Solo Travel in Brighton
Brighton is a fantastic place for solo travellers. It is quite small so it is very easy to get around. You can walk most places and it feels quite safe. If you want to meet others there are a large number of activities that are easily accessible – and often linked to enjoying your time in Brighton.
Avoid the lower promenade in the evening when by yourself. Choose accommodation as close as you can to the Lanes and North Laines. This is the area where you will most likely be in the evening so make sure it is easy to get back to where you are staying and that any walking will be done in a busy area.
Stay 1 or 2 nights if you would like to explore the South Downs and/or do some of the more adventurous activities listed in the guide. Brighton is a perfect day trip from London. Plan to arrive about 10am and leave around 4pm.
Did You Know?
That Brighton is the unofficial LGBT capital of the UK? It holds one of the biggest Pride festivals in the UK, often attracting more than 160,000 people.
Brighton is the quintessential English sea side town. It is only one hour by train from central London making it one of the easiest and loveliest day trips you can take from London. The city centres around the seafront and the shopping and dining area known as The Lanes and North Laine. Brighton is known for its slightly alternative and innovative independent restaurants and shops.
Brighton and nearby Hove merged to become one city in 2000. Hove is Brighton’s slightly quieter neighbor and it is here that you will see the famous beach huts and the best collection of Regency Architecture. Nearby Rottingdean is also worth a visit.
The city is quite compact and can easily be explored on foot. The key tourism sights of the Pavilion, Brighton Pier and the British Airways i360 are an easy stroll from each other. You will also find fish and chips restaurants at least every 500 metres as well as extremely appealing bakeries!
There are any activities available for those seeking something more active. From the many local yoga studios to sea kayaking to walking the lovely South Downs you can work off the calories of those delicious meals during the day!
In terms of accommodation there is a huge variety to choose from – upmarket youth hostels, typically british bed & breakfasts, boutique hotels, rock n roll hotels – you name it Brighton has it!
You can get through the main sights in Brighton in a day trip from London. But to explore a bit more and experience the real Brighton look to stay 1-2 nights – you won’t regret it!
Brighton has a great tourism website that is well worth checking out before you go.
48 hours in Brighton
Hop on a train down to Brighton out of London Victoria. Once you arrive head to Grow 40 for a late morning coffee and some brunch.
Wander over to the stunning Royal Pavilion and marvel at the eastern style stunning architecture in this typical british seaside town. Enjoy the garden in front of the main entrance – this is great in the foreground of photos! Make sure you walk around the back of the Pavilion as well for some different styles of photographs.
Once you have had your fill head to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery which is conveniently located nearly next door to the Pavilion. After exploring the museum and its great gift shop walk down to the seafront and grab some fish and chips at The Regency for a late lunch.
Walk off your fish and chips by strolling down the seafront to Hove and checking out the famous beach huts and some of the Regency architecture on Brunswick Square.
Walk back to Brighton Pier. Wander down the pier and try your hand at some of the amusement parlors and get some old fashioned photos. If you have any room grab some cotton candy.
Then head to the nearby Tempest Inn to watch the sunset with a drink. Grab an Indian after at the modern Indian Summer restaurant in the Lanes.
The next morning head to The Flour Pot for some great coffee and breakfast. Then spend the next couple of hours exploring the Lanes and North Laines. Don’t miss Snoopers Paradise for every type of vintage article you could imagine. Combine this with checking out some of Brighton’s street art – most of which is located in the Lanes.
Hire a bike and cycle down to Rottingdean. Have a wander around Rudyard Kipling’s home town then grab some authentic fish and chips at Smuggler’s and eat it sitting on the beach. Cycle back to Brighton and hire a couple of stripy deck chairs and have a well earnt rest in the sun.
Once rested join a Brighton Bar Crawl or head to one of Brighton’s wine bars for a tasting. If you’re not much of a drinker finish off with a lovely dinner sitting outside at Brighton’s newest restaurant Pascere. If it is a big night I’ll leave you to find some late night snacks in the Lanes!
Top 5 Sightseeing For Solos
This stunning building looks like someone went to Istanbul and cut and pasted one of its buildings into Brighton! Architect John Nash turned this seaside palace into one of Britains’ most famous buildings. There are furnishings and works of art inside – as well as some lovely tea rooms. However the building itself is the star so this is one place you could save some money on (eg don’t go inside) and still capture the essence of the experience.
Cost = Entry fee – £13 – 10% reduction if purchased online ahead of time.
