This lovely seaside town of Brighton is vibrant, colourful, has the biggest gay scene in the UK and so much more, just waiting for you to explore it. Brighton’s only a couple of hours from London, making it the ideal city to visit on a day trip. If you want to stay longer in Brighton, you can still visit Brighton on a budget, even if money is tight. Simply follow these tips and hacks, on visiting Brighton on a Budget.
Our highlight of the city is Brighton Pavilion with the Indo-Saracentic style standing out from the contemporary city surrounding it. We can see why King George IV loved visiting Brighton and built this stunning palace looking out across the sea.
What will you discover in Brighton?
Table of Contents
The first time we hear of Brighton or Bristelmestune, is in the Domesday book with over 40 other variations of the name, namely Brighthelmston. Brighthelmston remained the official name until 1810. The name derives from Anglo-Saxon, with archaeological evidence of Bronze Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon settlement in Brighton.
In the Domesday survey in 1086, Brighton was recorded as a fishing and agricultural settlement. Fast forward nearly 1000 years and the town became a popular seaside resort, with flocks of tourists from London heading to the coast for a day trip. Day trips to Brighton was made easy with the new invention of the railway.
During the Georgian era, Brighton was at its highest, with King George IV spending much of his time in the town, including his very own holiday palace known as the Royal Pavilion. The pavilion’s grand architectural design stands out from the Victorian buildings in the town.
After your visit, you won’t be surprised that Brighton has been known as the unofficial gay capital in the UK, with the largest LGBTQ population and a vibrant gay scene.
When to visit
The first key element of visiting Brighton on a budget is when you travel.
The cheapest time to visit Brighton and really save money is by visiting during the winter season. Prices will be at the lowest. However, the cold and unpredictable winter weather doesn’t make it the best time to travel.
If you don’t mind travelling during the cold winter months, then head down to Brighton between November and February.
Why not visit Brighton during the shoulder months of September to October and March to May, prices are still at the lowest, yet weather conditions will be improving.
Of course, travelling during the summer months of June to August will be the best for weather, but prices will be the most expensive. If you are travelling on a budget, then you’ll want to avoid travelling during the summer.
We would also recommend were possible, to travel outside of the school holidays. Prices skyrocket during School holidays. Travel when children are in school and you could pick up a very good offer.
The currency used in Brighton; England is the £(GBP).
Overseas travellers will need to convert their currency into the £s. We would recommend taking enough cash with you for your holiday and a little bit extra for emergencies. You can also use debit or credit cards, but always check with your bank prior to travel. There could be a fee for non-Stirling transactions (it might be labelled differently in your home country).
In our experience, we were able to visit Brighton on a day trip for as little as £50.00. This included transport, food and sightseeing. Now that is a bargain. You will see how you could visit Brighton for as little as £50.00 later.
Things do in Brighton on a budget
Sightseeing can be a real budget killer, especially if you have to pay to enter the attraction.
We would recommend the following tips, on how to pick up free sightseeing tickets, or in some cases tickets at a fraction of the price.
- It is possible to get discounted tickets for top tourist attractions when you purchase the tickets in advance and online.
- Are there any travel cards available to purchase that allow discounted entry to certain places?
- Are there any multiple entry tickets for a number of attractions in the area? e.g. Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Preston Manor for £25.00.
- What tourist attractions are free, or have concessions for a certain day that is free. For example, every 4th Sunday is free entry.
To help you plan your trip to Brighton on a budget, we have detailed some of the things you could do in Brighton, along with information on any discounts you could pick up or free tourist attractions.
Free things to do in Brighton
One of the easiest ways of travelling to Brighton on a budget, is by visiting the free tourist attractions in the town. And there’s quite a few to do. Here are the free things to do in Brighton:
Brighton Palace Pier/Brighton Pier
Brighton Palace Pier, sometimes referred to as Brighton Pier was built at the end of the 19th Century when tourism to the town was at its height.
In the early days, there was a reading room, which later turned into a theatre, with famous entertainers performing there. It has been said that Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin played at Brighton Pier early on in their careers.
There have been some alterations over the years, with a new clock tower and a domed amusement arcade. There’re still the amusement arcades with a variety of games to play, a pub and a club. At the end of the pier are fair ground rides, with rollercoaster rides, sending adrenalin junkies flying around.
