48 hours in Brighton is just enough time to sample some of the quirky things to do in this traditional-turned-hipster seaside town in the UK
Once upon a time, Brighton was considered to be a tired old seaside town. Exclusively populated by shrieking hen parties and coaches of day-tripper pensioners.
How to spend 48 hours in Brighton
Brighton has since managed to shake off it’s ‘has been’ image and is now a cosmopolitan and vibrant hangout town.
Given it’s close proximity to London, you can easily pop over and spend a glorious 48 hours in Brighton. It’s an ideal British seaside holiday for staycation seekers.
Best time to visit Brighton
With its promenade, parks and pier you might reasonably expect that a trip to Brighton is exclusively a summer endeavour rather than a UK winter beak?
I visited Brighton in February and it was actually a great time to vist as it was really quiet and mostly full of locals.
If you are visiting Brighton in the off-season, make sure to check out my city break packing guide, so you can pack smarter.
City break Brighton
A weekend break in Brighton will require a little travel planning and scheduling.
I would make a list of the Brighton attractions you want to visit and the destinations you want to see in the city.
We talk more about travel planning on my weekly travel podcast – Travel Goals. Subscribe now and catch up on all episodes.
Here’s my guide on how to spend 48 hours in Brighton, so you can enjoy this beautiful beach town, year-round.
Day 1 Brighton
Go Boutique shopping at North Laine
I’ll admit, shopping is not a preferred activity of mine. I’ve never fully understood the appeal of wandering around department stores on a Saturday, as a leisure activity.
I have to say though, Brighton manages to make shopping a little bit fun in the hip, North Laine shopping area.
Independent shops Brighton
The bohemian North Laine shopping area is full of retro shops, vintage fashion, quirky jewellery shops and uber-hip cafes. It’s a veritable hipster paradise here.
There are not many shopping areas where you can pick up a kaftan, a slightly phallic sculpture, a retro telephone and vegetarian-friendly shoes in one retail outing. It is definitely quirky, i’ll give it that.
Some of my favourite North Laine shops include:
- Brighton Museum Shop
- Beyond Retro
- Little Beach Boutique
- Dirty Harry
- Wolf & Gypsy
- Rare Records
- The Wax Factor
Brighton Royal Pavilion
When in Brighton, you have to visit one of its most iconic buildings, the Brighton Royal Pavillion
It’s a supurb, Grade I listed, former royal residence, that has a 200-year history.
Many of the items in the palace are on loan from her Majesty the Queen. The downside to this is that no photography is allowed inside, this means there are no #Royal Instagram photos my loves.
If history isn’t your thing, take a stroll around the pretty Pavilion gardens and marvel at the wide variety of plants.
Why not book your ticket to Brighton Royal Pavilion in advance and enjoy wandering around this exotic palace?
Lunch at Mock Turtle Tea Shop
Mock Turtle Tea Shop is a traditional Victorian tea room that simply exudes vintage charm.
Here you can sit amongst shelves of fine china and other tea shop regalia for a lovely homemade cake and a pot of tea. The Kath Kitson style decor simply screams ‘Pinterest goals’.
There’s a large range of home-baked cakes to choose from including sponges, slices and doughnuts.
You can also have a pot of Mock Turtle blend, loose-leaf tea, served on fabulous blue willow china.
We opted for warm scones with jam and cream as a very cakey lunch.
Portions were generous and the price was reasonable, expect to pay around £6.50 for two scones and a pot of tea. It’s a definite ‘must visit’ for tea fans exploring Brighton.
Do a Brighton laughter workshop
There are several laughter workshops and classes in Brighton to choose from if you are looking for alternative things to do in Brighton?
During our laughing workshop, our laughing guru informed us that we were going to make like Santa and release our inner ‘ho’.
This is normally exactly the sort of hokey activity that has me on high cynicism alert.
Especially when the first exercise is to shake hands with your fellow group members whilst laughing and maintaining full-on, manic eye contact.
Alternative activities Brighton
I found myself easing up as the session went on, even when we had to ‘light our fuse and launch our laughter rocket’.
In fairness, I laughed throughout the entire session, awkwardly, genuinely and with a slight sense of abandon.
Mostly at my friend Hannah’s awkward face and whispers of ‘am I doing my laughter milkshake right?’ Not a question I ever imagined having to answer as an adult if i’m honest?
I imagine a laughter workshop is not for everyone? The enforced laughter will either make you smirk, or you will come over all British and uncomfortable.
It is definitely a unique experience in Brighton. when else in life are you going to find yourself running around a room, clapping your hands together and chanting ‘ho, ho, ha, ha, ha’?
Dinner at Dead Wax Social
DJs spin vinyl at Dead Wax Social, a trendy dive bar that is known for craft beer, pizza and vinyl beats.
This Bond Street Bar is a tribute to Brighton’s famed record shop and music industry.
Here you’ll find walls covered in Vinyl and retro playlists, it’s the ideal hangout for music enthusiasts and craft beer lovers.
