UK cities don’t come much cooler – or more liberal – than Brighton. From traditional seaside attractions to the quirky shops in The Lanes, this boho city is a real treat, and notoriously dog-friendly to boot. There’s always something new to discover on the sunny South Coast- and more often than not, you can do it with your four-legged friend by your side. So whether you’re hankering for fish and chips on the seafront or ice cream on the pier, head to Brighton. It gets full barks from us!
WHAT ARE THE MUST-SEES? One of Brighton’s best-known sights is the Royal Pavilion. This exotic “pleasure palace” in the centre of the city was built for the Prince Regent – later King George IV – more than 200 years ago. Lavishly decorated both inside and out, this beautiful building has a colourful history and it’s well worth the £13.50 entry fee to see inside and find out more.
Understandably, dogs are not allowed inside – but they can explore the Royal Pavilion Garden, which is open to the public. As it is one of only a few fully restored Regency gardens in the country, you’ll have to keep your pet on a lead while exploring the estate but it makes for a lovely stroll. The garden is a haven for wildlife and interestingly, it is managed using organic principles so you won’t find any pesticides or weed killers here.
Another key attraction in the city is Brighton Pier. Built in the 19th Century, it has been through the wars – quite literally – but is now a fantastic family attraction with rides, arcades and the suchlike. Sadly, dogs aren’t allowed on the pier for health and safety reasons but if you’re not keen on crowds, it’s best viewed from afar as you walk along the beach or promenade. Keep reading to find out about the best seafront strolls and the summer restrictions on the beach.
A great way to see the lesser-known side of the Brighton seafront is to take a step back in time with a trip on Volk’s Electric Railway. Created by Victorian engineer Magnus Volks, it is the oldest continuously-running electric railway in the world. Today, the little train runs along the seafront from the Aquarium Station near Brighton Pier to Black Rock Station, a short walk from Brighton Marina. Journeys take around 12 minutes and dogs are welcome onboard. Trains run from Easter to October.
If you’re interested in the city’s seafaring heritage, stop by the Brighton Fishing Museum. It’s only small but this little museum – tucked away under the arches on the seafront – is packed full of fishing artefacts and has several interactive displays, as well as audio presentations of fisherman talking and singing. Dogs are welcome inside the museum – and best of all, entry is free.
When you’ve had your culture fix, hit the shops. Brighton is renowned for its funky stores and independent boutiques and it’s easy to spend a good few hours window shopping – or maxing out your credit card. Start by exploring the historic maze of twisting alleyways known as The Lanes, where antique shops sit side-by-side with jewellers and the next-big-things in fashion. You’ll also be able to find all the high street favourites but North Laine is home to many of the coolest places, in my opinion. Dogs are welcome inside many of the stores – but it’s always best to ask first.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? Start with the South Downs National Park. Covering an area of more than 995 square miles, the park – which blankets the South Coast from Winchester to Eastbourne – has plenty to keep visitors occupied and takes in everything from rolling hills to bustling market towns.
From Brighton, it’s a hop and a skip to Devil’s Dyke, a deep, V-shaped valley that’s almost a mile long. According to legend, the devil himself dug the chasm, which attracted a lot of gawking tourists in the 19th Century. Today, however, the beauty spot is managed by the National Trust and you can explore the area by following one of their recommended walking trails.
A stroll along the seafront is a must, whether it’s to take in the fresh sea air or admire the Regency architecture. If you’re feeling energetic, follow the city council’s four-mile “Seafront Healthwalk” that is clearly signposted between Hove Lagoon (where you’ll find the dog-friendly Fatboy Slim favourite, Big Beach Cafe) and Brighton Marina. Visit the council website for more information about dog-friendly beaches during the summer.
In Hove, there’s also a lovely three-mile walk you can do from The Hangleton Manor that takes in the Benfield Hill Nature Reserve. Read on for more information about the pub, or visit its website to download a map of the route.
BEST PLACE TO GRAB A BITE? Brighton is so dog-friendly, it’s impossible to list all the potential places to eat and drink. But if your kind of pub welcomes dogs but not children, check out The Camelford Arms, a short walk from the city centre. This laid-back inn is billed as the Most Dog-Friendly Pub in Brighton and has won awards for its food. It’s understandably a big hit with the locals who come to relax by the open fire or enjoy the Moroccan-style patio – and you’re sure to meet other four-legged friends when you visit.
For coffee and cake served with a side of gourmet dog treats, head to Metrodeco in the Kemptown area. Famed for its afternoon teas, this 1930s-style cafe is super dog-friendly. It even hosts doggy parties so if your visit coincides with your pup’s birthday or any other special occasion, you’ll be sure to celebrate in style.
Pets are very welcome at Purezza, a vegan pizza joint in St James’s Street that even has a page on its website dedicated to four-legged fans. But for die-hard carnivores, doggy heaven can be found at the Shakespeare’s Head near Brighton station, which serves a mind-boggling selection of sausage and mash, not to mention fabulous roasts on Sunday. Diners can choose from ten varieties of sausage, ten flavours of mash and four tasty gravies – many of which are veggie-friendly.
For a slice of history with your meal, try The Hangleton Manor in Hove. This Hall & Woodhouse pub is housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings and dates back to the 1500s. It serves up a range of food from pub grub to super salads but I can particularly recommend the pies. Dogs are welcome in the cosy bar area and the beer garden.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY? There’s a whole host of dog-friendly accommodation on offer in Brighton, from family-run B&Bs to swanky 5* hotels. The Oriental – a funky boutique hotel just off the seafront – is renowned for being pet-friendly, while the Hotel du Vin, just off The Lanes, will satisfy even the poshest pooch.
Even if you’re travelling on a budget, you will still find plenty of places to rest your head. There are scores of hip self-catering hangouts on sites such as Airbnb, while the city’s Ibis, Holiday Inn and Travelodge hotels happily welcome dogs for a small additional fee.
GET ME THERE: It’s easy to travel to Brighton. The city is just under an hour by rail from London and a mere 30 minutes from Gatwick Airport. It is also accessible from all the major ports on the South Coast.
FIND OUT MORE: The Visit Brighton website is packed with information about things to see and do locally, as well as upcoming events. It also recommends plenty more dog-friendly pub and restaurants in Brighton.