A guide to Brighton: we have selected our favourite places to visit, have fun, eat, shop, walk and relax! This is not a complete list of all that Brighton has to offer, but it will help you get started. But whether you are a shopaholic, a ‘foodie’, a walker or a people-watcher, there is no better place to enjoy yourself than Brighton! We have not included all the travel details, opening times etc, but you can find this information by following the links provided; and we can advise you – just please and we’ll help you find it.
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: SHOPPING
Brighton, like other towns in England, has its own large, modern shopping centre (The Churchill Square Shopping Centre), with the usual chains (Next, Zara, the Apple Store etc) but if you want something different, head for North Laine and The Lanes, two very different areas to shop; each has a unique character which you won’t find anywhere else.
Brighton is also famous for its ‘retro’ shops, selling vintage clothes from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. And we love charity shops (which sell ‘second hand’ clothes and bric-a brac), where you can find some real bargains, including designer labels for a fraction of the price you would pay if they were new!
The south Lanes is a labyrinth of small, winding streets and shops, famous for antique jewellery. You will also find the more ‘up market’ (expensive) shops selling designer boutique fashion, antiques and homeware. There are lots of great restaurants, pubs and cafes. It’s a fascinating area to wander round and explore, and very near the beach.
This area is completely different! It is four blocks of narrow streets and is the hippy end of town, with boutique independent shops (no chains allowed!) selling everything from funky clothes, interesting jewellery, vintage and fabrics, to health food, marijuana pipes and sheepskins. Like the Lanes, it’s very popular and crowded at weekends, but there are lots of great cafes, restaurants and pubs (as usual!) where you can take a break and watch the world go by.
This is the one individual shop we will mention: a fantastic, well-stocked bookshop where you can buy any book you want, including a good selection of English language books.
North Street, the Clock Tower
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: RESTAURANTS
Brighton has something for everyone and lots of independent restaurants, each with their own special character. You can get food from all over the world, lots of vegetarian restaurants and traditional English food. And remember that pubs in Brighton also do good, cheap food! We are not going to attempt to list them all – you can find recommendations online – but here are some of our favourites.
Kensington Gardens, North Laine
Cheap and cheerful vegetarian/vegan restaurant/café with cool Brighton vibe.
Curry Leaf Café
Upper St James’s Street
South Indian street food cafe in trendy Kemptown area with a wide range of craft beers.
Curry Leaf Café
Trafalgar Street, North Laine
Popular French-run café/restaurant with authentic Gallic ambience
New restaurant offering tasty Korean & Japanese cuisine.
Food For Friends
Relaxed, friendly vegetarian – great for lunch. You need to book as it’s very popular.
Buffet-style vegetarian with a great atmosphere and very good value.
A tiny, intimate ‘up market’ tapas bar, where you can sit watching the cooks in the kitchen. You need to book.
English’s Seafood Restaurant
The oldest, most famous fish restaurant in Brighton, with fantastic wine too. You need to book.
Best fish and chips in Brighton!
Very Italian Pizza! Authentic pizzas made by Italians from Italian ingredients.
The Old Steine
A simple (but large) family run Italian restaurant with good prices, right in the town centre. They also have cabaret nights!
A Taste of Sahara
A cosy, intimate restaurant serving Lebanese, north African and Middle Eastern food.
Western Road, Hove
Cheap and cheerful Japanese restaurant and takeaway.
Family run vegetarian Indian restaurant with great décor and unusual menu.
Richmond Parade (no website)
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: PUBS
We are lucky in Brighton as there are more ‘unspoilt’ pubs here than anywhere else. You can sample a huge range of traditional English beers and ales, and many of the pubs serve good food too. Here is a small selection to get you started, but if you wander round Brighton you will find many more!
The Black Lion
Situated near the seafront, a great place for quality pub food, tasty drinks and live music.
The Black Lion
Prince Albert Street
Buzzy pub with retro decor, plus regular live music, DJs and dancing.
The Druids Head
The Lord Nelson Inn
The Lion and Lobster
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: TEA SHOPS AND CAFES
Brighton is famous for its tea shops and cafes. Tea shops specialise in the traditional English ‘cream tea’ (a pot of tea and scones with clotted cream and jam). The best cafes are French or Italian, some serving meals and all serving excellent coffee, pastries and cakes. Just wander around and you will find your favourites. Here are just a few of our personal recommendations.