Time = 2 hours
2. The Lanes and North Laine
These lovely little streets are the heart of Brighton. They are populated with shops, galleries, markets, pop ups, restaurants, bars, vintage shops etc. They do tend towards more independent owners in the heart of the Lanes which makes for lots of interesting shops and food experiences.
Cost = Free.
Time = 2-3 hours depending on how much of a shopper you are!
You cannot leave Brighton without having a walk down the iconic Brighton Pier! Every sense will be assaulted by the smell of the sea, the sound of the fair, the many amusements – all served at high volume! Have a game of Dolphin Derby and/or try one of the rides. Don’t forget to get a photo where you stick your head through one of the classic beachside frames.
Cost = Free.
Time = depending on whether or not you purchase amusements! 1-2 hours.
4. Clifftop walk between Brighton pier and Rottingdean
There are 2 options on how to walk along this beautiful path. You can take the clifftop walk for more spectacular scenery or you can walk along the beachfront to savour the smells and sounds of the sea. The white cliffs are very photogenic.
Cost = Free.
Time = 90 minutes to walk or hire a bike and cycle there in 30 minutes.
5. Brighton Beach
Having said you cannot leave Brighton without walking down the pier I am going to have to add in the same for Brighton Beach! The first thing to know about Brighton Beach is that even though it is called a beach it does not have any sand – it has pebbles so you definitely want shoes! It also means there is a booming business in renting out deck chairs etc as lying on pebbles is not a comfortable experience!
You can either walk along the beach – there is an easy path that is dotted with bars, museums and restaurants – or stop and enjoy the beach
Cost = Free to enjoy, Item hire starts at £2.50.
Time = Minimum is 30 minutes if you’re in a rush – could be all afternoon if it’s a nice day!
Escape the crowds – by visiting Brighton mid week or by spending some time in nearby Hove. Head towards Church Road for shopping and some great cafes and restaurants in Hove.
Lose yourself – in the Lanes and North Laine. These lovely streets can be explored for hours. Or once you’ve visited the Pavilion and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery have a wander and a relax in the beautifully tended Royal Pavilion Gardens.
Get a Great View
- On the clifftop walk between Brighton Pier and Rottingdean
- Visit one of the pubs along the seafront for sunset views over the Pier and the burnt down Pier. The aptly named The Setting Sun is a good option!
- Head up the British Airways i360 for amazing views over Brighton and the English Channel
- Rottingdean Hill provides great views of the Brighton City Scape.
Interact with the locals – by having a drink! Head to one of the many wine bars in the Lanes – locals and tourists alike all frequent the many restaurants and bars in the area.
Places to enjoy the sun – Brighton Beach and a deck chair is the most obvious option. However, it does get crowded so jump on a bike or have a big walk and head to Rottingdean or to Hove for some more beach room.
Pubs line the seafront particularly near Brighton Pier. Most have outdoor drinking areas that are perfect for enjoying the sun.
As a solo traveler you could easily give Brighton Marina a miss. It has a lot of restaurants but they are all chain restaurants you could find anywhere in the UK. There isn’t a lot there. It is probably a good spot if you have kids but as a solo traveler I would spend my time around the Laines
The Volks Railway is a small railway that runs along the seafront from Brighton Pier to Rottingdean. It is currently closed for repairs but due to reopen August 2017.
- Try some sea kayaking and/or canoeing with BK Kayaking from 40 pounds
- Enjoy the beach with some beach volleyball. Yellowave beach sports has 6 courts and a café! Prices start with a one hour lesson for £5.50.
- Or why not try some stand up paddle boarding with Brighton water sports?
- Brighton is a fantastic spot for the arty GatG! Let’s start with its vibrant Street Art scene. You can do a guided tour – but why not use the fantastic guide that Brighton Tourism has done to find the best street art and explore Brighton at the same time?
- Galleries are everywhere in Brighton – particularly in the Lanes and North Laine and along the sea front.
- The Brighton Museum and Art Gallery cover an eclectic mix of art.
- For photographers head down to the Hove beach hut for some shots.
- Brighton Pier is free to stroll.
- Walk from Brighton Pier to Rottingdean
- Wander the Lanes
- Visit the Street Art using the Brighton Tourism guide.
Brighton is famous for its wonderful examples of Regency Architecture. The streets around Brunswick Square, Hove have some of the best examples as does the Royal Crescent in Brighton.
Check out the Duke of York Picture House, an art house cinema where you can enjoy a glass of wine with your movie in a beautiful art deco style building. It lays claim to being the oldest continuously running cinema in Britain. The cinema is in the Lanes and easy to spot as it has a pair of Can Can legs jutting out from the building!
