It’s easy to fall in love with Brighton.
The place charms you with cream teas, unique shops, inexplicable architecture and a constant buzz of life. No wonder it draws so many visitors every year.
Join Emily Turner for a stroll through the city’s most loved spots and see why it’s so easy to becoming enamoured with this seaside location.
1. Brighton Pavilion and Dome
Perhaps an obvious place to start a list of lovable locations in Brighton, the Pavilion continues to impress and inspire those who walk past, around, or through it. King George IV notoriously had this built as a seaside pleasure palace, and its iconic architecture mixes Regency glamour with Indian inspiration.
If you want to explore beyond its glamourous veneer, there’s a multitude of things to see inside the building itself, including the banqueting room, a saloon, music rooms, the Prince Regent Gallery and the Indian Military Hospital Gallery.
4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, 0300 029 0900, brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion
2. Brighton Pavilion Art Gallery and Museum
Have a wander through the Pavilion Gardens and come out at the art gallery and museum, which is always worth a visit (doubly so for students from the city’s universities including University of Sussex, who can get in for free with a student card). Aside from its usual exhibitions documenting the local history along with the ancient Egypt showcase, the gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of paintings of women by female painters from the seventeenth to twentieth century, selected from the fine art collection.
Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, 0300 029 0900, brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton
3. North Laine and the Lanes
To get a feel of Brighton’s character, head to the iconic Lanes. Not for the fainthearted, there will be seas of people similarly soaking up the atmosphere of places like Snooper’s Paradise and the surrounding galleries, cafes and shoe shops, but guaranteed it will be worth it. Brighton’s creative, eclectic, adventurous vibe can really be felt in these streets, which also perfectly captures the city’s sense of embodying both old and new.
Whether you’re after a cupcake or a new tattoo, you’ll find what you’re after amongst the 400 odd independent shops, cafés and entertainment venues.
4. Brighton Art Fair
Speaking of Brighton’s artsy vibe, one of the best ways to experience the incredible creativity that the city likes to showcase is to head over to Brighton Dome Corn Exchange to check out the Art Fair. It’s just had its twelfth annual event, where 100 of the best contemporary artists from the UK and abroad congregate to show and sell their work.
The organisers like to have a good balance of established and emerging artists, which means the variety of work displayed is fresh and exciting. Some truly exceptional work which was displayed this year came from ARTHOUSE Meath, a group which promotes the talents and skills of adults living with severe epilepsy, or learning and physical difficulties. The bold colours and lively group-produced paintings strike you as soon as you walk through the door.
Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Church Street, Brighton BN1 1UE, brightonartfair.co.uk
5. Blackbird Tearooms
These tearooms have the feel of a cross between an old pharmacist, an antique bakery, and a drawing room straight out of a Jane Austen novel. They whip up a cracking eggs royale and serve a refillable pot of tea, which is always handy for self-fortification when trekking through Brighton’s back roads. Find this quaint little café down Ship Street.
If you’re a tea lover, then you may be interested in Blackbird’s selections, which they make using leaves imported by the best blenders. These flavours include Christmas Tea Tisane, Rooibos Cinnamon Angel, Winter Tea with cinnamon, almond and walnut and orange cookies tea.
30 Ship Street, Brighton, 01273 249454, blackbirdtearooms.com
6. The Duke of York’s Picturehouse
You can’t miss the can-can dancer’s striped legs kicking out on the roof of this cinema on Preston Road. With a screen that looks like a theatre front and a balcony for downing that pre-show glass of wine, it’s no surprise that The Duke of York’s Picturehouse’s marketing slogan for years was ‘Bring her to the Duke’s, it is fit for a Duchess’. Check out their website for current listings and become enamoured with this art house cinema.
Preston Road, Brighton, 0871 902 5728, picturehouses.com/cinema/Duke_Of_Yorks
7. Brighton Aquarium
There’s been an aquarium (and originally a dolphinarium) at Brighton since 1872, where a large octopus featured among the early attractions and sea lions were introduced a few years later. Legend has it that the exhibition of a live Norway lobster in caused a public furore in 1874. In its modern incarnation, however, it’s a family friendly Sea Life Centre, with interactive rock pools, Jurassic Seas expedition and a ride through a Nautilus-themed shark pool in a glass bottomed boat. Whether starfish or stingrays float your boat, there will be something to keep everyone occupied and enchanted at the Brighton Aquarium.
Marine Parade, Brighton, 08714 232110, visitsealife.com/brighton
Seasiders, or indeed any place in Brighton that sells fish and chips, is guaranteed to leave you with a soft spot for a serving of jockey’s whips. As the Pier likes to remind the thousands of visitors that come to enjoy this culinary staple every year, Heston Blumenthal once said that Brighton was the ‘spiritual home’ of fish and chips.
Seasiders, just below the pier in the King’s Road Arches, serves a surprisingly delicious Thai cod and prawn fish cake, as well as the conventional but reliable battered cod.
254 Kings Road Arches, Brighton, 01273 606577, seasiders5.wix.com/seasiders
9. Theatre Royal
The Theatre Royal is a beauty. Just over the path from the Brighton Pavilion, this theatre is one of the oldest in the country and celebrated its 200th anniversary a few years ago. It may look very posh, but it has hosted some old favourites including Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Rocky Horror Show and Spamalot.
The Theatre Royal hosts musicals, plays, opera and ballet throughout the year, and also ventures into creative learning events, workshops and courses. If you fancy a bit of high class culture, book an evening out at this Grade II listed building.
New Road, Brighton, 0844 871 7627, theatreroyalbrighton.com
10. Brighton Pier
You can’t help but be drawn in by the pier, with its recognisable penny arcades, fair rides, fortune telling caravan and stalls selling everything from friendships bracelets to London memorabilia. Grab a drink in a booth in Horatio’s, a pub/restaurant near the bucking bronco challenge, dispense of all your loose change fruitlessly trying to win a cuddly Minion and buckle up for the turbo coaster. B
ut remember, no selfie sticks on the helter skelter.
Alternatively, turn your head a little further east down the seafront and you’ll also see the skeletal remains of West Pier, which is in stark contrast to the constant buzz of lights and noise from Brighton’s main pier.
Madeira Drive, Brighton, 01273 609361, brightonpier.co.uk
Main image: Kotomi / Flickr / CC