|Brighton rises from the glittering seafront to
the protective South Downs, with Beachy Head to the east and Worthing
Point to the west, basking in one of the sunniest climates in the country.
Brighton is often described as "London-by-the-sea", but this
moniker does not do it justice. Brighton is about freedom. There is the
obvious freedom provided by the wealth of leisure and entertainment
facilities - the interweaving streets are lined with original and
atmospheric bars, clubs and restaurants, and during the summer the beach
front attains a festival-like ambience on a daily basis.
However, if you take a closer look beyond the hedonistic pleasures that Brighton has to offer, an astonishing diversity, warmth and sense of community shines through. There is real freedom here through expression of individuality, tolerance of different ways of life, and an invigorating entrepreneurial spirit. Brighton residents are invariably welcoming and fun-loving and visitors soon feel at home. Whatever your interest, be it sport, theatre, eating out, clubbing or just strolling down the promenade taking it all in, Brighton will not let you go away disappointed.
This guide is set out as a kind of walking tour. This is purely to represent Brighton as the connected whole that it is, rather than a collection of artificial areas. It is not meant to be literally walked in one go, unless you are in training for a marathon. Deviate at will; there is not enough room to fit in all the good stuff.
Hitting the beach
Brighton train station is as good a place to start exploring as any, with many visitors arriving here with no idea where to go. The answer is obvious of course - to the beach! So head straight out of the station and down the hill. This is Queens Road, and its best attraction is The Tamarind Tree, a terrific Carribean restaurant. Veering off the road east would take you into the heart of the North Laine and on toward Kemp Town; west to the residential areas of Seven Dials, Montpelier and eventually Hove, but there's plenty of time for all that. You will soon arrive at a crossroads, centred around Brighton Clock Tower.
Shopaholics will spy Churchill Square shopping centre to their right, but the sea is now clearly visible straight on, so keep going. Over the Clock Tower the road becomes West Street, and to the east now is the entry to The Lanes. Lovers of shamelessly commercial dance music take note of the Paradox club to the left and the Event II on the right. Also on the right is the multi-screen Odeon Cinema. But now the sea is at your fingertips, so cross the road and drink in the view.
To the east lies Brighton Pier (formerly Palace Pier), all winking lights, funfair rides, candyfloss and cheeky good times. Above Brighton Pier look out for the acclaimed Sealife Centre. To the west the battered yet beautiful West Pier represents the elegance, decadence and rich cultural diversity of this seaside town. Drop down onto the seafront between the piers and explore. If the sun is out it should be pretty lively. There are the volleyball and basketball courts, the paddling pool and the petanque piste for those looking for activity. There may be a band playing al fresco at The Ellipse.
For a drink try The Beach, Gemini Beach Bar or the Fortune of War. Hungry? Try Alfresco, the Cook and Fiddle or the brand new Boardwalk. For cultural points of interest, visit the Fishing Museum, the Seafront Artists' Quarter with its open galleries and shops, and the marvellous Penny Slot Museum under Brighton Pier. Above all, walk, relax and take it all in.
You can walk west along the promenade all the way to Hove Lagoon and
beyond. Walking to the east takes in the varied delights of the electric
powered Volk's Railway, the Concorde 2 venue and the Naturist Beach. Keep
going and you will get to Brighton Marina and you can continue on an
If this all sounds too energetic, then why not head for the shops, swiftly followed by the bars.
The Town Centre
Brighton is the one of the best places to shop, eat and drink in the world. I have no statistics to support this, but it is an unshakeable personal belief. Start back at the Clock Tower. Directly west is Western Road, which is home to most of the major chains: Marks & Spencer's, The Gap, HMV and Oddbins to name a few. It also contains Churchill Square, a superior shopping centre whose highlights include Border's Books and Music, Virgin Megastore and Habitat.
Adjacent to Churchill Square is the Western Front, a landmark in Brighton bar culture. On the way down Western Road check out the Pull and Pump pub, sample fine French cuisine at La Fourchette or wander down Preston Street for a drink at Skid Row and a mex-tex feast at Dig In the Ribs. Take a right at Montpelier Road and walk up the hill. Turning right at almost any point will take you into residential streets containing some of Brighton's loveliest houses. Montpelier Villas, in particular, is a must see. Carry on up the hill until you reach the Seven Dials roundabout. A sharp right will take you onto Dyke Road and two great restaurants in the Tin Drum and Little Buddha.
Walk down Dyke Road and you will return to the Clock Tower. Now turn east down, confusingly, North Street. A short way down is Ship Street on the right. This is a good place to enter The Lanes area. Packed with bars, restaurants and shops (with antique dealers and jewellers a speciality), all I can say here is explore - there is too much good stuff to mention. Don't miss the Cricketer's pub, Food for Friends and Terre a Terre veggie restaurants and Casablanca nightclub.
Back on to North Street, continue down the hill and turn left at Bond Street. This brings you into the North Laine area. This is Brighton's "alternative" area and is even more chock-a-block with goodies. Komedia arts centre has loads of great attractions, Wai Kika Moo Kau is a top lunch destination and the Mash Tun is an essential Brighton bar.
Returning once again to North Street, head down to its foot and to your left you will find the stunning Royal Pavilion. Walk through the grounds and see what's on at the Dome Theatre, and out the other side to Brighton Museum and Art Gallery on Church Street.
Hove, Kemp Town and North Brighton
The above is the Brighton most visitors see. There is so much to do in this central area that many do not venture further afield, but they are missing a lot. Hove boasts some of the area's most magnificent architecture; you simply must visit Brunswick Square and Palmeira Square. It is also home to Sussex County Cricket ground and some great restaurants: try Saucy and Aumthong Thai.
In north Brighton, you should try and squeeze in a visit to the Duke of York's Cinema, stroll through Preston Park and take either Dyke Road or Ditchling Road up to the top of the South Downs.
Do also try and explore Kemp Town. There is so much great Regency era architecture and a community spirit that epitomises Brighton life as much as anywhere alongside a few more bars, restaurants and shops.
This is the tip of the iceberg. The best thing to do is get a map of the area (free ones are available from Brighton Tourist Information Centre in Bartholomew Square) and trawl through this wonderful website! Check out the Where to Stay guide and book yourself in for a week; you'll have the time of your life.
|Avg. Precip.||3.1 in||2.0 in||2.4 in||2.1 in||2.2 in||2.2 in||1.8 in||2.2 in||2.7 in||2.9 in||3.0 in||3.1 in|
Fahrenheit temperature scale is used.