Brighton is one of the most vibrant and livable cities on the south coast of the United Kingdom. An easy train ride from central London, it’s the perfect place to escape the hectic capital and enjoy the seaside. As it’s known for being a walkable city with a thriving arts scene, famous coffee culture, and a variety of daily activities and nightlife all nestled between South Downs National Park and the English Channel, Brighton is truly a slice of paradise.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular areas for visitors to discover. And don’t worry — there’s a little something for everyone.
A centerpiece of Brighton, the Seafront is probably the city’s most recognizable area. Home to the Brighton Pier, the i360 observation platform (one of the highest in Europe!), and long stretches of wonderful pebble beach, this should be the first stop for any visitor to the city. As it’s separated from the main town by a host of great bars and small souvenir and art shops, this area promises to give you a true taste of Brighton life. Rent a paddle-board and head off around the pier or grab a deck chair and simply relax by the water — no matter what you decide to do, you’re bound to enjoy the seaside. By night, this area also boasts much of Brighton’s nightlife, so be sure head down as the sun sets if you’re looking for some late-night fun.
With a network of cobbled alleyways lined with boutiques of all trades, cozy bars, and upscale restaurants, the South Lanes are worth exploring. Built during the 18th century, the neighborhood bears the antique charm of its historic past. Narrow passages lead into quaint squares where you’ll find hidden gems and countless things to do. Within these maze-like alleyways, shoppers will even find renowned brands like Dr. Martens next to independent, locally owned stores like Our Daily Edit. The South Lanes is an absolute must for sightseers and photographers, as there’s so much to discover around each and every corner!
The North Lanes offers a bit of a quirkier atmosphere compared to its southern counterpart. These side streets buzz with tourists and locals alike, all bustling in and out of the neighborhood’s eclectic array of stores. There, you’ll also find a plethora of trendy bars and cafés that are suitable for all diets and preferences, as vegetarian cafeterias like Idyea coexist with more carnivore-friendly restaurants like Meat Liquor. With colorful graffiti, brightly painted shopfronts, and vibrant wares, the North Lanes are the preferred shopping district for locals. While there, visitors should check out the famous antique bazaar Snoopers Paradise, where you’ll find a vast collection of bric-a-brac and treasures from decades gone by.
Queen’s Park encompasses a predominantly residential neighborhood lined with Brighton’s iconic painted regency houses. Starting at St. James Street, it stretches across the eastern slope of the valley that Brighton is nestled within. Named after a beautiful Victorian park in London, Queen’s Park features sprawling green spaces, tennis courts, a large pond, quiet gardens, and a playground for children. In the surrounding streets, you’ll also find traditional cheap and cheerful English pubs such as the Islingword or the Constant Service. The neighborhood that the park is situated in is ideal for escaping the busy Brighton city center for a picnic in the park or a wander through one of the city’s prettiest areas.
The Level is an open park that sits at the heart of Brighton’s residential areas. With a state-of-the-art skatepark, a children’s play area, and flattened green spaces, the Level brings together a wide cross-section of Brightonians. From the grounds, you can easily access the popular shopping hub of London Road, an open-air marketplace housing independent retailers called the Open Market, and the pubs and cafés of residential Hanover. In the summertime, the Level hosts circuses, carnivals, and day festivals, and in between such events, it’s a meeting point between Brighton’s various neighborhoods.
Located east of Brighton Pier and stretching up to the Marina, Kemptown is by far one of Brighton’s most popular neighborhoods. In addition to sitting at the heart of the city’s LGBTQ culture, it also features a collection of quaint cafés, bars, boutiques, and bakeries that make it a great place to absorb some of Brighton’s local flavor. Toward the city center, you’ll find the Pavillon, a royal pleasure house turned museum that is now a famous Brighton landmark. In between Kemptown’s side streets, be sure to explore the area’s well-kept green squares, relax, and enjoy the weather of the U.K.’s sunniest city.
Wherever you find yourself in Brighton, you’re sure to have a blast. With its truly unique local scenes and lively atmosphere, there is a pocket of this city for everyone. Cheers!