The Top 13 Free Things To Do In Brighton17 March, 2022by Bounce
Brighton is but one of the areas that comprise the city of Brighton and Hove. Usually known simply as Brighton, this seaside town is known for its iconic pier, sandy beaches, and tons of museums and art galleries. Brighton sees upwards of ten million visitors a year and has something that will appeal to any taste. One of the main features of Brighton is its link to the outdoors. It sits on the doorstep of South Downs National Park, has many city parks, and the landscape is dominated by the crashing ocean.
Traveling in England, and Europe in general, can get expensive, so it's nice to know that there is an abundance of free things to do in Brighton to offset the high costs of other attractions and hotels. Many museums offer free entry, as does the iconic Brighton Pier. The beach or the park is a perfect location to relax, and even some nighttime events are free.
As you explore all the free things to do in Brighton, make sure you're not wrestling unnecessarily with your bags. Hit up a Bounce luggage storage in the city and you'll know that your possessions are safe. Don't forget to grab your bathing suit and a towel for the beach!
Brighton Palace Pier
Suitable for both young and old, the Brighton Pier is your one-stop-shop for carnival-like entertainment. Entrance to the pier is completely free, and you can easily spend a few hours without spending a dime. The atmosphere is charged with kids enjoying themselves and the air is full of the aroma of fair foods like burgers, popcorn, and candy floss. Unfortunately, if you want to partake in any of the rides or games, you'll have to get out your wallet, but they provide comfortable seating where you can immerse yourself for free.
Annually from November to March, the resident and transient starlings put on a free aerial show for spectators. Although it's not guaranteed, you can often see thousands of these birds dancing in sync in the sky. Lucky for you, they don't charge admission. If you do want to shell out a few bucks, the best deal is a wristband that you can purchase online and save up to 25 percent off the in-person price at this Victorian pier.
Almost directly below the Brighton Pier are the shores of Brighton Beach. This public beach is truly one of the best free things to do in Brighton. Its proximity to the pier offers a fun atmosphere where you can hear the faint sounds of rides and arcade games while listening to the waves. The water is swimmable, albeit fairly cold, and if the weather is favorable, you can take a dip. It's safest to swim at low tide because when the tide is high strong winds often follow, which can make it difficult to get in and out of the water.
Grab your towels, sunscreen, and a chair if you have it and plan to spend an afternoon or even an entire day here. You can bring a picnic or stop in at one of the many restaurants and kiosks that line the street parallel to the beach.
For another beach day option, consider heading to Hove Beach for a quieter and more relaxed experience. Hove is considered the posh side of the city, although it used to be a quaint fishing village, and you'll find the beach on the opposite side of the pier. The beach now boasts tons of watersports including sailing and kitesurfing (this should also give you an indication of what the wind might be like) as well as on-land activities such as tennis, an arcade, and mini-golf. These activities will cost you, but after a free day at the beach, you may be prepared to spend a little.
The home of many yachts and other vessels, Brighton Marina is a free place to head towards the eastern end of the Brighton seafront. It's a great place to bring a picnic and watch the boats venture in and out of the harbor and the ideal spot for some window shopping. The marina area is home to several art galleries, boutique shops, and casual restaurants. To get to the pier from the Marina, one of the most fun ways to travel is on Volk's Electric Railway. It's the oldest electric railway in the country and runs almost directly along the seafront, so you know the views will be good. It's an open train, and although it's not free, the prices are quite reasonable for a unique experience riding a train and taking in the sea air. Depending on how far you go, a single ride half a mile up the track costs £2.45 for adults.
Old Police Cells Museum
Found in the basement of the Brighton Town Hall, the Old Police Cells Museum is just that - a museum devoted to jail cells and everything to do with policing throughout Brighton's history. You get an informative tour right in the center of town and it won't cost you a penny. Before heading in, take the opportunity to view the exterior of the town hall that dates back to 1832. The police cells were still used up until the 1960s and still feature graffiti from serial killers. The tour includes colorful stories, including one about the Chief Constable's death back in 1844. There's something haunting about being underground in an old jail while recounting these historic events that will give you goosebumps.
Alongside the jail cells, you can peruse various artifacts, uniforms, and police equipment from throughout the jail's history.
Mechanical Memories Museum
For something a little different, and a museum unique to Brighton, visit the Mechanical Memories Museum. The location exhibits functioning penny-in-the-slot machines that date from the early 1900s to the 1960s. The museum also restores these machines and it is run entirely by volunteers. The museum offers free entry but offers old pennies for purchase to use if you want to try one or two of the machines. These small donations help the museum stay open and can be worked into most travelers' budgets.
