18 Things Brighton is Known and Famous For

The United Kingdom is home to many famous cities, from London to Edinburgh, Manchester to Cambridge. And though many people abroad may not think of Brighton at first, it’s a favorite for many British travelers. For its small size and population, it packs a real punch, with a lot to offer!

Brighton is famous for its stunning seaside, soaring observation tower, and iconic Palace Pier. It is known throughout the United Kingdom for its open-minded community and LGBTQ+ population, as well as its bohemian atmosphere and eco-friendly spirit. And not to forget Brighton and Hove Albion F.C. and the South Downs.

Brighton skyline

Brighton is perfect for a day visit, but it doesn’t have to be either. You’ll find plenty to do and see here for days on end.

So here goes: the 18 things Brighton is known and famous for.

Before you go…

Check out our favorite websites for travel planning and booking!

➡️ Find the cheapest flight options on Kiwi.com

➡️ Book your accommodation in advance on Booking.com

➡️ Find interesting tours and excursions on Viator or GetYourGuide

➡️ Buy your travel insurance on SafetyWing

1. Seaside

Brighton beach, Brighton and Hove
Editorial credit: Michaelasbest / Shutterstock.com

Brighton is known across the UK as a seaside destination. It’s one of the favorite places for British people to take a day trip to the sea. It’s especially popular with Londoners and those who live in the South, accessible by just an hour train journey from central London.

Brighton’s shingle beach stretches for 8.7 kilometers. In the winter, it will probably be a bit too cold to stay in the water for too long. The beach will probably be busy with walkers instead. In the summer, the beach will see hundreds of locals and tourists flock to the beach for a refreshing dip or a sunbathe.

The city is also known for its Brighton Marina, which is home to a working harbor and some wonderful residential houses which overlook the sea.

2. Brighton Palace Pier

The Brighton pier, or Palace Pier is a landmark symbol of Brighton Beach
Editorial credit: Michaelasbest / Shutterstock.com

The Brighton Palace Pier has been a landmark of the city for over a century, having been opened in 1899. In fact, it is so popular that it attracted over four million visitors in 2016.

For those who don’t know, piers are a very British phenomenon: a sort of iron and wooden structure that extends into the ocean at seaside resorts.

It was the third pier built in the city, but is the only one still operating, after the infamous fire of the West Pier in 2003.

It’s free to visit the pier, which has a variety of activities for all ages, from an arcade to fairground rides. The “Booster” ride is especially well-known for swinging riders 40m into the air over Brighton’s famous sea.

3. LGBTQ+

Gorgeous image of the rainbow flag having Brighton beach on a background.
Editorial credit: Aliya Talks / Shutterstock.com

Brighton is the unofficial LGBTQ+ capital of the United Kingdom, with history dating back to at least the 19th century.

The city hosts many LGBTQ+ venues and shops, and a large and welcoming community. It is estimated that between 11-15% of the Brighton population identify as lesbian, gay, or bi.

Brighton is home to the largest Pride festival in the country, and it’s one of the most popular in terms of visiting numbers. It lasts for three days on the first weekend of August, making for a great source of fun!

4. Hove

Beautiful sunset in Brighton, UK. Row of beach huts of Hove

Brighton is famous for not being just one place, but two! Officially, the city is called the city of Brighton and Hove and when people refer to Brighton, they’re often referring to this common area (or unitary authority, as it’s officially known).

Brighton and Hove is interesting for being a conurbation. This is where two urban areas naturally expand into one another and the official borders between them become blurred. Despite previously being two separate towns, Brighton and Hove now form one urban area under one city. It was granted city status in 2000.

Brighton and Hove has the largest urban population in the county of East Sussex and the South East of England.

5. Royal Pavilion

Royal Pavillion of Brighton is seen on a Sunny Day

The Royal Pavilion is a grand building located in the center of Brighton. It was a former palace of the Royal Family, being particularly loved by King George IV, who ruled from 1820 to 1830. Queen Victoria sold the Pavilion to the city of Brighton in 1850, meaning it is now a public building.

