If there’s one place that I could live in the UK, Brighton is it. I used to live here in my 20s, but rent has doubled since then so umm…the north of England it is for now. But my word, Brighton is one of the coolest places in the UK and an awesome weekend in Brighton is soooo much fun!
Brighton UK has so many cool options for foodies, shoppers, active adventurers, nightlife party people, wellbeing seekers and history/architecture lovers.
It was a pleasure to return here for a weekend as a tourist and see what’s going down. Lots has remained the same but there’s definitely some new awesome additions that I’m excited to tell you about.
What To Do in Brighton? Read This Awesome Weekend in Brighton Guide!
This wacky seaside city, nestled in the south east of England in East Sussex, opened my eyes up to being who I really wanted to be in my 20s. If you’re ‘different’, creative, gay, not gay, artistic, out there, or just want to dabble in and out of the weird and wonderful, Brighton is it!
Brighton England has Aladdin-cave thrift shops, electric-feels street art, yummy fish and chips and beachfront soothing saunas in horseboxes. You can soar sky high up to 162m on the Brighton i360 or whizz across the coastline on the 300m long Brighton Zipline!
There’s plenty of classic British seaside tomfoolery to be had on Brighton seafront and cheap frills can easily be experienced on the dazzling Brighton Palace Pier. There’s eccentric and top-notch nightlife, numerous kickass independent shops, a thriving veggie and vegan scene, glorious and luxurious boutique hotels, a cheeky nudist beach and a royal residence that looks like the Taj Mahal too.
Are you ready to find out more about what to do in Brighton? Keep reading!
Things to do in Brighton Quick Answers
Short on time? Pin this post now (do it!) and check out this quick itinerary for your Brighton activities weekend in Brighton.
Saturday in Brighton
- Wake up in The Square Hotel (luxury) or YHA Brighton (budget)
- Go Vintage Shopping and Flea Market hunting in the Lanes
- Visit the Royal Pavilion
- Have lunch at Foodilic
- Go on a Greeters Tour / Street Art Tour / Bus Tour
- Whizz down Brighton Zip
- Play on Brighton Seafront and Brighton Palace Pier
- Indulge your taste buds at 64 degrees
- Party on down
Sunday in Brighton
- Get steamed and awakened at Beach Box Spa
- Recover at your hotel (you’re gonna need rest time!)
- Embrace British culture with Afternoon Tea in Brighton at The Grand
- Reflect at the crumbling West Pier
- Soak up sunset feels at the top of the British Airways i360
- Enjoy rustic Italian food at Cin Cin
Read on for a more in-depth guide to each of these amazing Brighton attractions and activities.
Awesome weekend in Brighton Guide
The following attractions in Brighton have been laid out for you to make the most of your weekend in Brighton! All attractions and activities are in the order that they are as they naturally lead on from each other due to their location and energy level requirements. If there’s something busy and active, the activity after it is most likely more gentle and restorative.
By all means, this is YOUR weekend so pick and choose what is best for you. I recommend checking out more awesome activities in Brighton to personalise your Brighton experience if you wish.
Saturday in Brighton Itinerary
Woohoo! You’re in Brighton you lucky devil. Let’s dive right in by heading out on foot into the delightful thick of it! Your first activity is gonna be some highly exciting street meanderings.
Go Vintage Shopping and Flea Market hunting in the Lanes
Way back in history The Lanes actually used to be the pits of Brighton. Whilst the rich were soaking up the fresh sea air on Brighton seafront, the poor were working away here in their tiny houses, amongst the filth and smoke.
Thankfully these Lanes survived the threat of being torn down, and have transformed into a magical and vibrant cobbled-street labyrinth of antique, jewellery, fashion, cafe and unique independent shops.
I don’t want to tell you too much about where to go, because getting lost here truly is half the fun. Follow your nose on this one and I’m sure you’ll find something I never did in all the years I’ve traversed these nooks and crannies.
What I will tell you though is to target:
- Beyond Retro on Vine Street: it’s my most favourite and fairly-priced vintage clothes shop ever ever ever
- Snoopers Paradise on Kensington Gardens: the front is painted pastel pink and it’s the most renowned flea market in Southern England! Get lost here!
- Infinity Foods on North Road: the ultimate ethical veggie and vegan supermarket
- The Lanes Armoury in Meeting House Lane: let me know in the comments if you leave having purchased a full set of armour!
