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Brighton is wonderful, aside from London it is my favourite place in England. A quirky place with a very open mindset and a haven of independent businesses, it also has a classic British seaside complete with a funfair on the pier. I have spent hours getting lost in the treasure trove of shops and filled up my stomach many times in the many restaurants and cafes that fill the streets. It is a town filled with colour and good vibes.
Being easily accessible by train, it is a Brighton day trip from London is simple and not too expensive. Being a beach day, a day trip to Brighton is most popular in the summer, however, due to the wealth of things to do, I think a Brighton trip from London is a great option during winter as well.
Planning a Brighton Day Trip From London By Train
How far is Brighton from London by Train?
In Central London, the train to Brighton starts at London Victoria. There are quick trains and slightly slower trains (cheaper train fare), the quick train takes 56 minutes to get to Brighton, whereas the slower train takes 1 hour 24 minutes.
Over 90 trains run daily between London and Brighton making it easily accessible as a day trip. Trains depart from London from early in the morning and run back to London until around 11 pm (often later on the weekend).
To ensure the cheapest return train fare, buy your ticket in advance from Trainline.com. By purchasing your ticket in advance you will be able to a same-day return ticket for a lower price than buying it from the station on the day, on Trainline.com I have found return train tickets from London to Brighton for as little as £8 per adult.
The longer train (1 hour 24 minutes) will always be slightly cheaper than the fast train and you will save additional money by travelling ‘off-peak‘. Off-Peak meanings travelling after 9 am on a weekday.
On arrival in Brighton by train, you will arrive at Brighton Railway Station, which is located at the top of the city and roughly a 20-minute walk from the sea-front. The seafront and town centre is well signposted and easy to find.
Is a day trip to Brighton enough?
Although Brighton is a classed as a city, the size is of no comparison to London, I do think it is possible to see most of Brighton in one day. The main draw of a day trip from London to Brighton, for most people, is the beach. I personally would plan to arrive in Brighton early to spend the morning in the town, afternoon at the beach and then an evening on the pier, before heading back to London around 9 pm. This will allow you a fair amount of time to see Brighton’s highlights as well as have time to relax as well. A day trip to Brighton is a great addition to a London itinerary.
If you did want to further extend your trip from London to Brighton, you could make your way further along the costs to places such as Hove and Arundel.
Top Things To Do On a Brighton Day Trip
Shop independent in The Lanes
As I already mentioned The Brighton Lanes are filled with many independent shops as well as many coffee shops and lunch stops. Whether you are looking for a one-off outfit from one of the boutique clothes stores or a quirky gift for a friend, you will be sure to find it in the Lanes area of Brighton.
You could easily spend a few hours in this part of the town so try to ensure you allocate a fair amount of time for here. Aside from the independent shops in Brighton, the city also has all the standard high street stores and a shopping centre as well. While it may not be an obvious choice, a day trip from London to Brighton for shopping is a good option.
If you want to get a real feel for the city but need to avoid a lot of walking, then you can book tickets for the hop-on-hop-off tour bus. The Brighton City Sightseeing Tour will give you a flavour of the city and has a thoroughly entertaining commentary with fascinating facts and figures that even some of the locals don’t know!
The Tour takes in many highlights including the Pier, The Lanes, Royal Pavilion, Marina and the main shopping areas. One of the main stops is the train station – perfect for when you arrive by train from London.
Find your smile in a laughter workshop
Laughter energises, relaxes, calms and connects.
Brighton is known for being quirky and cheerful, so when I was there I took part in a laughter workshop. A laughter workshop is quite literally an hour of laughing and being silly, you start by practising a fake laugh and by the end of it, you will literally be on the floor belly laughing over nothing.
It was an odd experience but a positive one, and one I recommend taking in as part of a group of friends. Go in open-minded and let go of all your stresses of the week.
Go on a street art hunt
I am a big street art fan, so I love going on a hunt for bright coloured walls and Brighton has no shortage of them.
From the more light-hearted Adventure Time murals in the Lanes to those with a bit more meaning like the Save Lolita wall, the walls of Brighton tell many stories and share the hearts of the people of Brighton.
Spend your spare change on the pier
No day trip to Brighton would be complete without a trip to the arcades, so be sure to head down to the pier and waste some spare change. Brighton Pier is a staple of traditional British culture and a must for anyone visiting Brighton from abroad.
