Free things to do in Brighton — is that even possible? You bet it is! As a seasoned travel writer, I’ve roamed the pebbly shores of this vibrant seaside city. I have discovered countless places to visit in Brighton for free. Buckle up, fellow budget-savvy explorers. We will embark on a whirlwind tour of Brighton’s most delightful and cost-free attractions.
From the iconic Brighton Pier to the mesmerizing street art, there’s no shortage of free things to do in Brighton. Sure, the city might be famous for its bustling nightlife and chic boutiques but this gem on the south coast of England has plenty to offer without breaking the bank.
So, whether you’re an art aficionado, a nature lover, my expertly crafted guide will reveal the best-kept secrets of this coastal haven. Stay tuned as I unveil the top free activities and hidden gems Brighton has to offer.
Table of Contents
Traveling to Brighton?
- One of the most famous things in Brighton has to be the i360! This viewing platform is located on the promenade and offers amazing views of the beach and town. You can book tickets here.
- The Royal Pavilion is also something you cannot miss when in Brighton! It is literally the thing that put this city on the map! Get your tickets here before you travel.
- You also should not miss the Sea Life Centre, especially when traveling with kids. It can be pretty busy in summer, so it is best to book your tickets beforehand.
- Heading to Brighton by train? Get your tickets at the best price via Omio. It allows you to choose the best time at the cheapest price.
Visit Brighton Palace Pier
Ready to embrace the quirky side of Brighton? The Brighton Palace Pier is a must-visit for thrill-seekers and fans of English seaside kitsch. As one of the top places to visit in Brighton for free, the Grade II* listed pier opened in 1899. It stands as a testament to traditional English seaside resorts’ charm.
The pier’s been featured in countless films and TV series. You will have seen it in Brighton Rock, Doctor Who, and even Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street! Despite its tacky reputation, the pier is the epitome of free things to do in Brighton and attracts a whopping four million visitors each year.
Stroll down the 525m (1,722 ft) long pier. You’ll encounter the vibrant Palace of Fun amusement arcade, sideshow games, and irresistible concession stands. But the real excitement lies in the amusement park at the end, where rides cater to every age and adrenaline level.
From the classic carousel to the heart-pounding Turbo Coaster with its loop and steep drops, the Brighton Palace Pier has it all. Don’t forget to try the Galaxia, Air Race, and Wild River log flume ride! For panoramic views of Brighton, dare to ride the Booster or the child-friendly i220. And of course, no visit is complete without sliding down the iconic Helter Skelter.
In short, the Brighton Palace Pier is the perfect destination to spend a lively hour or two. You can immerse yourself in the fun and tacky spirit of the English seaside.
Go beachcombing on Brighton Beach – Free things to do in Brighton
Looking for a classic seaside experience without spending a dime? Look no further! Brighton Beach, one of the UK’s most famous beaches, is your go-to destination for free things to do in Brighton. Brighton Beach is a certified Blue Flag beach. It also has a 4-mile promenade and buzzing atmosphere. This pebbly beach is probably one of the most famous of the country.
What’s the appeal? Take a refreshing dip in the chilly waters. You can also simply kick back on a deckchair and watch the windsurfers, kayakers, and paddleboarders glide by. Kids will love the free paddling pool, while beach volleyball enthusiasts can dive into the imported sand each summer.
Tantalize your taste buds with fish and chips or ice cream from local restaurants and cafes. You can explore the nearby Victorian pier and traditional fairground. Don’t miss the historic Sea Life Centre, dating back to 1872, or the mesmerizing street performers in the Fishing Quarter.
You will need entry tickets for the Sea Life Centre, but these can be bought online here.
Getting to Brighton Beach is a breeze, with nearby car parks, regular bus services, and an easy walking distance to the town and shops. Fun fact: the eastern end of the beach is the UK’s first official naturist beach, opened in 1980!
I have to admit, I was quite surprised to find that this famous beach was a pebble beach, but that only adds to its charm. And if you’re visiting in December, join the Winter Solstice celebrations and the annual New Year Swim – just be prepared to brave the cold!
If you want to discover some of the nicest beaches in the United Kingdom, please read my article on the best beaches in the UK.
Visit the Booth Museum – Free Museums in Brighton
Looking for more free things to do in Brighton? You’re in for a treat! The Booth Museum of Natural History is an absolute must-visit, especially if you’re traveling with kids. My husband and I adore this place, and I’m sure you will too!
The museum has over half a million specimens and natural history data spanning three centuries. The Booth Museum is home to one of Britain’s largest collections of taxidermied birds. These birds are displayed in over 300 dioramas. As a lover of all things feathery, Edward Thomas Booth opened the museum in 1874. His pioneering approach to displaying taxidermy has influenced museums ever since.