Visit the Royal Pavilion
This place is insane. If you want to escape the dull and enter a world of complete frivolity and indulgence, this is it. The Royal Pavilion is pure exotic extravagance. Once you enter inside, you’ll be mesmerised with this architectural playground of opulence, splendour, richness, imagination and fantastical Chinese design.
The Royal Pavilion was originally George IV’s home (a total playboy by the way) and it was then passed on to Queen Victoria. It’s debatable whether she even liked this place. She argued there wasn’t enough privacy. Locals say she thought the inside was completely OTT. She lived here for a little while, but eventually sold the Pavilion in 1850 to Brighton Town Commissioners and left with most of the contents too.
Yet, due to current renovations at Buckingham Palace, a lot of what was taken is back! Make the most of this and visit the Royal Pavilion whilst the goodies are inside again until 2021.
You must also explore the recently restored Saloon and accessible servant’s areas too.
Have lunch at Foodilic
I’ve been eating here for the last 10 years. It’s an all-you-can-eat fresh buffet full of healthy and nutritious salads, grains and delicious ethnic and traditional British dishes. It can get busy but I’ve always managed to fit in somewhere. Get yourself in here and make the most of it! You can find Foodilic on 163 Western Road.
Go on a Greeters, Street Art or Bus Tour
Take your pick from one of these 3 tours for your early afternoon activity!
Visit Brighton Greeters Tour
Thanks to Visit Brighton and a bunch of very lovely local volunteers, you can now book online to be shown around Brighton and get a great introduction to the city.
I met my local VisitBrighton Greeter, Jacqueline, outside Brighton Museum in the Royal Pavilion gardens.
She told me some fascinating historical facts about Brighton that I never knew about whilst living here and took her time to point out some very quirky little architectural details along the way. Looking up whilst visiting a city proves to be rewarding!
You can tell VisitBrighton what your interests are and they’ll do their best to match you to the volunteer that they think will suit, but it was a pleasure to let Jacqueline lead the way, and show me what she thought was best!
REQ’s Brighton Street Art Tour
You can tell that REQ is a bit of a legend. After reading online articles about the street art in Brighton, and seeing how inaccurate they were, REQ decided to start his own street art tours.
He is a fascinating bottomless pit of knowledge, a highly experienced graffiti and street artist himself, and knows exactly who is who and how this art has progressed and continues to evolve. If you’re aware of the famous celebrity street art piece on the side of The Prince Albert pub in Brighton, REQ is the guy behind it.
I could have spent hours with this man and love him for not only revealing his rebel side by charging through a carefully swept pile of Autumn leaves whilst most of us weren’t looking, but for pointing out all of the female street artists in Brighton to me. REQ, thank you for introducing me to I Am Sprite, Maz Can and Ella who’s plastering vaginas around everywhere. This is the best art in Brighton!
Oh, and he runs the Spray Paint Academy for Girls, which you’re more than welcome to ask him about to try yourself! Girl power!
Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour
Another way to see Brighton city is to jump on one of the classic Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours. You can find them in lots of cities and this one has great reviews.
Whizz down Brighton zip
Alas, it was pissing down with rain on the day I was meant to try this out in my Brighton weekend, but I’ll be returning to Brighton to update this article when I can! Brighton Zip is 300m long and is the perfect opportunity to whizz down Brighton’s seafront like superman.
Play on Brighton Seafront and Brighton Palace Pier
In the 17th century, the most exciting activity going on along Brighton Seafront was a man with a boat trying to catch some fish. Yet in the late 18th century, thanks to Dr Russell from neighbouring Lewes, drinking seawater and sea bathing here was all the rage to cure one’s ailments. It became so popular, that Prince Regent came to visit too, and hence ended up building his Royal Pavilion here to continue partying on down (see above).
These days, you’ve got all of the treats you could hope for along the seafront. There’s plenty of fish and chips, fortune tellers, bars, whimsical carousels, music venues, yummy Brighton restaurants, afternoon teas, and of course, the Brighton Zip as well as Beach Box Spa and British Airways i360 (scheduled for tomorrow in your itinerary).
Walking along here, dipping your toes in the water and soaking up sunsets are all the glorious things you can get up to for free. If you want to spend more time just enjoying Mother Nature here, it’s well worth heading West to carry on walking into Hove. The architecture and gardens are really lovely.
