I often felt that but eventually they do warm to you.
Is on Marine Parade, just past the pier on the seafront this bar brings a mix bunch of people. Many come here for pre drinks before heading to the clubs later in the evening. This has quite a relaxing atmosphere.
The R Bar
Also found on Marine Parade, just past the pier on the seafront, the bar brings a mixed crowd who come here to socialise and have pre drinks before heading around the corner to Revenge club. This is a friendly bar with a relaxing atmosphere.
This is largest gay club in Brighton covering 2-3 floors with different music on each floor. There is a fee to get in the door but is quite a large club. They often have different events each weekend and one of the best clubs playing great tunes.
Should you require any help or assistance with visiting Brighton, then please do not hesitate to contact us.
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