You wouldn’t catch us on the fairground rides, but keeping within a tight budget, we would just wander along the pier, while watching others have fun on the rides.
If we have budgeted for it, you may catch us spending a couple of pounds in the amusement arcades, trying to win a prize. But these can get addictive, so make sure you stick to the budget you set or just don’t play them at all. We would recommend a budget for the arcade of £2-£3.
Children will love to visit the pier; it certainly brings back childhood memories of my family letting me run wild in the amusement arcades. While couples will enjoy having a romantic walk along the pier hand in hand.
A trip to the seaside must include relaxing back on the beach soaking up the English weather.
Although Brighton doesn’t have a sandy beach, but it still brings crowds of tourists and locals down to the beach, especially in the summer.
Ideal for families and romantic couples, enjoying the day by the seaside, with a yummy homemade picnic.
A sure way to keep costs to a minimum and keeping to your budget, is to bring your own lunch, such as a picnic or a sandwich, while eating it on Brighton Beach.
The North Laines and The Lanes
The Laines was once the slums of Brighton, but is now the up-and-coming area with new pubs, cafes, theatres and museum’s popping up.
While the Lanes are little streets and alleyways, with boutique shops and cafes.
Explore the North Laines and Lanes for those Instagram shots of street art and graffiti. See the stunning work come to life on the side of these buildings.
Brighton Marina is a housing, shopping, restaurants and boating marina just east of Brighton. It even includes a bowling complex and a casino for entertainment. The marina is a bit of a walk from Brighton town center, but worth spending a short period of time here, admiring the extravagant boats.
If you are looking for a peaceful night out with friends or family then you’ll want to head to Brighton Marina. It is considerably quieter and definitely family friendly, compared to a night out in Brighton.
Brighton Pavilion Gardens
Want to relax in a beautiful garden while enjoying a picnic, instead of the beach, then you’ll want to be in Brighton Pavilion Gardens.
Not only will you have the incredible Architectual design of Brighton Pavilion to admire while you relax back, but you can check out the lovely flora and fauna that grows within the gardens.
The first stop on your visit to the UK, is normally via London. So, you’ll want to plan your London itinerary. We would recommend visiting for at least 4 days, to really make the most of this large city.
Things to do in Brighton
We have included other things to do in Brighton, but you will need to pay an entrance fee. Take this into account when you are budgeting for a trip to Brighton. We have included discounts that you could pick up that could save you some money.
Brighton Pavilion/Royal Pavilion
Opening times: 10am – 5:15pm, last admission 4:30pm
Cost: £15.50 per adult, £9.50 per child (5-18). All standard admission tickets include free return ticket for 1 year.
You can pick up a small discount if you are travelling with a family. Family ticket prices are as follows:
2 adults and 2 children £40.50 or 1 adult and 2 children £25.00.
If you want to visit the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Preston Manor, you can pick up tickets for all three attractions for £25.00 per adult and £15.00 per child, giving a further small saving while visiting Brighton on a budget. Family travelers can purchase the same, 2 adults and 2 children £65.00 and 1 adult and 2 children £40.00
You can book your tickets here.
This was our highlight of our trip, we enjoyed wandering around Brighton Pavilion exploring the grand rooms. The Pavilion was first built by King George IV after his first visit to Brighton in 1783.
The king saw something with the town and of course his doctor at the time informed him that the sea air would do him good, so Brighton soon became his holiday home.
At first there would have only been a breakfast room, dining room and library. Further expansion over the years included a new dining room, conservatory and stables with a riding school. There’s been further extension by the king over the years to what we see today.
On first sight of the Royal Pavilion, you can see the Indo-Saracentic architecture which makes it a real stand out and one we love. The interior is somewhat different, each room is furnished with a different theme. Sadly, photography and videography are forbidden, so we can’t show you inside, but you won’t want to miss exploring the Royal Pavilion.
After the king’s death, many of the fixtures and fittings were removed from the Pavilion and taken to either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. Since, some of the fixtures and fittings have been returned or replicas replace the original, restoring the interior back to the way King George IV would have had it.
In keeping with each rooms theme, there’s the intricate detail of the decorative walls, high sealings and those fixtures and fittings that make each room stand out in their own element.
It was a real shame that Queen Victoria didn’t enjoy Brighton or the Pavilion, saying it was due to the lack of privacy. In our opinion, it’s a very beautiful building and an iconic statement to Brighton.
