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Travel / Tours / England / Brighton
Visit Brighton and Hove
  Brighton pier
  Royal Pavilion
  North Laine
  Gay Brighton
  West pier
  Devil's Dyke
  Further information


This page is a guide for visitors to Brighton and Hove, a popular seaside city on the south coast of England.

The clocktower

Domes at the Royal Pavilion

Hotels line the sea front

Brighton: More Than a Guide
(guide to Brighton)
Publisher: Jarrold Publishing
Date: March 2005
Cheeky Guide to Brighton (4th edition)
(town guide for residents or visitors)
Authors: David Bramwell, Tim Bick
Publisher: Cheeky Guides Ltd
Date: June 2006
South Downs Way
(walking guide to the South Downs)
Author: Paul Millmore
Publisher: Aurum Press
Date: April 2004
A Mule In Brighton
(an insider's guide to Brighton)
Author: Rob Silverstone
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Date: February 2007

Recommended music to listen to when reading this page: When I Need You (by Leo Sayer) (opens in a new window)

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Brighton Pier (map) opened for the first time in 1899 (it replaced an earlier pier on the same site). It is 1722 feet (525 metres) long. There are food and other stalls, bars, an amusement arcade and, at the far end, a place where you can enjoy several different funfair rides. The pier is open throughout the year for most of the day - the latest opening times are during the summer and at weekends. Admission is free, and there are some seats which you can use without charge.

Take a promenade on the pier ...

... which extends over half a kilometer out to sea

One of the games in the amusement arcade

Fishing for a prize

There are funfair rides ...

... at the end of the pier

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Brighton contains an unusual palace called the Royal Pavilion (map; 15 minutes' walk from the train station, or 5 minutes' walk from the pier).

In 1783 the 21-year-old prince George fell in love with a Roman Catholic lady called Maria Anne Fitzherbert, whose previous two husbands had both died. He secretly married her in London, but this was illegal because he had not obtained permission from his father (who would not have allowed it because of a law that a prince could not become king if he married a Catholic). George bought a house for Mrs Fitzgerald in Brighton (which at that time was a small fishing town called Brightelmstone) and would often come down to Brighton from London to escape from the formality surrounding his father and to see his mistress. At first he stayed in a farmhouse nearby, but later he took over the property and started to transform it.

George was given the title of Prince Regent when his father (King George the Third) suffered from a form of madness and was unable to rule. He took over many of the king's powers from 1811 until his father's death in 1820 (known as the Regency period). It was during this time that George asked the architect John Nash to transform his home in Brighton in the style of an oriental palace, inspired in part by the Taj Mahal in India. The interiors were decorated extravagantly, incorporating many Chinese influences. The project was finally completed in 1823, but George (by then King George the Fourth) didn't make much use of the Royal Pavilion much before his own death in 1830. The next king (William the Fourth) sometimes stayed here, but Queen Victoria preferred Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight and she removed most of its interior decorations and in 1850 she sold the building to the town of Brighton. Many of the original items of furniture have been returned, and extensive restoration work has been carried out.

The Royal Pavilion is open to visitors (entry charges apply for the interior, but you do not need a ticket to enjoy walking through the gardens). Highlights include the Music Room, the Banqueting Room, the Royal Bedrooms and the Great Kitchen. Audio guides are available in English, Basic English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Cantonese and Mandarin, and there is a special version for children (in English).

King George the Fourth

The Royal Pavilion: inspired by the Taj Mahal in India

Next to the Royal Pavilion is Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Displays include decorative art, fine art, world art, costume and local history. Entry is free.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

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The beach at Brighton is shingle (small stones), not sand. Along the sea front there are a range of shops, cafés, restaurants, bars and clubs. Some artists sell their paintings here, and there is also a small fishing museum. To the east, between the pier and the marina, there is a clearly marked area where naked bathing is allowed (one of Britain's few nudist beaches).

Some like to go for a walk along the beach ...

... others to relax with a partner ...

... others to bathe naked

Sitting on the beach

Fish and chips: a traditional seaside snack

Artists' quarter

Beach (between the piers)

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To the west of the Royal Pavilion is The Lanes: an area of narrow passages (known locally as "twittens") and interesting small shops. The Visitor Information Centre is here, in St Bartholomew Square.

Sign for The Lanes

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North Laine is another interesting area of shops, just to the north of the Royal Pavilion. It contains many cafés, bars and boutiques. Some of the buildings have large murals painted on them.

James Brown mural in North Laine

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Brighton has a large gay and lesbian community. The rainbow flag marks many of the gay shops, bars and clubs, with many of these being concentrated in Kemp Town, just to the east of the Brighton Pier. Brighton Pride is one of the UK's largest gay festivals. There is a colourful march through the streets followed by a festival in one of the city's parks.

Shop within Kemp Town

Gay pub

Rainbow flags mark many of the gay venues

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Brighton Marina is about 2km east of the city centre, and surrounding it are shops, restaurants and bars. A pleasant way to get there is to take a small railway which starts near Brighton Pier (open during the daytime between Easter and mid-September). The Volks Electric Railway is the world's oldest operating electric railroad, opened in 1883 by Magnus Volk.

Boats in the marina

Volks Electric Railway

Near the marina there is the Walk of Fame, launched in 2002. There are over 100 plaques celebrating famous people who are linked to Brighton in some way. Examples are the singer Leo Sayer, the Who's founder and lead singer Roger Daltrey, the DJ and musician Norman Cook (also known as Fatboy Slim), the author Graham Greene, and King George the Fourth.

