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Brighton tourist attractions

Brighton sightseeing

Equal parts vibrant, quirky and cool, Brighton is one of the most popular seaside destinations in the whole of England. The essence of the city’s appeal blends boho with buzz: there’s a thriving LGBTQ community, energetic student population and intrigued holiday-makers descending to this seaside spot along the country’s south coast.

  1. See the exotic Royal Pavilion
  2. Scream out to sea on the pier
  3. Grab a bargain along North Laine
  4. Potter along Kemp Town
  5. Get under the surface at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
  6. Admire the views on the i360
  7. Perfect your volleyball serve Yellowave

Brighton is largely popular with creative types, and as such you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the city’s cultural life, with the likes of theatre, comedy, concerts and live music to enjoy. Excited? Start planning your trip with one of these amazing Brighton holiday packages

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. See the exotic Royal Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion served in the eighteenth century as a playground for the future King George IV, who spent much of his time here partying and frolicking with his mistress. Brighton’s exotic extravaganza is an India-China mash-up, with its twirling domes, pagodas, slender minarets and balconies. As Brighton sightseeing goes, the spacious gardens surrounding the pavilion is the best way to admire this striking pavilion’s exterior.

Extra: Inside, you can take in the splendour of the Banqueting Room, the stunning Music Room and the North-West gallery.

2. Scream out to sea on the pier

There’s no better way to soak up the tackiness of Brighton than by strolling along its seafront pier. Every inch of the 1899-built pier is devoted to blaring-loud fun, with rickety roller-coasters, arcade games and slammable bumper cars, making it one of the most memorable Brighton attractions. And while we’re on the subject of piers, further along is the derelict West Pier, the skeletal remains of a former pier that closed down in 1975.

Extra: Opposite the pier, on Marine Parade, is the Sea Life Centre; opened in 1872, it’s the world’s oldest operating aquarium.

3. Grab a bargain along North Laine

North Laine is more offbeat than the equally popular Lanes (a labyrinth of pedestrianised alleyways) with its eclectic shops selling vintage records, retro clothes and New Age items. This vibrant street sprawls west and north of the Royal Pavilion and is bordered by Queens Road. Take an outside table for coffee between the colourful clothing rails and graphic-art buildings, and tuck into some veggie grub, or simply people watch.

Extra: It’s independent shops galore; Snoopers Paradise (above Snoopers Paradise) has over 90 stalls spread over two floors.

4. Potter along Kemp Town

Slightly east of the city centre is the LGBTQ community’s heartland, Kemp Town. Everything starts off lively at colourful Old Steine, where you head along the bustling St James’s Street (Brighton’s “Gay Village”) until things take a quieter turn at St George’s Road. This is where you’ll find some fantastic antique and vintage shops, as well as welcoming pubs and coffee shops that require an unhurried approach.

Extra: Kemp Town is one of the nicest spots to base yourself in Brighton, with plenty of B&Bs and chic guesthouses.

5. Get under the surface at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Not far from the Brighton Pavilion stands Brighton Museum & Art Gallery - a slightly less extravagant affair compared to its neighbour - which is well worth half a day of your time. There’s a wonderful mix of modern fashion and design, archaeology, painting and local history on display here, from artist Salvador Dali’s 1938 Lips sofa to ancient Egyptian mummified animals.

Extra: Most of the galleries are suitable for kids; they can even pick up a special ‘trail’ to follow during their visit.

6. Admire the views on the i360

One of the top Brighton tourist attractions - literally - is the i360 tower, opened in 2016. Positioned by the West Pier, it’s the world’s tallest moving observation tower at 162m high and is one of the more striking sights in Brighton, but not necessarily in a good way - its needle-like spire and saucer-shaped viewing pod does look a little out of place amongst the rest of the city. Still, you can’t fault the panoramic views over Brighton and beyond. Just step aboard the pod and you’ll be beamed up - sorry, whisked up - for your 360-degrees experience.

Extra: Back on ground level, the Brighton Fishing Museum is a hark-back to the golden days of the local fishing industry.

7. Perfect your volleyball serve Yellowave

East of Brighton pier is beach-sports venue Yellowave, which is open year-round for those looking to perfect their sand-based serve. With six courts, this is an ideal spot to try your hand at volleyball; if there’s an event or tournament on, you can sit on the sandy sidelines and watch the action unfold. Once you’ve worked up a sweat (or watched others do so), reward yourself at their Barefoot Cafe with a soup, sandwich or if you book ahead, a barbecue.

Extra: Whether you’re a beginner or want to improve your skills, sign up for a volleyball class through their website.

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