Ever since its Regency heyday as a party town for George IV, Brighton has been renowned as the UK’s ultimate destination for cutting loose. Nowadays, with buzzy local pubs on every corner and clubs lining the seafront, hens, stags and party animals alike travel down to this coastal city to down their favourite tipple and throw some shapes. However, despite Brighton’s tipsy reputation, there’s plenty more to this location with fantastic attractions that do not involve drinking.
The North Laines
The North Laines are a maze that you will want to get lost in and a goldmine for independent quirky shops and restaurants. Snoopers Paradise is a treasure trove of vintage and retro goods, a great place for those wanting to take a step back in time and even take a small bit of history home with them.
The Laines are also a foodie’s ultimate destination with international tastes like La Choza, Brighton’s favourite Mexican, and Iydea, which offers quality fast vegetarian foods from Indian curries to Greek spanakopita. Or for that eco-Brighton touch, check out Silo, an inventive restaurant built on a zero-waste mission.
Picture from Wikipedia
Brighton’s most famous landmark is unarguably the Royal Pavilion, a Grade One listed property that George IV originally built as a seaside residence. Since being purchased by the Brighton Commissioners and the Brighton Vestry in 1850, it has become a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. Tour this vast palace and have a glimpse into what royalty used to feel and look like.
However, once you’ve seen the Pavilion, stay in the grounds to explore the ex-royal residence next door that has been transformed into the Brighton Museum, boasting fantastic exhibitions for those with an interest in local and international history. Exhibitions include temporary collections like ‘A King’s Appetite’ by Laura Ford to permanent displays like the Ancient Egypt gallery.
If you really want a taste of old Brighton, these museums are a little further afield but combine lovingly curated collections with that hint of quirk you expect from Brighton.
- Booth Museum of Natural History – a classic collection of stuffed animals and mounted insects
- Toy and Model Museum – with over 10,000 toys from across the 20th century
- Mechanical Museum – a working museum of vintage penny arcade machines
- Old Police Cells Tours – some enforced timeout for anyone who’s been partying too hard
After dark, see Brighton’s shadier past with a Ghost Walk in The Lanes.
Brighton Marina is a little way out from the city centre, putting it off most daytrippers’ radars. However, with increased investment over the last few years, it’s a great destination for getting active and having a bigger day out.
If the sun’s shining, get out on the water with the many watersports options. Whatever your taste for adrenaline, there are courses for all levels of experience including sailing or jet skiing. There is also an opportunity to hire a sailing boat if you hold a RYA level 2 certificate and to explore the coastline of this brilliant location independently. If you’re planning on trying sailing, make sure you wear the appropriate attire to keep you comfortable – so do bring a suitable of pair of shoes, ideally sailing boots, to keep you stable on deck as well as good base layers and waterproofs. If you jet ski, you will be provided with all gear you need including a safety vest and wetsuit.
After all that sea air, you might be feeling peckish and Brighton Marina has around 28 places where you can fill your stomach. From highstreet Italian like Zizzi to Brazilian from Casa Brasil plus so many more restaurants along the new extension to the Marina. Top tip: download the Brighton Marina app to grab some great discounts and savings to be made.
Picture by Geograph
There is a possibility you will need to hang onto those sailing boots as Brighton is infamous for its pebbled beaches. In the summer, thousands of Brits head to this coastal city to top up their tans and eat quality fish and chips. Plan your visit wisely as Brighton takes full advantage of sunny days with events like the Big Screen, a giant open-air cinema showcasing film classics to live sporting events – they’re inexpensive and a different fun way to spend time on the beach.
However, for those wanting something a little more active, further along the seafront there are netball courts, table tennis and mini golf for sport enthusiasts and, of course, the i360 – the world’s tallest moving observation tower from the same designers as the London Eye.
Depending on when you travel to this city, you may be able to take advantage of some of the fantastic local festivals. The Fringe Festival is one of the largest art festivals in England and celebrates all types of art, from street performances to upcoming comedian acts. This usually takes place during May, alongside the main Brighton Festival which offers both contemporary and classic dance, theatre and music steered by a guest director. Previous Festival directors have included Brian Eno, Kate Tempest and Laurie Anderson.
Brighton is also a hub for independent and upcoming music artists, being home to the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, so there is always something going on. One of the biggest independent music festivals is The Great Escape which gives local emerging artists the chance to showcase their sounds before going on tour to big venues.
Brighton always has plenty to offer from watersports to exploring heritage, which can all be fully enjoyed with no alcohol. Could Brighton be your next travel destination? Take a virtual walk along Brighton beach at night and let me know in the comments!
Ed Phelan is a traveller, tutor and blogger at The Spoon Drawer.