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How To Spend A Weekend In Brighton

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Brighton is a beautiful, vibrant, alternative, paradise on the South Coast of England, and I absolutely loved visiting it last summer! Despite living in London for seven years I haven’t explored much else in England, so when my friends suggested spending a weekend in Brighton for my birthday, I was very excited!

It’s a city that is in love with all things retro (evidenced by the surplus of famous Brighton vintage shops) and a passion for independent establishments. It’s full of flea markets, bric-a-brac boutiques, and other unique stores that all give it a really cool and hipster vibe.

Brighton is also an incredible city for music and cultural activities, from theatre to street art and everything in between! On every corner you will easily find independent eateries, hipster coffee houses and edgy pubs.

If you’re planning a weekend away from the British capital, Brighton is the perfect place to do so. In this guide I’ve covered everything you need to know to plan your weekend in Brighon, including what to do, where to stay, where to eat and more. So let’s jump straight in!

The lively and colourful streets of Brighton in summer

The lively and colourful streets of Brighton in summer

Weekend Break in Brighton: Itinerary

Weekend breaks in Brighton are the best way to experience it, so I’ve put together this Brighton travel guide to help you plan your trip. It’s a breakdown of how I would spend an ideal Brighton city break and I think it’ll set you up for the best weekend break Brighton has to offer!

Day 1 in Brighton

On your first day in Brighton, you should aim to visit the city’s most iconic sights and attractions. I’ve planned out a fun-filled first day that will immerse you in Brighton’s famous culture. This is how I would spend a day in Brighton if I only had one to spend!

Wander around The Lanes

When people ask me what to do during Brighton weekend breaks, I always tell them to start with The Lanes. The Lanes are the historic quarters of Brighton, and arguably the city’s best feature!

Three girls smiling in front of the red facade of the North Laine Bazaar in Brighton, a famous vintage shop

North Laine Bazaar in Brighton, a great spot for all things vintage!

They’re a network of streets (or lanes, as the name would suggest), that contain the majority of Brighton’s boutiques, vintage shops, curio stores, art galleries, and cultural establishments. If you’re looking for a slice of cool Brighton culture, or to add an alternative splash to your Brighton shopping, The Lanes is the place to go!

Spend some time floating around The Lanes and soaking up the lively atmosphere. The streets are bustling and alive with a unique off-beat energy; Brighton has cultivated a really cool cultural scene full of fun-loving alternative people, who are warmly welcoming and always smiling!

An old school sewing machine at a vintage market stall in the Lanes in Brighton

Some of the vintage market stalls you can find around the Lanes in Brighton

More vintage shops in the Lanes of Brighton

More vintage shops in the Lanes of Brighton

Wander between the myriad of curious independent shops, and poke your head inside to discover some of Brighton’s treasures. Expect everything from vintage clothes and record stores to funky coffee houses and antique jewellers. I could spend days exploring and getting lost in The Lanes!

Tip – The shops in The Lanes typically don’t open until 11 am on weekends, so start off your morning with some coffee and a bite to eat at one of the awesome hipster cafés.

Wandering around the Lanes and cute shopping streets of Brighton

Wandering around the Lanes and cute shopping streets of Brighton

Visit the Royal Pavillion

Brighton’s Royal Pavillion is one of the most striking sights in the city. It’s a heavily decorated, domed building that appears to be straight out of 18th century India! That’s because, in some ways, it is.

With roots dating back to the late 1700s, the palace was designed by John Nash in the Indo-Saracenic style, which was popular in India at the time. It was originally built as a seaside residence for King George IV, but the former royal residence is now primarily a tourist attraction.

Rooftop details of the Royal Pavillion in Brighton

Rooftop details of the Royal Pavillion in Brighton

The inside is just as grand as the outside, with royal opulence dripping from every corner! A trip inside is definitely a fascinating experience, but you may choose to save the cost of an entry ticket and just enjoy the architecture from the outside. The Royal Pavillion Garden that surrounds the building itself is lush and green, and a perfect place to kick back on the grass if you’re visiting in the warmer months.

If you’re planning a winter trip to Brighton, you’ll have the awesome opportunity to ice skate on the grounds of the Pavillion! This is particularly beautiful at night, with festive lights twinkling all around you and casting a dramatic glow on this exotic palace!

Click here to book an entry ticket to the Royal Pavillion

The Royal Pavillion in Brighton from outside

The Royal Pavillion in Brighton from outside

Chill at Brighton Beach

The UK isn’t particularly renowned for its beaches, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good ones. Brighton Beach might not be the white sand tropical beach of your dreams (the water isn’t quite as clear as I’m used to in Sardinia either), but it’s a really cool spot to hang out and enjoy Brighton’s unique atmosphere.

