Thinking about visiting Brighton in a day? Keep reading to find out more about planning your trip and all the things to do during a day in Brighton.
One of England’s most famous historical seaside resorts, a Brighton day trip is a must at some point in your life or when visiting England. A quintessential, English seaside town that’s been the centre of entertainment and British holidays for the last century Brighton is packed with fun things to do that’ll keep you busy for the day.
Not only that, but it’s also a charming, working city with great boutique shopping opportunities and lots of great restaurants and cafes. There are also some good museums and galleries to check out when visiting too.
While spending a weekend in Brighton is better than just a day, Brighton in a day is completely possible. You’ll just scratch the surface but you’ll still be able to enjoy the beach and all its most famous sights while also getting some time to relax. Keep reading to plan your own one day in Brighton.
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Best Time to Visit Brighton in a Day
The best time to visit Brighton is when it’s warm or even, god forbid, hot and sunny. For this reason, the best time to visit is during the summer, from May until September. During the summer there’s more probability of having a nice warm, sunny Brighton day trip.
Also during the summer, the days are much longer and you’ll be able to do much more with your time. Due to Brighton also being a beach city, it really comes alive in the summer months with a wonderful atmosphere that just isn’t the same in the winter.
When visiting during the summer be prepared for crowds, especially if the weather is good. If you want to avoid the crowds try to visit on a not-so-nice day or during the week. Also, make sure to avoid Brighton Pride Weekend which falls on a weekend in August as this draws huge crowds from around the country.
If your visit to Brighton in a day is flexible and you’re based in London or the UK, I’d recommend just keeping an eye on the weather reports and when you spot great weather on a day that you’re free, just go for it.
How to Get from London to Brighton
Train– The fastest and most hassle-free way to get to Brighton in a day from London is by train. Southern Rail services operate from quite a few London stations including London Victoria, Clapham Junction and Thameslink from London Blackfriars and London St Pancras and will get you to Brighton in 1-1.5 hours. Trains cost about £30 or less on an off-peak return.
From Brighton Station, it’s an easy 15-minute walk down Queen Street to central Brighton and the seafront.
For booking train and bus tickets in the UK, I always use Omio, which has the best deals online. It also allows you to compare train and bus travel. Book your train and bus tickets with Omio here or use the form below.
Bus – A bus is also an option when coming to Brighton for a day. Buses leave London Victoria and arrive in central Brighton 3 hours and 15 minutes later. While the bus is a more cost-effective option than the train, because of the journey times, I don’t recommend taking the bus if you’re trying to see Brighton in a day.
Car– Driving south for a day in Brighton is another good option to get to the city. It takes about 2 hours to drive from central London to Brighton but you’ll have to succumb to traffic. However, driving to Brighton is a very cost-effective option if you’re coming down for a Brighton day trip as a group or more than 2 people.
Parking in Brighton can be tricky, especially in the city centre. I highly recommend parking in a designated car park a little outside the city centre and walking in. On Sundays, you might also get free parking in the city centre if you arrive early.
When coming to Brighton for a day one of my top travel tips is to leave early to make the most of the day. If you aim to arrive in Brighton by 9 am, (which is totally doable) you’ll be able to have a full day in the city.
Things to do in Brighton in a Day
If you’re heading to Brighton for the day you’ll be pleased to know that this city offers quite a bit to do to fill your time. While you probably won’t be able to do everything in a day- a weekend in Brighton is probably the better option- you will be able to see most of the city’s sights.
With many museums, beachside attractions and shopping, there really are many great things to do in Brighton in a day.
Spend time on Brighton Beach
A quintessential representation of the British seaside at its finest (unless it’s raining) Brighton beach is somewhere you’ll no doubt end up during your Brighton day trip.
Don’t expect sand here, Brighton beach is probably Britain’s most famous pebble beach but while it’s pretty difficult to walk on barefoot it’s incredibly picturesque in the sunshine.
One of the best things to do here is to walk the beach promenade all the way from the Palace pier to the British Airways i360 and take in the views. Here you’ll also find many different cafes, restaurants and beachside bars that offer outdoor seating in the sunshine on the beach.
Alternatively, if it’s hot and sunny make sure to take your towel and camp out on the beach for the afternoon. You can buy drinks and snacks at a bar nearby or a store in town and make a little beach picnic of it.
