Called the happiest place to live in the UK, the most popular seaside destination for tourists on the island, and also a “UK gay capital”- Brighton is definitely an interesting city to visit and a Brighton day trip is easy to organise. Here are the tips on how to spend a great day in Brighton.
Located only one hour south from London by train, Brighton is a popular tourist destination. Thanks to the city’s location, a day trip to Brighton from London is a frequent choice for the travellers visiting the capital. The city attracted around 9.6 million one-day visitors in 2016. We also went for a day trip to Brighton at the beginning of January.
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How to spend a day in Brighton – top ideas for Brighton day trip
The seaside city, overlooking the English channels waters and called the “English Riviera” has a lot to offer. Even if one day trip to Brighton might not be enough to see everything, you can still catch the glimpse of the pretty coast and feel the happy Brighton vibe. To read up more about Brighton before the trip, grab a book Time Out Shortlist Brighton.
We wanted to have a relaxing day, after New Year’s Eve in London, so we decided just to stroll around the centre and chill out on the beach. The day was sunny and bright(on) (see what I did there? ;)), and it didn’t feel like winter at all, so it was nice to be outside. We even had our lunch in the restaurant outdoor terrace on the beach. Here are some of the ideas on how to spend a nice winter day out in Brighton.
#1 Visit the Royal Pavilion
One of the very interesting places to see in Brighton is the Royal Pavilion. This oriental palace looks like it came straight from exotic India, not the UK. They could switch places with the palace in Bangalore – check here why.
It has a rich, 200 years long history. King George IV ordered to build it as his seaside pleasure house during the fashionable Regency era. In the beginning, it was just a simple lodging house and in 35 years it grew into a spectacular palace. Those times were full of glamour and extravagance, which are reflected in the building’s interior and exterior. After that, the pavilion served as a civic place and even as a hospital for Indian soldiers during World War I. Now, it’s recognized as an icon of Brighton and must-see Brighton attraction for many tourists.
You can visit the Palace also inside – tickets cost £12.30. However, we didn’t manage to go, as the queue was massive and we preferred to stay longer outside.
In winter, next to the pavilion, there is an ice rink, where you can ice skate and look at the white palace walls reflecting in the ice. This seemed like a lot of fun and I need to come back for another day in Brighton to try it myself.
#2 Walk on the famous Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier (previously named Palace Pier) was opened in 1899 as a pleasure pier. It’s full of shops, eateries, home to the amusement park, small casino and more. Most of the food sold there include seafood, fish, chips and ice cream. The pier is overlooking the Brighton beach providing very nice views around. It’s an area bustling with life and if you like people watching – that’s the place to be.
#3 Chill on the Brighton beach
The beach in Brighton is wide and long but full of pebbles. It was voted one of the Top 10 city beach destinations in the world. To the west, the main part of it takes Fishing Quarter – the heart of the city’s seafront.
#4 Try delicious fish on the seafront
The fishing industry is still active in Brighton today, although most of the fisherman houses are now converted into tiny art shops and stylish cafes. However, you can still walk along the beach in the sun, try some freshly caught fish and shellfish from the famous smokehouse and visit the Fishing Museum (free entrance).
#5 Get cultured out
The whole area by the seashore in Brighton is covered in small art galleries and local shops. You can admire the work of the local artists and photographers, which is showcased here. It’s a perfect place to buy some beautiful paintings, sculptures or prints.
#6 Fly high in British Airways i360
A significant landmark on the beach, visible from the distance, is British Airways i360 – the world’s tallest moving observation tower. You can board it and go to the top to check the wide panorama of the city and the seafront around. Tickets are £15.
#7 Party till the dawn
At night, the beach turns into the lively club scene with packed cocktail bars and loud music coming from the speakers. It’s happening mostly in the summer, so we didn’t manage to take part in it, as the evenings in winter can be quite chilly.
#8 Explore the Kemp town
This small community, located in close proximity to the beach, is full of colourful and stylish buildings from the Regency era and Victorian architecture. It’s a centre for many artists, musicians, writers, performers, activists and everyone fascinated with the avant-garde. It gives the area a special feel, and together with interesting shops and cafes, creates an interesting place to visit.
We just had limited time during our short Brighton one day trip, so we didn’t manage to see many of the other places. However, there’s much more than that described above, to see in this very interesting city.
If you only have a chance – try to visit, in either of the seasons. Brighton will welcome you in the brightest way it can!
How to go on a day trip to Brighton from London?
Trains run almost every half an hour and even on the day of travelling there can be some good deals. We paid around £10 pp for a return ticket when booked in advance, and similar prices were still available on the day of our journey (2nd January), a day after the London’s New Year’s Eve party.
Turn a Brighton day trip into a Brighton weekend trip
If you can, stay for the night and check out the great Brighton nightlife, and even more things to do in Brighton. The city is full of charm and it will not disappoint you!
If you decide to stay for a night Brighton, here you can find great accommodation options for all budgets:
Updated June 2020
Have you spent a day in Brighton before? Do you have other recommendations on what to do in Brighton for a perfect day out? Let me know in the comments!
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