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The Best things to do on a Brighton day trip

Brighton in East Sussex is vibrant, hip and the most happening of British seaside cities. For historical hot spots, cool eateries and traditional seaside fun read on for a local’s guide on how to have the best day trip to Brighton.

Brighton Beach Deckchairs

A Brighton day trip makes the perfect day out from London. Tucked between the South Downs and the English Channel, the city is just over an hour from London by train. Many of the best things to do in Brighton are just a short walk from the station.

Luckily for you I’ve lived near Brighton for decades so I know it inside out. Here’s how to spend a day in Brighton, the British seaside town that really rocks. My Brighton…

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Best things to do on a Brighton day trip

Scroll to the end to find my Brighton map with day trip itinerary and self-guided walk

Banksy in Brighton

If you’re arriving by train head out of the station down to Trafalgar Street for some epic street art. On the wall of the Prince Albert pub is the iconic Banksy mural ‘Kissing Policemen’ although this is a copy – the original was sold years ago by the pub owner.

There’s also the ‘dead rock stars’ mural on the wall paying tribute to some of the world’s music legends by street artists Req and Sinna. It’s recently been updated to included some more recently departed icons.

Dead Rock Stars Street Art Mural, BrightonBanksy’s Kissing Policemen and dead rock star mural on the Prince Albert 

Street Art in Brighton

Brighton has more than its fair share of street art – it’s big, bold and colourful and you’ll find street graffiti all around the North Laine area and where you’re least expecting it. Wander down Trafalgar street and work your way around North Laine where there’s an array of street art.

Trafalgar Lane is a narrow lane covered with street art from one end to the other and murals will pop from the sides of houses and shop fronts.

The North Laine

If your shopping tastes are eclectic then North Laine (not North Lanes) is bohemian heaven; second-hand furniture, ornaments, vintage clothes, vinyl and an assortment of kitsch collectables are found and there’s a Saturday table-top street market too. Don’t miss Kensington Gardens, Gardner Street and Bond Street.

Some streets are totally residential and, for that matter, highly Instagrammable.

Terrace of houses Brighton, East Sussex
Pastel painted street in Brighton

The bars and cafés are laid-back, hip and arty with excellent people watching potential. For entertainment it’s worth checking out The Komedia for an evening show, its café-style live entertainment consists of music, cabaret and its Krater Comedy Club hosts live laughs every weekend.

Did you skip breakfast? Ready for lunch? Check out some of the best brunches in Brighton.

Or head to a coffee shop

If coffee and cake is more your thing then there’s no shortage of cafes and coffee shops in the North Laine but Pelicano (28 Sydney Street) is one of my favourites. Not just a coffee shop it’s a roastery and freshly roasts its coffee each week.

Pelicano serves single-origin artisan coffees and has a wide range of loose teas. If you fancy a snack they serve freshly-made sandwiches, paninis and salads which you can eat inside or in the tiny back yard garden.

The Royal Pavilion

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is a must see on your Brighton day trip. Built for George IV as his seaside retreat, this is Brighton’s jewel in the crown and a visual Turkish delight.

Brighton's Royal Pavilion
Brighton’s Royal Pavilion – with ice rink for Christmas skating

Domes, minarets and turrets are accentuated by clever night-time lighting. Think pink during Gay Pride and blues and purples for Christmas. Inside is even more exotic with a riot of Chinese opulence and silk paintings, the ultimate seaside pad.

At Christmas the Pavilion becomes the backdrop for an outdoor ice rink where you can skate away to Christmas classics while the spicy aroma of mulled wine fills the air.

From the Pavilion make your way to The Lanes…

The Lanes, Brighton

The Lanes are a maze of old narrow alleyways yielding a cornucopia of classy shops, restaurants and even the odd celeb. Jewellery and antique shops, designer boutiques and gift shops mean you may want to flex your wallet.

There are some good restaurants in the Lanes and as it’s probably time for lunch so head to one of my favourites…

  • Food for Friends for fabulous vegetarian food: 17-18 Prince Albert Street, Brighton
  • English’s for Oysters and fresh seafood – the oldest seafood restaurant in Brighton: 29-31 East St, Brighton
  • Donatello’s – Italian food in the Lanes with loads of seating and reasonably priced dishes
  • Bill’s in North Road (which is in North Laine) is the second ever Bill’s and has great food and a great vibe.

Instead of dessert why not…

Enjoy a gelato

Gelato from Fatamorgana Rome

Time for a treat and the best gelato in town without doubt (I’ve tested them all) is iat No 6 Pool Valley and 31 Ship Street, Brighton. Boho Gelato makes artisan gelato and sorbet every day in the most amazing flavours – from Malty Honeycomb to Mango, Passion fruit custard to Pink Lemonade sorbet and Apple to Avocado.

There’s vegan and gluten-free too and it’s all just as good as the authentic gelato I tried at the Carpigiani Gelato University.

From the Lanes head to Brighton beach and…

Brighton Palace Pier

Brighton Pier
Brighton Palace Pier

Brighton Pier recently regained its original name and I’m really pleased to see it called the Brighton Palace Pier again. The Pier is a quintessential Victorian British pier with a funfair, slot-machines, candy floss and fish and chips. This is an essential part of your Brighton day trip.

