111 Places in Brighton and Lewes That You Shouldn’t Miss Brighton has transformed itself several times since the middle ages: once a small fishing village, it became the most fashionable seaside resort in the 18th century, a thriving tourist destination in the railway age and a liberal, multicultural university city in the 20th century. 200 years ago the party-loving King George IV built himself the playground of all royal playgrounds here: an oriental fantasy of a palace with onion-shaped domes and an exotic faux-Chinese interior, the Royal Pavilion. Today Brighton, together with its surroundings, is culturally one of the most exciting places in Britain, boasting an impressive coast, lined with chalk cliffs and the rolling South Downs as a backdrop.
Just 10 kilometres east of Brighton is the picturesque county town of Lewes, with a stunning array of historic buildings, including an 11th-century Norman castle. The people of Lewes are known for their revolutionary spirit, and host the biggest bonfire celebration in the country every year on 5 November.