Metro Deco tea shop
The Blackbird tea shop
The Tea Cosy
Mange Tout cafe
The Red Roaster cafe
That Little Tea Shop in the Lanes
Meeting House Lane
The Mock Turtle tea shop
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: CINEMA AND THEATRE
There are the large, commercial cinemas in Brighton showing the latest ‘blockbusters’; but our advice is avoid these and head for the Picturehouse cinemas – we have two! They screen the best of the new releases, arthouse and foreign films and if you are lucky, there will be a film festival on, showing a huge range of wonderful movies.
The Duke of York
Dukes at Komedia
The main theatre, the Theatre Royal, is a beautiful historic Regency theatre and there is a fabulous old pub next door for your pre-theatre drink: The Colonnade. You can see many of the great plays from London’s West End theatres. The other small, not-for-profit theatres show amateur productions and are run by volunteers.
New Venture Theatre
The Little Theatre
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: MUSIC
Brighton is famous for its music scene and there is just not enough space here to do it justice. You can find everything from heavy metal to jazz and classical. The main large venues are the Dome and Concorde Two, but our personal favourites are small pubs that put on live bands. Here the atmosphere is buzzing, people are friendly and the music is great. There are lots of these little pubs that have live music nights, and here are just two to start with.
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: ACTIVITIES
Our favourite activities in Brighton are to just wander around the town, take in the vibes, meet up with friends, sit in a cafe, have a drink and watch the world go by. But if you want to do something a bit more energetic, here are some suggestions.
Gym (membership not necessary)
Meetup (a wide range of social events, whatever your interest)
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: OPEN HOUSES
A selection of beautiful historic houses that epitomise the character and culture of England and Sussex. I particularly like visiting these houses as you can really get a sense of how people lived in the past. These houses are typically English and we have chosen them for their very special charm and also their proximity to Brighton.
The Brighton Pavilion
An extraordinary palace in the centre of Brighton, built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV. The most famous attraction in Brighton.
The elegant home, built in 1738, of an upper class, Edwardian family – one of the richest landowners in Brighton. It evokes the lifestyle and privilege of a wealthy family at that time. It is also supposed to be one of the most haunted houses in England.
Bateman’s 30 miles (48km)
A stunning 17th century house where Rudyard Kipling, the famous author of The Jungle Book, lived from 1902 to his death in 1936. The house has been left exactly as it was when he died, and has a very special atmosphere. On some days you can also listen to a fascinating talk on Kipling’s life.
Burwash, East Sussex
Charleston Farmhouse 12.5 miles (20km)
The home of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, part of the famous ‘Bloomsbury group’. Writers, artists and the intelligentsia gathered here, including Virginia Woolf, in this magical house. Originally Elizabethan (late 16th century), it is full of wonderful paintings and furniture that reflect the unconventional creativity of its inhabitants.
Firle, near Lewes, East Sussex
Monk’s House 10.5 miles (16.8km)
A charming 18th century house and stunning garden where the famous writer Virginia Woolf, and her husband Leonard, lived from 1919 until her suicide in 1941 and his death in 1969. It has a very personal, intimate atmosphere, being neither large nor grand but retaining the unique character of these remarkable people.
Rodwell, near Lewes, East Sussex
Alfriston Clergy House 20 miles (32km)
A 14th century cottage, originally built as a farmhouse but later used by the local priest. It is a modest, timber-framed, thatched building, typical of the medieval period and a perfect example of a ‘Wealden Hall House.’
Polegate, near Alfriston
Arundel Castle 22 miles (35.2km)
What we call a ‘stately home’ (a huge mansion owned by the aristocracy). This magnificent medieval castle has been the home of the Norfolk family and their ancestors for nearly 1000 years – it is the oldest inhabited country residence in England. It is stunning and very grand, full of amazing furniture, tapestries and paintings, with immaculate grounds and breath-taking views over the South Downs.
Arundel, West Sussex
Admission £9.00 – £18.00
Portsmouth historic dockyard 49.5 miles (79.2km)
Not exactly a house, but this is a fascinating place. You can look round the ship the HMS Victory which was in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s Tudor warship, built in 1510 and sunk in 1545. And look round the National Museum of the Royal Navy. It’s not that close to Brighton, but well worth the visit.