Take a Jaunt along Brighton Pier
The Brighton Pier or The Palace Pier was the third of Brighton’s piers established in 1899 as a replacement for the older Chain pier which collapsed in 1896. It quickly grew in popularity as a theatre and entertainment venue and this tradition still continues to this day.
Brighton Pier is the biggest highlight of this seaside town and no venture to the town is complete without a jaunt along the iconic pier. Take a photo with the Brighton Pier sign, play a game in the arcades or simply people watch those that do. You can also walk to the end to have a go on the amusement rides.
You’ll also find plenty of spots to sit and enjoy the sea views, grab a drink, ice cream, snack or meal- even though I don’t recommend eating here, food tends to be overpriced and mediocre.
Brighton pier however is one of the best spots for walking, taking photos, relaxing and indulging in some sea views. One thing to note is that the pier closes for the night and doesn’t open until 10 am- just in case you were planning to take some early morning photos on the pier.
Admire the Royal Pavilion & The Pavilion Gardens
The Royal Pavilion is a beautiful palace in the center of Brighton that’s difficult to avoid.
It was built in the 18th Century for King George IV as a royal residence to enjoy Brighton and the south coast. At this time Brighton was becoming increasingly popular and trendy as a seaside holiday spot, especially for those living in London.
Unlike any other royal building in the UK, the Brighton Pavilion mixes royal grandeur with architectural styles from India and China. Going inside you’ll be able to see all the most important rooms in the palace including the Reception rooms, the Saloon and the Banqueting Room as well as garments from the Regency wardrobe.
While the architecture of the Pavilion is pretty stunning from the outside, it’s also well worth a wonder on the inside.
Make sure to skip the queues and get your admission ticket online in advance here.
Once you’ve visited the Royal Pavilion, make sure to also have a quick walk around the Pavilion Gardens that encircle the palace, admission is free and it’s a wonderful place for a stroll.
Explore Brighton Lanes
The Brighton Lanes is where you’ll find over 400 small shops all crammed in together amongst a network of small, labyrinth alleyways. It’s the place for a stroll, a spot of window shopping and a coffee or two.
Generally divided into The Lanes, which are located just a little north of Brighton pier and the North Laines, located between The Lanes and Brighton station.
Perfect for a spot of shopping and walking, you could spend hours shopping for trinkets, vintage clothing and unique boutique finds while also popping into some of the best coffee shops in the city.
Some of the best streets to check out are Upper Gardner St for retro and vintage finds, Gardner St for stores, cafes and Komedia theatre as well as Brighton Place and East Street for shopping. Don’t miss North Laines Market, especially on a Sunday when locals head out to brunch and make the most of the buzzing area.
See Art at Fabrica
Fabrica is a small independent gallery located in the Brighton Lanes. It’s housed in an old, converted church so it’s worth popping in for this alone. Inside you’ll find a range of constantly changing exhibitions, from contemporary and mostly local artists.
The entrance is free so it’s worth heading in just to quickly see what’s on.
Take in the Sea Views from the British Airways i360
One of the newest attractions in town is the British Airways i360, essentially a giant disc which climbs a 162m (531 ft) pole for the best views of Brighton and the sea beyond. Designed by the same architects behind The London Eye, the i360 allows you to get above the seashore and admire the incredible views from the top.
Unfortunately due to the glare, you can’t take the best photos but it’s still worth watching the view change as the disc rises skywards and make the most of the Nyetimber bar inside.
Skip the queues and get your ticket in advance here. Highly recommended as it’s really popular.
Note that there are many different events happing at different times of the year in the i360. Perhaps you want to listen to a live Piano Concerto inside the rising disc or even take a Yoga Class with these incredible views? Check the website here for more about current events.
Pop into the Brighton Art Museum and Gallery
Located in the Pavilion Gardens, the Brighton Museum and Gallery is another great spot in the city for culture. It’s also the perfect thing to do if the weather turns nasty.
Bringing together all of Brighton’s history and arts, inside this lovely little museum you’ll find a variety of permanent and temporary collections that include images of Brighton throughout the years, local fine arts and other local pop culture exhibits.
To see what’s on and plan your visit make sure to check out their website here for more information.
Get your Adventure on with a Coastline e-bike Tour
If you’d like to spend your day in Brighton doing something a little different then why not take in all its sights by e-bike? Brighton’s Coastline e-bike tour will allow you to take in the picturesque seafront as well as the chalk cliffs just outside the city. You get the chance to ride your e-bike over the top of the cliffs along the path and get some of the best views of the area.