It’s a perfect spot for dinner in Brighton if you are looking for a chilled atmosphere and really tasty pizza.
Live music at the Hope & Ruin
Taking inspiration from the ruin bars of Hungry, Hope & Ruin is a unique grassroots music venue that is full of character and dirty vegan food.
Rock out to a wide variety of bands whilst surrounded by the quirky and retro decor and real grunge vibes. It’s definitely a brilliant, alternative venue in Brighton.
The crowd here is a welcoming one with trendy vegans mixing with ageing hipsters all looking for to support the independent live music scene in Brighton.
Day 2 Brighton
Do a Brighton Food Tour
What better way to discover Brighton’s foodie scene than with an award-winning independent food tour of Brighton.
The V.I.B Food Tour gives visitors the opportunity to discover Brighton’s best independent food producers and street-food vendors.
This super hip tour lasts around 3 hours and includes 7 stops at foodie hotpots.
Hear the stories behind the food and learn more about the politics and culture of the food scene and sustainability in the city.
You’ll get off the beaten track and feast on a range of eats from markets, food stalls and indie food producers.
Discover Brighton Street art
From elaborate street art to rough and ready graffiti, Brighton has a vast range of street art and tags across the city.
The kooky North Laine area features many street art murals and is home to Bristol legend Banksy’s famous ‘Kissing Policeman’ on the Prince Albert Pub.
In 2011, the original ‘Kissing Policeman’ image was replaced with a copy which is still there today.
Here, everything is a possible canvas to street artists, walls and phone boxes, even wheelie bins are all fair game.
Where to find street art in Brighton
Hannah and I spent some time hunting in lanes and side streets to see what weird and wonderful graffiti we could find in the city.
Some of the most popular street art spots in Brighton include:
- Stranger things x Simpsons – Trafalgar lane
- Rick & Morty – Near London Road
- That mural with all the dead rock stars – Prince Albert Pub
- Colourful cubes – Oxford Court
When you visit Brighton, I recommend you grab your camera and seek out some seriously cool street art.
Play arcade games at Brighton Pier
Ok, so this is a proper touristy thing to do in Brighton, but how can you not visit the most iconic landmark in the city?
Brighton Pier is a Grade II listed pleasure pier that has a range of traditional fairground rides. This iconic pier also has an amusement arcade, food kiosks, bars and restaurants.
Walking the boards and feeding coins to the 2p machines is surely a kitsch and novel way to hark back to your childhood?
Inside the main arcade is all manner of whirring machines, flashing lights, modern video games and prize booths to keep you entertained for an hour or so.
Brighton pier rides and attractions
Walking toward the end of the pier you will find the fairground rides, featuring several classic rides of your childhood.
Ther’s a retro log flume, helter-skelter and a traditional carousel to ride on.
As we visited in the off-season, not many of the rides were open and there was minor maintenance work going on.
This was probably a good thing as frankly, the rides are a tad expensive for what they are.
The tired-looking log flume costs £4.00 per person to ride, making it a rather pricey trip down memory lane.
Visiting Brighton Pier in the off-season will inevitably mean that some things are closed or having maintenance work done.
This means that there are few people around so you can have a quiet, nostalgic stroll, taking some pier photos and enjoying the calm.
Enjoy Proud Cabaret Brighton
When spending 48 hours in Brighton, you have to make time to see a cabaret show. We spend the evening at Proud Cabaret, a retro cabaret show, set in a plush, former ballroom.
The show features a three-Course Dinner with Prosecco and a glittering cabaret show.
There is a variety of drag acts, jazz and risqué burlesque performances to enjoy whilst food and drinks are served.
The performers are utterly magnificent and are truly the best thing about the venue.
Proud Cabaret menu
It’s fair to say that the food is not the main focus here, I had Crispy Pepper And Chilli Squid to start, followed by Duck Leg Confit for main and Oreo Cheesecake for dessert.
In all honesty, the starters and main were of very average quality. The dessert was actually the best part of the dinner.
It was gooey, creamy and extremely moreish. I recommend you skip the food and settle for drinks and a show.
Brighton Cabaret show
Proud Cabaret does put on a marvellous show of nipple tassel twirling, fire-breathing and show-stopping numbers. It’s a night out that will definitely be remembered for years to come.
Where to stay in Brighton
There is a hotel to suit any budget in Brighton, ranging from traditional guesthouses, boutique hotels and spa hotels.
There are even several glamping spots in Brighton if you fancy a more rustic stay in the city.
Some of the best places to say in Brighton include:
Two days in Brighton
Two days in Brighton seems to cover a lot of UK weekend break essentials. It has an eclectic mix of the seaside, kitsch, clubbing and a splash of culture.
I would definitely recommend taking a trip here and experience the delights of this cosmopolitan city over a weekend.
The sea air will definitely do you some good, even if all the boozy cocktails won’t.
What do you think of my Brighton Guide? Do you think 2 days in Brighton is enough time to explore a city? Let me know in the comments below!
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