What is the Closest Airport To Brighton? Get it Right!

  • By: Carlo
  • Date: June 27, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

If you’re planning your vacation in Brighton, then you’re probably examining how to get there. If you’re coming from outside of the UK, the easiest way is to fly and that means you’ll be looking to get as close to Brighton as possible when you land.

What is the closest airport to Brighton UK? Brighton City (Shoreham) Airport is the closest physically to Brighton but it doesn’t accept flights from passenger airlines. That means London Gatwick is the closest practical choice to Brighton. Flights landing at London Heathrow, London Stansted and London Luton may also be practical for heading to Brighton on the same day as you land in the UK.

The Closest Airport To Brighton UK Is Brighton (Shoreham) Airport

There is absolutely no doubt which airport is closest to Brighton, Brighton City Airport (Shoreham) is only 7. 2 miles from the city centre and it’s less than half an hour’s drive too. Yet, in many respects, this doesn’t help visitors to the city at all.

Brighton City is the UK’s oldest airport and the oldest purpose-built commercial airport in the world and it’s certainly worth visiting if you come to Brighton. The terminal building itself is a grade 2 listed building which was designed by R Stavers Hessell Tiltman in the Art Deco style.

There’s a visitor centre on site which allows you to explore the history of the place which includes (if we just touch on the highlights):

  • The first flight was in 1910. Harold H Piffard was the pilot. It wasn’t a very impressive journey.
  • The aerodrome opened on the 20th of June, 1911.
  • A flying school was founded in Brighton in 1913.
  • It played an important part for deploying flights across the channel in World War 1.
  • The terminal was built between the wars.
  • It was used as an RAF training centre from 1937 to 1939.
  • It played a more important role in deploying air squadrons during World War 2.
  • It had a grass landing strip until 1981 when the current tarmac strip was created.
  • It was sold to a property company on a 150-year lease in 2006 because of the debts it had run-up.
  • The terminal building was listed in 2007.
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Why is this no use to visitors? Well, because Brighton City Airport has never been a passenger airport. While it is possible, at great expense, to fly into Brighton on a private plane – you cannot get a commercial flight to Brighton’s historic airport.

The Closest Passenger Airport To Brighton UK is London Gatwick

That leaves us looking farther afield for an airport which is useful to visitors to Brighton and the closest passenger airport is London Gatwick. The airport is 29.5 miles to the South of the City of London and just 27.3 miles (by road) from Brighton. It takes only 39 minutes to drive from Gatwick to the city centre in Brighton.

Despite being the second busiest airport in London, Gatwick has only one runway and its 46 million passengers every year making it the second busiest single-runway airport anywhere in the world (the busiest is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, India).

London Gatwick receives flights from most major airlines as well as a large variety of budget airlines and Easy Jet is now responsible for 40% of traffic through Gatwick. It’s fair to say that if you want to fly into Gatwick, from most destinations, it ought to be possible though it may not be the cheapest or most convenient flight into the UK.

If you don’t want to drive from Gatwick to Brighton then you can easily jump on a train (the airport is served by the Gatwick Express route which connects it to Brighton and a train takes around half an hour to get between the two points). There are also options to catch a coach with National Express if you want a more budget-friendly means of transport.

You could also take a taxi which ought not to break the bank, particularly if you book in advance or with a ride-sharing application. If you’d like to drive to Brighton but don’t have a car in the UK, then you can hire a car at the airport.

The Three Best Alternative Airport Options For Brighton UK

It’s fair to say that if you’re looking to get to Brighton in the easiest fashion possible, it makes sense to fly into Gatwick. It’s so conveniently placed for the city and the direct train and bus services are a real blessing, particularly if you’re coming from any real distance away.

However, there are often good reasons to fly into some of the more distant airports which can include convenient flight times and lower cost fares and there are three more British airports which are within a practical distance from Brighton. London Heathrow, London Stansted and London Luton.

London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe and the second busiest airport in the world. It serves nearly twice as many passengers each year than Gatwick and more than 80 million people will pass through Heathrow in any given calendar year.

It is situated 14 miles to the West of the City of London and operates two runways. It is 63.4 miles north of Brighton and it takes approximately 1 hour and 19 minutes to drive from Heathrow to Brighton (via the A23 and the M25).

If you want to get to Brighton by train it is possible but nowhere near as convenient as it is from Gatwick. You will want to catch either a London Underground service to London Victoria Station or possibly get a bus to London Victoria and there are other more complicated routes which involve more than one tube and possibly more than one bus as well. The whole journey will take about 2 hours.

There is a coach service from London Heathrow to Brighton and there are approximately 99 different options each day. That’s probably enough to get you there though the service is a bit slower than the train will be.

If you want to take a taxi, you can, but it’s going to be quite expensive. We’d definitely recommend that you book in advance or use a ride-sharing application for this. You can also, as you’d expect at a major airport, hire a car if you want to drive yourself to Brighton from Heathrow.

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London Stansted Airport

The only good reason to fly into London Stansted if you’re visiting Brighton is that you got an incredibly good deal on the cost of flights. Otherwise, we’d recommend you choose somewhere closer.

Stansted is a smaller airport but it’s not very convenient for Brighton. It is 1 hour and 51 minutes and 95.7 miles from Brighton by road and that means a taxi will be punishingly expensive if you want to travel by road.

Train services are also not the best and you’ll need to catch a train, then get on the underground to London Victoria and then catch another train to get to Brighton from Stansted. This takes about 2 – 2 hours and 30 minutes. Before you book flights to Stansted, you want to make sure this extra effort and expense is worth the effort – you might find its cheaper to fly to Gatwick once you run the total costs.

You can get a bus reasonably cheaply between Stansted and Brighton, but it takes about 4 hours in ideal traffic conditions. If the traffic’s bad, it can take much longer.

London Luton Airport

Luton airport is the farthest airport from Brighton to still be “practical” in terms of access to the city. It is 96.7 miles away by road on the M25 and it takes 1 hour and 54 minutes to drive. Luton is regularly considered to be one of the ugliest cities in the UK and it’s unlikely that you’ll want to do any sightseeing on your way out of the city.

However, many airlines do offer ultra-budget flights to Luton and we can see why it might be your preferred choice for your visit to Brighton.

To catch a train from Luton to Brighton, you’re going to need to catch a bus (or possibly more than one bus, plus a trip on the London Underground) to get to Luton Station before getting a train to Brighton. You can expect to spend 2 hours 10 minutes – 2 hours 20 minutes in transit before arriving in Brighton.

The bus is a little faster than from Stansted as you can avoid London nearly completely on the trip. National Express takes about 3 and a half hours to get you to Brighton from Luton Airport.

Conclusion

What is the closest airport to Brighton UK? It’s Brighton City (Shoreham) Airport which is just half an hours’ drive away. Sadly, it doesn’t have any passenger airline flights landing there and the nearest airport to Brighton where you’re likely to be able to get a flight is London Gatwick (about 40 minutes away). You may also consider Heathrow, Stansted and Luton if you’re trying to get the best possible deal on your flights.

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