This treasure trove of free museums in Brighton also boasts hundreds of butterflies. They also have a whale, dinosaur bones, and even the skeleton of an extinct woolly rhinoceros! The Discovery Laboratory offers interactive displays to explore the Booth’s fascinating collections.
As a bonus, admission is free, and there’s even a gift shop for you to pick up a memento of your visit. So why not immerse yourself in the wonders of the natural world at the Booth Museum, one of the most captivating places to visit in Brighton for free?
Have a picnic at the Pavilion Gardens – Free things to do in Brighton
As a self-proclaimed picnic enthusiast, I can’t help but rave about the Pavilion Gardens as one of the best places to visit in Brighton for free. These stunning Regency gardens, surrounding the Royal Pavilion, offer a lush, green haven right in the city’s heart.
What makes the Pavilion Gardens extra special is their commitment to maintaining the gardens under strict organic guidelines. A team of devoted volunteers ensures that the gardens promote biodiversity. They attract an array of butterflies, birds, and bees.
Now, for my insider tip: if you’re looking to grab some snacks for your picnic, the Sainsbury’s Local on St James’ Street can be quite crowded during the summer season. But fear not! Just take a 2-minute stroll down to Dorset Street, where you’ll find a calmer Morrison’s supermarket – a hidden gem that most tourists aren’t aware of.
So, grab your blanket, your favourite treats, and head to the Pavilion Gardens for a delightful picnic experience among nature. Trust me, it’s one of the most enjoyable free things to do in Brighton!
Head to the Brighton fishing museum
As a couple of history buffs (my husband is even a history teacher!), we absolutely adore places like the Brighton Fishing Museum. These types of museums offer a wealth of information that’s both personal and deeply rooted in the local community. You can feel the love and dedication poured into every exhibit!
Nestled on King’s Road beach near the Artists Quarter, this independent museum is a must-visit spot among the places to visit in Brighton for free. It’s dedicated to showcasing Brighton’s rich fishing history. You will find more information about fishing traditions, and the local community’s evolution.
Step inside, and you’ll be treated to a fascinating collection of images, artifacts, and even films detailing the fishing industry from the 19th century to modern times. You’ll also find fishing boats from the past and present on display, as well as restored pleasure boats and model boats.
Located right on the seafront in the historic fishing quarter, the museum tells the intriguing story of Brighthelmstone’s transformation into a fashionable resort. This was thanks to the Prince Regent and his circle. From fishing to pleasure-boating, it covers every aspect of Brighton’s nautical past. This includes a captivating exhibition on the famous West Pier.
Don’t miss out on this gem of a museum when looking for free things to do in Brighton. It’s truly a testament to the passion and devotion of the local fishing community!
Hove Museum & Art Gallery – Free Museums in Brighton
Growing up surrounded by fine art (thanks to my painter dad and his chain of Belgian art academies), I’m a sucker for free art galleries and museums. And boy, does the Hove Museum & Art Gallery tick all the boxes! It’s not just your average art space. This hidden gem in Brighton and Hove is the “Museum of Creativity,”. It showcases toys and vintage electronics alongside its artsy exhibits.
Family-friendly and accessible, this museum is perfect for visitors of all ages. Kids will go nuts for the interactive toy gallery, designed like a wizard’s attic. Don’t miss the wizard’s workshop for broken toys and the time-split bedroom – half modern-day, half Victorian.
Film buffs, prepare to be amazed! The film gallery celebrates Hove’s role in the birth of cinema. You will find working optical toys, magic lanterns, cameras, and pioneering Hove filmmakers from the 1890s and 1900s. You can even watch their original films!
Finally, art enthusiasts will adore the contemporary craft galleries. The galleries display the Southern and Southeast Arts Craft Collection. Get to know key craft pioneers as you admire the star objects.
So, when hunting for free things to do in Brighton, the Hove Museum & Art Gallery is a must-see creative haven!
Preston Manor Walled Garden & Pet Cemetery
As an animal lover, I was unsure about visiting the Preston Manor pet cemetery. Would it be too sad? Turns out, it’s a heart-warming testament to the everlasting bond between humans and pets. Some of the headstones we saw were still standing after 150 years!
Nestled in a walled garden behind Preston Manor, this unique cemetery was created by Ellen Thomas-Stanford’s mother. Both women adored their dogs.
The garden’s walls date back to the 13th century, and the garden itself is designed to resemble a 17th-century paradise. It reminded me of The Secret Garden, complete with high walls and formal flower beds.
Here’s the scoop: the graveyard still serves as a resting place for animals who have worked for the council!
In the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, dogs were cherished family members. Wealthy families commissioned pet portraits and created private cemeteries with heartfelt inscriptions. At Preston Manor, you can explore this loving tribute and view rare archive photographs.
So, for free things to do in Brighton, the Preston Manor Walled Garden & Pet Cemetery offers a unique, heart-warming experience. It celebrates the enduring love between humans and their furry friends.