But if you’re sticking central, I highly encourage you to step out to sea on the wooden boards of the Brighton Palace Pier!
Brighton Palace Pier
Open since 1899, I’ve spent plenty of hours here immersing myself in the arcades, screaming on the rides and people (and seagull) watching. It’s one of my most favourite places to visit in Brighton. If you love playing 2p machines, this is the place to do it!
There’s also rollercoasters at the end, a crazy swing ride and a very old ghost train ride, that I still can’t summon up the nerve to get on.
The pier is open all year round except Christmas day, and there’s plenty to be enjoyed inside if the weather really starts to take a turn for the worse. Get yourself into the ‘bucket and spade’ mindset here and you’ll have a jolly good time.
Have dinner at 64 degrees
Nestled right on the edge of the Lanes, is Brighton’s hottest and most delectable foodie experience. The atmosphere is very small, intimate and confident. These chefs know that they’re serving you the absolute best and the high demand from diners (I highly recommend you book ahead) is proving that 64 degrees is an experience you’re not going to want to miss.
What is all the fuss about? 64 Degrees describe themselves as ‘Innovative, eclectic small-plate dining in a sleek, industrial-style space with an open kitchen’. I personally got to try the venison tartare with coffee and linseeds, the prawn tacos and the shiitake dumplings in mushroom broth with pickles. Divine!
Party on down with Brighton Nightlife
What’s on in Brighton at night? I’m a straight female rocker, so what I would naturally go to for Brighton events may not be your cup of tea.
Yet there is so much going on in Brighton at night that you’re sure to find something that floats your boat. If you’re into live rock music like me I recommend checking out:
Essential Brighton Packing List
Sunday in Brighton Itinerary
Good morning! It’s Sunday in Brighton and hopefully you’re not feeling too worse for wear from last night. I’m currently on a 1 year no-alcohol journey, so I woke up bright as a button. Regardless of whether you’re feeling perfect or utterly pants, I’ve got the ultimate treat for you…a sauna!
Beach Box Spa
Surely a horsebox should have a horse in it. Right? Wrong. You should be in it. Two very cool local ladies decided to take a couple of horseboxes, plonk them on Brighton seafront and turn them into wood-fired box saunas. The result is terrific! This might be just be one of the most restorative and fun things to do in Brighton.
I’ve never had such a hot and steaming sauna experience, all the more made better by having the English Channel sea right there to run into and cool off!
Yes it’s a little bit wacky. Yes I looked like a plump little prawn. And it certainly does require courage to jump into the sea. But trust me, you’ll leave feeling like a brand new human. I was curious enough to also opt into the sea salt and honey scrub and be pampered personally by staff with leaf whisking (yes, they literally smack and brush you with leaves for your own good).
Do it. It’s definitely one for the travel stories and bucket list.
Afternoon Tea in Brighton at The Grand
It was completely unplanned but the craving for tea and cake just got too much for me in the afternoon and the weather was atrocious. So afternoon tea it just had to be!
I asked my Brighton Greeter what the ultimate Afternoon Tea was for her, and she personally recommended The Grand, one of the Brighton Seafront hotels, for the most lavish and pompous afternoon tea. Her recommendation was spot on!
This Victorian seafront hotel, constructed in 1864, is one of Brighton’s most expensive hotels. Why not make the most of experiencing this luxury by instead popping in for afternoon tea? Current sittings are daily at 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
You’ll get 3 courses which includes a round of lovely British sandwiches with a pot of specialist tea. Next are scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Finally, you’ll get a very generous serving of homemade cakes and delectable deserts. Well worth the price tag!
Reflect in front of the West Pier
Opposite The Grand, you’ll be looking right out onto the sea and will see a former shell of what was once a magnificent pier, the West Pier. In 2003 in was destroyed by an arson attack, and it has been left to deteriorate into the sea ever since.
It’s a truly sorry state of affairs, seeing as it was the first pier to be Grade I listed in Britain. To me, it’s a reminder that the only constant in our lives is change and that we must go with the flow and make the most of what we are blessed with everyday.
In front of the West Pier now stands the British Airways i360, and it’s what I recommend you visit next.
