Brighton is a vibrant coastal city on the south coast of England and in my opinion is one of the best cities that England has to offer. It’s less than an hour from London via train (head for London Bridge or Victoria) and is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of the UK’s capital.
As soon as you emerge from Brighton train station you’ll notice a different vibe not only from London but most other England cities as well. The people of Brighton are a lot more open, friendly and chilled out compared with anywhere else up north.
This is probably because the city is located right by the south coast and there is a range of activities to do there. Two days is the perfect length as well, a lot of people visit Brighton for the weekend away from London. The capital of England is great but many people now think it’s just another city you don’t necessarily need to visit and has become a bit overrated.
Brighton is rich in history but is also a very trendy place, known for its famous pebble beach, beautiful Victorian architecture like the Brighton Pavilion, and it also has a thriving cultural scene. And there are a huge amount of bars and restaurants to choose from as well.
All of this makes Brighton the perfect destination for a memorable weekend getaway. In this travel blog post, I’ve crafted the ultimate two-day itinerary to help you make the most of your visit to this unique seaside city.
Day 1: Explore the Seaside Charm of Brighton
Morning: Breakfast by the Beach
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of the many beachfront cafes or restaurants. There are numerous cafes right on the promenade that offer fantastic panoramic views of the English Channel.
Brighton enjoys a surprising amount of sunny weather not only during the summer months but throughout Spring and Autumn too. This is why it has become a go-to place to visit and to live for not only Brits but also a lot of Europeans as well.
For example, there’s a large Spanish community in Brighton that has moved from their native Spain and set up a new life on the English coast. Brighton does have a multi-cultural vibe to it and you may often be mistaken for thinking you’re in a European country on the Mediterranean rather than the UK.
Late Morning: Brighton Palace Pier
After breakfast, take a stroll down to the famous Brighton Palace Pier. Enjoy the classic seaside amusements, ride some roller coasters, and savor some traditional fish and chips as you bask in the sun.
Brighton Palace Pier is a fun family place that is a throwback to England’s Victorian past, similar to other English seaside towns like Blackpool, Weymouth, or Weston-Super-Mare.
Some people think these places are a little bit tacky and there’s no denying they are outdated. But it’s all a part of the English charm and is great fun for young and old alike.
Early Afternoon: The Lanes
Head to the historic Lanes, a maze of narrow streets filled with unique shops, boutiques, antique stores, and cafes. This is a charming area where you can hunt for one-of-a-kind souvenirs or vintage treasures.
These streets, especially the North Lanes, are the beating heart of Brighton. Here you’ll find all sorts of independent shops that you just don’t find anymore in most of the rest of the UK.
The Lanes are always busy, especially during weekends, so expect a lot of crowds! My favorite shop on the Lanes is ‘Snoopers Paradise’, otherwise known as ‘Snoops’.
This is a large antique store that has two floors full of old antiques, memorabilia, clothing, and other strange items from a bygone era.
Lunch: Al fresco dining in The Lanes
Choose from one of the quaint cafes, cozy pubs, or restaurants in The Lanes for a leisurely lunch. You can choose from local cuisine or international flavors while soaking up the lively atmosphere.
There’s a wide range of places to choose from, from traditional British pubs to pizzerias and more. Vegan cafes and restaurants in particular are hugely popular in Brighton and you can find them everywhere.
Afternoon: The Royal Pavilion
Head on over to the magnificent Royal Pavilion, which is just a short walk from the Lanes. This is a former royal residence inspired by Indian architecture and is, without doubt, the historical centerpiece of Brighton.
It dates back to 1787 as a seaside home for Prince George, who later went on to become King George IV. The interior of the building is just as impressive as the exterior, and you can take a tour inside, with tickets costing £18 for adults and £11 for children.
The surrounding gardens around the Pavilion are absolutely beautiful too and make for a pleasant stroll and a good alternative to the often crowded beach area.
Evening: Brighton Beach Sunset
Watching the sunset on Brighton Beach is a must when visiting the city during the summer months. The pebbly beach is a social setting for a lot of locals who meet up after working hours to watch the sun dip below the sea, which often produces amazingly colorful skylines.
