Do you want to make the most out of a visit to Brighton? We can’t blame you, there’s so much to see and do in the city that you’re going to want to squeeze a lot in when you come. So, with that in mind we come up with the best way to see the city and the top 20 attractions that you’ll want to visit while you’re here.
Our top 20 must visit attractions in Brighton are the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Palace Pier, Brighton Beach, Kemptown, Preston Manor, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton Toy & Model Museum, The Lanes, North Laine, Old Steine Gardens, British Airways i360, The Devil’s Dyke, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Brighton Pride, Brighton Festival, The American Express Community Stadium, Sea Life Centre, Hove Lagoon and The Level.
Brighton Bike Tours
Before we get to the attractions, let’s talk about one of the best ways to see those attractions. It’s on a bike with me to guide you around the city. Our very own Brighton Bike Tours is ranked on Tripadvisor as the number one outdoor activity in Brighton because so many people have enjoyed it and gone back to say so online.
Our most popular is the Grand Coastal Brighton Bike Tour which takes the best of the city and coast, including:
- Brighton Dome
- Brighton Pier
- Brighton Rock Garden
- British Airways i360
- Eagle – Great Eastern Pub Stop
- East Street- Brighton’s oldest street
- Fishing Quarter
- Graffiti Adorned back streets
- Graffiti adorned Kensington street
- Grand Hotel
- Grand Parade
- Icons Wall – Banksy
- Little St Peters church
- Pavilion Gardens
- Pavilion Gardens Cafe
- Pet cemetery
- Preston Manor House
- Preston Park
- Preston Twin
- Royal Pavilion Palace
- Secret Garden
- St Bartholomew’s church
- St Peters church
- Sydney Street
- The Lanes
- The Level
- The North Laine – Bohemian Quarter
It only takes 2 ½ hours which includes a stop along the way to grab some tea and a cake in the Royal Pavilion Gardens and as you can see – it introduces you to a huge amount of the city.
You’ll also get to spend some time on the beautiful seafront that Brighton is quite rightly famous for and the feel of the sea breeze, the smell of the salty air as you glide by on a bicycle just can’t be beaten. It’s truly exhilarating.
The price is just £19.50 to £22.50 (Click Here to Book) and not only does that include a guided tour (with yours truly) but also bikes, optional helmets and somewhere to store luggage (at your own risk) if you need to.
Each tour is unique because you’re free to pursue your interests and ask questions about the things that matter to you – If your vegan, veggie, gay or green, or have a love for Art or kitch shops, do let me know as I have additional info I’d love to share with you. I can also jot down on a map some recommendations of places to go after the tour. This way you are guaranteed to get a local perspective that is completely tailored to you and your needs.
Brighton has been my home for 20 years now, and I love the city and I’ve gotten to know it very well over the years so that I can help you get the same experience of the cities present, past and near past in a much shorter time frame.
The ride is not taxing and most is a very smooth and flat ride that suits people of all riding abilities and ages. Even though Brighton is in a Valley, I can assure you that all the interesting bits are on the flat bit. It appears that even centuries ago, people didn’t want to go up hills.
A Brighton bike tour is the perfect way to get out and see the city, wake your body up to enjoy the rest of the day, bond as a group and to learn a little bit more about the city you will be spending the rest of your trip in.
Now, let’s take a look at the 20 must-visit attractions in Brighton.
The 20 Must Visit Attractions In Brighton
Brighton is simply a fantastic city and there are more than 20 awesome attractions in the city, so narrowing down to a Top 20 was quite a challenge but methinks that we’ve cracked it and we know you’ll enjoy each of the items on our list.
The Royal Pavilion is, without a doubt, the most iconic symbol of Brighton. It was built, originally, as a place for the Prince Regent and would later on become the home of King George IV. As the Prince of Wales, George had picked up a taste for the finer things in life as well as the illicit.
After being given a talking to by parliament for overspending on Carlton House in London, he decided to head to Brighton and rent a modest home while the Royal Pavilion was being built. It was there he would spend much of his free time with his “long-time companion” Maria Fitzherbert.
He couldn’t marry Maria because she was a Catholic, but he did anyway, against the wishes of his father’s leading to the marriage being annulled not that many years later. The Pavilion is built in the Indo-Saracenic style. which was, at that time, one of the jewels of the British Empire.
The royal connection to the buildings came to an abrupt end as Queen Victoria disliked them and some say, Brighton itself, and they were sold to the town of Brighton in 1850. Since the 1950s the city’s leadership has been working on restoring them to their former glories and they have done an admirable job. You can’t come to Brighton and miss out on the Royal Pavilion.
