Looking for things to do in Brighton in East Sussex that don’t just revolve around the beach and Brighton Palace Pier? Having lived in this vibrant city in the South Coast on-and-off for the last 20 years, I know this city like the back of my hand.
With a treasure trove of unique attractions filled with an eclectic blend of regency heritage, vibrant culture, and seaside charm, each corner of this city tells a story that goes beyond the Brighton seafront.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, a foodie, or a beach lover, Brighton’s distinctive character and warm welcome make it an irresistible destination.
This city has a way of capturing your heart and making you feel at home from the moment you arrive, just like it did for me.
Ready to explore? Let’s dive into the best things to do in Brighton. I’m sharing some of my personal favourite things to do in Brighton which I know you’ll love including a few days trips as well.
1. Take in immense sea views from the British Airways i360
You can’t come to Brighton without heading up to the top of the British Airways i360. Pre-book your tickets here so you won’t have to queue up for one of the best things to do in Brighton. This tour offers an opportunity to experience Brighton from a unique perspective via the British Airways i360 Vertical Cable Car.
As part of the experience, you’ll board a glass viewing pod that will carry you 450 feet into the sky, offering breathtaking 360-degree views of the city of Brighton, the English Channel, the Sussex countryside, and on a clear day, you’ll even catch sight of the Isle of Wight.
During your 25-minute flight, you can enjoy a drink from the Nyetimber Sky Bar, which serves a variety of locally sourced beverages, including the award-winning Nyetimber sparkling wine.
2. Fly down the seafront on the Brighton Zipline
For those who crave a shot of adrenaline amidst Brighton’s more serene attractions, the Brighton Zip Line Experience is a thrilling adventure you won’t want to miss.
As you make your way up castle hill to the top, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Brighton’s seafront and iconic pier, making the anticipation even more exciting. As you whizz along the 300-metre-long dual zip line, you’ll feel the wind whip past you and the thrill of speed as Brighton’s famous seafront blurs beneath.
Adding to the thrill is the Drop Zone, a freefall simulator experience that’s sure to get your heart pumping!
3. Hire a bike and cycle down to Saltdean
One of the my favourite things to do in Brighton is to hire one of the bikes on the seafront and cycle down to Saltdean along the seafront. You’ll pass by Brighton Marina before continuing along the track with the towering cliffs next to you. It’s so beautiful, and even better done at twilight when there’s no crowds around.
4. Jump on a jetski tour
Jump on this fun Jet Ski tour, a 30-minute experience gives you a feeling like you’re on a holiday in the Med!
The experience starts with a comprehensive safety briefing, ensuring you feel confident before you hit the waves. Your guide will also provide insights about the local area as you traverse Brighton’s beautiful coastline.
With the Brighton Jet Ski Ride, you’re not just getting a taste of high-speed water sports, but also a unique way to see the city’s landmarks, including the historic Brighton Pier and the impressive British Airways i360 tower.
5. Or go on a fun powerboat ride
When looking for things to do in Brighton, you can’t miss an adrenaline-filled adventure on the water with the Brighton Powerboat Ride. This is no ordinary sightseeing tour – it’s a thrilling, high-speed journey that combines stunning seaside views!
This hour-long experience takes you on a breathtaking route, offering an entirely different perspective of Brighton’s famous landmarks. From the iconic Brighton Palace Pier to the futuristic British Airways i360 viewing tower, you’ll see them all, but with the added thrill of bounding over waves at high speed.
6. Visit the oldest aquarium in the world at Brighton Sea Life Centre
A trip to Brighton isn’t done right without seeing the world’s oldest operating aquarium, Sea Life Brighton!
This experience is ideal for families, with plenty of interactive experiences for children. Little explorers will love the interactive rock pool where they can touch starfish and crabs, and the interactive quiz trail designed to educate while entertaining.
7. Venture on the hop-on-hop-off bus
If you’re new to the area and looking for things to do in Brighton, start with the Brighton Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. This tour offers an unbeatable way of exploring the city, allowing you to get on and off at various points of interest throughout Brighton.
The 24-hour ticket gives you loads of time to see all of Brighton’s famous landmarks, from the majestic Royal Pavilion to the charming Brighton Marina, the iconic Brighton Palace Pier, and more. In theory, this bus pass would be cheaper than getting taxis everywhere.
The tour operates with an open-top double-decker bus, providing unrivalled views of the city. As you travel around, enjoy the live commentary from experienced guides who offer fascinating insights into Brighton’s history, culture, and attractions.
8. Walk down the famous Brighton Palace Pier
You can’t come to Brighton without a walk down the Brighton Palace Pier. Buy some of the famous donuts at the front of the pier and eat them as you enjoy your walk down to the end. You’ll find loads of amusements and games to play, but it’s not for the faint hearted! It gets really loud inside, but kids will no doubt love it!