Quadrophenia (DVD)
(film set in Brighton, featuring music by The Who)
Studio: Universal Pictures UK
Date: August 2006
Brighton Rock [1947] (DVD)
(film adaptation of Graham Greene's thriller, set in Brighton)
Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
Date: September 2006
Endless Journey - The Essential Leo Sayer (music CD)
Artist: Leo Sayer
Label: Dmg TV
Date: November 2004
Why Try Harder: the Greatest Hits (music CD)
Artist: Fatboy Slim
Label: Skint
Date: June 2006

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The West Pier, built in 1866, has been destroyed by fire and by the action of the sea. There are plans to build the UK's tallest observation tower next to the pier, to be known as the Brighton i-360. The height will be 183m (600 feet): the pod will rise vertically from the ground level up to 150m.

The West Pier

i-360 tower

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During the spring and summer (between April and September) you can take a number 77 open-topped bus to visit Devil's Dyke - this is a good place to visit if the weather is fine. You can join at the main bus stops, including Brighton Pier, Churchill Square and the train station. There are daily services in July and August, but buses only run at weekends and on bank holidays during the other months of operation. You can enjoy excellent views from the top of the bus. The journey takes about half an hour and runs about once every half an hour during the busiest times of the day. Allow at least 2 hours for an excursion to the Devil's Dyke from central Brighton.

Bus 77 to the Devil's Dyke

You can enjoy panoramic views from the top of the bus

The Devil's Dyke has been classified as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty". It is managed by the National Trust, and there is no charge for visitors. You can enjoy going for walks around the hill, rest on the grass if the weather is fine, and have a meal or a drink in the pub. When the weather conditions are right the hill is a popular location for flying kites or for paragliding.

One of the views from the hill

Flying a kite

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Two universities have campuses in Brighton and Hove: the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex.
The city also has a large number of English language schools, which are especially busy during the summer months.

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* Booking a tour
Day-trips to Brighton from London: Travel/Tours/Company/AndersonTours
Brighton Walks:

* Visitor information
Brighton tourist information: or
City guide:
View Brighton (guide to entertainment):
Street map:

Royal Pavilion:
Brighton Pier:
Sea Life Brighton:
Sue Pearson Dolls & Teddy Bears:
Brighton Marina:
Brighton museums:
West Pier i-360:
Volks Electric Railway:
Walk of Fame:

* Student links
University of Brighton:
University of Sussex:
City College Brighton and Hove: (formerly known as Brighton College of Technology)

* Independent travel to Brighton
On fast train services, Brighton is about 1 hour from London. Train services are operated by these companies:
Southern (from Victoria station):
First Capital Connect (from London Bridge station):
If you buy a return ticket you must use the same train company to come back.
For train timetables and to buy a ticket online, see: Shop/Company/TheTrainline.

It takes about 2 hours 15 minutes to travel by coach from Victoria Coach Station in London to Brighton. For timetables and to buy a ticket online, see: Shop/Company/NationalExpress.

* Independent travel around Brighton

Local bus services in Brighton are operated by Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company.
The most convenient place to get a bus is at Churchill Square: this is the name of a shopping centre at the eastern end of Western Road (not far from the Clock Tower). Other convenient stops for visitors are on the streets outside the train station and close to Brighton Pier.
For information about timetables and fares, see the website of Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company:
Visitors who want to use buses may want to buy a One Day Saver ticket, which is valid on most services around Brighton (including buses to Devil's Dyke). You can buy this on the bus, or it is slightly cheaper if you get one from a travel centre, post office or newsagent's or if you buy it online in advance. You must scratch off the day, month and year (and your sex) to make it valid for travel..

Waiting for a bus in Churchill Square

* Weather & tide forecasts
BBC weather forecast for Brighton:
7-day tide timetables (HW=high water, LW=low water):

* More photos
360 degree panoramic pictures:

Lonely Planet verdict: Brighton
"Of all of Britain's seaside resorts, Brighton is the artist among the artisans. Not only is it the country's most popular coastal resort, but it is one of the best cities on the island ... For the visitor, Brighton has virtually everything. Besides the Royal Pavilion, a showpiece museum that ranks among the best in the country, you will find terrific restaurants and cafes; wonderful pubs and bars; and a nightlife that is - relative to its size - easily a match for London"
(extracts from "Lonely Planet Great Britain - 2003 edition", used with permission)
Lonely Planet Great Britain
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: May 2009
Lonely Planet England
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: March 2009
Other Lonely Planet publications

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Places in this region:
Lewes: Travel/Tours/England/Lewes
Eastbourne: Travel/Tours/England/Eastbourne
Isle of Wight: Travel/Tours/England/IsleOfWight

Seaside resorts:
Blackpool: Travel/Tours/England/Blackpool
Le Touquet: Travel/Tours/France/LeTouquet
Newquay: Travel/Tours/England/Newquay
Scarborough: Travel/Tours/England/Scarborough

Other topics related to this page:
Brighton Festival: Ideas/Album/Brighton-Festival
London-Brighton Veteran Car Run: Ideas/Album/VeteranCarRun
Information for gay students: Personal/Relationships/Gay
Information for lesbian students: Personal/Relationships/Lesbian

Home page: Home

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