If you’re thinking of a day trip to Brighton, help is at hand. We’ve just come back from a fun-packed day out in Brighton and have some fantastic ideas for the best things to do.
Brighton in East Sussex is a cool place to visit and one of the most popular destinations for seaside day-trippers from London. Its location in South England makes it so accessible, as you can get to Brighton from London by train in an hour. It’s also an easy destination to reach by car.
Last week we were in dire need of some sea air, so I planned the perfect Brighton day trip for teens. Read on for our one-day Brighton itinerary and the best things to do in Brighton for first-time visitors.
Please note, that we started at the beach huts in Hove. If you are travelling by train, just follow our one-day Brighton itinerary in reverse!
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Please note that we were kindly gifted the tickets for some of the attractions, but all views and opinions are our own.
Contents: click to jump to a section
Read on for how to spend a day in Brighton!
Beach huts in Hove
We started our Brighton day trip at the colourful beach huts on the seafront. The huts are officially in Hove, but it’s just a gentle 10-minute walk along the promenade into Brighton.
The jolly wooden beach huts are painted an assortment of bright, summer hues and provide a welcome splash of colour to the promenade. It’s no wonder they are one of the most instagrammable spots in Brighton.
Brighton beachfront has a wide promenade, making it popular with joggers, cyclists, roller skaters and buggies. Along the way you’ll pass Brighton bandstand and the elegant Regency houses.
The Upside Down House
On arrival in Brighton centre, you can’t miss the blue Upside Down House, just before the i360 tower.
As the name suggests, everything in the house is topsy-turvy, with all the furniture on the ceiling. It doesn’t take long to visit but is a fun option for anyone who wants a surreal photo session.
You can capture a shot of yourself crawling across the kitchen cupboards, bouncing off the ceiling or even playing upside-down chess. It goes without saying that the kids’ best photo was diving headfirst into a toilet!
- Time spent at attraction: 15 minutes
- Admission costs: £5 (under 3s are free)
- Click here for the Upside Down House website
Rampion Visitor Centre
After the Upside Down House, we made an impromptu visit to the Rampion Visitor Centre. It wasn’t in our plans for our day out in Brighton, but it was an easy way to kill some time before our trip on the i360. Plus, it was warm inside, and admission was free!
The Rampion Visitor Centre has a collection of interactive displays and exhibits for visitors to learn about the installation and operation of Brighton’s offshore windfarm. You can even take a Virtual Reality journey out to the farm itself.
- Time spent at attraction: 15 minutes
- Admission: free
- Click here for Rampion Visitor Centre website
British Airways i360
Probably the most striking attraction along Brighton seafront is the BA i360 tower. At 162 metres, it is certainly the tallest and a must-visit attraction for the best views in Brighton. Created by the architects behind the London Eye, Brighton i360 is a unique, futuristic observation deck, which actually moves!
Following our official “check-in” at airport security, we headed towards the glass pod. Once inside you take a slow ascent to the top, whilst admiring the views over Brighton.
It’s spacious inside the pod and you can do a 360 turn for panoramic views at every angle. You can see over the roof tops, Brighton’s key landmarks and out to sea. On a bright day you’ll spot the windfarm and can see as far as the Isle of Wight.
If you want to treat yourself, there’s a Sky Bar inside, so you can have a glass of bubbly whilst you enjoy the views.
- Time spent at attraction: 25 minutes
- Admission: £17.50 (adults) Children (£8.50)
- Click here for opening times and tickets at the BAi360
Now, you can’t have a day trip to Brighton without a walk along the pier.
Brighton Palace Pier has been popular with visitors to Brighton since the Victorian era, though I suspect it’s changed a lot since then. Today it’s a traditional English pier with arcade games, candy floss and rides. Not really my cup of tea, but it was fun to walk up and have a look.
- Time spent at attraction: 20 minutes
- Admission cost: free
A bike ride to Rottingdean
If you’re looking for a fun way to explore the Brighton coast, one of the best things to do is a bike ride to Rottingdean. We hired bikes from Brighton Beach Bikes, located under the arches by the pier.
The coastal path is traffic-free and flat and we were able to cycle from Brighton to Rottingdean and back in an hour.
You’ll pass Brighton Marina and could then be forgiven for thinking you were in Dover, as the cliffs are all white.
If you need refreshments, you’ll find two cafés en route. Or, if you have more time continue to Saltdean and take a dip in the lido.