As you move towards the back of the pier, you’ll come to the famous Brighton pier rides, the helter skelter being a firm favourite.
I always have to go on the small log flume ride on the far left at the back when looking out to the sea. It’s loads of fun, but you’ll get wet – perfect for a hot day! Don’t forget to pick up some famous Brighton rock at one of the best British seaside towns when you’ve finished!
9. Photograph the West Pier
I remember when the Brighton West Pier burnt down a couple of times within weeks before it slowly started to all drift away. Before it burnt down, it’s believed homeless people slept inside it. And even though it was sad that it burnt down, the remains are actually pretty beautiful and have become an iconic landmark on Brighton Beach.
Although technically the pier is based in Hove, it makes for fantastic photography. Come here at sunrise or to Hove Beach at sunset and enjoy how beautifully the light catches through the skeleton of the remains.
10. Take a photo next to the beach huts
You can’t visit Brighton Beach without a classic photograph against the famous colourful beach huts! With plenty of huts to choose from, take your time as you walk past these iconic beach boxes in Brighton.
11. Understand the difference between the North Laine and the South Lanes
Heard of the Brighton Lanes but unsure what is the difference between the North Laine and the South Lanes? I’m sure it took me a good six months of living in Brighton before I actually realised that the two are totally different. When looking for things to do in Brighton, visiting both laneways is a must!
The North Laine is all about the vibrancy of Brighton, with independent shops lined from the corner of North Street and Bond Street and all the way to Kensington Gardens.
There are a few stand out legendary shops in the North Laine which we’ll mention below in this guide to make sure you visit, including vintage shops, local artists, second hand shops, pubs and cafes you need to go to.
The South Lanes start from Ship Street and makes its way all the way down to East Street. The South Lanes will take you through Dukes Lane and Harringtons Lane which is famous for antique jewellery shops and designer clothes shops.
12. Places to visit in The North Laine
Visit Upper Gardner Street for the flea market on Saturdays, and the long standing Snoopers Paradise which is a flea market shop selling everything from bric-a-brac to vintage clothing and more.
Make sure you go and watch a show or go to the cinema at the Komedia, a legendary theatre. I always go to We Love Falafel for the best falafels I’ve had anywhere in the world! They are cheap and delicious! I always pop next door for an acai smoothie to go with your falafels as well.
Bills is a long standing cafe in the North Laine, good for breakfast or lunch, but also make the effort to go to Pompoko which is an authentic and affordable Japanese restaurant.
Looking for the best pubs in Brighton? Head to The Earth & Stars in the North Laine, it’s a cosy pub serving up a vegan menu. The Great Eastern, Prince Albert and The Black Horse are also some of our favourite pubs in the North Laine!
There are also loads of vintage shops to visit in the North Laine too. Visit Beyond Retro which is a big warehouse selling vintage clothes, as well as To Be Worn Again on Sydney Street, a shop I’ve been going to for over 20 years!
13. Places to visit in The Lanes (South Lanes)
The Lanes, also known as The South Lanes are a myriad of laneways and small shopping arcades filled with independent shops, boutiques and vintage shops. You can start your walk from Churchill Square and walk all the way down through The Lanes and onto East Street.
I recommend walking through Dukes Lane which is home to boutique mens designer shops, but is still a great walk.
On your way down, stop off at The Cricketers for a pint in the oldest pub in Brighton which dates back to 1547.
Head to Moshimo for Japanese and order the sushi boat, or opt for the long standing Terre a Terre, an award winning vegetarian restaurant. Hotel Du Vin is a great spot for a posh dinner out with a loved one, and of course you can’t miss The Ivy in Brighton for cocktails lunch and dinner.
14. See a gig at Brighton Dome
You can’t come to Brighton and not see a gig at the legendary Brighton Dome! You’ll not only enjoy the music but also support the local arts community. Overall, it’s an immersive and memorable experience in a historic and charming setting.
15. Watch a movie at the Duke of York
The Duke of York Cinema in Brighton first opened as a cinema in 1910 and has been in continuous use ever since. This Grade II listed building hosts Brighton’s film festival each year and is a specialist arts cinema. If you’re looking to go to the cinema in Brighton, this is your go to place.
16. Get an ice cream at Marrocco’s on Hove Seafront
My brother introduced me to Marroccos on Hove seafront years ago and I have to say I have compared their hazelnut and pistachio ice cream ever since. I have never come close to finding an ice cream as good as it is here. Be prepared, you might see long lines outside from locals who are in the know about this place!
Marrocco’s makes it a good opportunity to go for a walk between the two piers. Walk past the Brighton Centre, stop by and watch the beach volleyball players when you’re on the way up to Marrocco’s.