Hove Museum & Art Gallery
Due to its vast collection of toys, the Hove Museum & Art Gallery is one of the wonderful family-friendly free things to do in Brighton. Aside from toys, the Hove Museum offers visitors access to one of the finest craft collections in England. The museum & art gallery is set in an old Victorian-style villa with an Indian influence making the building itself worthy of a few snaps. The museum also delves into the history of Brighton, functions as a contemporary art gallery, and showcases the quirky Wizard's Attic, which is said to be the home of a resourceful Wizard who repairs toys aided by mice assistants. This is a great place for the whole family.
Royal Pavilion Gardens
Also known as the Brighton Pavilion, this stunning residence was built in three stages for the Prince of Wales, later King George IV. The construction began in the late 1700s and was completed much later. The pavilion is a short walk from the pier and if you want a free activity, you'll have to stick to observing the exterior.
The Royal Pavilion gardens house the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, which is free for Brighton and Hove residents. The cost to enter the museum for an adult is a reasonable £6.25. A worthwhile stop, even if you don't intend to enter the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery or the pavilion, the gardens provide a green oasis in the middle of the city. You'll find locals and tourists sprawled on the grass reading, eating, and relaxing amid the busyness of the pier and seafront. The gardens are sandwiched between the two picturesque buildings adding to the aesthetic in the city's cultural quarter.
Another park in town worthy of a picnic or relaxing break is Preston Park. It's the largest urban park in the city north of the center. It has rolling green lawns, a children's playground, tennis courts, and football (soccer) pitches. This is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the main Brighton tourist area, especially in the summer. The park is certainly large enough for a walk, even though it may not be one of the best hiking spots in Brighton. The park is accessible by car, bus, bike, and is only a few blocks from the Preston Park Train Station.
Brighton Open Market
Given all the time you'll likely spend at Brighton parks or at the beach, a stop at the historic open market is a must. It's a fabulous place to soak up the local atmosphere as well as stock your picnic basket. With over 40 independent traders and retailers, plenty of artist studios, and restaurants with seating, this market beckons tourists daily to the London Road community.
If you don't buy anything, it's easily one of the best completely free things to do in Brighton. But, know before you go that the place is going to tempt you to reach for your wallet or purse. Spices, honey, produce, clothing, and other trinkets await you and are sure to test your resolve to keep costs down. You need souvenirs for friends and family at home anyway, right?
Brighton Fishing Museum
The Brighton Fishing Museum is another museum with free entry that highlights local history as it relates to the seaside and maritime life. Catch a glimpse of a traditional Sussex fishing boat measuring 27 feet. The museum focuses on how the fishing industry has changed starting in the 1700s to today with many artifacts, photos, and other memorabilia. It also shows the evolution of the Brighton seafront over the years, and its humble beginnings may shock you when you see how it looks now.
The Booth Museum of Natural History welcomes tourists and locals without a fee. The focus here is on animals such as birds and butterflies as well as fossils and bones. Animal lovers will enjoy a trip to this museum dedicated to the natural world. The museum was originally founded using a personal collection from Edward Booth in 1874. His love of birds resulted in an astounding collection of Victorian-era taxidermy. The building is quirky and holds over 500,000 insects, 30,000 plants, and 50,000 rocks and minerals. The museum is passionate about protecting the environment and conservation, which they assist through education. This one is fascinating for kids and adults and anyone who has a soft spot for animals.
Sample the Nightlife
Brighton is somewhat famous for its thriving nightlife. The town is stacked with family-friendly activities during the day, but at night, adults can find many additional things to do. As for the nightlife, if you want to eat or drink anything, obviously that's going to cost you, but there are a couple of options that are completely free except for this.
Head to the Green Door Store, which is a live music venue in an out-of-service railway yard. You'll recognize it from its namesake green door and the live music spilling into the air, and the venue offers free entry. Aside from the Green Door Store, you can keep your eyes out for some free nights of comedy. The Ruby and the Victory Inn often have these free comedy events that showcase the brightest local talents.
It's not difficult to find free things to do in Brighton, and there's something for all preferences here, whether it's the outdoors, history, art, nightlife, or free things for the kids. Brighton really has it all and you can supplement your free attractions with ones that charge if there's something that really calls to you. Otherwise, you could happily tour the city without spending anything, except for food and drinks.
No matter where you choose to go in Brighton, you can take in the refreshing sea air, partake in some wholesome carnival-themed fun, and learn a little something along the way.