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One of the UK's busiest seaside resorts, Brighton is known for its beautiful architecture, fantastic art community, Blue Flag beach and premier nightlife. It is 47 miles south of London, making it a popular spot for Londoners on hot weekends, but during the week its beaches are much less crowded and ideal for a relaxing holiday. The South Downs National Park acts as a backdrop of this lively city, while other seaside destinations such as Eastbourne and Worthing are less than an hour away. A car should not be used in the city itself during the peak season, but is useful for exploring outside of Brighton and for taking drives along the coast.
Who to Book With
Established companies, such as Avis, Europcar and Hertz offer a variety of vehicles for rent, as do local outfitters City Car Clubs and Choice Vehicle Rentals. Most car hire offices are situated near the Brighton and London Road railway stations, with a few also near Churchill Square. Reserving a car rental online ahead of time is recommended to make sure that a vehicle is available and that you get the lowest rates.
Best time to go
Brighton is best visited in the summer time (June to August), though weekends can get extremely crowded. If visiting during a key festival, such as the Brighton Festival, Festival Fringe and Brighton Pride, expect to see a rise in prices. To avoid the crowds arrive during the week or visit in the spring.
Need to Know Essentials
When picking up your car hire, the following documents need to be produced:
- A valid UK driving licence or International Driving Permit
- Proof of identification
- The credit card used when the online booking was made
- Booking confirmation
The streets in Brighton can get terribly congested during peak times of the year and during major festivals. Parking is not easy to find, though there are some car parks around but these do not come cheap at around £1.50 each hour. The best option is to park at a nearby Park and Ride and then take the bus into the city. On-street, pay and display parking is available but can be difficult to find and expensive, with tariffs running from £1 to £3.50 per hour. There are also multi-level car parks throughout Brighton that allow for 24-hour parking.
The coastal route A27 skirts the city, connecting it to Westham, to the east, and west to Chichester and the M3. Route A23 runs from Brighton north to Crowley and London Gatwick Airport, where it then meets the M23. This then connects Brighton to the M25, connecting it with the rest of England. All routes in and out of Brighton are toll-free.
Most roads surrounding Brighton are major trunk routes that are marked with green signs and yellow labelling. Motorways are identified by having blue signs with white writing. The coastal A259 is a two-lane highway that runs from Rye to Chichester, with the 12-mile stretch between Eastbourne and Hastings pegged as the most dangerous road in the region, so extreme caution should be taken if driving along that portion of the road.
The Brighton & Hove Bus Company runs most of the buses through the city and provides the best transportation throughout Brighton and Hove. Local Big Lemon buses operate one public route from Woodingdean to Brighton Marina, which is another option. A more scenic way to traverse the city is by the coastal Volk's Electric Railway, which is the oldest electric train in the world. Taxis are plentiful in Brighton, though a tad on the expensive side, and will take visitors to any destination of their choice.
The Brighton Railway station is the main railway station in the city and is run by Southern Rail. Trains leave here to travel along the coast to the west, the east and north to London, while stopping at Gatwick Airport along the way. The Gatwick Express also connects Brighton to London Gatwick Airport, which departs every 15 minutes and costs £18.90 for a one-way journey and £33.20 return. Brighton’s London Road Railway station is located on the northern end of the city and runs along the East Coastway Line.
A large taxi rank is located right outside of the Brighton Railway station, while smaller ranks are dotted around the city. There is an endless supply of taxis in Brighton, though they are generally more expensive than in most other cities, but do charge by distance using a metre, not on a fixed rate. Reputable taxi companies in Brighton include Streamline Taxis and Radio Cabs.
Buses and Trams
Buses in Brighton are not cheap, though they do provide for a great way to get around. The Brighton & Hove Bus Company offers an extensive service, with all areas of the city easily accessible. It also runs buses to nearby destinations such as Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells. Stagecoach and National Express provide buses for longer journeys, such as to London and Portsmouth.
Tickets for Brighton’s local buses can be purchased directly from the driver, with a single fare in the Brighton and Hove area costing £2.20. It is also possible to pay for a short hop fare, which is £1.50. The best deal is to purchase a saver ticket from a local shop or post office, in which a day pass is £4 and a seven-day pass is £19.
Brighton’s location in South East England means that there are plenty of opportunities for taking excursions outside of the city. There is much to see and do in the region, with Brighton well connected by road to all areas within South East England and drives being no more than a couple of hours.
South Downs National Park - Located just north of the city and offers visitors a chance to see a wide range of different landscapes and visit picturesque towns and villages. The area of outstanding beauty covers an area of 628 square miles dotted with sandstone cliffs, rolling hills, ancient woodlands and valleys, and all can be discovered by car. The park can also be enjoyed by walking or horseback riding along the South Downs Way.
Lewes Castle - This castle stands on an artificial mound overlooking the town of Lewes. This ancient Norman castle is famous for its stunning views that span most of Sussex, though the building itself is just as impressive. The castle is open daily from 10:00 to 17:30 and houses a museum, a gift shop and a book store. This quick 8.5 mile journey makes for a great day trip.
Ashdown Forest - This is a haven for nature lovers, as it is home to heathland, streams, woodland, and a variety of birds, insects and deer. The entire forest is accessible by road, including Vachery Forest Garden, Nutley Windmill, Ashdown Forest Llama Park and Old Lodge Nature Reserve. The forest is also the setting of the famous Winnie-the-Pooh stories and many sights can be recognised from these enchanting tales.