1. Tour the Royal Pavilion
There’s no doubt that the Royal Pavilion is one of the jewels in Brighton's crown. Its royal connections date back to the time when it was built for the Prince Regent, the future King George IV, and it was used by the Royal Family up to Victorian times. No expense was spared on the exotic Indian-styled architecture and influences from Asia, principally China can be seen throughout its many rooms. Selected as one of Britain’s Best historical attractions, it is certainly one of the most dazzling and exotic buildings in the British Isles. www.royalpavilion.org.uk
2. Stroll along the Pier
As befits an English seaside town, Brighton has its pier. Actually, it has two piers but one has been ravaged by the elements and is now awaiting renovation. The surviving Brighton Pier, is an archetypically-English pier, with a funfair and arcades, dodgems, roller-coaster and cafes and restaurants. For the more-discerning visitor, a trip to the end of the pier provides spectacular views of the adjacent coast, along with the bracing sea air that the Victorians so loved. During the summer months, the pier provides the venue for fireworks displays which line the beachfront with visitors to enjoy the spectacle.
3. Take in a film at the Duke of York’s
A must for film buffs, the Duke of York’s Picturehouse was one of the world’s first cinemas. They’ve got cracking art house films, lovely comfy seats, and they sell coffee and cake! There’s also a bar. Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Preston Circus, Brighton BN1 4NA. Telephone 0871 704 2056. www.picturehouses.co.uk
4. Take a ride on Volk’s Electric Railway
The Volk's Railway was the first public electric railway in the world. It was opened on 4 August 1883 by Magnus Volk, the man who designed and built the railway from scratch. Today the railway can carry up to 80 passengers along the beach for one and a quarter miles. The trains operate weekdays from 10am to 5pm, and until 6pm on weekends and bank holidays, during the summer. The season starts on Friday 21 March until Sunday 14 September. Four trains run every hour between Black Rock and Brighton Pier.
5. Go shopping in The Lanes (and The Laines)
Apart from the familiar High Street shops of The Churchill mall, there’s The Lanes, a world of small shops of every kind and a world long gone from most High Streets. Wandering into the Lanes is wandering into a past of small, personally-owned shops. Shops of every description are here, with jewellery, antiques, gifts, music, clothes – and all with their individual identity. Alongside the shops are street entertainers, historic buildings and, of course cafes and restaurants and atmospheric pubs in abundance.
The North Laines have a more bohemian feel about them. Here you’ll find an array of one-off designer shops (clothes and interiors), flea markets, cafes and bars.
6. Take a Pleasure Flight
Discover Brighton, Worthing and the South Coast by air. Relax and Enjoy a guided tour from £35. Spectacular aerial views of Brighton, Worthing, Beachy Head, Portsmouth, The Needles and more. Telephone: 07918 902721. www.brightonscenic.co.uk
7. Go Zorbing (or Orbing)
Try out the latest craze for thrill seekers. Harnessed within 12ft PVC spheres, two ‘ORBers’ at a time. Set atop Devils Dyke with stunning views across Brighton, the coast and the South Downs, this Orb-run is the longest in the country at half a mile long! A great setting for a once in a lifetime experience – spinning head over heels with a friend at speeds of 30mph – and to prove you’ve done it you can hire an Orb-Cam.
For water lovers there is Aqua-Orbs where you and friend join 50litres of splashing water as you roll down the Aqua-slide. Telephone 01273 880045.
8. Visit one of Brighton’s many Museums and Galleries
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
A £10 million redevelopment has transformed Brighton Museum into a state-of-the-art visitor attraction. Dynamic and innovative galleries – including fashion and style, 20th century art and design, and world art – feature exciting interactive displays appealing to all ages. In addition to the permanent galleries, there is a continuing programme of temporary exhibitions. Telephone 01273 292882.
Hove Museum & Art Gallery
Children and families will enjoy the interactive galleries which include a toy gallery; Hove’s role in the birth of cinema, with working optical toys, magic lanterns and cameras, and two contemporary craft galleries. Telephone (01273) 290200. www.virtualmuseum.info
Brighton Toy and Model Museum
Brighton Toy and Model Museum is an Aladdin’s cave of the finest toys and models, including mechanical toys, models, dolls house furniture and puppets dating back to the 1790s. www.brightontoymuseum.co.uk
Booth Museum of Natural History
Check out whale and dinosaur bones and over half a million other specimens, including natural history literature extending back over three centuries.
Ocontemporary is one of the UK’s top contemporary art spaces. Showcasing a compelling and diverse selection of national and international artists’ work from Andy Warhol to Tracey Emin, as well as hot new emerging artists. www.ocontemporary.com
9. Visit Sealife Centre
Combining the splendour of rich Victorian architecture with over 30 modern marine and freshwater habitats, and featuring one of the longest underwater tunnels in England. There’s a facility for endangered sea turtles complete with transparent underwater walk-through tunnel – home to a 27-stone green turtle! Marine Parade, Brighton. Telephone 01273 604234
10. Walk on the Downs
With the Downs literally on the doorstep, you’re just minutes away from Devil’s Dyke, Stanmer Park and Ditching Beacon.
Take one of the buses that link the city with some of the area’s finest countryside.
Why not take a picnic up to Devil’s Dyke, a deep gorge cut into the cliffs. Owned and operated by the National Trust, it opens out into a pleasant grasses area, ideal for sports, sunbathing or kite flying. During the summer, the strains of local brass bands can be heard wafting through the gorge – great with a cup of tea and a cake! Relax and take in the views north towards the Weal and south over the sea.
Bus information 01273 292480.