Admission prices vary
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: BEAUTIFUL TOWNS AND VILLAGES
These typical old English towns and villages have remained as they were, with their historic architecture, churches, tea rooms, little shops, galleries and pubs. Here is a selection that we think you will love, all within easy reach of Brighton.
Alfriston 17 miles (27.2km)
A picture-perfect village, straight out of a fairy tale and surrounded by lovely countryside. It has some excellent places for a ‘cream tea’ and quaint old shops.
Hastings 36 miles (57.6km)
Famous location of the Battle of Hastings and now a cosmopolitan town with a beautifully preserved old quarter and thriving arts community. The remains of the first castle in England (built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century) lies here. You can also visit the stunning new Jerwood Gallery, housing a collection of 20th and 21st century British art that has never been on public display before.
Lewes 8.5 miles (13.6km)
Some would say the best town in Sussex! Lewes has everything: fantastic restaurants, cafes, pubs, antique shops, a Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of the month, and little winding streets – it’s a ‘trendy’ town and definitely worth a visit as it’s so close to Brighton.
Rottingdean 4.5 miles (7.2km)
You can walk to Rottingdean from Brighton along the undercliff path (from the Marina). The main attractions are Rudyard Kipling’s Garden, Rottingdean Windmill, St. Margaret’s Church with its beautiful stained glass windows and some traditional old pubs which, they say, were once frequented by smugglers in the area.
A GUIDE TO BRIGHTON: COUNTRY WALKS
We English love going for walks, preferably with a dog! There is no better place than the gorgeous countryside around Brighton. Here are some recommendations that will take you to some of the most breath-taking countryside that England has to offer.
The Seven Sisters Country Park 18.5 miles (29.6km)
The Seven Sisters Country Park is 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, winding river valley and grassland. It is a popular place for walking, bird watching, cycling and canoeing. It is named after the famous Seven Sisters, the white chalk cliffs on one of Britain’s most unspoilt coastlines.
Exceat, near Seaford
Ditchling Beacon 9 miles (14.4km)
The second highest point on the South Downs National Park with spectacular views. As the name suggests, Ditchling Beacon was one of the chain of fires lit to warn of impending invasions from the sea. It was once an Iron Age hill fort, with its steep northern slope used as a natural defence.
Nap Wood 29.5 miles (47.2km)
A beautiful, peaceful woodland of 107 hectares, with a delightful circular walk to follow. It is well known for its fantastic array of wildlife, mature trees and displays of bluebells in late spring. You might even see deer if you are lucky!
Near Mark Cross
Sheffield Park and Garden 17.5 miles (28km)
A magnificent informal landscaped garden. It was originally designed in the 18th century by Capability Brown, a famous landscape gardener, and further developed in the early 20th century’s by its then owner.
Stanmer Park and Stanmer House 4 miles (6.4km)
This large park is just outside the city – to the north east – and a great place to walk if you want somewhere close by to visit. It was originally the grounds of Stanmer House, privately owned till 1947, and now open to the public. It’s a perfect place to go for tea or lunch. Sit in the beautiful dining room in winter, and in the gardens in the summer.
The Devil’s Dyke 6 miles (9.6km)
A dramatic, 100 metre V-shaped valley in the South Downs hills. It got its name from an old legend: the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the churches in Sussex. An old woman lit a candle, so the devil believed it was nearly morning. He ran away, leaving his trench unfinished!
AND FINALLY ….
London 53 miles (84km)
We are so close to London – only 50 minutes by train. There are frequent, fast trains from Brighton station to London Victoria. Check train times here:
Kemptown Insider Detailed guide to everything that is going on in Kemp Town, Brighton’s liveliest area – great resource!
Visit Brighton – information about the city
Time Out – a good guide to everything, not just music – also food, arts, film and the gay scene
What’s on Brighton – they also publish a free magazine
B4B guide – particularly useful for overseas students
Brighton Visitor – general guide
Discovery Tours – coach tours to 12 UK destinations from Brighton
If you find any great places to eat, or interesting pubs and cafes, or anything that you think our visitors will enjoy, please with your suggestions!