Brighton is a delightful eccentric seaside city on the southern coast of the United Kingdom.
Luckily, I live in London, so taking a day trip to Brighton from London is a very convenient option. A one-hour train ride from London Victoria, Blackfriars or London Bridge or just a two-hour drive can get you to the centre of Brighton.
I have been in Brighton in different seasons as it is a fiercely all-season city. Of course, like other seaside cities around the world, it can be a great destination on a warm and sunny day.
After visiting this lovely city again and again I came up with the guide to the best things to do and see in Brighton to help you to make the most of your day in this English vibrant city.
You can also read: 28 best day trip from London
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Best things to do in Brighton on a day trip
I would recommend you to take a train rather than driving to Brighton due to the limited number of car parks. Apart from that, the train is faster and more convenient to get to the centre of the city. So it might be good to start your day trip from a train station.
Vintage shops and street arts in Brighton
Walking around English cities is really enjoyable especially on a sunny day, and Brighton is no exception. As soon as you get out of the train station you can start walking towards the seafront in the main street where various shops and restaurants are.
You should walk past St Peter's Church and head to North Laine where you will find some unique, vintage and independent shops selling second-hand furniture, vintage ornaments and clothes.
North Laine is also famous because of its cool street arts, but you can continue walking to Trafalgar Lane, a narrow alley to see some more cool murals on the wall of the houses and shops.
The Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion is a must-see in Brighton. This popular attraction is located in the centre but not far from the sea.
The building of this seaside palace is impressive. When I saw the building for the first time, I called it “Brighton’s Taj Mahal”, because it recalled the image of the real “Taj Mahal” (I haven’t been to India and the Taj Mahal, but I have seen it in various photos).
You can take photos from the outside, but photography is not allowed inside.
When you purchase a ticket, you will be handed an audio guide which will take you to the past while you are stepping into the Banqueting Room, Great Kitchen and Royal Bedrooms.
The palace is surrounded by a gorgeous garden, if you are not interested in history, you can walk around the garden and appreciate its beauty instead.
Have fun in the Brighton Palace Pier
Visiting the Palace Pier is the most fun thing to do in Brighton. The pier offers many pleasant indoor and outdoor activities and games. There are many souvenirs, toys and sweet stalls.
When the weather is good, you can enjoy a roller coaster ride or other attractions. Don’t worry, if the weather is not suitable for outdoor activities, you can also enjoy some games indoor. I always had fun and won a toy playing at the pier.
Brighton Beach and Seafront
My favourite thing to do in Brighton is walking on the beach and listening to the sound of the waves crashing and the seagulls around you.
The beach is a stone beach and there is no sand beach in or around the city. You can still bring your towel or rent a sun lounge and relax while enjoying the stunning view of the sea and the flying seagulls.
If you are looking forward to swimming in Brighton, keep in mind the sea temperature on the summer’s hottest days usually only reaches 20°C (68°F). So, if you want to try out some water activities, it is a good idea to wear a wet suit.
British Airways i360
When you walk on the seafront towards the west side, you will find the British Airways i360 observation tower. The monument was opened in August 2016 and designed by the team behind the London Eye.
When you take the ride, it will bring you to 160 meters of altitude where you can have a great 360 degrees panoramic view of the city and the coast.
On a clear day, you will be able to see the white cliffs of Beachy Head and the Isle of Wight.
What and where to eat in Brighton
There are various restaurants and bars for all tastes at the seafront. If you prefer to eat on the beach instead of sitting inside a restaurant, you can head to the Brighton Smokehouse right next to the beach or get takeaway Fish and Chips and have it on the beach. You should pay attention to your food when you are outdoor and keep in mind that seagulls like fish too.
If you like to sit in a restaurant you can head to Riddle & Finns The Beach (139 Kings Road Arches) to try some local seafood and oysters. Or you can go to The Regency (131 Kings Road Arches), where you can get a table outside with a sea view and enjoy your lunch.
When you are in Brighton it is a good time to treat yourself with some yummy ice cream. Obviously, you will see a lot of people having ice cream on the beach, but I highly recommend you to go back to North Laine at 2 Gardner St, where you can find Gelato Gusto. Here not only you can have some Italian Gelato, but you can also have some delicious desserts and waffles. This place also offers vegan ice cream.
Visiting castles on the way back to London
There are some historical castles near Brighton you can visit during your trip. You can take a 17-minute train ride to Lewes Castle, which is located in the town of Lewes. You can visit the castle and then take a train to London.
If you are driving, you might want to check out Arundel Castle, located in West Sussex, only 20 miles from Brighton. This castle looks straight out of a fairy tale. After visiting the castle, you can take the A3 and drive to London.