A lot of people bring picnics and drinks to the beach to watch the spectacle, making an unforgettable evening and is a great opportunity for a few Instagram-worthy snaps.
Dinner: Seafood Feast
Indulge in a seafood feast at one of the seaside restaurants. Freshly caught fish and seafood are specialties here. Don’t forget to try the local oysters or a seafood platter for a truly memorable meal.
Riddle & Fins can be agreed as probably the best seafood restaurant in Brighton, and they have two locations. One is situated in the Lanes and the other is a relatively new location on the seafront with stunning views. It’s best to book in advance as this place is very popular during the peak season.
Of course, if seafood is not your preference then you won’t be short of options in Brighton. You can find every kind of international cuisine in the city, from Indian restaurants to Mexican, Italian, Thai, and Japanese sushi bars and more.
Nightlife: Brighton’s Bars and Clubs
Brighton is famous for its vibrant nightlife. It is after all very much a University city, meaning there’s always a large populous of students enjoying a night out, especially on Friday nights and weekends.
After dinner, explore the city’s bars, pubs, and clubs. From live music venues to stylish cocktail bars to cheesy nightclubs, there’s something for every taste. Brighton comes to life once the sun has set and you are spoilt for choice.
The Brighton Fringe takes place annually every May and is a great month to visit the city. During this month the city becomes a focus for stand-up comedy shows, theatre plays, and musical acts.
Day 2: Culture and Nature
Morning: Breakfast at a Local Cafe
Start your second day with a big breakfast at a local cafe, fuelling up for another exciting day of exploration. You’ll be surprised at just how many options you have when it comes to cafes in Brighton.
Most of them are independent cafes which make for a refreshing change from the usual commercial options like Starbucks etc.
And while in England this is the perfect opportunity to try a traditional English breakfast! This is admittedly not the healthiest of options but nothing beats an English fry and it will set you up well for the day ahead.
Late Morning: Seven Sisters
The Seven Sisters is a series of stunning chalk cliffs located to the east of Brighton which is easily reachable either by bus or car. The cliffs in total are 13 kilometers in length, so it makes for a pretty memorable hike if you’re feeling up for it.
The views of the English coastline are stunning and there are a couple of pubs located nearby which are a great option for lunch.
Afternoon: Brighton i360
The Brighton i360 (or British Airways i360, as it’s officially called) is an awesome observation tower that was erected back in 2016. It offers yet more amazing views of not only Brighton but the whole of East Sussex on a clear sunny day.
You enter a huge glass domed pod that elevates you 162 meters off the ground, which is quite spectacular!
It takes around six minutes to reach this height before descending downwards again after you’ve taken in all the stunning views. Tickets cost around £17 for adults, £12 for young adults, and £8 for children between four and fifteen years of age.
Some people think it’s a little bit costly for just 6 minutes, but there is no better way to take in the views from such a high advantage point. There is also a bar within the dome, so you can order drinks and food while enjoying the views, but again, it’s quite expensive!
Nightlife: Live Entertainment
Wrap up your two days in Brighton with some live entertainment. Check out what’s playing at one of the city’s theatres or catch a live music performance at a local venue.
Or you could choose to chill out at one of Brighton’s many pubs, which always have a good atmosphere. Here are a few of my favorite pubs which are well worth checking out when in Brighton:
The Basket Makers Arms: This is a brilliant traditional pub that is walled with old antiques and photos and has a lovely homely feel. The food is great here too, especially their Sunday roasts which are a must!
The Foundry: This is another traditional pub that is quite small but very intimate and always has a great atmosphere. Again, this pub has a great menu like a lot of Brighton pubs.
The Walrus: This place has three floors and has very beautiful Victorian decor. It’s always busy as well as lively, which sums up Brighton!
Brighton’s unique blend of history, culture, and seaside charm makes it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a diverse and unforgettable experience. If you get tired of London after a few days then this is the perfect getaway alternative!
With this ultimate two-day itinerary, you’ll have the chance to explore the best of what Brighton has to offer, from its iconic landmarks to its vibrant nightlife and fantastic food options.
Be warned that the summer months are particularly busy, but don’t let that deter you! Head south and embark on a memorable couple of days in this captivating coastal gem.