The Pavilion is especially notable for its Indo-Saracenic style, which is inspired by the Indian architecture of the 19th century. Today, the interior is in the style of George IV’s residence during the 1820s.

The Pavilion also has some wonderful gardens, if you fancy a stroll through nature after visiting the Pavilion. The garden uses only organic methods.

6. Observation Tower

Glass pod and tower for sightseeing attraction at Brighton Pier
Editorial credit: ShutterStockStudio / Shutterstock.com

The Brighton Observation Tower is a 162-meter-tall tower on the seafront of Britain. It is officially known as the British Airways i360, and is designed by the same architectural company as the iconic London Eye.

Visitors get in the observation tower’s pod at ground level. The pod then rises into the sky to give 360-degree views of the city, the South Downs, and the English Channel. Rides last around 25 minutes, allowing plenty of time to take in your new surroundings.

7. Liz Williams Butterfly Haven

Adonis Blue Butterfly

The Liz Williams Butterfly Haven is an area in the city that was specifically built to attract and provide a habitat for a range of butterflies.

Today, the Haven is home to twenty species of butterfly, making it a grand success. Species of butterfly include the Adonis Blue, whose wings are a striking bright blue, and the Green hairstreak, whose wings are almost neon green in color.

The site was built between 2006 and 2007. It was renamed in 2011 when famous botanist Liz Williams, who recorded 97 species of wildflower in the Haven, passed away.

8. Brighton Festival

The Royal Pavilion, Dr. Blighty show, Brighton Festival
itorial credit: Philip Reeve / Shutterstock.com

Every May, the city hosts its annual Brighton Festival. It hosts an assortment of art, music, theatre, dance, and film events, among many others.

The festival has been held every year since 1967, apart from in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It receives tens of thousands of visitors every year, with almost 65,000 people in 2016 to celebrate its 50th year.

9. Brighton Fringe

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Editorial credit: cktravels.com / Shutterstock.com

And if the Brighton Festival is not enough for all you art-lovers, the city also hosts a second annual arts festival, the Brighton Fringe. The Fringe runs for four weeks in May and June, and is the second-largest arts festival in the UK, after the famous Edinburgh Fringe.

Some commentators have even suggested the Brighton Fringe is quickly becoming as big as the Edinburgh Fringe!

The Fringe is unique for being open access. This means the Fringe does not book performers, but rather performers approach the Fringe to ask for support on putting on an event. This creates an exciting vibe where performers range from beginners to professionals (and a lot of the time you can’t even tell).

The Fringe takes part across the city, using famous venues such as the Pavilion as well as private houses and the beach. One year, a performance even took place in a bath.

10. Brighton and Hove Albion F.C.

 General crowd view during the match between Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion in the FAWSL at American Express Community Stadium.
Editorial credit: Jason Ilagan / Shutterstock.com

Brighton and Hove Albion is the city’s local football club. Since 2017, they have played in England’s Premier League (the top league). Albion is an alternative name for Great Britain, and often features in traditional poetry as well as the name of this football club.

The club finished 16th in the most recent league, narrowly escaping relegation to the league below. The team is notable for being one of the only large football teams in the southern area of the UK, which has few large towns or cities. This means Brighton and Hove Albion has amassed a large fanbase across this more rural region.

This also means that, unlike most football teams in the UK, Brighton does not have a local derby (where the team has a strong rivalry with other local teams). The closest large teams are Southampton and Portsmouth, but they are located almost 100 kilometers away.

11. Eco-friendliness

Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England

Brighton is famous for being one of the greenest and most eco-friendly cities in the UK.

It has a large number of sustainability projects. To the north of the city, you’ll find the South Downs, which have influenced the city’s embrace of cohabiting with nature.

In January 2021, the Garden of Life rated Brighton as the most eco-friendly city in the country. The city is home to the only Green Party Member of Parliament in the whole country, Caroline Lucas.

