12 Reasons to Visit Brighton England
When Danny’s daughter, Isabella and her husband, Simon recently relocated to the quirky British seaside resort town of Brighton, we could not wait to visit. First visitors bragging rights! The train is an hour seven by way of London Victoria Station, just 47 miles south.
Brighton Palace Pier
Opening in 1899, Palace Pier features a promenade with views of the English Channel, rides that vary from super janky to way scary, an arcade, and great spots for proper fish and chips. The Pier feels like old time Gatsby charm and looks right out of a movie. Oh wait, it is.
You might recognize Brighton’s rocky beaches from the rock film Quadrophenia. The second half of the movie takes place in this area, following the lead Jimmy as he turns the town upside down with drugs, fights, and chicks, man. (Props to an amazing cameo by a young Sting.) Brighton is a city that loves music with plentiful options of live music like The Great Escape Festival for new music.
3. Drink a beer walking down the street
From a glass bottle! Where else can you do this?!
I don’t even know.
4. The West Pier
The current condition makes it hard to imagine this pier was once a bustling, active tourist destination between 1866-1975. It even had a concert hall. It burned down a few times and was abandoned. The pier’s skeleton is an eery yet an important piece of Brighton’s landscape — I’m talking serious Lost Boys vibes.
5. British Airways i360 Rotating Observation Tower
The British Airways i360 Rotating Observation Tower is a newer feature in Brighton, opening just three years ago. At just over 530 feet high, the observation pod not only rotates horizontally, it moves vertically. The Brighton skyline is constantly changing, as the UFO-esque disc makes its way up and down the tower.
6. Sugary Treats
We call it soft serve, they call it Mr. Whippy. lol. It’s delicious and can be found all over the waterfront. Stick a Cadbury flake in it and now you’ve got a “99,” named because it once cost just 99p.
Centering on lively St. James Street, Kemptown is peppered with cabarets, burlesque acts, bars and clubs, and lots of rainbow flags. With a sizable number of LGTBQ residents, Kemptown is the unofficial gay capital of the UK. The annual Pride Village Party is the stuff of legends and some of the best people watching you’ll ever see.
8. Brighton Zip
If you are braver than I am, check out this thrill ride located along the Seafront. Brighton Zip is a 300m dual zip line, which meant that Danny and Isabella could go at the same time. Despite the arduous 55 foot climb straight up a spiral staircase, he would never say no to his daughter.
9. North Laine
Once a slum, this residential area is now Brighton’s cultural corner. Wind your way through boho, vintage, and jewelry shops; This is the best spot to find unique souvenirs. It’s a maze of idyllic winding streets and narrow alleys with shops, pubs, and restaurants. You will encounter healers, tattoo shops, a bonsai expert, and comic shops. Every Saturday, Upper Gardener Street is closed off for a pedestrian-only street market.
10. Sleep in a Historical Hotel
Most of the city’s main attractions were built in the Victorian era, including The Grand Brighton. It’s beautiful and has a bit of a haunted feel. Maybe that’s because the hotel was bombed in 1984 by the IRA in a failed attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Yikes. The property has since fully recovered and is a lovely place to stay. Our room featured views of the ocean and the West Pier.
11. The Madeira Lift
Simon and Isabella were excited to take us on the recently reopened the Madeira Lift, a decrepit elevator that transports you from the street down to the beach. (And oddly, through some sort of nightclub/event space in between.) It’s open to the public, free, and comes with a friendly attendant. It’s also kind of scary — the rickety, ramshackle lift may as well be a thrill ride down on the Pier.
12. Volk’s Electric Railway
Take a ride on an adorable little train that runs one mile along the beach from Brighton Pier to the Marina. Completed in 1883, it’s the world’s oldest operating electric railway. It only runs in good weather, is well maintained, and fun to ride.
Also known as "The Queen of Watering Places” or “London-by-the-Sea,”
Danny and I were charmed by this eclectic, artsy, eccentric town. And now that we have family here, I know it is only a matter of time until we’re heading back for another Mr Whippy.