Walking the Public Art Trail – Free things to do in Brighton
As a public art aficionado (I can’t resist Jardin de Tuileries’ open-air statue museum in Paris), I’m always on the lookout for places to visit in Brighton for free. And let me tell you, Brighton’s got your art cravings covered with their very own public art trail!
Brighton is renowned for its vibrant art and culture scene, and this trail lets you explore some seriously impressive art. Two of my personal faves are “Afloat” by Passacaglia and the iconic Kiss Wall. Chef’s kiss!
Designed for walkers, this trail starts at Brighton Train Station and takes just about an hour to complete. So, grab your comfiest shoes, put on your art critic hat, and get ready to immerse yourself in Brighton’s creative spirit!
If you’re hunting for free things to do in Brighton, walking the public art trail is an absolute must! It’s your chance to get up close and personal with the city’s imaginative side. Who knows, you might just discover your new favourite masterpiece!
The Old Police Cells Museum – Free Museums in Brighton
As a self-confessed crime book addict and police procedural enthusiast, I couldn’t resist including the Old Police Cells Museum in my list of places to visit in Brighton for free! Fellow crime buffs, trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Located in Brighton Town Hall, this intriguing little museum is open on Friday afternoons (though timings may vary). Perfect for visiting Brighton with kids, it’s a fascinating experience you can’t miss. Just remember to book your spot via their website: https://www.oldpolicecellsmuseum.com/
Created by the late Brighton Councillor John Drake, his wife, and a team of dedicated volunteers, the museum opened on May 4th, 2005. It showcases Brighton’s dark criminal past. And yes, you’ll be exploring the very same cells that once housed mods and rockers after some beach brawls!
Step into the chilling cells. Here you learn about the tragic murder of the Chief Constable in 1844. You can marvel at the desperate graffiti left by past prisoners on the walls. Plus, for the bravest of souls, you can spend a lonely vigil in the eerie, parquet-floored police clothing store. This is where capes and breeches were once kept.
If you’re seeking free things to do in Brighton, the Old Police Cells Museum is an absolute must-visit for crime enthusiasts! Prepare to be immersed in the city’s sinister history, and who knows, maybe you’ll channel your inner detective!
Head out to Brighton open market
Allow me to introduce you to one of my all-time favourite places to visit in Brighton for free: the vibrant and bustling Brighton Open Market! This lively spot is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Whether you’re eyeing farm-fresh produce, antique gems, or simply craving a delicious treat from a food stall.
As someone who adores nosing around at markets, I was thrilled to discover the talented up-and-coming artists and crafters who have their studios here. Beware, though – the market is brimming with so many fantastic finds. Even budget-conscious shoppers like me are tempted to splurge on lovely jewellery and vintage décor!
The best part? The Brighton Open Market is open every single day. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore its more than 45 permanent stalls featuring top-notch local food and handcrafted products. Plus, you’ll find a variety of plaza stalls open on different days of the week.
Not only is the market a shopping haven, but it also hosts an array of local events on its covered square. So, for a true taste of Brighton’s creative spirit, make sure to add the Brighton Open Market to your list of free things to do in Brighton. Trust me, your senses (and wallet) will thank you!
Why is Brighton so famous?
Brighton is a seaside resort town located on the south coast of England. The city is famous for its beautiful beach and stunning seafront, which attracts millions of visitors each year. Brighton is home to several iconic attractions. Think of the Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion, which are steeped in history and cultural significance.
If you want to book an Airbnb or hotel in Brighton it is best to do so well beforehand as the city is very popular in summer.
Is Brighton a cheap city?
While Brighton is not the cheapest city in the UK, it is still relatively affordable compared to other major cities like London. Accommodations, dining, and entertainment options can be found to fit a range of budgets.
You can find budget-friendly accommodations like hostels and budget hotels. You can also choose more upscale options like boutique hotels and luxury resorts. Dining options in Brighton are diverse. They range from budget-friendly street food to high-end restaurants.
Does Brighton have a night life?
Brighton is famous for its vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of options for a night out on the town. The city has a diverse range of pubs, bars, and nightclubs to suit all tastes and preferences. You can find everything from cosy traditional pubs to trendy cocktail bars and high-energy nightclubs.
What food is Brighton famous for?
Brighton is a foodie’s paradise, with a wide variety of cuisine options to choose from. The city is famous for its fresh seafood, which can be enjoyed at one of the many fish and chip shops along the seafront. Brighton has a thriving vegetarian and vegan food scene. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes serving delicious plant-based cuisine.
How far is Brighton from London?
Brighton is located about 50 miles south of London and is easily accessible by train from major rail hubs like Victoria Station. The journey from London to Brighton takes approximately one hour and can be a great day trip or weekend getaway from the city.
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!