12. Waste House

Brighton waste house
Image credit: Hassocks5489

Brighton’s love for being green is so strong that it is even home to Europe’s first building made entirely of re-used waste. The Waste House at the University of Brighton is built from a range of waste objects, such as VHS cassettes and even toothbrushes.

The building is low-energy and sustainable, and has won a number of design and architecture awards for its sustainability and uniqueness.

Brighton is also home to the Earthship, which is a completely self-sustainable building. The building was made using recycled materials such as car tires, and incorporates renewable energy systems and rainwater harvesting into its structure.

13. Eurovision

ABBA covers
Editorial credit: Nat_V / Shutterstock.com

Brighton is famous for hosting the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in its Brighton Dome. This year of the Eurovision contest is particularly important as the one which shot ABBA to fame across the world.

Their song “Waterloo” received 24 points (second-place Italy got 18) and remains one of their most popular. After winning the contest, ABBA went on to become one of the best-selling bands in music history.

And it’s not just Eurovision that makes Brighton musically famous. The city is also home to Nick Cave, acclaimed singer-songwriter (and actor and author and screenwriter and composer).

14. Street art

A photo of Banksy graffiti on the side of a pub in Brighton of two policemen kissing each other in a golden frame
Editorial credit: MartineDF / Shutterstock.com

If you’re into your street art, Brighton is a great place for you. The city is well known for its street art, as is natural for such an artistic and youthful city.

Areas of the city that are particularly special for their street art include Trafalgar Street, Trafalgar Lane, and Gloucester Street.

The city center was formerly home to one of Banksy’s most famous works, the Kissing Coppers, which depicts two policemen kissing (copper is British slang for a policeman).

Sadly, the artwork can no longer be found as it was sold to an anonymous buyer in Miami for $575,000. However, there is a replica on display today, at the Prince Albert Pub.

15. Independent cafés and shops

Brighton's north lanes/laines is a vibrant bohemian shopping area of independent shops and restaurants
Editorial credit: Michaelasbest / Shutterstock.com

A large number of independent cafés and shops find their home in Brighton, especially in comparison to other UK cities. These independent shops give the city an extra charm and a friendly community feel.

The North Laine area is particularly known for its independent businesses, with over 400 of them, as well as a wonderful flea market. This is also where you’ll find a lot of Brighton’s street art!

On Sundays, there are two weekly flea markets, one at the Brighton Marina and one at Brighton Racecourse. Be sure to stop by here to pick up a good deal on artisan goods or vintage clothing.

16. South downs

 Devil's Dyke at the golden hour, West Sussex, near Brighton

The city is a stone’s throw from the South Downs, an area of outstanding beauty and the UK’s newest National Park (since 2011).

The South Downs are known for their rolling hills, which are formed of chalk. Devil’s Dyke is the area most popular with Brighton residents as it’s just 8 kilometers northwest of Brighton. The area has some wonderful walks that go through its deep dry valley.

If you’re into walking and seeing new natural views, be sure to stop by on your visit to Brighton.

17. Railway

Volk's Electric Railway is the oldest continuously running electric railway in the world
Editorial credit: Visharo / Shutterstock.com

Brighton is home to the world’s oldest operating electric railway, the Volk’s electric railway. A quarter-mile-long (400m), the railway runs along the beach and stops just before the Marina. The railway’s history is explained during the short ride.

Trains run every 15 minutes and there’s no need to book. Just turn up and ride!

18. Cycling

Visitors are encouraged to hire bicycles and ride designated cycle paths in Brighton
Editorial credit: ThreeEyedRavenProductions / Shutterstock.com

If you’re looking for ways to get around in Brighton, there’s no better transport than cycling. The city has many cycle lanes, including along the beachfront, and many of the local residents cycle everywhere.

The city also has a number of cycle routes outside the center, for longer and more rural routes. They range from family- and beginner-friendly to more experienced. If you’re a cycling pro, you may even enjoy the 87-kilometer route from London to Brighton – a worthy challenge.

And that concludes our list of the 18 things Brighton is known and famous for. Make sure to let us know all about your visit!

Leave a Comment