- Time spent: 1 hour
- Costs: £6 pp
- Click here for Brighton Beach Bikes website
Don’t forget to include a visit to the Royal Pavilion in your 1-day Brighton itinerary.
This magnificent palace was the seaside residence of King George IV. Yet, Brighton Royal Pavilion wasn’t always so grand. King George transformed it over his years in Brighton using architectural influences from India and China. The palace you’ll see today has amazing domes, towers, and minarets and is a sight for sore eyes.
Plus, it’s worth going inside the palace to see the lavish interiors and furnishings in the rooms. Don’t forget to look up as the ceilings and chandeliers are exquisite.
You’ll enjoy the visit more if you download the free audio guide for your tour. This way you can learn the interesting details of the King’s decadent lifestyle and the palace’s transformation as you go round.
If you have more time, you could also visit the Brighton Art Gallery which is in the grounds of the palace.
- Time spent: 1 hour
- Costs: £16/Adults £10/Kids (5-18)
- Click here for Brighton Royal Pavilion website
From the Royal Pavilion, we took a short walk to North Laine, one of Brighton’s famous shopping roads. This should not be confused with the Lanes, which is a short walk away.
North Laine is bustling with independent shops selling vintage clothes and trendy knick-knacks.
There’s plenty of places to eat, but we stopped at Cloud 9, an independent café at the end of Kensington Gardens. Although small, Cloud 9 prides itself on selling the best cakes and homemade ice creams in Brighton. We can confirm that the Oreo milkshakes are also truly scrumptious!
Brighton has some fantastic street art, much of which is very big and bold! We found this giant mural of Alice in Wonderland on the side of a café in Hanningtons Lane. It is the work of local street artist, Eelus.
One of the quirkiest places to visit on your Brighton day trip is Paradox Place. Set over four floors this fun attraction is a house of illusions, where nothing is as it seems. Similar to the Upside Down House it provides a fantastic opportunity for fun photos.
Within the four rooms you’ll find illusions, puzzles, and interactive exhibits. The kids loved Paradox Place and voted it as one of their favourite things to do on our Brighton day trip.
- Time spent: 45 minutes
- Cost: £9.50/adults £7.50/children (5-16 years)
- Click here for the Paradox Place website
Of course, we couldn’t go on a day out at the seaside without a walk along the beach. Brighton doesn’t have the best beach for playing, as it is stony, which is why it’s taken me so long to bring the kids. However, it’s perfect for a wander and it wasn’t really beach weather in March anyway.
Brighton's West Pier
One of the best places to be at sunset is by Brighton’s West Pier. Unlike Brighton Palace Pier, all that remains of the West Pier are its skeletal remains. However, the silhouette at sunset is stunning.
The pier was the achievement of engineer, Eugenius Birch and was opened to the public in 1866. It was a popular attraction, with millions of visitors. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by a devastating fire in 2003.
I had hoped to see the flocks of starlings (a murmuration, I believe) which circle in the skies above the pier at dusk, but we weren’t in luck.
How to get to Brighton
As I said earlier, Brighton is super easy to get to by car. Follow the M25, M23 and then the A23 which will take you all the way to the centre.
However, parking in Brighton can be awfully expensive. To save money, you could park outside and walk in. We parked at the Norton Road Car Park in Hove, which was good value for a day’s parking.
Alternatively, there is reasonable parking near Brighton train station or at Oxford Court car park.
There are regular trains from London Victoria station to Brighton, which only take an hour. Alternatively, you could leave from London Blackfriars. Brighton station is in the town centre, so you can easily walk from here.
Getting around Brighton
It is easy to see everything in Brighton on foot and walking means you can explore all the back streets and alleys.
If you don’t like walking, you could get a bike from Brighton’s bike share scheme. You can pick a pay as you go option, which only costs 3p per minute. There are plenty of docking stations along the seafront.
Or you could take a ride on an open top bus as part of Brighton’s Hop-on-Hop-off sightseeing tour.
Accommodation in Brighton
If you want to stay longer than a day in Brighton, there’s plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets.
Some of the fanciest hotels in Brighton can be found right near the beach. Check out The Southern Belle with its own cocktail lounge, or Hotel Una with its spa facilities. Or you could try a self-catering holiday home, such as Bird Sisters Cottage, near the station.
For cheaper accommodation in Brighton, you could consider Kemp Town or an area away from the beach. You can click on Booking.com for availability and prices.
What are your best things to do on a day trip to Brighton? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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