If you can include visiting Brighton Pavilion in your budget, it would be highly recommended and one of the top places we would recommend to visit in Brighton.
British Airways I360
Tickets are called BA I360 flights: £16.50 per adult, young adult 16-24 £11.10 per person and children between 4-15 £8.25 per child. Children under 4 go free.
By purchasing your tickets in advance, online, you can make a small saving of £1.65 per adult. The online ticket price is £14.85 per adult, young adults aged 16-24 £10.00, children ages 4-15 £8.25 per child, children under 4 go free.
If you want convenience at a price, you can purchase the BA I360 anytime ticket at £17.50 per adult, online price £15.75. Young adults £12.10 per person, online price £10.89, children 4-15 £8.75, online price £7.85.
They don’t seem to offer any family deals.
You can book your tickets here
We did enjoy the flight as BA call it and it’s very similar to going through the airport, with your tickets checked, security etc,. but once you are past that, you can relax and get ready for the ride up above Brighton.
The flight is about 30 minutes, in a glass dome, that takes you up to about 162 metres (531ft), with full 360-degree views of Brighton. Its location is the exact same spot the old West Pier once stood between the seashore and the sea.
You can purchase drinks and snacks from the bar in the pod, but at an additional price. If you are celebrating or making it a romantic day trip or weekend away to Brighton, then the BA I360 is lovely way to do this. However, in our opinion, it really isn’t worth the money especially when travelling on a budget.
Where to stay on a budget
Accommodation can be one of the biggest things that eat into your budget.
A day trip to Brighton is easy and cheapest way to stay on a tight budget. But for some tourists, staying in Brighton allows them to explore the vibrant and colourful nightlife.
If you do wish to stay in Brighton, the most affordable places are hostels. You can stay in a dorm room, with shared bathroom for as little as £20.00 per night. Hostels are a great way to meet likeminded travelers. But hostels are not for everyone, especially the party lifestyle some live.
There’s plenty of other hotels and B&B’s in the city, some at a premium price, while others can be picked up for about £50.00-£100.00 per night.
To visit Brighton a budget, be flexible with your dates and try to avoid weekends as accommodation prices are normally more expensive than mid-week. You should look for accommodation that’s in a good location and of course within your budget.
As mentioned previously, try and avoid school holidays and during the peak season, as accommodation will be more expensive.
How to get around Brighton
Public transport is relatively inexpensive, but if you want to save money and enjoy your trip, we suggest walking where possible. The benefits of walking, means you can see hidden sights that you might have missed on public transport, think of the health benefits and the environment, but most importantly, how much money you are saving.
To help you to plan your trip on a budget, we have details on the cheapest way to get to and around Brighton.
If you are arriving by air, the closest airport to Brighton is London Gatwick. London Gatwick is about 30 miles from London and most travelers will head to the capital to start their holiday.
If you want to cover London at a later point in your itinerary, then take the direct Gatwick Express train from the airport to Brighton. The estimated journey time is about 30 minutes. Ticket prices from £8.80.
Prior to booking any flights to the UK, check the prices between landing at London Gatwick and London Heathrow. On many of our bookings, we have found London Gatwick to be a little cheaper to fly through than London Heathrow.
We would also recommend shopping around for the best deals on flights, always remain flexible with your travel dates and as mentioned previously, avoid school holidays, to get the best deals to travel.
The national express service from London Victoria connects Brighton with London, from £9.00 and takes about two and a half hours.
Want to explore more of the coast? Why not take the bus from Brighton to Eastbourne, taking in the scenic route over Beachy Head. Take bus 12 from Brighton from £4.60.
Day bus tickets around Brighton are available from £5.00 from the bus driver, this could be a saving if you will be catching the bus around the town. Alternatively, a PlusBus tickets at about £3.70 are available on top of your rail fare, giving you unlimited bus travel around Brighton for the day.
There’s a great train service that connects Brighton with many seaside towns on the south coast all the way from Hastings to Portsmouth, costing from £10.80+
Arriving from London on a day trip, take a train from either London St Pancras or London Victoria, from £18.10 and £26.70.
By purchasing train tickets online and in advance, could save you some money, compared to purchasing them at the train station on the day. Travelling by train compared to bus is somewhat more expensive. So, try and travel by bus where possible for the best rates.