British Airways i360
Take your Brighton sightseeing to a whole new level by stepping aboard the British Airways i360! Standing at 162m (450ft) , you’ll step aboard this glass pod and then slowly be taken up vertically to fantastical heights. You’ll get a brilliant view of Brighton and the South Downs as a result.
It was amazing to see Brighton from this perspective after walking around it all weekend. You’ll get 360-degree views and there’s a bar in the middle of it all if you’re so inclined. Come here at sunset to make the most of it all!
Italian Food at Cin Cin
To finish your amazing weekend in Brighton off, why not indulge in some rustic Italian dishes within a cosy converted garage nestled into the North Laines? Following on from my 64 Degrees dining experience, I’m digging Brighton’s approach of opening up intimate dining experiences in the smallest places – where your food is cooked right there in front of you, fresh as ever!
Cin Cin is spot on when it comes to this concept. It’s incredibly warm and welcoming to solo travellers as the ‘restaurant’ seating is laid out in a rectangle where all diners have no choice but to look at each other hehe.
For starters, I had a wonderfully put-together dish of whipped sheep’s ricotta, golden beetroot, hazelnut pesto and pickled mushrooms. Divine.
For my main, it was really cold outside so I opted for the pappardelle beef shin ragu. I died and went to Italian heaven.
Brighton Hostels and Brighton Hotels in Brighton
To dip my toes in both budget and luxury Brighton accommodation, I stayed at YHA Brighton (budget) and The Square Hotel (luxury).
The Square Hotel
For the majority of my stay, I opted for the unique and exquisite boutique experience available at The Square Hotel Brighton at 4 New Steine. It’s just off the seafront overlooking a Regency garden square in the groovy and all-embracing LGBTQ neighbourhood of Kemp Town.
This luxurious and stylish accommodation amongst the boutique hotels in Brighton, was perfect for me as a solo female traveller. The staff are incredibly warm and welcoming and I quickly felt like I was returning ‘home’ in the evenings to a safe and deeply comfy haven after a busy day out in Brighton. Even better, the creator behind this oasis is a kickass lady called Ginny who clearly knows what women love.
The decor is going to make you feel like a red hot goddess. The room just oozed empowerment to me. Yes, the fittings and design could very well jolt you into crazy visions of taking up this space with a romantic partner. But if you are rocking it solo, I compel you to gobble up those choccies, sip that champagne and soak into that free-standing bathtub like the rock star you are mmmkay?
I slept very well and the breakfast in the morning was absolutely top-notch too.
The chef has got the potatoes in his hearty English cooked breakfast nailed down!
With his brilliant twist of coating the spuds with his delectable onion chutney, I was gobbling them up every morning.
If you’re looking for the best hotels Brighton has to offer – put The Square Hotel at the top of your list.
Of all the hostels in Brighton, YHA Brighton hostel is currently the highest-rated! It is right next to the seafront near Brighton pier, has very friendly staff and is certainly big enough for you to be able to meet people easily. I opted for an all-female dorm and all was comfy and perfect for a good night’s rest. There were even clear sea views from my room that I enjoyed in the morning.
There’s complimentary WiFi, a very cool cafe and bar and a shared kitchen if you want to make your own grub. The people staying here of all ages. Some travellers were solo. Some were families. What a lovely mix!
The only thing I would change here is for there to be lockers in the room. You can easily hire a locker at an extra cost, it’s just gonna be elsewhere in the building.
YHA is a charity and their revenue goes towards helping young people with challenging lives. Travel on a budget and contribute to something good at the same time by opting to stay here!
Staying at an AirBNB in Brighton is always another good option if you’re looking for places to stay in Brighton!
Are you new to AirBNB?
What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend in Brighton?
There are so many hidden gems that you can experience in a weekend in Brighton. Let me know if you have any extra insider knowledge!
My complimentary dining experiences were made possible by Visit Brighton. My stays at YHA Brighton and The Square Hotel were both gifted. Opinions as always remain my own.
What Brighton attractions do you love? How are you going to spend your weekend in Brighton? Comment below and don’t forget to check out my other Destinations in Europe!
Don’t leave home without travel insurance!
Don’t leave for your adventure without travel insurance. However careful you are, things can still go wrong. I’ve ended up in hospital in Russia, had stuff cut out of my arm in Vietnam and even when I thought eating that chicken in Poland was safe…turns out it wasn’t.
Do the right thing. Protect your health and valuables.