A trip to Brighton’s pebbly beach and famous pier can be whatever you make it. Goggle at the bizarrely Taj Mahal-esque Pavilion or have a debauched night out in one of the many bars and clubs.

Brighton attracts different tribes: there’s a thriving gay scene, it’s a hub for stag and hen parties and a strong ‘alternative’ element makes its presence felt through amazing health food and hippy shops.

Brighton doesn’t just have a multi-faced personality: it’s also stunningly good looking. Grand white town houses and hotels line the seafront and the historic pier makes you feel as if you’re in a movie.

Victorian Pier

One of the town’s most iconic attractions, Brighton Pier, is a Victorian architectural marvel that features a range of fairground attractions and a games arcade. Thrill-seekers can feel their heartbeat surge on the Super Boosters, which lifts passengers to 38m with only the sea below, before dropping them through the air at 100km/h.

For a genuine seaside experience, buy fish and chips and scoff them on the pier.

Brighton Pier

Shopping Fever

If you’re fed up with high street chains, head to North Laine, which heaves cosmopolitan and wacky shops. The pedestrianised shopping enclave dates back to the 1830s, and is home to a nexus of watering holes,  theatres, and pavement cafes. From retro ’50s-style polka-dot frocks to
hip interiors, bohemian North Laine is a shopaholic’s paradise.

Flea markets often spring up in nearby residential streets, selling everything from vintage jewellery to bric-a-brac.

Discover bargains galore at Snooper’s Paradise, which houses more than 100 stalls selling second-hand treasures. Nearby, The Lanes teem with antique shops, jewellers, designer clothes boutiques, art and modern furnishings.

Brighton for Free

Enjoy a free tour of Brighton with a friendly local, as part of the Brighton Greeter scheme. Tours last two to four hours and must be booked in advance via visitbrighton.com/greeters.

New Year’s Eve in Brighton

Brighton has a stellar nightlife, with an abundance of brilliant clubs, so it’s a top spot to see in the New Year. 

Love dressing up? Get yourself down to the Guilty Pleasures Masked Ball at the Komedia club. Tickets cost £15. See komediabrighton.ticketsolve.com/

Celebrate the arrival of 2011 with a night of retro glamour at Brighton Ballroom, which is offering guests the chance to enjoy a three-course meal alongside burlesque, cabaret and musical entertainment. Tickets on sale soon. See brightonballroom.com/whats-on

Also, as Brighton has more health food shops than any other city, it’s a great place to begin a detox on New Year’s Day.

» Janine Kelso travelled to Brighton with Southern Trains. Single fares can be found from £3.75 on southernrailway.com. See visitbrighton.com for tips on what to see and do in Brighton and Hove.

Destination guide- Brighton