The beach is made up of tiny rocks and pebbles, but don’t worry, they’re all really smooth and surprisingly comfortable! In winter you can take a blanket and a bottle of wine, and cuddle up with loved ones while you enjoy the view. In summer you can get your tan on and enjoy the sweet sunshine to the soundtrack of the waves. If you’re visiting in summer just be ready for it to be incredibly busy, the Brits love soaking in the sunshine as soon as it comes out!

Brighton has an active port, so there are plenty of ships and boats cruising around the beach and harbour. Watching them make their way is really peaceful, particularly at sunset when their lights turn on and twinkle against the colourful sky!

The beach in Brighton just under Brighton Palace Pier, busy with people, umbrellas and seagulls flying around on a sunny day

Brighton Beach on a sunny summer day

Discover Brighton Palace Pier

A stroll down the Brighton Palace Pier is a whirlwind adventure that conjures images of Coney Island with its fantastical fairground attractions and classic late 19th-century design. It’s an English seaside classic, fully equipped with arcades, restaurants, cocktail bars, ice cream vendors, and even a fully operational amusement park!

It’s a massive structure, extending over ½ a kilometre out into the sea. It starts off relatively narrow by the shore but opens out at the end, where the amusement park is located. Take a walk to the end of the pier along the slatted boardwalk, and peer down between the planks to see the water flowing far underfoot!

The colourful sign of Brighton Palace Pier

Brighton Palace Pier

A visit to the pier is an absolute must-do while in Brighton, no matter what kind of trip you’re after. It’s not only an iconic Brighton experience, but it also caters to all kinds of travellers with its diversity. Whether you want to ride the rides, play a VR game, or enjoy an ice cream or cocktail overlooking the sea, you’ll be happy that you visited Brighton Pier.

My personal favourite way to enjoy the pier is to settle down at one of the many cute bars and sip on a drink as the sun sets over the sea.

The sunset over Brighton as seen from the Brighton Palace Pier

The sunset over Brighton as seen from the Brighton Palace Pier

Enjoy the Brighton Nightlife

Brighton is renowned for its varied and infectious nightlife. The options are limitless, from techno clubs to 1960’s throwback bars and live performances of every kind! If you’re looking for fun things to do in Brighton tonight, you’re in luck, every night is a good night in Brighton!

It’s a city known for its incredible music scene, with a plethora of cool live music venues pouring top-notch tunes into the air every night of the week. There are plenty of talented musicians who call the city home, and big-name artists make frequent appearances on the scene.

The fun fair / arcade at the end of Brighton Palace Pier, also a popular spot in evenings!

The fun fair / arcade at the end of Brighton Palace Pier, also a popular spot in evenings!

The club scene is equally as diverse, with dozens of clubs playing a wide variety of music, from techno and house to classic rock n’ roll. If you’re in the mood to dance, Brighton has you covered! If you’d prefer to kick back with a drink, there are also plenty of cool bars and pubs. Try the Plotting Parlour for some chilled out evening drinks and a great vibe.

The cultural connoisseurs among you will be pleased to know that Brighton is also home to a number of performing arts venues. Whether you’re after West End theatre, musicals, or stand up comedy, you won’t have a problem filling your evening with vibrant cultural entertainment.

The colourful streets of Brighton

The colourful streets of Brighton

Brighton Music Hall and The Mesmerist are great places to find local music talent, and Maggie Mae’s serves up live music as delectable as their cocktails. Brighton Dome is a classic venue for big concerts and comedy nights, while Coalition is a killer club with a diverse setlist. There’s a never ending list of things to do in Brighton at night!

Be sure to check out what’s on in Brighton to find things to do in Brighton this weekend!

The cute streets of the Lanes in Brighton

The cute streets of the Lanes in Brighton

Day 2 in Brighton

After an intense first day in Brighton, I’ve planned a more relaxed itinerary for your second day, so that you have some time to spend however you choose. There’s plenty to see in Brighton, and one of my favourite things to do in any city is jus wander around and explore!

Have brunch in the Lanes

The lanes offer more than just bric-a-brac boutiques and vintage stores; there are dozens of amazing little restaurants, perfect for a mid-morning brunch! Take a leisurely stroll from your accommodation to The Lanes, and sift around for the perfect brunch spot. The Breakfast Club Brighton serves some brilliant breakfast treats, and IL Bistro is a classic British steakhouse with wonderful outdoor seating.

If you don’t eat meat, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, thanks to Brighton’s thriving veggie scene! So you won’t have to venture far to find something plant-based. Wander around The Lanes for a while after your meal; there’s plenty to see, so you definitely will have missed some stuff on your first day.

