This post was originally published on A Globe Well Travelled in 2018. The content has been revised and updated with fresh information.
Brighton has made a name for itself as being a hotspot of alternative culture.
I’d always thought of Brighton as a popular seaside retreat, but this little city, unofficially known as the vegan capital of England, is filled with interesting and unique stores selling everything from a vast selection of cereals to antique armory.
Rob had been invited to Brighton for a work meetup, and he spent 5 days in the city discovering the best places to check out. He put together an itinerary to show me around (what a sweetheart!) so after I arrived in London, we spent a day exploring Brighton together before starting our UK road trip.
This self-guided walking tour of Brighton can easily be done in a day at a slow pace. Here’s our itinerary, plus a map I made for your reference!
How to get there:
There are a few different rail options that you can take to get from London to Brighton. The city is about a 1-1.5 hour train ride away.
The Gatwick Express is one of the fastest ways to get there, but when I was there, the ticketing system had just changed and I couldn’t figure out how expensive it was going to be. I ended up going with Thameslink on the the way down and Southern on the way back, as they are both valid using the same ticket (I’d recommend Thameslink both ways if you can manage it – the train is much nicer!).
You can buy paper tickets at train stations throughout London. The cost of a return ticket is only slightly more than a one way ticket, so don’t forget to purchase a return trip!
Brighton walking tour itinerary
1. North Laine
Once you arrive in Brighton, start your walking tour in North Laine – an area not far from the train station. The streets around North Laine are lined with totally adorable shops, including boutique fashion and giftwares. We started by walking down Trafalgar Street, then continued down Sydney Street and Gardner Street.
Some of our fave stops were Pelicano Coffee Co. for an oat milk latte, Ju-Ju for some edgy and bright clothing (you might even recognise this store from the British TV series Mary Queen of Shops), and Bird and Blend. Here we had an iced matcha and smelled all the delicious tea blends before purchasing a Rhubarb and Custard Rooibos as a gift for our friends in London.
2. The Lanes
If you continue south of North Laine, you’ll arrive at The Lanes. This area is full of narrow alleyways with tiny stores, most of them focusing on high-end jewellery. I wasn’t particularly interested in shopping throughout this area, but I did love winding my way through the cute lanes without a specific route in mind.
3. The Pier
Brighton Palace Pier is a must-see attraction in Brighton. Stretching out into the ocean from the waterfront, the pier holds an amusement park (much like Santa Monica Pier in LA) and is free to walk around. It’s fairly touristy, but also fun and has a great seaside atmosphere.
We walked all the way out to the end of the pier, which took about 10 minutes, then head back to the shore. If you feel so inclined, you can stop to play an arcade game or jump on one of the rides along the way.
4. The boardwalk
A concrete boardwalk stretches along the beach in Brighton. The term ‘beach’ isn’t quite the right word as this pebble-covered foreshore isn’t really the same as what I would normally refer to as a beach, but hey, it’s still a pleasant place to sit in the sun and watch the waves.
There are plenty of things to do as you walk along the boardwalk from the pier, such as stop for an ice cream, see the nostalgic carousel, and shop for souvenirs.
5. West Pier and i360 tower
As you walk along the boardwalk, you’ll notice the ruins of Brighton’s West Pier standing alone in the ocean. This pier was opened in 1866 and closed in 1975, before it fell into disrepair and was further destroyed by fires in the early 2000s.
At the point where this pier once met the shore, the i360 observation tower now stands. This tourist attraction is 162 metres (531 feet) tall and provides views of Brighton, the nearby city of Hove, and the surrounding coastline. If you’re interested in doing this activity, be sure to purchase your tickets in advance to save some moolah.
6. Queen Street
Make your way back to the train station via Queen Street. If you’ve got time, stop in at Twisted Lemon – an alleyway bar where you can sample a delicious English Mojito with gin. If you’re staying in Brighton overnight and are up for a big night out, book a spot on a Brighton bar crawl to discover all the best bars in the area!