The Theatre Royal in the Lanes has many big theatrical productions. Many west end shows have a run down here. Make sure you check online ahead of your trip to get the best tickets and deals.
Brighton loves a festival! Here are some of the key ones:
- Brighton Festival – 3 weeks in May.
- Brighton Fringe – May.
- Kemp Town Carnival – June and free.
- St Ann’s Well Gardens Spring Festival – May and free.
- Brighton Naked Bike Ride!
- The Beach of the zombies zombie march – October.
- Gay Pride – August.
- The Royal Pavilion is the key history must see in Brighton. Brighton also has other historic buildings such as Preston Manor, a typical Edwardian Country House where collections are on show
- A little further from Brighton in distance is the Bloomsbury style home Charleston. The house also has a permanent collection as well as hosting exhibitions relevant to the era
- Brighton also has several churches with St Joseph’s being perhaps the most impressive from an architectural point of view.
South Downs National Park is a bus ride from Brighton. This beautiful area is perfect for a long walk or off road cycling. For solo GATGs local company So Sussex runs guided activities in the countryside. You can do anything from fishing to cycling to walking – all of which can be combined with some delicious local food!
If you’re after something a bit different why not give Mackerel Fishing a shot?
The Lanes and North Laines are a shopper’s paradise! They are particularly good if you like to find new and interesting independent shops.
Snoopers Paradise is a treasure trove of vintage goodies. You could get lost in here! It is quite a big store and take a watch as you could easily lose all track of time! https://snoopers-paradise.com/
Or try one of the UK’s last standing fragrance houses the wonderfully named Pecksniffs Fragrance House. https://www.pecksniffs.com/brighton-boutique
The area is also known for its selection of adult shops! She said Erotic Boutique is on the more female end of the spectrum here – more appropriate for a GATG! https://www.shesaidboutique.com/
Finally Brighton has such a sweet tooth and some fantastic store that are all about treats. The two best to try are Roly’s Fudge Pantry and the fabulously named ChoccyWoccyDoodah.
There are many many yoga studios in Brighton and most allow drop ins. Wander the lanes and you will come across loads of them – and you won’t go wrong with Yoga Haven http://www.yogahaven.co.uk/brighton-hove/yoga
The 2 best wine bars in town are:
Both hold regular wine tastings – another great way to meet people.
Have a Tourist Moment – on the British Airways i360 to get some great photos.
Don’t have much time? Head to the beach and see Brighton Pier, walk to the Pavilion and circle it but don’t go inside and then grab a quick bite in the Lanes.
Where to wear your heels – Brighton doesn’t have many occasions where you need to wear your heels. You could pretty much wear flip flops anywhere! But heading to a nice wine bar in the Lanes or to one of Brighton’s top restaurants will let you justify packing them!
Tours in Brighton
From heritage & culture tours Brighton Blue Badge Guides is a good option for a walking tour in Brighton – they conform to a national standard and offer different tours.
Where to Meet Others
Brighton is filled with opportunities to meet others! Here are a few options:
- 1. Head to the St James pub which runs the Brighton Rum Club. They hold tastings which are a great way to meet people. And they have a Thai restaurant on the premises!
- 2. The Office has 40 different gins to try and a pub quiz.
- 3. If you’re looking to combine wellness and meeting people Brighton has its own wellness meet up group.
- 4. Take one of the walking or cycling tours mentioned above – a great way to meet other tourists and even locals sometimes!
What To Do In The Evenings
- Cocktails at The Shuffle Bar. Not only can you get a fantastic cocktail here you can also play your own music! You can access the Shuffle jukebox through your smart phone.
- Head down to the beach and hit some a couple of pubs where you can watch the sunset. The Tempest Inn and the Fortune of War are next to each other bar a fish and chip shop in the middle! Both have great views of the sea front and channel. For solo travellers The Tempest Inn is the nicer option of the two and probably the best place to start.
- Surprisingly Brighton does not have many rooftop bars! If you’re after that kind of view then head to Bohemia.
- If you are after somewhere Quirkier try Dead Wax Social.
- Or for something a bit more upmarket try out a wine tasting at the wonderfully named Ten Green Bottles.
The Green Door Store under the train station. This late night venue features live music – check and book ahead.
Try the On the Rocks Bar crawl if you are looking for a big night out and to meet other people. You’ll go to 5 bars and get 5 shots. The crawl runs Friday and Saturday nights. Pre book online for the best deal – only 10 pounds.
Where to Eat and Drink
Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch:
Most of the accommodation options in the area will have breakfast included in their overnight price. But you may need a top up and you will definitely need a spot of lunch!
