There are lots of different ways of getting around Brighton that include pedal power, a vintage train, and several forms of public transport. When all is said and done, Brighton isn't a big city so the centre and seafront are best done on foot. That way you get to capture the sights and sounds of this very UK seaside resort without increasing your carbon footprint.
If you're staying in the outer suburbs of Brighton then you'll find using buses is convenient and relatively economical if you purchase the right ticket for your requirements.
A car will make you more independent, but the inner streets are very narrow, often pedestrianized, and parking spaces frequently hard to find. Brighton is a bike-friendly city and has a great network of cycleways, but forget getting an e-scooter and whizzing around on one of those, or you could end up with a hefty fine.
When you're cycling or using busy buses the last thing you need with you is your suitcase. Stash your bag in the cycle basket and even if it doesn't block your view, it'll make pedaling hard going. Bumping other passengers on the buses with your case won't make you very popular. The best solution is to leave your bags at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Brighton. Do that and they'll be in a security tagged and fully insured luggage locker where they'll be out of the way, but you'll have access to them whenever you need.
Before going more into the best ways to get around Brighton in the UK, here are the answers to a couple of frequently asked questions that may make you change your mind about using the local bus service:
Can I Get Around Brighton On Foot?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes. In fact, if you're staying in Brighton city centre or along the seafront then you'll find getting around on foot is possibly the best way of exploring. If you're planning on going shopping in Brighton then The Lanes will more than likely be at the top of your list and that's an area that's definitely best done on foot.
Can I Get Around Brighton On A Bicycle?
The answer to that is also a big yes. Brighton has an excellent network of cycle paths and the local authorities encourage bike-sharing schemes. If you asked a local how to get around Brighton they'd more than likely answer on a bicycle, how else?
One of the best cycleways in Brighton is along the seafront. It's nice and flat with no surprise hills and has great views of the sea as well as Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion. There are many more cycleways running through the inner city and through the suburbs as well as areas like Brighton Marina.
There are several shops where you can hire bicycles and electric bikes which are perfect for tackling longer rides like the route from the seafront to the Sussex Downs or the nine-mile-long coastal cycle path between Shoreham and Rottingdean. If that's not enough, you can always pedal the lengthy South Downs Way. For a full picture of all the Brighton cycle paths, you can download a map from the official Cycle Brighton website.
How To Get Around Brighton
Even though now you know that two of the best ways of getting around Brighton are on foot and by bicycle, there may be times when they just might not be practical or aren't the most suitable for you personally.
Brighton does have a train station, but don't let that fool you into thinking you'll be traveling around the city by high-speed train; you won't. The only train that runs around Brighton is one of the mini kinds that takes tourists on trips to see the sights. Brighton doesn’t have a metro service either.
Buses are plentiful though and a reasonably economic way of getting from a to b within the city limits or to towns nearby. For longer journeys, they can be very time-consuming, so think twice before jumping on one.
How To Get Around Brighton By Bus
Brighton and Hove Bus Service
The Brighton and Hove Bus Service operate a network of routes throughout Brighton and beyond linking the city to top sightseeing places like the South Downs National Park, Devil's Dyke, Stanmer Park, Ditchling Beacon, and the Seven Sisters to name just a few.
The two main bus stops are outside Brighton station and the Churchill Square Shopping Centre in the city center, but not all services use these stops. You can find a comprehensive route map and timetables for all services on the Brighton and Hove Bus Service website. They also have a downloadable app that has a journey planner and bus tracker.
There are multiple discount fare tickets you can purchase, which makes traveling on Brighton buses very economical. It depends on how long you'll be staying in Brighton and how often you plan on using the bus service as to which is the best for you. A full list of available travel passes and fares is listed on the official website.
You'll find the Brighton and Hove bus service night routes are great if you're planning on doing some of the amazing things to do in Brighton at night and don't want to fork out for expensive cab fares.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus In Brighton
One of the best ways to explore Brighton if you're new to the city is to take a tour on the hop-on-hop-off bus.
The bright red, open-top double-decker operates from ten in the morning until five in the afternoon and covers a loop route with ten stops. Main sights on the route are the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Palace Pier, Grand Avenue, the clocktower, the Sea Life Centre, and Brighton Beach. If you take the full tour without getting off it takes around an hour.
