Plan a Brighton Getaway - Plan a Short Break or Day Trip to Brighton

Things to Do, Places to Stay, Dining, Festivals and Fun at "London's Beach"

England, Sussex, Brighton, View of beach at Brighton Pier
••• Westend61/Getty Images

Brighton is hip, colorful and, unusually for a seaside resort, urban. "London's beach", 60 miles from the capital, is a year-round day trip or short break destination with lots more to offer than its seafront. Shopping, dining, a hoot of a fantasy palace, a brilliant aquarium, great nightlife and theater, block after block of Regency houses - not to mention the most scenic pier in Britain - combine with a tolerant and breezy ambience to make Brighton a very cool place to visit and an even cooler place to stay awhile.

Use the resources on this page to plan your Brighton Getaway.

Will You Like It?

  • Millions of people do. At least 8 million people visit Brighton annually - about 6.5 million for day trips. And a whopping 4.5 million pop round for a look at Brighton Pier. The city regularly ranks among the top 20 for overseas visitors and is among Britain's top 10 visitor destinations overall. It is also one of Britain's most popular gay destinations with a large resident gay population.

    If you like cities (warts and all) and you share Brighton's tolerant, open attitude, you will love it.

  • See for yourself. Have a look at these picture galleries:

When Is the Best Time to Visit?

Every season has its pleasures and several major festivals - see below - draw large crowds to Brighton. If you're keen to try the rollercoaster and other thrill rides on Brighton pier, its best to visit May through October when there's less of a chance of blustery sea breezes.

During the summer, Brighton beach and The Lanes can be very crowded at weekends.

Getting There

  • Air: Gatwick Airport is the closest of London's airports to Brighton, half an hour away by train.
  • Rail: Trains leave from London Victoria station to Brighton twice an hour, for a journey of about 55 minutes. There are also regular train services from London St. Pancras, Scotland, South Wales and points all over the country. For the latest train services, check National Rail Enquiries.
  • Ferry: Transmanche Ferries operate regular services from Dieppe and (in summer) Le Havre to Newhaven, about 25 minutes by train or car from Brighton.
  • Car: Depending upon traffic, Brighton is about 25 minutes from the M25 London orbital motorway via the A23.

Where to Stay

The choice of accommodation ranges from small guest houses and B&Bs to trendy boutiques and New Age hostelries. Just make sure to get a good recommendation. Some of Brighton's B&B accommodations can be distinctly seedy and a number of its grand old dowager hotels have really seen better days.

Check out our list of recommended hotels.

Best Tasty Treat in Brighton

If you don't try some fish and chips in Brighton you are a fool to yourself. There is nothing quite so fine as a golden, crisply fried piece of fish and some nicely floppy British chips eaten in a bracing sea breeze. If the fish is landed locally, as it is in Brighton, so much the better.

There are dozens of fish and chip places and everyone has a favorite chippy. Avoid the stalls on Brighton Pier - unless you enjoy paying too much for far too little - and try one of these local favorites instead:

  • Bardsley's - A family owned place that's worth the 15 minute hike away from the beach and the center. Eat in or takeaway.
  • Bankers -A chippy with chandeliers, well whatever next. Loyal fans for eat in or takeaway.
  • The Regency Facing the beach on King's Road, this Italian influenced fish and chip shop is popular with visiting celebs.

And More Dining Choices in Brighton

Brighton has at least 400 restaurants, second only to London in the UK. So plenty of choices then. Here are some I liked:

  • Sawadee - Popular, family owned Thai bistro. Fresh, clean flavors and friendly service.
  • The No Name Restaurant - Pub-wine bar-bistro-local hangout. Fido can join you in the snug.

Five Cool Things to Do in Brighton

  1. Buy Some Rock on Brighton Pier - Try your hand at carnival type games of chance, take a daredevil ride over the sea at the end of pier theme park or, like the Victorians, enjoy the view from a third of a mile out to sea. Then buy a stick of the traditional sweetie to take home.
  1. Rock in Brighton Rock legends like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have appeared at The Brighton Dome. The former King's stable is still the place to see the bands, stand-up comics and solo artists. Too tame? Why not sample the nightlife in one of Brighton's hip clubs - Concord 2, Komedia or The Hare and Hounds.
  2. See how the other half lived at The Royal Pavilion an extravagant, fantasy summer "cottage" built for the Prince Regent in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Even better, live like the "other half" and have your own royal wedding there. Talk about wow factors.
  3. Walk on water Brighton is the UK center of standup paddleboard surfing. You can get completely outfitted for the sport at cult surfing shop Ocean Sports Board Riders Store on Kingsway in nearby Hove.
  4. Explore a winding lane or The Lanes, more precisely. The last remnants of medieval Brightenhelm survive in The Lanes, narrow passages now packed with antique and jewelry shops, bars and cafes. Or head for more alternative style in the streets of The North Laine, a district where chic, new age and boho exist side by side.

Annual Events You Should Know About

  • The Brighton Festival For most of May, Brighton turns on to art, music, theatre, dance, parades, children's events and lots more. Many events are free and there's even a Fringe Festival.
  • Brighton Pride Festival and Parade Brighton's Gay community celebrates the last week in July with loads of events and a costumed carnival parade that's simply indescribable.
  • The Burning of the Clocks Fiery celebration of the Winter Solstice in mid December includes a dramatic parade and a flaming finale on the beach.
  • Paddle Round the Pier The ruin of the West Pier is the focus of two days of madness on the water in July (July 4 and 5 in 2009). Surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, rubber dinghies, rowboats, all hit the waves. Serious competitions, fun paddles and family events - on the water and ashore. Watch a video.