Beware the seagulls – they’ll have your chips if you look away for so much as a second. Time spent on the Palace Pier is one of the best free things to do in Brighton.

Funfair on Palace Pier, Brighton
Brighton Palace Pier
Brighton Palace Pier, Brighton, East Sussex

Brighton’s Sealife Centre the world’s oldest operating aquarium is right next to the pier. Book your Sealife Centre tickets here.

There’s a new attraction next door – a 300 metre-long zip-wire for adrenaline seekers. Book your zip-wire experience here.

Brighton Beach and Seafront

Head for the seaside and Brighton’s famous pebble beach. Under the promenade stalls and small shops sell crafts, colourful prints and original pieces by local artists as well as buckets and spades and Brighton Rock. A carousel lends that funfair vibe and when the bars, cafés and restaurants fill the air with happy chatter.

Take a stroll along the seafront until you come to the…

The Brighton i360

The Brighton i360 (originally BAi360) opened in August 2016. Book a flight and you’ll glide up 450ft in a space-age pod for breathtaking views of the area. I was lucky enough to attend the press opening and loved my bird’s eye view of Brighton.

On a clear day you’ll see fabulous views over Brighton and Hove and some rooftop artwork which has appeared since the i360 was completed. If you’re looking for an adrenalin buzz you can take a walk on top of doughnut for outdoor views of the city and the beach below. Book your BAi360 walk here.

The West Pier and Bandstand

West Pier Murmuration, Brighton
Murmuration on the remains of Brighton’s West Pier

Brighton’s West Pier is where my grandparents took me for Brighton days out with my brother and sister when we were kids. I remember back in the day when there were bumper cars, a music hall and speed boats launching from the end of the pier.

It’s sad to see so little left of it but the memories go on. This is a great place to watch the sunset and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a murmuration of starlings which roost on the West Pier.

Keep walking past the West Pier and you’ll see the Old Bandstand and the elegant squares and terraces of Regency Houses painted their uniform cream colour.

Brighton Bandstand
Brighton Bandstand

If you want to walk a little further west and you’ll come to Hove Lawns and its rainbow row of beach huts but you’re probably ready for dinner by now. Head back along the seafront and make your way to one of the restaurants you clocked earlier in the day. A walk up Queens Road will lead you straight back to the station and should take around 15-minutes from the seafront.

Brighton Walking Tour Map

Those are some of my top things to do in Brighton, UK if have just a day to explore the city. I’ve made a handy Google map of my day trip to Brighton sights to help you get round them.

How to get to Brighton

By Car

Brighton is easy to get to from London and is just over half an hour’s drive from Gatwick Airport straight down the A23. However, parking in Brighton is expensive. I’d advise you park up and get the train for the last leg of your journey if you’re going to drive. If you really want to drive then the car park at Brighton Station is one of the cheapest.

Brighton by Train

Brighton days out are easy by train. From London’s Victoria Station and London Bridge station is just over an hour by train.

Thameslink services run direct to Brighton from Bedford, stopping at central London stations including St Pancras International and London Blackfriars. Direct services to Brighton take an hour from London Bridge, and 1 hour 17 minutes from London Blackfriars. Check times and prices on The Trainline.

Step out of Brighton Station and you can see the sparkling sea. Breathe deep and smell that fresh, salty sea air. Brighton’s waiting for you.

Where to stay in Brighton

A day in Brighton really isn’t enough and you’ll be back for a weekend before you know it. There’s a massive range of places to stay in the city so why not turn your Brighton day trip into a Brighton weekend… You could time it to coincide with ‘Burning of the Clocks‘ a unique Brighton festival.

So, there you have my one day in Brighton itinerary. Drop me a message if you’ve got any questions about the city, As always, I’m happy to help.

Discover my self-guided walking tour of Brighton

Pin it for later…

Saturday 30th of January 2021

After looking at these great photos, Brighton is definitely on my bucket list!


Saturday 31st of January 2015

Brighton, a city with a big heart .... and plenty fresh air. I really enjoyed walking down the memory lanes of the 6 years I lived there - and it has hardly changed anything. I love this post, Suzanne - and if I hadn't just returned from Brighton ... I would had booked a trip. Your images are brilliant too ... the Pier part and the wheel my favorite.

Suzanne Jones

Sunday 1st of February 2015

I took these pics on a cold winter day but it was bright and crisp - nice not to have as many tourists around as in the summer. My favourite pier was always the West Pier - the one that burnt down. So sad that it's still just a rusting shell :(

Europe Scrapbook: London Day 3 & 4 | memories & dust

Wednesday 12th of February 2014

[…] Brighton Rocks… […]

Irene S. Levine

Saturday 18th of January 2014

After looking at these great photos, Brighton is definitely on my bucket list!

Suzanne Courtney

Saturday 18th of January 2014

That's great - hope you like it as much as I do!


Wednesday 15th of January 2014

Hi Skibunny :) Are you back yet? I always think the Pavilion looks an amazing place. Maybe, one day. And I love Ella's poster too.

Suzanne Courtney

Wednesday 15th of January 2014

The Poster's lovely. Hope you had a great trip, I got back Sunday evening. Any time you're this way Jo, just get in touch :)

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