On a sunny day, Brighton has the very best a classic British summer can offer: ice cream on the pebble beach and a paddle in the sea, followed by fish and chips!
Only an hour away from London by train, Brighton is famous for its bohemian culture. It has attracted the rich and famous from London for centuries. Over the years, many artists have settled here, and it's home to one of Britain’s largest LGBTQ communities, earning it the title ‘gay capital’ of the UK.
It’s also home to the famous DJ Fatboy Slim and record label Skint Records. That musical heritage continues in the city's bustling bars and nightclubs. There are also loads of festivals and the occasional party on the beach.
Beyond the boutique hotels, great food and lively nightlife there’s a rich history to Brighton. Here are 5 gems to add to your itinerary if you’re planning a visit!
1. The Royal Pavilion
Brighton's Royal Pavilion is an iconic piece of British architecture. Stumble on it by chance and you could forgive yourself for thinking you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in India!
The Pavilion was originally the seaside home of King George IV. He commissioned architect John Nash to convert it into an extravagant building with domes reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. It was due to King George's patronage that Brighton transformed from a small fishing port to the fashionable city it remains to this day.
Today the Pavilion is home to the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, and is a must-see.
2. Piers & Queers
Brighton has a long history as the home to one of the UK’s biggest LGBTQ communities.
Piers & Queers is a fascinating guided tour that looks at the city’s history through an LGBTQ lens. Local guide Ric takes in more than 200 years of history in a 90-minute walk along the beach and through the city’s streets.
You'll get to know both the famous figures and local characters who helped Brighton become one of the UK's most progressive cities. From Oscar Wilde and Dusty Springfield to a female doctor who passed as a man decades before women could practice medicine!
Tours run throughout the summer and are suitable for all ages.
3. Preston Manor
A stately home with a fascinating history, Preston Manor is another of Brighton's brilliant museums. It dates back to the 12th century and has been open to the public since 1933.
It's a wonderful insight into the life of a noble family and their servants around the time of the first world war. If you're looking for a slice of Downton Abbey life, look no further!
The museum has beautiful gardens, regular exhibitions, and plenty for kids to do too. It's only 30 minutes' walk from the city centre and there are two cafes in the neighbouring Preston Park. It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Brighton.
4. The Marlborough Pub & Theatre
In the middle of Brighton is The Lanes, the city’s historic quarter. It’s a twisting maze of small alleyways in the heart of the old town full of trendy shops, cafes and bars. It’s easy to spend several hours exploring this area alone, and well worth it.
On Princes Street you’ll find The Malborough, a pub whose history links old Brighton to the modern city of today. It's one of the oldest pubs in the city, dating right back to the 18th century. It has a slightly dubious history as a ballroom and gambling den. Rumour has it that George IV used to make discreet visits to the pub through a secret passageway into the cellar!
The Malborough has enjoyed strong links with the LGBTQ community since the 1970s, and its 60-capacity theatre is an important venue for the Brighton Fringe, England’s largest arts festival. So, along with great food and drink, you’ll find a huge variety of theatre and performances put on across the year.
5. Brighton Dome
Last but certainly not least, The Brighton Dome is another of the city’s beautiful historic buildings. Its use has changed throughout the years, but since 1867 has been used as a performing arts venue.
Some of the legends that have played at the Dome include Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. Now you’ll find acts like Jungle, Ezra Furman and Tokio Myers playing there. There's also a varied mixture of stand-up comedy, classical music and modern dance, and a great café-bar for your pre-show drinks.
So, if you want to finish off your trip to Brighton in style check out what’s on at the Dome!