Tickets are valid for twenty-four hours and during that time you can get on and off as many times as you want. The ticket is valid for unlimited travel on all Brighton and Hove bus services the same day too which makes it an absolute bargain. You can use it to head out of Brighton to see the Devil's Dyke or the famous white cliffs known as the Seven Sisters.
National Express Coach Services
If you land at Gatwick Airport and there's no convenient train, you'll find National Express runs an economic coach service from the airport to Brighton. There are also coach services from Heathrow to Brighton and from London Victoria Coach Station to Brighton. National Express does not run services around Brighton or in the city center itself.
The service runs sixteen times a day from Brighton Coach Station on the seafront near the Royal Pavilion to both terminals of Gatwick Airport. Estimated journey time is forty-five minutes but can take longer. The trip between Heathrow and Brighton takes approximately two hours and from central London about three.
NB: It's advisable to reserve your seat on National Express coaches in advance as places are limited.
How To Get Around Brighton By Train
You can't use trains to get around Brighton, but you can use them to get there from other cities, Gatwick Airport, and use it as a means of going between Brighton and Hove if you want to.
Brighton Train Station
Brighton train station is on Queens Road in the city center and is the southernmost station on the Brighton Main Line which is the commuter line between London and Brighton. Brighton station is one of the busiest in England and four different rail companies, Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Western Railway, and Thameslink all operate from there. Main destinations they run to are Gatwick Airport, London Victoria, London Bridge, and the East Coast.
Journey times between Brighton and London are around an hour and a half. The trip from Brighton to Gatwick takes on average about an hour.
Hove Train Station
Many visitors to Brighton choose not to stay in the city itself, but prefer the smaller town a bit further along the Sussex coast called Hove.
Hove has its own train station from where the majority of services are operated by Southern. There are services running to Brighton, London Victoria, Portsmouth, and a few other nearby towns on the Sussex coast.
The journey time between Hove and Brighton is five minutes but on some slower weekend services can take approximately half an hour.
Volks Electric Railway
Volks Electric Railway is a vintage electric railway that runs along the edge of Brighton beach. The train runs along a short one and a quarter-mile long track which extends between the Aquarium Station near Brighton pier to Brighton Marina.
The electric railway is one of Brighton's main attractions and runs a frequent service with departures every fifteen minutes from mid-morning to late afternoon seven days of the week. You don't need to pre-book, just get your ticket from the station master and jump aboard.
This is a fun thing to do if you’re traveling with kids and there are great discount family tickets available so it’s a low-cost and enjoyable activity that won't leave you out of pocket.
How To Get Around Brighton By Car
There are various taxi companies operating in Brighton who all offer a twenty-four-hour service. If you're out and about in the central area of the city and don't want to walk anymore, you'll find taxi ranks on James Street, East Street, and many other of the city's main streets as well as outside of the train station.
You can pre-book taxis with most companies like Hove Radio Cabs, Brighton and Hove City Cabs, and myDriver, either by calling their central office or by using their phone app. The cab companies also have webpages where you can book online if you prefer.
Pre-booking a taxi has the advantage of fixing the ride price so even if the cab gets stuck in traffic you won't be charged more.
It's always good to have your own transport so you can go where you want when you want. Unless you're planning on going exploring in Sussex, hiring a car to drive around Brighton isn't the best option - especially if you're not used to driving on the left.
One of the big dampeners to self-drive hire is parking. Brighton has narrow streets where you can't leave a vehicle and large parking lots are few and far between. There are a number of metered parking places around the city and along the seafront, but they're in high demand so you could easily spend an hour or more driving around looking for a vacant one.
If you're steadfastly determined to rent a car when you're in Brighton check with the hotels you're interested in before you book accommodation there to see if they have parking places available. It'll save you time and stress in the long run if they have.
If you're driving around searching for a parking place and think you've struck lucky when you see a vacant lot on Madeira Drive, think again. This parking area is reserved for coaches only so don't leave your vehicle there or it'll get towed.
Brighton really is a city best discovered either on foot or by bicycle. You don't really need to hire a car or even use public transport unless you're planning on taking a day trip and heading further afield than Brighton Marina.
Walk or cycle around Brighton and you'll have a relaxed time free of worrying about which side of the road you should be on and if you're going round the roundabouts the right way. When you walk, you'll be able to immerse yourself completely in the great atmosphere Brighton has and be able to snack on some pickled cockles, whelks, or shrimp as well as have an ice cream while you're doing it.