The Lanes and North Laine are heaven for cute coffee and cake shops. So many great looking places! Here are 3 of my favourites:
1. Pelicano – the cakes are AMAZING! Oozing salted caramel and so many good things going on. They don’t do any savoury items on the menu so this is a cake and coffee specific location!
2. Grow 40 – a fantastic breakfast and in my view the best coffee in Brighton! I highly recommend the sausage sandwich! They also do lunch and dinner and the restaurant is very atmospheric – there is even a wine snug upstairs which could be a good solo spot!
3. Flour Pot Bakery – another super cute spot for breakfast, lunch and cake.
For great vegetarian food head into the Lanes and Terre a Terre. Next to Terre a Terre is a fabulous Indian restaurant Indian Summer. Indian Summer does fantastic meal deals for lunch and early dinner that are worth checking out.
Treat yourself at:
The Sunday roast is another British classic and food and Brighton is a fantastic place to tuck in to one! Two of the best pubs for a great roast dinner are the Earth and Stars and Lion and Lobster. Make sure you ask for a Yorkshire pudding – they are often served only with roast beef which I completely don’t understand as I believe they go with absolutely everything!
Fish and Chips
You must not leave Brighton without eating fish and chips! It is quite hard to have a bad fish and chip experience in brighton – a bit like bad pizza in Italy – it just doesn’t happen! Whilst there are several options in the Lanes and North Laines they really are best enjoyed sitting on the pebbly beach and purchased from one of the many fish and chip shops on the seafront.
The classic and best option is The Regency which has been open since the 1930s. It also has a fantastic location which provides views of the i360, burnt down pier and the English Channel.
For something a bit different if you choose to head to Rottingdean pop into Smugglers for the classic English chippy experience! You can purchase and take them down to the beach or eat in if it is a bad day. The servings are huge and I highly recommend the haddock and chips. However perhaps bring your own wine or give it a miss as this does not seem to be their specialty!
Accommodation in Brighton
Solo and budget friendly
Kipps Backpackers is a consistently well reviewed more upmarket youth hostel with a fantastic location near the centre of Brighton. There are a mix of rooms from private to dormitories and all are quite attractive.
This is a great place to stay if you are keen to meet people – or a great one if you are in need of a bit of privacy but don’t want to have to pay a lot for it. There is a lounge, a kitchen for self catering, an outside terrace and even a licensed bar. Prices range from £15 to £44.
If you can’t get into Kipps give Home Brighton a shot. It is a similar set up of everything from private rooms to dormitories and has a shared kitchen etc. It also offers pancakes for breakfast which is always a good thing! Prices begin at £18 per person per night
The Oriental is one of the original boutique hotels in Brighton and is a bit more upmarket than a hostel. This quirky hotel offers the opposite of a chain hotel experience and has a great location. Prices start from £55 a night.
Brighton loves a themed hotel! From the hotel itself to each of the rooms you can have a very personalized accommodation experience!
Treat yourself at Pelirocco Hotel. Hotel Pelirocco contends that it is Brighton’s sauciest boutique hotel! And it’s Rock and Roll hotel. Some big claims! There are 19 themed rooms to choose between – from Dollywould to Modrophenia! Prices from £159 per night.
For a little less you can try Seaspray. They have 15 different themed rooms from Elvis to Venice and also offer an insider’s guide to Brighton once you have made a booking. Prices from £125 per night.
Brighton is a very walkable town. Most of the key areas such as the Lanes, the Pavilion and the seafront are all very short walks. You can also hire a bike to get to the slightly further distances of Rottingdean.
There are local buses that can take you around Brighton, to Hove and to areas such as the South Downs. The actual buses are often named after some of the city’s most famous residents! And of course you can use Uber and local taxis.
From the Airport
Brighton is located quite close to Gatwick Airport – about 45 minutes in a car. Heathrow is about 90 minutes away.
Getting There from London
The easiest way to get to Brighton from London is on the train. You can pick up a train to Brighton from Kings Cross Station, Victoria Station or Clapham Junction station depending on where you are based in London. Clapham Junction station is the “closest” to Brighton. From Kings Cross it will take about 90 minutes and about 65 minutes from Clapham Junction.
You can drive but parking is not easy and not cheap. The train in and out is definitely the best option.
About the Author
Amanda O’Brien runs the travel blog www.theboutiqueadventurer.com. After 20 years in marketing and visiting over 80 countries in her 5 weeks off each year she decided to combine her skills with what she loved and start a travel blog. The blog focuses on adventurous activities and destinations but usually ends up in a hotel with a high thread count on the sheets. The blog is designed for travellers who are over 35 and is often focused on solo travel.