17. Go on a pub crawl around Brighton
Unsure of the best pubs in Brighton Beach? Why not go on this Fun Pub Crawl With A Local? Meet like minded people, make new friends and enjoy learning all of the best spots to go for a pint in the future.
This Brighton Bar Crawl offers an exciting and lively experience for those looking to explore the vibrant nightlife of Brighton. This guided tour takes you to five different venues, each offering unique drink deals and shots. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the energetic atmosphere of Brighton’s bar scene while socialising with fellow participants.
18. Get your head around Brighton with a guided city bike tour
The Rags to Regency Tour in Brighton takes you on a fascinating journey through the city’s history, uncovering its transformation from a humble fishing village to a glamorous Regency resort.
Led by a knowledgeable guide, this walking tour allows you to explore iconic landmarks, including the Brighton Pier, Royal Pavilion, and The Lanes. Learn about the city’s intriguing past, the eccentricities of the Regency era, and the characters who shaped Brighton’s identity.
19. Get to know the locals favourite places on a city walking tour
The Brighton Walking Food Tour is a delectable culinary adventure that allows you to explore the vibrant food scene of this coastal city. Run by a local guide, this tour takes you on a leisurely walk through Brighton’s charming streets, stopping at various eateries and food establishments.
Indulge in a diverse range of local and international cuisines, from traditional fish and chips to mouthwatering street food and artisanal treats. Along the way, learn about the city’s culinary heritage, discover hidden gems, and interact with passionate food vendors.
20. Go on a wine tour in a London bus!
The Wine Tour of Sussex on an Iconic Vintage London Bus offers a delightful and unique experience for wine enthusiasts. Step aboard a vintage London bus and embark on a scenic journey through the picturesque Sussex countryside. You’ll visit some of the region’s finest wineries, where you’ll have the opportunity to sample a variety of award-winning English wines.
21. Have afternoon tea at The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel is such a legendary and iconic hotel that you should book afternoon tea here just to experience this hotel if you’re not staying here. Known for the infamous bombing by the IRA in 1984, which was an attempt to assassinate members of the British Government such as Maggie Thatcher, The Grand Hotel has continued to service guests ever since.
22. Ride the world’s oldest electric railway
Volk’s is the world’s oldest continuously running electric railway, and OK, its route is only a mile long, but for families this is a fun experience! Opened in 1883 by eccentric local boy Magnus Volk, it trundles along just east of the pier all the way to Black Rock.
Brighton Museum houses one of the most important and eclectic collections outside national insititutions. Dynamic and innovative galleries – including fashion and style, 20th century art and design, and fine art – feature exciting interactive displays appealing to all ages. In addition to the permanent galleries, there is a continuing programme of temporary exhibitions.
24. Get your Instagram shots at the Upside Down House
When looking for things to do in Brighton, you can’t miss the Upside Down House! The whimsical and mind-bending attraction defies gravity and challenges your perception of reality. This unique house, as the name suggests, is designed to appear completely upside down, with furniture, decor, and everyday items hanging from the ceiling.
Visitors can walk through the house and experience the delightfully disorienting sensation of being topsy-turvy. The Upside Down House offers a fun and interactive experience for all ages, providing a memorable photo opportunity and a chance to engage in playful exploration. It’s a must-visit attraction in Brighton that guarantees laughter, astonishment, and a fresh perspective.
25. Visit the Royal Pavilion
The spectacular Royal Pavilion in Brighton is an extraordinary architectural gem that stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, this exotic palace combines Indian, Chinese, and Gothic influences to create a truly unique and enchanting structure.
With its distinctive domes, minarets, and intricate interior decorations, the Royal Pavilion offers a captivating glimpse into the opulence and extravagance of the Regency era.
I highly recommend doing a tour of the Royal Pavillion to learn about the palace’s fascinating history. A visit to the Royal Pavilion is a must for anyone seeking a blend of history, art, and architectural splendor in the heart of Brighton.
26. Learn to make pottery at The Painting Pottery Cafe
Looking for more creative things to do in Brighton? Why not check out The Painting Pottery Cafe! With pottery sessions every day of the week including evening sessions and kids sessions during the school holidays, The Painting Pottery Cafe is a fantastic place to come with a date, friends or with work colleagues when looking for things to do in Brighton after work.
27. Get to know Brighton’s queer history on an LGBTQ+ walking tour
As one of Europe’s queerest cities, you can’t go wrong with an LBTQ+ walking tour with Piers And Queers. The 1h30m tour is led from a lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer perspective around Brighton Beach and the city centre. Learn about Lord Byron, Dusty Springfield and Oscar Wilde while hearing about an Edwardian drag king and much more on this unique tour in Brighton.