I also highly recommend the audio tour as well, that really does bring the whole place alive for you. (It will keep the kids quiet for a couple of hours as well).
Brighton Palace Pier
The most strolled on attraction in Brighton and, indeed, England outside of London is the Brighton Palace Pier. More than 4 million people a year arrive to tread the 85 miles of planks that comprise this beautiful traditional seaside pier.
There are amusements galore along the pier, some traditional, some less so and in the summer it’s one of the highlights of the British seaside experience. It might be a little less warm in Winter but it’s still open and the views of a moody sea are superb from the pier. It’s a place where everyone can have fun.
Brighton’s beach is famed for its pebbles which are only there because of the “groynes” (the long wooden and concrete structures which stretch out from the shore into the sea. These direct pebbles from the water onto the shore, otherwise instead of beaches – Brighton would have mudflats. And we don’t want that!
Fortunately, while the pebbles may be a little less comfy than sand to lay on, the beach is one of the most popular in England and you can grab a deckchair and soak up some rays in complete comfort most days in high season and in the summer a swim can really help you cool down though in the winter that is pretty much around 18 degrees.
Kemp Town or Kemptown was given its name for Thomas Read Kemp a prominent property developer and politician when it was being built. While most of the housing was actually constructed after the Regency Period it follows that style and the area is very attractive to look at.
It is also the home base to the majority of Brighton’s LGBTQ community. Kemptown of the gay quarter in Brighton and often called the gay capital of Europe. Adorned with many bars, shops, restaurants and sweet little pubs.
On the grounds of Preston Park you’ll find the impressive Preston Manor. It’s a beautiful traditional manor house which would once have served the village of Preston (which has long since been absorbed into the city of Brighton & Hove).
The majority of the building was built in 1738 when the then Lord-of-the-Manor Thomas Western decided to completely rebuild the original structure. There is a small part of the original 13th-century building still inside. It was bequeathed to the city in 1932 and is the center of “haunted Brighton” according to some.
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is within the garden grounds of the Royal Pavilion. The museum houses part of the collection from the Royal Pavilions Estate and includes a wealth of art from around the world and much more. They have a great African section and modern furniture as well as 20th-century fashion upstairs.
There are many notable exhibits available within the collection and we’d suggest keeping an eye out for King George’s breeches among other things because he loved them so much, it was illegal to wear trousers to court until 1815 even though the fashion of the time was very much for men to wear trousers.
Booth Museum of Natural History
Edward Thomas Booth was a celebrated naturalist, collector and umm… vivisectionist. His private collection of stuffed birds as well as other species and a superb collection of insects is housed in the Booth Museum of Natural History.
When Booth donated the museum to Brighton in 1890, he insisted on just one condition, that they preserve the diorama displays in the way he intended them, and they have done exactly that.
Brighton Toy & Model Museum
The Brighton Toy & Model Museum is a charming collection of toys mainly manufactured before the middle of the 20th Century. That means that it’s a bit like stepping back in time when you go inside, to a younger more innocent age. There are no Pokemon and toys of the technology age to be found.
This is a good thing. The model railways collection is absolutely unparalleled and if you love trains, you can’t go wrong. There are also excellent collections of stuffed toys such as Steiff bear and there are many others built around specific brand names. Kids will love the museum but so will adults who find themselves taking a walk down memory lane.
For those who enjoy their shopping, Brighton has plenty of modern chain stores but they’re not the main attraction, the best shopping in the city is bright, breezy, independent and thrives on the creativity of local crafts people’s brilliance.
For that kind of shopping, you’ll want to visit The Lanes. An area of the city that brings a Bohemian Brighton to life and where between interesting stores, you’ll find fantastic cafes, restaurants and pubs. It’s one of the biggest draws for travellers to Brighton and deservedly so.
Another shopping district which is distinct from “The Lanes” but is a “Laine” is North Laine. This is where the first-ever branch of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick was a local, was born and would go on to conquer the world.
The area is always changing as boutique stores come and go but that just adds to the joy of a visit to the North Laine – you never know precisely what you will find. A visitor might find it like being the retail exploration equivalent of Indiana Jones in the jungle just without snakes, spiders and angry monkeys and with fantastic coffee shops and pubs, instead.
Old Steine Gardens
The Old Steine Gardens are in a place that was once known as Brighthelmstone before it was absorbed by the city of Brighton. The area would have been used for fishing but when Brighton began to become a tourist draw, Old Steine was one of the first to change.
Now, it’s a beautiful garden you can wander through and explore and there are several monuments within of historical significance including the charming Victoria Fountain which was built to celebrate the 27th birthday of Queen Victoria. It was a private commission from the architect Amon Henry Wilds and is now a grade II listed structure of special important to the national interest.
