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Brighton is a colourful, quirky city packed with culture, enjoyed by locals, students and the millions of people who visit each year. Here, we share a few ideas on what to do, where to eat and how to keep to your budget in Brighton, an ideal city for a staycation or weekend away.

Wherever you go this summer, bring along your Starling card as a travel companion. Contactless payments make for safe and easy transactions and you can track all your spending using the holiday category. With Starling, you can enjoy Britain on Tap, with a tap of your card.

Unmissable: Brighton beach

Brighton is a city for wanderers: stroll through The Lanes past record shops and flea markets, pick your way through the flowers at Brighton Pavilion or walk along the shingle to the Palace Pier.

Brighton beach
Catching some rays on the beach

Between the sunbathers and fishing lines, you’ll find plenty of activities and attractions dotted all the way along Brighton’s beachfront. The beach is a wonderful place to enjoy your day - Brighton and Hove City Council has asked that people move to the less crowded spots where necessary.

Brighton Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion, a wonderfully exotic building in the centre of Brighton

At one end are the rainbow beach huts at Hove Lawns, at the other there’s a family-friendly ultraviolet crazy golf course on Mermaid Walk near Brighton Marina. Globalls 12 hole course is open until late everyday and costs £5.95 per round. By the Marina, you’ll also find a bowling alley and usually, a series of buskers playing on the boardwalk throughout the summer months.

Brighton beach huts
Brighton’s brightly coloured beach huts

At the Palace Pier, the charm of Victorian kiosks collides with the flashing lights of dodgems alongside candy floss stalls and fish and chip shops. A weekday ticket for unlimited rides costs £20.

The other existing pier is the West Pier. Today, all that remains is an iron skeleton following the 2003 fire, but the West Pier Trust is currently looking into creating another contemporary pier. Opposite the West Pier, you’ll find the British Airways i360 observation tower, which is 450ft tall. You can save 10% on tickets when you book online.

Eating out

While fish and chips on the pier is a quintessential Brighton experience, you’ll find cheaper options back on shore or along in Hove. Wolfies of Hove is a family-run business that’s been going for 25 years. It sells sustainably sourced fish and makes chips from local hand-cut potatoes.

For bold Mexican food, try La Choza and for pizza, head to Fatto a Mano, both offering discounts Monday - Wednesday in August through the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Brighton is famous for its burgers - meat and vegan alike. Wolfsmouth and The Bok Shop both come highly recommended.

The Real Junk Food Project have a pay-what-you-feel policy for their homemade food and cakes, served by volunteers in community centres across Brighton. Their mantra is to ‘feed bellies, not bins’ - simultaneously tackling the problems of food waste and too many people going hungry. If you can afford to, give generously to support those in need.

Great coffee is another staple of Brighton. Pelicano is open for takeaways, as are all three outlets of Café Coho.

Travel

Going to Brighton from London Victoria by train only takes an hour - to get a better deal, buy your ticket in advance and consider going to Hove station rather than Brighton.

Brighton view
A view down to the sea

Once you arrive at Hove, make your way to Brighton centre by heading down towards the sea and left along the beachfront - the perfect half hour walk to start your day. You could also cycle using BTN BikeShare. Docks for the turquoise bikes can be found across the city. It costs 3p per minute and if you cycle for more than half an hour and download the BTN BikeShare app, you can collect a free can of Life Water, available at various vendors.

Accommodation

For those heading to Brighton for the weekend, you might want to look into staying at Artist Residence. Every room in this central, boutique hotel is unique, decorated by an artist. The restaurant downstairs, The Set, is equally stylish and serves a seasonal 14-course tasting menu.

If your budget is for a hostel rather than a hotel, check availability at Seadragon. It’s located in a regency building a stone’s throw from the beach.

Entertainment & Shopping

Brighton’s independent cinema the Duke of York’s can be recognised from the black and white striped legs that flick up towards the sky. Even more flamboyant stockings can be found in Brighton’s fancy dress and vintage shops.

Top recommendations include Beyond Retro with its analogue photobooth, To Be Worn Again which has £3 and £5 rails, and Snoopers Paradise, where you’ll find everything from 1920s lamps to 80s games consoles.

Brighton shops
Enjoy a stroll around Brighton’s many independent shops

For some organised fun with friends, why not download a map from Black Cat Treasure Hunts, available from only a few pounds, and discover the stories of East Sussex. Alternatively, you could book an Only in Brighton Walking Tour, currently with a maximum capacity of five people to enable social distancing.

The walking tour is a great way to warm up your weekend before you head to one of Brighton’s many bars and clubs, lots of which fly rainbow flags all year round. The legendary Prince Albert pub is a Brighton favourite by the rail station, and boasts a huge, kaleidoscopic mural of great musicians. For a pub with an on-site microbrewery and real ales on tap, head over to Hand in Hand close to the sea front.

Have a great staycation.

Businesses and attractions featured in the article have put social distancing and hygiene measures in place, according to information on their websites or social media.

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