For quick-to-eat food on the street try Brighton’s Street Diner market. Our favourite stalls include the Little Blue Smoke House (@littlebluesmoke) for meat and Beelzebab (@Beelzebab666) for vegan kebabs and hot dogs (so Brighton, but so good). For something heftier try the Troll’s Pantry burgers (@thetrollspantry).
They are, without question, the best in Brighton (and we’ve eaten plenty); the Stinky Breath burger is top of the game – expect a 35-day-aged 1/3lb steak patty, St Giles cheese, smoked garlic mayo, stinky sauce and home-made pickles and buns. Stockpile your chewing gum.
Tucked away in the lanes, 64 Degrees is a small, open-kitchen option with award-winning food including kimchi and blue cheese wings (64degrees.co.uk). Spice things up with regional Indian food at the acclaimed Chilli Pickle (thechillipickle.com), and cool your mouth afterwards with kitsch artisan ice cream from Gelato Gusto (gelatogusto.com).
Its onsite lab churns out flavours including Sea Salt Caramel and Syrup Sponge Pudding (they may sound odd, but owner Jon Adams trained at the University of Gelato in Bologna, Italy, so he knows what he’s up to).
Brighton has a booming coffee culture; research by the University of Stirling and Greggs (don’t lol) has shown the city’s residents spend an average of £177 a year on the stuff; that’s £25 more per head than Londoners. To settle your cravings, head to the Cyclist for cute 1940s-style decor (thecyclistbrighton.co.uk), Pelicano for coffee with a side of cakes (@Pelicanocoffee) and Presuming Ed for a hipster vibe (presuming-ed.com). If tea’s your poison, the kitsch Blackbird Tea Rooms is a good place for cream tea in old china cups (blackbirdtearooms.com).
Shuffle Bar is a fun option where drinkers can select tunes from the jukebox via their smartphones
Not your style? You might prefer the Caribbean vibes in the Cocktail Shack – a den for dub, ska, reggae and (rum) cocktails (cocktailshackbrighton.co.uk). More sophisticated visitors should try Plateau wine bar (@PlateauBrighton) for natural wine, epic sharing plates and a top cocktail menu, while Shuffle Bar – a newish addition in the up-and-coming London Road area – is a fun option where drinkers can select tunes from the jukebox via their smartphones (@theshufflebar).
Dead Wax Social, a bar for “those of us that are done with digital”, offers a different perspective – a temple to vinyl culture and craft beer. Bring your own vinyl and they’ll play them for you (@DeadWaxSocial).
For lairy interiors and a laugh, book into Hotel Pelirocco (hotelpelirocco.co.uk) – England’s sauciest and most rock’n’roll hotel, according to, well, them. It is cool though: 19 rooms are kitted out with themes ranging from reggae to Motown (although the Sex Pistols-inspired double is an escapism favourite).
Swankier options include Drakes on the seafront – take a dip in your freestanding bath while watching the seagulls, just like Woody Allen when he stayed (drakesofbrighton.com). My Brighton, in the busy North Laine area, offers fresh and modern interiors in entry level rooms, with some glammed-up suites on offer, too (myhotels.com).
For a local experience try an Airbnb rental: the site is rammed full of rentable rooms to rival the chicest boutique hotel (airbnb.co.uk).
Standing outside the Royal Pavilion,you’d think you were somewhere far more exotic than Brighton. The domed structure was originally built as a seaside playground palace for George IV, but nowadays the 19th-century Indian-style pavilion is a good place to stroll for crazy-grand architecture.
Standing outside the Royal Pavilion,you’d think you were somewhere far more exotic than Brighton
Don’t leave without visiting the newly restored music room, with its silk curtains, domed ceilings and nine very opulent, lotus-shaped chandeliers. It’s also worth stopping for a look in the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery (it sits in the gardens of the palace) for the the Images of Brighton exhibition, which offers a journey through the city’s history (brightonmuseums.org.uk).
Visit the city between 25-27 September for Brighton Art Fair, an event that showcases the work of 100 of the the best contemporary artists from the UK and abroad – expect paintings, sculptures and photography to combine under the roof of the Dome Corn Exchange (brightonartfair.co.uk).
Later in the year in the same venue is the MADE Brighton craft fair, a chance to buy original and exceptional pieces of jewellery, textiles, ceramics and home accessories over 20-22 November (brighton-made.co.uk).
For a different kind of art, check out Brighton’s thriving graffiti scene, including the famous musicians mural on the side of the Prince Albert Pub and the government-backed mural on Kensington Street (the Visit Brighton website has a handy, downloadable map of other good graffiti locations).
Obviously you must go on the rides at Brighton Pier. It’s £20 for a whole-day wristband, but if you only have time for one make sure it’s the Crazy Mouse – an old-school combination of a rollercoaster mixed with the waltzers.
Slow the pace with a two-hour bike tour, learning about Brighton’s evolution from an ancient fishing village, to a health resort in the 18th century to today’s trendy beach town (@brightonsports).
Then soak up the easygoing vibe with a walk around the city’s historic narrow lanes, ducking into coffee shops, boutiques and tattoo parlours. Why the heck not?!
There are indie shops aplenty in Brighton – wander the lanes and you’ll find a tonne. The Snooper’s Attic in North Laine is an all-in-one market, art space and workshop featuring the goods of more than 20 clothing and jewellery designers (snoopersattic.co.uk).
Wolf and Gypsy Vintage features an equally eclectic mix of items – walk from its shopfront down Sydney Street and you’ll find plenty of other similarly inclined options (wolfandgypsyvintage.co.uk). The Victorian West Pier Arches, once home to slot machines and pinball, now house indie craft shops with views of the sea.
Need to know
For more food, drink and activity suggestions check out Visit Brighton (visitbrighton.com; @Love_Brighton). Travel with Southern Railway from London to Brighton from £26 return, book with the Train Line; thetrainline.com.
Over at South Lanes check out Our Daily Edit, a menswear and womenswear store stocking the latest and emerging contemporary designers (ourdailyedit.com).