British Airways i360
The British Airways i360 is the youngest item on our list, it’s the newest addition to the Brighton skyline and the tallest observation tower with a vertical climb in the UK and offers an absolutely unbeatable view of the city and the surrounding areas.
In fact, on a good day it’s said that you can see as far as the Isle of Wight from the top! It’s reasonably priced too (and we can thoroughly recommend combining a visit with a glass of champagne served at the top – because you’re worth it). If you want to wow your friends on Instagram don’t forget your camera.
The Devil’s Dyke
Everyone who comes to Brighton should spend some time on the South Downs which is Britain’s newest national park. One of the major highlights of The South Downs locally is the Devil’s Dyke which is walkable from Preston Park if you fancy a solid hike to get your fitness levels up.
The Dyke lies upon the South Downs Way an ancient footpath which has been in use for at least 2 millennia. It gets its name from a local rumour that says the devil and his wife are buried in the two humps of earth in the valley below.
St. Bartholomew’s Church
St. Bartholomew’s is one of several striking churches in Brighton but its neo-gothic building makes it, by far, the most recognizable and the one that most people want in their Instagram feed. It is considerably taller than the buildings around it and dominates the local landscape. It may, if you exclude towers, steeples and spires that is, be the “tallest church in England”.
It may look stark from the outside but inside it’s quite opulent and attractively designed. It’s also a superb venue for classical and other concerts thank to some unique acoustic effects. Finally, it’s a Grade 1 listed building which makes it one of the most important buildings for the national heritage.
Brighton is world famous for its welcoming and permissive attitudes to the LGBTQ community and Kemptown is home to much of Brighton’s LGBTQ facilities, it’s also the home of Brighton Pride which is the largest Pride festival event in the United Kingdom.
In fact, it’s so popular that on Pride weekend, there will be more visitors in Brighton than there are citizens of Brighton! It’s a warm, welcoming, inclusive event that celebrates everything that the LGBTQ community has contributed to Brighton and the world. Don’t miss it.
The Brighton Festival is an annual event which runs for 3 weeks in May each year that celebrates the arts in Brighton. You’ll find music, dance, films, arts, literature, and even organized debates throughout the time it is on. It’s the South of England’s largest event of this type and it attracts artists and visitors from around the world.
Having said that, it’s worth noting that at least 30% of the exhibitors and artists are drawn from the local community, probably because Brighton has an incredibly active arts community. There’s something for everyone at the Brighton Festival and it’s a great event to explore.
The American Express Community Stadium
The American Express Community Stadium which was formerly known as The Falmer Stadium is the home of Brighton & Hove Albion FC and what could be more British than a day at the football? The team have shot up and down the leagues in the past, but they’re now firmly entrenched in the Premier League and this could be your chance to see some of the world’s best players hit the pitch.
If football’s not really your thing, they also host rugby matches at The American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. The stadium is big and modern and very comfortable to spend time in, it’s a real asset to the city and the community at large.
Sea Life Centre
The Sea Life Centre as it is known today is the country’s oldest aquarium and it opened its doors to the public in 1872. It has been refreshed many times over the years and currently houses over 5,500 different sea creatures and other forms of aquatic life.
You need to book tickets online before you go to get the best deals and make sure you have tickets for the glass-bottomed boat ride at the entrance because you cannot buy them at the ride itself. You’ll have a superb time with some of the most fascinating creatures on earth at The Sea Life Centre.
Hove Lagoon is one of the best places in the country to learn watersports and they offer wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking and more. Even if you don’t intend to learn a sport yourself, it can be a great place to go and watch others go through their paces.
There is also a boating lake if you fancy a more relaxed time on the water and a skateboard park if the water’s just not your thing. The Big Beach Café at Hove Lagoon is very popular too. You can walk directly onto the beach in just a few minutes from the Lagoon.
The Level has won a Green Flag Award for its unique park space in the center of Brighton. It’s one of the busiest parks in the city and is home to an amazing skate park which really draws in a huge amount of local talent in the skate scene.
There’s also a very pleasant set up where you can play boules with friends or with other folks waiting to play too. You can chill out on the North Lawns or you can head to the Tomato Café for a bite to eat. It’s a really pleasant way to while away a day in Brighton.
So there you have it, our top 20 must-visit attractions in Brighton and they are all awesome. Brighton is a great place to come whether you’re seeking culture, arts, sports, nature and much more. There’s a reason that Brighton is one of the most popular places for tourists in the country outside of London and it’s because we’re lucky enough to have a huge range of attractions for people to enjoy.