To find out more check out the Coastline e-bike tour here.
Take a detour to Seven Sisters
If you have a bit more time and want to check out the surrounding countryside, make sure not to miss the stunning Seven Sisters Cliffs that are located between Brighton and Eastbourne.
Here you can walk along the top of the cliffs along the cliffside path, and admire the sea views and the famous lighthouse at Beachy Head Cliffs.
It’s definitely best to visit Seven Sisters from Brighton by car, as public transport in this area is fairly scarce. Alternatively, if you came down by train, you can also take a tour that’ll take you to all the best points along the Seven Sisters Cliffs.
Check out this Seven Sisters and South Downs Tour from Brighton here.
Visit Hove Beach
Keep walking westwards from the British Airways i360 and you’ll eventually get to Hove, another small city just adjacent to Brighton. Hove beach is generally a little quieter than Brighton beach and here you’ll also be able to have a look at the lovely, colourful Hove beach huts.
The little beach huts make a great spot for photos and people-watching.
When in Hove you can also take a quick walk through Brunswick Square, a delightful little square with period housing all around it’s perimeter.
Note: Brighton also has an aquarium, SEA LIFE Brighton which you might see in many other travel guides for Brighton. We don’t recommend visiting attractions that exploit animals in any way for human entertainment and while it might be ‘fun for the kids’, or a ‘good things to do on a rainy day’, I wholeheartedly encourage you to think twice about visiting this attraction.
Where to Stay in Brighton
There’s no shortage of great boutique hotels in Brighton. If you do plan of staying the night and turning your Brighton day trip into a weekend in Brighton here are some of my top picks for where to stay in the city.
Artist Residence Brighton – The boutique hotel is one of the best stays in Brighton. Located just a few minutes from the beach and West Pier, this property features beautiful rooms with quirky artwork. On site, they also have a restaurant, cafe, and bar where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast in the morning with gorgeous sea views. Check rates and availability here.
The Grand Brighton- Probably one of the most iconic hotels and buildings along the Brighton seafront, the Renaissance style hotel is one of the best options in the city. Book a suite with sea views and order room service to enjoy a morning coffee with the best views in Brighton. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel Una – Another great boutique hotel in the heart of Brighton this is a great choice for those that are more design inclined. With spacious, well-designed rooms, lovely breakfast and sea views what more do you need from an overnight stay? Check rates and availability here.
Blok 74 – A great budget option in Brighton, this lovely hotel has small but well-decorated rooms, tea and coffee facilities and a good shower. Check rates and availability here.
Where to Eat
Terre a Terre– One of the best veggie restaurants in Brighton that’s been around for a long time, award-winning Terre a Terre serves a range of dishes inspired by world cuisines. Opt for their hearty dhal, vegan salads, dips or main and relax with some friends for a guaranteed great meal in Brighton.
Food for Friends – A delicious vegetarian restaurant located in the heart of the Lanes, Food for Friends serves a range of dishes meant for sharing. Choose between nibbles, small plates and large plates and share everything that comes your way. We feasted on some delicious grilled corn ‘ribs’, vegan baos and watermelon salad. Everything is super fresh and well presented.
Kokedama – Great little spot serving plant-based small dishes with a big focus on celebrating vegetables. Just note that they are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Lost in the Lanes– the Brighton spot for brunch, look nowhere else for the best brunch in the city. Head here for an oat flat white, avocado in sourdough, the vegan or classic English breakfast, French toast or toasted banana bread. Whatever you order, it really is the best spot to start your day in Brighton.
Workshop – a beautiful Japanese-inspired concept store and cafe, this really is a feast for the minimalist-inspired eyes. Grab a coffee here and browse their beautiful selection of homeware, and accessories before moving on. It will take you a while though, this place is seriously swoon-worthy.
English’s of Brighton– A local institution serving British seafood including grilled fish, fresh oysters and the quintessentially British fish and chips.
Gingerman – For a more upscale meal make sure to consider the Gingerman, one of Brighton’s Michelin-recommended restaurants. Their focus is on fresh, seasonal British food when you can opt for a tasting menu that beautifully puts the best of the season’s produce on your plate.
Are you ready to plan your day trip Brighton with all this Brighton in a day travel guide? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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