The pier also has various funfair rides, they can work out expensive individually, however, you can save money by purchasing all-day wristbands for unlimited rides.
See the city from above
Visit British Airways i360 and enjoy a smooth ride up 138 metres in a futuristic glass viewing pod. Take in panoramic views of Brighton and the South Coast.
This is a great way to really take in the stretch of the British coastline, however, it is recommended you book your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines. With most attractions, I usually buy through Get Your Guide, not only are they reliable and easy to use, I find them very competitivity priced.
Take in a show at Proud Cabaret
If you are looking for some evening entertainment book yourself a table at Proud Cabaret for an evening of entertainment and burlesque dancing. Alongside the show, you will also be treated to a three-course meal (set menu) and a cocktail, alongside a great atmosphere and good company.
Again, this is not something I would have booked to do myself, but now I would completely recommend it for a fun night out that is a bit different.
Visit the Royal Pavillion
Explore the exotic palace in the centre of Brighton with a colourful history. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, this historic house mixes Regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China.
The Royal Pavilion has a colourful history stretching back 200 years. Built as the seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, it has also served as a civic building, First World War hospital, and has become an icon of Brighton.
Book tickets to explore the staterooms inside as well as learn the history through a guided audio tour. It is also possible to book afternoon tea overlooking the grounds of the Royal Pavillion.
If you are Harry Potter enthusiast like myself, you will want to head to Oliver’s, a small purple shop located on the edge of the lanes which inside looks like Olivander’s Wand Shop.
Alongside the wands is all the Harry Potter merchandise you could ever ask for, it is a wonderful shop that took me right back to the Wizarding World but it is also very popular so it can be a bit of a squeeze inside.
Take an evening bike ride tour
If you are looking for something to do in the evening in Brighton, then why not explore at twilight by bike. This 1-hour 30-minute tour is a liberating way to discover Brighton before dinner, or an evening out. Take a leisurely bike ride visiting iconic landmarks, through Brighton’s colourful past to the present. Discover the real history of Brighton. There are many stops along the way, and a great chance to take some haunting photos!
Highlights of your tour will include: The Royal Pavilion Palace, Brighton beach, The Brighton Dome, The Level, Graffiti adorned backstreets, The Lanes, St. Peters church, North Laine area, Brighton seafront, The Grand Hotel, The West Pier, The Brighton Pier, The British Airways i360 and more!
Go to the beach
No day trip from London to Brighton is complete without spending time on the beach. While it may not be a sandy beach (pebbles only!), during a spring or summer day trip, Brighton Beach can still be beautiful. Bring a blanket, suncream before grabbing a portion of chips to eat on the seafront.
Be aware that during a British heatwave the beach can get extremely busy, therefore, it is advisable to arrive early.
Go on a Gin Distillery Tour
Meet the makers of small-batch, premium Brighton Gin with a behind-the-scenes tour of the distillery close to Hove Lagoon (exact location will be confirmed after booking). Find out more about the history of craft gin, how Brighton Gin started on a kitchen table by the seaside and the processes and botanicals we use to create Brighton’s favourite tipple today.
Get stuck in with a hands-on experience of Brighton Gin’s production process by waxing your own bottle top, sample a gin tasting at the minibar and take home a little treat to boot
Top places to eat in Brighton
11A Market Street, Brighton
No surprise what this restaurant sells and with that it does not disappoint, in fact, I am not sure I have seen a TripAdvisor rating this good for a long time.
53 Meeting House Ln, Brighton
If you are looking for something a bit more upmarket then 64 Degrees will be the one for you. Based on the concept of ‘social dining’ you have given the opportunity to get to know your chef while your dishes are created.
Infinity Food Cafe
50 Gardner St, North Laine
If you are Vegan you will be spoilt for choice during your day trip to Brighton, the city is a hub of organic and vegan cafes and restaurants. Personally, I recommend Infinity food for a wholesome healthy fresh meal.
A day trip from London to Brighton by train is extremely popular for tourists visiting the UK. It also one I fully recommend, in order to see an alternative to London and for the opportunity to take in an English coastline. I hope you enjoy these recommendations for things to do in Brighton.
Remember to check out train times as well as book your tickets to Brighton in advance through Trainline.com in order to get the best price. Trains run frequently but again remember to travel after 9 am to avoid higher prices during commuting hours.