This month I've dedicated the top ten to the sea side city of Brighton, visited every year by eight million fellow travelers. With over 400 restaurants and £408 million laid down every twelve months, this top destination is definitely doing something right. Here's our spin on it.
1. THE ROYAL PAVILION
Imagine an Indian Palace decked out with the finest Chinese designs and a mixture of Islamic and Moghul decorative influences. Now add to this an ornate, one ton chandelier suspended in the jaws of a giant, jewel encrusted dragon as it perches on a bronze palm tree - in the middle of an enormous dome, and you have a small insight into the interior of this fantastic attraction. This former regal residence attracts close to 300,000 visitors a year and the super friendly audio guide is well worth the investment. The view from the Tea Room, as you clog your arteries with clotted cream, scones and sugary Earl Grey is also a must.
2. THE SEA LIFE CENTRE
Yes you can go to aquariums in most world cities but this one has history and a twenty seven stone Green Turtle, rescued after it went off course and ended up in the Channel Islands. After this underground shelter was commandeered by the army during World War Two it sadly fell into disrepair. Today however it's back on top and offers an eclectic mix of marine creatures, an attractively disconcerting submarine tunnel and regular shark feeding sessions. The exit also takes you onto the pebbled beach and to a glorious view of the pier.
3. BRIGHTON PIER
You'll find the surviving pier near Grand Junction and from its promenade you can observe what remains of the old West Pier. After significant storm damage and several arson attacks, all that's left of this former wonder is metal shell. It is however a very photographable attraction and is the base for the stunning acrobatic activities of summer Starlings. Back on the functioning pier you will find arcades, wedding parties, restaurants, stalls and lots of lovely sea side food. The fish and chips here almost rival the goodies on offer in Whitby.
4. THE LANES
If mint condition, vintage Ralph Lauren for £20, old school telephones, knock off designer shades and random - giant stuffed animals are your thing, then you'll love The Lanes. These boutique ridden narrow streets are stuffed with the finest clothes, the cutest eateries and the most bizarre collections of memorabilia that you could ever imagine. Add to this mix - street performers and the welcome absence of commission based, charity street collectors, and you have an afternoon of activities made in heaven.
5. THEATRE ROYAL BRIGHTON
If you didn't make it to the theatre in London's famed West End, then you can see the same productions at this two hundred year old venue. The Take That mishap of a musical aside, you can enjoy some top notch shows here, including the nude, horse orientated antics of Equus. This production doesn't feature Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, but the quality and subsequent audience pulling power is the same.
6. BRIGHTON FESTIVAL
This is the largest arts event in England and for three weeks every May, it takes over Brighton. In a non contemporaneous nutshell you can expect more than seven hundred, unique showcases of musical, thespian and artistic talent. In terms of 2008 you can expect the best of French ballet set to Brazilian street beats, an expose on song lyrics from former Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker, Shakespeare à la Carte and the Soul power of James Brown from the tribute act, Still Black, Still Proud.
7. THE BEACHFRONT
If you do like to be beside the sea then you'll love to be on the Beachfront in Brighton. From sport on the artificial sands of the Nivea Sun Yellowave beach to the first public electric railway, there's something here to catch your eye. You can play Petanque on the seafront, sail past the Regal architecture and windsurf in one of the Hove lagoons. You can also find artistic inspiration in the Artists' Quarter - where more than twenty workshops churn out stained glass, iron work, oil on canvas and other beautiful bespoke pieces.
8. THE BRIGHTON TOY AND MODEL MUSEUM
It's a strange little indulgence but a fun one nonetheless. This journey back in time to the joy of childhood is also in a great location – in the arches of the railway station. In other words you have no excuse not to give it a visit on the way in or out of the city. Inside you will find more than 10,000 toys and while you can't play with them all, you can see many of these imagination inspiring antiques in action, as they chug around the extensive indoor tracks.
9. CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS TOURS
The one negative thing about this brand's presence in Brighton is that the tours don't run all year round. You won't have any joy with these during the winter but during the warmer months a cheap, hop on, hop off ticket will take you from Grand Junction, along the Sea Front, back past the inland lanes, up to the train station, a little out towards Hove, past the burnt out pier and then back to the functioning pier near Grand Junction.
10. LOOKING AHEAD – THE BRIGHTON I-360
This 183 meter tall observation tower is set to open in 2009 and the space age design will certainly stand out. It's brought to you by the award winning architects behind the London Eye and the aerodynamic, ascending passenger pod will be able to carry about 100 visitors at a time. There's no price list for this attraction yet but it shouldn't be quite as pricey as the equivalent, snap happy pods in the British capital.
Booking Vacation and Holiday Accommodation in Brighton
Booking Vacation and Holiday Accommodation in Brighton