28. Brighton Toy Museum
Brighton Toy Museum is a charming and nostalgic destination that brings joy to visitors of all ages. Located in the heart of Brighton, this museum showcases an impressive collection of vintage toys and childhood memorabilia.
From antique dolls and teddy bears to model trains, cars, and iconic action figures, the museum offers a delightful journey through the history of play.
The Brighton Toy Museum is a treasure trove for toy enthusiasts, collectors, and families looking to relive the magic of their favorite childhood playthings.
Day trips from Brighton
Fancy getting out of Brighton Beach and heading away from the traffic to some quieter spots? Here’s some of our favourite day trips from Brighton you should check out. FYI – you can jump on a tour from Brighton, rather than drive yourself to some of these places.
29. See the grandest view in the world at Devils Dyke
One of the best things to do in Brighton is to jump on the bus up to Devils Dyke in the beautiful South Downs. I just love Devils Dyke which is an easy to get to view point from Brighton Beach.
Simply take the bus up here to see what artist Constable claimed to be ‘the grandest view in the world’ which overlooks the South Downs.
It’s a popular dog walking spot with a fab pub here to come to for a good Sunday lunch for a day trip. You can take one of the many walks from here, and walk back to Brighton like I did through the fields or walk on down to Fulking and have lunch at The Shepard & Dog which is a gorgeous little pub.
30. Visit the famous Seven Sisters at Burling Gap
No trip to East Sussex when you visit Brighton is complete without going to Burling Gap to see the famous Seven Sisters cliffs. The tall white cliffs tower over the pebble beach here and it really is a sight to be seen. If you don’t have a car, jump on this day trip from Brighton tour which will bring you here.
Head over to the famous photography spot with the houses infront of the Seven Sisters (pic above) before making your way up to Beachy Head. It will take about an hour to walk from Birling Gap and up to Beachy Head but it’s worth it for the views.
When you’ve finished your walk, head over to The Tiger Inn (one of our favourites) for lunch or dinner and sit in the beer garden.
31. Spend the day at Arundel
Arundal is one of those beautiful towns that should be on your list to visit. It is a captivating town that entices visitors with its rich history and architectural beauty. The magnificent Arundel Castle, inhabited by the Duke of Norfolk, stands as a testament to its past. Georgian and Victorian buildings, alongside charming cottages and cobbled streets, create a picturesque atmosphere.
The riverside location along the River Arun, offers a tranquil escape and scenic views especially when you go to the Black Rabbit for a pint in the beer garden. With art galleries, museums, and antique shops, you could spend the whole day here and not get bored.
32. Have a walk around Lewes
Its historical significance is evident in landmarks like Lewes Castle, offering panoramic views and medieval insights. The town’s charming architecture showcases a mix of Georgian and medieval styles, with timber-framed buildings and narrow lanes.
Lewes is a cultural hub, hosting art galleries, music festivals, and literary events. It’s particularly renowned for its Bonfire Night celebrations, a unique spectacle of parades and fireworks. With its small size and big character, Lewes offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and architectural charm for visitors to explore.
33. Enjoy the gorgeous town of Alfriston
Alfriston, located in the UK, is a picturesque village with a beautiful charm and tranquility. Nestled in the South Downs National Park, this idyllic destination offers a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
With its thatched-roof cottages, quaint tea rooms, and historic buildings like St. Andrew’s Church, Alfriston showcases quintessential English countryside beauty. Visitors can explore the scenic countryside through nearby walking trails or relax by the tranquil River Cuckmere.
34. Stanmar Park
Stanmer Park is just a 20 minute drive from Brighton but feels like a world away. Come here for beautiful country walks in the woodlands and around the tranquil lake. Bring a picnic or eat at Stanmer House while you’re here. You can bring your bike and cycle around the numerous trails here as well. It’s stunning and I’ve been here a good few times now to enjoy a break away from the city.
35. Day trip to Rye
And if you have time, I highly recommend doing a day trip from Brighton to Rye, near Hastings. It’s a beautiful town with cobbled streets, old pubs and beautiful shops. Walk down the famous Mermaid Street which is one of the most picturesque streets in England.
We loved the Cobbles Tea Room, a quintessential tea rooms in Rye which is absolutely gorgeous. Climb the bell tower in the 12th century St Mary’s Church for views over the town, before checking out the local antique shops and finishing up at the 600 year old Mermaid Inn for a pint or a glass of vino.
36. Where to stay in Brighton
Wondering where to stay in Brighton on your weekend from London or any other town in England? Here’s our top picks
Drakes – a luxury boutique hotel on the Brighton seafront, overlooking the Brighton Palace Pier.
My Brighton – situated in the North Laine, it’s close to everything and is bright, clean and modern hotel.
Hotel Pelirocco – Super quirky hotel on the seafront in central Brighton, featuring boutique-style themed rooms with free Wi-Fi.