Travelling by car is the most convenient way to visit Brighton on a budget. You don’t have to rely on a timetable to get you from A to B and it could work out to be a cheaper option compared to all the train tickets or bus tickets you’ll have to purchase. Plus, you have the option of visiting more with a road trip around the UK.
Yet, parking in Brighton can be extremely expensive. You could be looking at between £1.00-£4.00 per hour. A park and ride service at Withdean, with a secure car park and regular buses, making it easy to get into town for a fraction of the cost of parking in the city center.
Our most favored method of getting around Brighton is on foot. Not only is it free, it is great for the environment, but great for your health.
Brighton is relatively flat and most of the main attractions are within walking distance. Why purchase an additional bus ticket when you can walk around the town for free.
Tips on visiting Brighton on a budget
Do you ever wonder how people travel so often? Or how people travel the world full time? That’s simple! Travellers like us, plan, research, save and budget our holidays. Do you want to travel as much as possible or full time? All you have to do, is follow our simple tips on how to travel on a budget.
You’ll need to research where you want to go, when you want to travel, what you are prepared to spend on accommodation and how much you intend to spend per person per day for meals to establish your budget. Try some of these tips and techniques to be able to save more on your budget and travel more.
- Try travelling off season, as prices are often at their cheapest. By Booking off season, you could save more money compared to travelling during the summer months or school holidays.
- Book your flights in advance to pick up the best deals and book mid-week dates. Weekend travel tends to be more expensive.
- When shopping around for deals, search via incognito browser or clearing your browser history regularly. In our experience, we have shopped around for deals, before checking a week later and the price alters due to the tracking cookies from that website. If you search in incognito browser, you should have a more accurate deal.
- By registering with airlines for airmiles, you collect airmiles for every booking you make with them. As you collect the miles, you can apply the points to future trips, upgrades, or free flights.
- This links with the above, with certain credit card providers, they’ll offer points on airmiles for purchases you make on the card. The more you spend, the more points you could receive which in turn gives more savings on travel deals, upgrades, or free flights.
- Many attractions offer discounts for online ticket purchases, plan your holiday by visiting the attractions website and book tickets where appropriate.
- Check out what attractions are free, or what days are free entry, that way you could save more money, but also keeping within your budget.
- Are there any free classes in the area that you could be interested in? You could learn more about the culture, by taking up a class, but you would still have an adventure with free classes.
- Accommodation can sometimes be a real budget killer, staying in a hostel is cheaper and a great way to meet new people.
- If a hostel is not ideal for you, research what types of accommodation’s available, you could pick up a bargain by staying in a small B&B or hotel.
- Public transport can be inexpensive, especially if you can pick up a discounted public transport card. In our experience however, walking is the cheapest and best way to get around. It’s healthy for you, and environmentally friendly. But by walking you can stumble upon a hidden gem that you may have passed by on public transport.
- Prior to your trip, research the places to eat, check out their menu and price before you travel. Once you have found the places you want to eat, within your budget range, then include this in your itinerary. It’s also a good idea to have a budget in mind for how much you want to spend per person, per day, per meal. Our budget is £10.00 per person, per meal, per day, totalling £30.00 per person per day. If we can find a place that serves what we like for less, then we are saving money even before we travel, bonus.
- We would also recommend buying groceries from the local supermarket. The food is often cheaper and buying food can last for a number of days, meaning your money has gone further just on food.
Travelling really doesn’t have to be expensive, we have implemented these simple steps to allow us to still travel but have that adventure and so can you!
Where to eat on a budget
Why spend money on eating out in Brighton when you could just bring a picnic and eat it on the beach. If you purchase the food from your local grocery store and make it, not only will it be a healthy option, but a good way to cut your budget in half.
We would recommend making sandwiches, pasta, salads, packing fruit and healthy snacks to go in your picnic. Most of these foods will be cheap to buy and easy to make and pack ready for your trip to Brighton. If you are travelling as part of a couple or family/group, you could set your food budget for less than £10.00 for the entire trip rather than £10.00+ per person per meal.
You’re on holiday, why would you want to pack your own food, when you could eat out in a restaurant or café? If you do decide not to take a picnic or your own food with you to Brighton, then make sure you set a budget on how much you want to spend on meals per person per day and keep to it. It can be easy to exceed your food budget with eating out, especially when you have to pay for the meal, the drinks and sometimes the service charge on top.