Selfie of four girls sat at a cafe having brunch in Brighton

Brunching in Brighton

See the view from the British Airways i360

After your relaxing mid-morning feast, wander down toward the beach for a panoramic experience. The British Airways i360 is a unique viewing tower right by the seashore!

At this Brighton attraction, visitors soar 138 meters up into the sky in a futuristic glass bubble that’s wrapped around a central pole. This allows for amazing 360-degree views of the city and the meandering coastline on which it’s set. The sprawling vistas extend from the Brighton Pier to Brighton’s rolling inland hills and beyond.

There’s even a bar on board the bubble, so you can sip on a cocktail or some bubbly while floating above the city! I recommend that you book your tickets online before you go in order to guarantee a spot.

Click here to book your ticket to see the best view in Brighton!

The British Airways i360 panoramic deck

The British Airways i360 panoramic deck

Explore the Street Art in Brighton

Brighton’s cool culture permeates the city streets in the form of art as well as atmosphere. The city is home to a thriving street art scene, with colourful murals and vibrant graffiti lining the streets and alleyways!

It’s a hotspot for graffiti artists and one of the UK’s key cities for urban art, with an ever-changing landscape of colour to keep your eyes entertained. If you take a stroll down London Road, you can even spot a classic Banksy original featuring two policemen kissing!

A huge murales of Alice in Wonderland with a purple background that takes up the whole facade of a building in Brighton

One of the many murales in Brighton

Where to Stay for a Brighton Weekend Away

I recommend staying close to The Lanes and the seafront during your Brighton weekend break. This is where you’ll find most of the action and attractions!

North Laine is a really cool neighbourhood just north of The Lanes (as you may have imagined from the name), that is considered the cultural quarters of the city.

The bustling city center lies to the west of The Lanes, making it a central and convenient spot, while Kemptown lies on the seafront to the East. Kemptown is a hub for Brighton’s LGBTQ community and another great place to stay.

You could also stay amongst the hills and colourful houses of Hanover, although it’s a little further from the sea.

Brighton Palace Pier at sunset

Brighton Palace Pier at sunset

Accommodation in Brighton

There are loads of fantastic accommodation options for weekend breaks to Brighton, whether you’re looking to splash on a luxury hotel or for a cosy stay in a homely apartment.

Although there aren’t many hostel options in Brighton, Seadragon Backpackers is the best of the bunch if you’re looking for cheap accommodation. If you’d prefer to indulge in a luxury hotel, The Square Hotel Brighton is a great choice, and is set in a wonderful location.

The colourful streets of Brighton

The colourful streets of Brighton

My dream option however, although it’s a little pricey, is The Lanes Residence. It’s a light and airy apartment set in a historic building above the legendary bustle of The Lanes. The good news is that it sleeps 6 people, so the cost can easily be divided if you’re travelling as part of a group! I haven’t had the opportunity to stay there myself, but I’ve heard great things, and it looks absolutely stunning.

We stayed at a small but cosy AirBnb right on the beach, about a 15-minute walk from Brighton Pier (don’t have AirBnb yet? Get $30 off your first booking here)! It was spacious and with nice seaviews, but a little far from everything.

Find the best deals for Brighton accommodation here

Bikes along the beach in Brighton

The beach in Brighton right in front of our AirBnb

Final Thoughts on Weekends in Brighton

Brighton is a perfect city break destination for every kind of traveller, whether you’re a foodie, a coffee connoisseur, vintage fanatic, or a big fan of shopping. It’s a music lover’s dream, a night owl’s fantasy, and in my opinion, one of the coolest cities in the UK! It’s the perfect place to escape from London for a weekend. Despite living in London for so long, until I came to Brighton I had only spent a weekend away in Bath, I really need to see more of England!

Have you been to Brighton? I’d love to hear about your adventures in this fabulous city and your favourite things to do in Brighton. Leave your stories in a comment below! I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own weekend in Brighton.

People eating outside in the colourful streets of Brighton on a sunny summer weekend

People eating outside in the colourful streets of Brighton on a sunny summer weekend

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Collage of the streets and Royal Pavillion of Brighton with text overlay saying "2 days in Brighon"

Collage of the streets, Royal Pavillion and British Airways i360 viewing platform in Brighton with text overlay saying "How to see Brighton in 2 epic days"

One of the colourful and lively streets in the Lanes in Brighton, with outdoors seating and lots of people both sat down or walking around, with text overlay saying "How to spend a weekend in Brighton"

Collage of the streets of Brighton, the Royal Pavillion and the Brighton Palace Pier with text overlay saying "Brighton in 48 hours"

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