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Brighton is a tourist city fifty miles south of London on England's south coast. It's a popular destination for visitors from the capital and across the world because of it's relaxed, informal nature; restaurants and nightclub scene.
A visit to Brighton should take in the following places:
The Royal Pavilion
Usually known as the 'Brighton Pavilion' or locally as just 'The Pavilion', this glorious building stands in the heart of Brighton and is the best historic building to visit in the city.
Originally a farmhouse, it was used as a seaside retreat for the then Prince Regent, who later became King George IV, who suffered poor health and visited Brighton to take advantage of the supposed healing properties of the local sea water.
The building was extended in to the 'Marine Pavilion', then in 1823 John Nash finished updating it for King George IV, adding domes and minarets for a distinctly Indian style. Nash also planned the Pavilion gardens, which are now much smaller due to the addition of more roads and buildings over the last two centuries.
It's a highly impressive building, both outside and in, and well worth a tour, which costs a small fee. If you're visiting the Pavilion, you may also want to visit Brighton Museum, which is on the edge of the Pavilion gardens. The museum grants free entry and has a variety of local art and historical pieces.
The Palace Pier
The only survivor of three piers built in Brighton, the Palace Pier opened in 1899 to house amusements and allow pleasure craft to take on passengers. It currently holds several amusement arcades, small shops for tourists, restaurants, nightclub and a small fun fair. In 2000 the name of the pier was changed to 'Brighton Pier' by it's owners, which caused some controversy as this is the official name of Brighton's West Pier, which was mooted for restoration at the time.
A visit to the pier is a must for it's kitsch attractions, and the view of the seafront available from the promenade.
The Lanes and North Laine
These are the interesting shopping areas of Brighton. While the large chain stores you can find in many English towns are available in the Churchill Square area, the strange, independent stores are almost all in the Lanes (also known as the East Lanes) and North Laine areas.
The Lanes are mainly known for their large number of antique and jewellery shops, although recent years have seen restaurants and fashion stores take over many of the shop fronts. The Lanes is a twisty, complex area where it can take several trips to find all of the streets hidden away around hidden turnings. It's based in the oldest part of Brighton and should you wish to visit the town hall and tourist information office, they're in the heart of the Lanes, and easier to find than many of the shops.
The North Laine is an area easily missed by visitors to the city, but starts close to the main railway station and leads through to the Pavilion and main chain shopping district. It is full of small shops run by independent traders backed by a strong community spirit. From a bead specialist through clubbing clothing to a myriad of book shops, if you like making obscure finds then this is the best area for you to shop.
As Brighton is a coastal city, it's only right to mention it's beach. If you're looking for lots of beautiful sand, you'll be sadly disappointed as it's populated mainly by pebbles, unless the tide is particularly low. However, it's also home to many beach front bars, nightclubs, a relaxed atmosphere, and free wi-fi internet between the Palace Pier and the old West Pier, thanks to a local community group.
The beach has been used for free film showings, and two live music events featuring DJ Fat Boy Slim, who lives nearby in Hove.
There's a lot more to Brighton than these few places, but if you're coming for a visit, they're ones you must see, and are all within a short walk of each other. If you're coming down from London then you can get a direct train and walk through the North Laine, visit the Pavilion, then continue through to The Lanes on your way to the beach and Palace Pier. If you're in a hurry, you can see them all within a couple of hours, but be warned, many people come for a visit and find they can't leave. Brighton's relaxed, informal nature is very enticing.
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