To keep within a budget, do some research on places to eat. Go online and check where you could eat and check their menus before you travel. This will give you a good idea on the prices for a main meal and drinks. If the price is above your budget, move onto the next place until you find somewhere that’s within your budget.
Don’t forget you need to maintain your hydration. This will increase your food and drinks budget. To keep things to a minimum, bring your own drinks. Water is cheap and easy to come by. We have a water pouch plus reusable water bottles that we fill to keep us hydrated.
Not everyone likes plain water, so add a little bit of fruit juice with the water, again it is cheap and the best way to stay within your budget.
You can easily set a budget of £10.00 per person per meal just as we did.
Do you need ideas on where to eat in Brighton that’s on a budget? Then check out these places, where you can pick up a dish for about £10.00 per person.
Pinocchio is an Italian restaurant serving great food.
Their menu consists of pasta, pizza, spaghetti, burgers, sandwiches and desserts ranging from £6.50 – £13.00.
The dishes served are of a good size and very filling, so much so we couldn’t finish the food. But the food was delicious and well recommended.
Along the walls of the restaurant are small Pinocchio faces with different designs and images to tantalize you while you wait for you meal to arrive, while the staff are very friendly and welcoming.
If you are looking for good food at a reasonable price, then you should head here for a meal.
Located in Brighton Marina, serving Latin American food and very tasty it was too.
The dishes are little more expensive but you can still pick up dishes for about £10.00 per person.
We ordered the Ribs and a vegetarian burger. Both tasted delicious. The bean and beetroot burger were something we hadn’t had before, but would definitely recommend it, whether you are a vegetarian or not and only priced at £10.75. A little over the budget but in our opinion it’s definitely worth it.
Fish and chips
Seaside towns are not only famous for the fish and chips, but they have the best fish and chips you’ll find anywhere else in the country.
No trip to the seaside can ever go without fish and chips.
The best way to have fish and chips, is to order a take away and sit along the seafront. You can’t have fish and chips without curry sauce to dunk the chips in, with a side helping of mushy peas. Yum! Just mind the seagulls they will try and eat your food.
A portion of fish and chips normally cost between £8.00 – £14.00 depending on what you order and the size.
What to pack
Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.
The UK is seasonal, so depending on when you travel will depend on what you will need to pack.
It isn’t just the clothing you need to consider; you’ll need to pack the correct documents such as passport and visa if this is required.
Why not head over to our post on What to Pack for the UK. In this, we provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.
Brighton is the place to go for a good night out. Brighton is known (unofficially of course) as the LGBTQ capital of England. The nightlife is fantastic with many bars and clubs to dance the night away. Brighton has one of the largest LGBTQ communities and great for a night out. Here is a list of our favourite LGBTQ bars and clubs to visit in Brighton that we recommend:
This is our favourite place to visit, located on Prince’s Street. The first thing that we noticed with the Marlborough, is that its tucked away. When you go inside, it feels like you have gone back to the Victorian period, with its architecture and feel. This is an all-lesbian bar and the only lesbian bar in Brighton. Men are only invited in with female guests and it attracts a crowd of young and old. The Marlborough has a small theatre upstairs for shows, while downstairs there are 2 separate bars with a pool table on one side.
Located on Marine Parade, just past the pier on the seafront. Charles Street brings a mix of people. Many come here for pre drinks before heading to the clubs later in the evening. This has quite a relaxing atmosphere.
The R Bar
Also found on Marine Parade, just past the pier on the seafront, with a mixed crowd who come here to socialise and have pre drinks before heading around the corner to Revenge club. This is a friendly bar with a relaxing atmosphere.
This is the largest gay club in Brighton, covering 2-3 floors, with different music on each floor. There is a fee to get in and is paid for at the door. They often have different events each weekend and one of the best clubs playing great tunes.
We don’t want you to miss out on exploring the beautiful seaside town of Brighton, just because you feel you don’t have the finances to go. As detailed above, you can visit Brighton, for a day trip, for as little as £50.00. Just by visiting the free things to do in Brighton and bringing your own meals, all you will be spending your money on is the transport and if need be, the accommodation.
By following these simple tips and hacks, you’ll be visiting Brighton on a budget.
We hope you enjoy visiting Brighton just as much as we do.
Have you visited Brighton? What was your highlight? Did you set a budget and keep to it? Do you have any tips on how to visit Brighton on a budget that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know, by leaving a comment below.
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