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The Perfect Day Trip To Brighton From London

As the UK’s capital, London is the best-connected city in the country. There are lots of places you can visit in a day from London, and Brighton is one of the easiest.

It also has one of the UK’s most popular beaches, perfect to enjoy with some ice cream and a walk along the water.

It’s a city with lots to see – the Royal Pavillion, Brighton Pier, and The Lanes to name a few. Although you could easily fill up several days in Brighton, if you only have one to spare then this is the best way to spend it. 

So, here is how to make the most of a day trip from London to Brighton. 

Getting To Brighton

The best way to do this day trip will be by train. You could drive to Brighton, however parking can be difficult and expensive. 

Another option is a National Express coach from London Victoria coach station, which is both significantly cheaper and significantly slower than the train.

There are frequent trains to Brighton from London Victoria and London Bridge train stations. Book your ticket in advance using the train company website – it’ll be Gatwick Express from Victoria or Thameslink from London Bridge. 

You can buy train tickets from the station on the day, but you’ll save money by booking your trains in advance. 

Just be careful to make sure you get on the exact train you booked unless you’ve bought an open ticket. Ticket inspectors will issue a fine if you take an earlier or later train without buying a replacement ticket. 

Once you arrive in Brighton, you’ll walk all the way down Queen Street to the beachfront to get started on your day.

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

Where else would we start? 

Brighton is one of the most well-known beaches in the UK, but it does have a twist. It’s a pebble beach rather than sand, so it may not be the most comfortable place to sit for several hours. If you do want to relax on the beach, there are deckchairs you can hire. 

In addition to beautiful views of the English Channel, there are also lots of small shops and bars dotted along the beachfront.

Another option is to go to Brighton i360, a glass pod next to the beach that takes you up 138 metres for views over the water and city. Although personally I’m not sure it’s worth the money, many visitors do enjoy it. If you like views from the sky then you could incorporate this into your day – just book a slot in advance. 

Once you’ve finished exploring the beach, head over to Brighton Pier.

Brighton Palace Pier

Brighton Palace Pier is the city’s most famous attraction, originally built in 1899. You’ll find a range of things to do and places to eat and drink on the pier. 

One of the main draws of the pier is its variety of arcade games. Visitors can try their luck at classic games like pinball and slot machines. In addition to the arcade games, there are also various rides available on the pier including a traditional carousel and a helter skelter.

You can also get the best views of both the city and the water from the pier and it is a popular spot for fishing and sightseeing. 

View of Brighton from the pier

As of May 2024, there is a £1 admission fee to enter the pier, to help cover the maintenance costs. 

The pier’s website is slightly misleading, and if you click on the banner about the admission fee it takes you to a ticket site which implies that you have to buy an expensive wristband. 

Those wristbands are packages for access to the rides, games and a discount on food but they aren’t necessary if you just want to walk along the pier. 

Royal Pavillion

Brighton Royal Pavillion

The Royal Pavilion is another of Brighton’s most popular attractions, developed as a home for King George IV. 

The unusual architecture was designed by John Nash in 1815 and influenced by Indian and Chinese styles. The building was completed in 1823, but only remained in royal hands until 1850, when it was sold to Brighton town in 1850. 

These days it is a beautiful building to visit, with ornate rooms of varying styles to wander through. The gardens are lovely and the Royal Pavillion is an ideal place to enjoy a traditional cream tea. 

There is also a gallery dedicated to the role of the Pavillion as a temporary hospital during World War I, especially for soldiers from India.  

 The Pavilion also hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year, so its a good idea to take a look at their website to see if there is anything extra you would want to do. 

The Lanes

If you feel like doing some shopping, now is the time to head over to the Lanes, so you aren’t carrying your purchases around with you to all the other attractions. 

The Lanes is a small area of narrow pedestrian-only streets between North Street and Prince Albert Street full of shops, restaurants and cafes.

Another good shopping area is the North Laine area of the town, especially Sydney Street. This area is full of arty shops and vintage clothing. 

I spent way too much money in YAK the last time I was there – a shop selling craft supplies and lots of beautiful yarn. 

Sunset at Brighton. There are clouds in the sky tinted pink and orange by the setting sun, and the remains of a pier in the water.
The remains of Brighton’s West Pier at sunset

Evening

Depending on what time of year it is, and whether you have a clear sky, head back down to the beach after dinner for sunset. The last time I was in Brighton I enjoyed viewing one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. 

If you have time before your train home, try one of the beachfront bars for a cocktail as you relax near the water. 

Where To Eat

Brighton has some of the UK’s best vegan and vegetarian restaurants, as well as excellent options for other types of cuisine. 

For lunch, check out Shelter Hall, a food hall with a collection of kitchens serving different foods near the beach. Scan a QR code at your table to order from any of the kitchens and the food will be brought to you. 

For vegetarian and vegan fine dining, head to Terre à Terre. One of my favourite restaurants in Brighton for seafood is Riddle & Finns in The Lanes. Book a table for oysters, lobster, seafood linguine and more. If you prefer a more carnivorous menu, head to Il Bistrot.

Conclusion: Day Trip To Brighton

Hopefully, I’ve now convinced you that Brighton is an excellent choice for a day trip from London. There’s plenty to do and I love the arty, relaxed vibe that Brighton has to offer (as well as the seafood!).

If you are staying in London for a few days, have a look at the best places to stay in London to help you plan your trip. I also have guides to the best things to do in London and what the city is famous for

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