Brighton city centre is compact and enjoyable to navigate on foot or by bicycle (see Cycling along Brighton seafront). In The Lanes, North Laine and Western Road, vehicle access is restricted, making walking the best option. Or skateboarding. This is Brighton, after all.
Every so often, a novel form of public transport surfaces, then disappears. In the early 20th century Brighton had trams and, briefly, trolleybuses. More recently, we’ve had tuc-tucs, which were fun. A light rail system has been proposed once or twice. The one oddity which has survived is the Volks Electric Railway, which potters along Kemptown beach in the summer months.
For routine journeys, we currently have to content ourselves with taxis, buses and trains. These connect central Brighton with its suburbs and the surrounding area reasonably cheaply and efficiently.
Brighton taxis operate round the clock and are easily recognisable by their off-white and turquoise livery. There’s rarely a shortage of them. The biggest ranks are at the station, Queen Square near the Clocktower and East Street near The Lanes. You can also hail them in the street or book them by phone (try 01277 204060 or 01273 295295). All journeys are metered, except for certain long-distance trips (to Gatwick or Heathrow airports, for example), which have a fixed price.
Brighton’s main railway station is in the city centre, half a mile uphill from the seafront. Hove station is 1.5 miles west, around five minutes away by train. The city also has several suburban stations on the lines to London, Lewes and Littlehampton.
Brighton and Hove buses (www.buses.co.uk) are frequent and efficient. They’re not as visitor-friendly as they might be, though. The indicators on buses and bus stops just tell you where each bus terminates, not where they stop on the way, and the route maps at stops are rather hard to read, if there at all.
Get to grips with all this, though, and they come in handy. Fares start from £1 for certain short hops in the centre. A one-day CitySaver, for unlimited daytime bus travel in and around Brighton, costs £3.70 from the driver or £3 by online mail order from www.buses.co.uk.
Getting to and from Brighton by public transport
Direct trains connect both Brighton and Hove with London Victoria or London Bridge. Fares on permanent promotion start from as little as £10 return. The fastest trains take well under an hour and the service is good enough to allow a great many Brighton residents to commute into London each day. Few would pretend it’s a stress-free way of life, though.
There are also direct trains between Brighton and St Pancras Eurostar terminal, Luton Airport and all stations on the Thameslink line. Long-distance destinations include Southampton and Bristol.
Direct coach services run to London and a handful of other towns, but they’re mostly outclassed by the trains. The nearest ferry port to Brighton is Newhaven, from which there are regular passenger services to Dieppe.
For advice on transport to and from London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Southampton airports, see Brighton flights.
Driving and parking
Brighton is very well connected by road to London, Sussex and the southeast. However, every weekend, particularly in summer, the main roads into town jam with traffic. To save yourself some stress, you could use the free park and ride car park at Withdean Stadium, signposted from the A23 just north of the city. It has regular bus connections to the centre and is in the CitySaver zone.
If you’re determined to drive into central Brighton – totally understandable if it’s a sunny day and you feel like cruising the seafront with the windows open or the top down – you’ll need to familiarise yourself with its network of one-way and restricted-access streets.
You’ll also have to pay by the hour or by the day for parking. Few hotels in central Brighton have their own car park, and there’s limited street parking for non-residents.
One option is to look for pay-and-display street parking. You’ll need a handful of coins for the ticket machine. Some limit your stay to two or four hours. If you’re planning a day on the beach, then good places to look for all-day street parking include the seafront east of Brighton Pier (Madeira Drive) and west of the Peace Statue (Kingsway).
If you’re going shopping, you’ll probably want to use the main public car parks. The multi-storey car park at Brighton Marina is free (and there’s cheap petrol here too); others charge £2–5 for two hours or up to £25 for 24 hours. The Trafalgar Street car park on Blackman Street is one of the best bargains at £12.50 per 24 hours.
Good news for electric car fans: Brighton has recently introduced a few on-street electric vehicle charging points.
For details of local car and van rental options, see Brighton car hire.
Find out more
There’s a journey planner, car park map, details of Brighton’s new electric vehicle charging points and other useful transport information on the Brighton and Hove City Council Journey On website, www.journeyon.co.uk.
Trains: National Rail Enquiries www.nationalrail.co.uk
Coaches: National Express www.nationalexpress.com