Brighton and Hove, on the south coast of England, is one of the top seaside resorts in the United Kingdom and has recently appeared in the top ten UK cities. Attracting more than eight million tourists each year, many of which are from overseas, Brighton is also a major conference centre and excellent conference facilities are available at the Corn Exchange and the Brighton Centre — which regularly accommodates more than 5,000 people.
Forming one single region, Brighton has a lively atmosphere and nearby Hove tends to be more quiet and relaxed. In 2000, Brighton and Hove was given a city status and much of this region of Sussex has been restored and redeveloped in recent years. The Old Steine is a prominent local thoroughfare and connects the city centre with the Victorian pier, while to the west are the pedestrianised streets named 'The Lanes'.
The district known as North Laine is to be found directly to the north and packed with bohemian flavour and appeal. To the east of the Old Steine is Kemptown, home of the city's legendary gay scene. Brighton's Tourist Information Centre (TIC) is easy to find and stands on Bartholomew Square, being a good place to pick up free tourism magazines and promotional material.
Many who see pictures of Brighton Pavilion won't believe it's in England. Looking more like a relative of the Taj Mahal, the impressive building was adapted from an old farmhouse and used by George, Prince of Wales (who became Prince Regent) as one of his entertaining venues. I've passed it on trips before, but never ventured inside until now.
The rooms are stunning, with Chinoise details, colourful decor and immense grandeur. You'll feel like you've walked into a Hollywood movie! The Pavilion also hosts exhibitions, and right now (to tie in with the 200th anniversary of her death) you can find out more about Jane Austen's relationship with the sea, and specifically Brighton.
If you're travelling from London, consider relying on a chauffeur service to get to Brighton in style. A chauffeur can also be used for Brighton and Hove airport transfers if you're coming directly from a London airport.
Brighton and Hove Beach Huts
Classic English holiday scene alert! These adorable colourful beach huts run along the seafront from Brighton to Hove. While I didn't have time to cover Hove on this trip, I've been before and it's a lovely town, much quieter and calmer than Brighton, but with plenty of charm too. Be sure to fit in this walk to see the beach huts, and you can always stop for a coffee or an ice cream at the cafe along the route.
I can't write about Brighton without mentioning the Pier. The historic Palace Pier. As I wondered over the wooden floorboards, with a rather ferocious sea lapping below, I was transported back to my visits as a kid. I used to peer through the gaps and dare my sisters to step on the wobbly floorboards. I'd race to the end of the pier to the helter skelter and the dodgems. Then on the walk back I'd beg my dad to buy me a stick of sweet, peppermint rock.
I can report — nothing has changed! The helter skelter is still there. The sickly, fried scent of donut batter still wafts down the pier. The tarot reader wagon still sits on one side ... and damn those 2p machines are just as inviting as they ever were. It's one of those places you can't miss, whether it's out of nostalgia, or because you really want to win a gigantic dolphin to take home! You'll find more information on the pier at visitbrighton.com.
Some of Brighton's most important tourist attractions include the spectacular Royal Pavilion — without doubt one of the most beautiful and unusual landmarks in the Brighton and Hove area, attracting almost 400,000 visitors each year. The world-famous Brighton Pier — formerly known as the Palace Pier, the fourth most visited leisure attraction in the United Kingdom, featuring arcades with state-of-the-art video games, a funfair with a mini-roller coaster, side stalls, a restaurant with stunning sea views and seasonal fireworks displays.
The Clock Tower — built in 1888 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria; the Hove Lagoon — a popular centre for water sports with excellent sailing facilities. The Saline Centre — the world's oldest aquarium centre with one of the longest observation tunnels in the country. Also Preston Manor — home to many important collections, including silver, antique furniture, paintings, sculptures and Sussex artefacts.
The popular Brighton Marina has become one of the largest yachting harbours in the United Kingdom and home to an enormous amount of entertainment facilities. Other areas and districts of importance in Brighton include Beachy Head — a scenic grassy cliff top with spectacular views across the seafront, and the Lanes area — full of fascinating history and narrow, cobblestone streets. Devil's Dyke — owned and managed by the National Trust, with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and the Undercliff Path — a popular walking and cycling trail that stretches all the way from Brighton Marina to Saltdean.
Brighton also has a number of excellent museums in the city centre, as described in detail at brighton.co.uk. The most visited of these include the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery — one of the most popular museums in Sussex, with many important collections of early 20th-century ceramics, furniture, toys and artwork. The Museum of Penny Slot Machines — a museum of great historical importance and full of working, vintage machines, some of which date back more than 100 years.
The Brighton Toy and Model Museum — with a fine collection of toys and models; the Booth Museum of Natural History — home to a wealth of interesting exhibits and displays, including more than half a million specimens and impressive dinosaur skeletons. The Hove Museum and Art Gallery — full of important collections and interesting memorabilia, and the Fishing Museum — celebrating the region's rich historic fishing past, which helped bring wealth and prosperity to this seaside resort.
Situated on the south coast of England, the climate in Brighton and Hove is generally slightly warmer than the rest of the United Kingdom. Brighton tends to have earlier springs, with warmer weather in the summer, combined with particularly mild winters. With excellent shopping facilities, impressive landmarks and numerous events and festivals, this is far more than a normal seaside resort and truly is an exciting city, well worth visiting. And when visiting, consider using a chauffeur service such as Cars Exec.
It is quite clearly the beaches of Brighton and Hove that steal the show each summer, and many of the city's most popular tourist attractions are often related to the beach or coastline. Consider joining a cruise at the Brighton Marina, taking a walk around Beachy Head, or perhaps cycling along the Undercliff Path.
For steam train rides through the countryside, head to nearby Haywards Heath, directly north of Brighton and Hove, and climb aboard the Bluebell Steam Railway, which has long been a prominent tourist attraction in East Sussex. Alternatively, the Volks Electric Railway runs along much of the seafront, between the pier and the Black Rock (close to the marina), and surprisingly remains the oldest working electric railway anywhere in the world.