Bordered by the rolling South Downs to the north and the sparkling sea to the south, Brighton is renowned for its creative, bohemian buzz and inclusive nature. But take a closer look and you will find the city is made up of a patchwork of postcodes, all with their very own distinct atmosphere, rhythm and feel. As well as the famous landmarks we all know such as the Lanes and Brighton seafront, we explore lesser known areas of the city to see what makes hilly Hanover and student friendly Moulscoomb different from the rest. There’s a district to suit everyone in Brighton whether you’re looking for cafe culture, boho boutiques or laid back lawns. Come with us as we explore the different corners and communities of Brighton from the buzzy city centre to its more genteel and family friendly outer edges.
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Our guide to Brighton's postcodes
The beating heart of Brighton, the BN1 postcode covers the city centre and is packed full of all the iconic landmarks the area is famous for. At the southern end of BN1 you have many of the classic tourist destinations: The Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton Dome, the i360 Observation Tower, and of course, the bright lights of Brighton Palace Pier jutting out from the bustling seafront.
Just back from the beach there are the lanes, a maze of narrow streets and alleys packed full of the type of quirky independent shops and restaurants you can only find in Brighton. Head a bit further north and you come to North Laine, arguably the most atmospheric area of the city, a vibrant, colourful, creative patch covering Sydney Street, Kensington Gardens, Gardner Street and Bond Street and spreading out to Upper Gardner Street, Jubilee Street, Church Street, North Road, and New Road among others. Head there on a Saturday for their weekly flea market. But walk through North Laine on any day of the week and you’ll come across bohemian boutiques, art galleries, vintage shops, second hand bookshops, craft beers and food and music from every corner of the world.
Further north is a lesser known Brighton museum, The Booth Museum of Natural History. This is a must see for their variety of stuffed animals and birds originating from the Victorian era when the museum was founded. The BN1 postal district continues further north stretching all the way up from the coast into Falmer, home to both Sussex University’s sprawling campus as well as the impressive Amex Stadium, where the Brighton and Hove Albion football team are based.
On the eastern side of Brighton we come to the BN2 postcode district. Whereas a lot of the attractions in BN1 are the type you might find on the picture postcard stand at the local newsagents, in BN2 the atmosphere, while still lively, is slightly more relaxed.
Between Brighton Palace Pier and Brighton Marina is Kemptown, an area of grand Regency townhouses and leafy squares. Brighton is well known for its inclusive nature and Kemptown is one of the most inclusive of all with the majority of the LGBTQ+ bars and pubs based in this area. Named by Time Out as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world “thanks to its laid back vibes, spectacular seafront and incredible nightlife,” Kemptown is said to ooze charm and community spirit, and according to the magazine “continues to change for the better.”
The community spirit continues as you head north out of Kemptown and into Hanover, a district in BN2 which is popular with young families and couples. While it may be a suburb of Brighton there is nothing classically suburban about this hilly residential area which is lined with streets of Victorian cottages painted in every colour of the rainbow. In this part of BN2 you get great views over the coastal city landscape as well as plenty of cosy pubs, where you can stop for a pint and a sit down after climbing all those steep hills!
Venture two miles further to the north of Brighton city centre and you reach Moulescoomb. While mostly residential, this part of BN2 is also home to the University of Brighton’s biggest campus and student village.
Over on the western side of Brighton you come to Hove in BN3. Hove (actually) is the calmer, quieter, more grown-up side of the city. Whereas you might go out on an all-nighter in Brighton, drink cocktails in Kemptown, or have a pint in Hanover, Hove is a good spot for a beachfront picnic with Pimms. Maybe even head to Big Beach Cafe, a seafront eatery owned by Norman Cook which has a nice family friendly atmosphere.
Aside from the more relaxed vibe, one way to tell you’ve travelled from Brighton into Hove is that the beachfront railings change from the colour turquoise to dark green. Less buzzy than neighbouring Brighton, there is more of a focus on food in Hove and a strong cafe culture has emerged in recent years.
Attractions in Hove include a cricket pitch, an open air theatre and a lagoon (where you’ll find the Big Beach Cafe). It’s where the students and 20 somethings from Brighton move to when they become 30 or 40 somethings and want to settle down and have kids. Although it’s worth mentioning that moving out to Hove still requires deep pockets as the properties around here can be expensive!
This part of the city is pretty. Behind the genteel Hove Lawn and vividly coloured beach huts on the seafront is the impressive Regency architecture of Brunswick Square, Adelaide Crescent and Palmeira Square.
Venture further west and you soon reach the BN41 postcode district on the outer edges of Brighton. Here the buzz of Brighton and the purr of Hove fades out and things feel more relaxed and typically residential. BN41 is comprised of Portslade to the south and Mile Oak to the north. These areas are a magnet for families attracted by more space and lower property prices but still within a stone’s throw of Brighton. As such, BN41 has a less cosmopolitan vibe and feels more family-orientated.
The city’s diverse culture means there’s something for everyone in Brighton. You could spend a lifetime here and still have more to discover and different pockets to explore. As well as all the classic tourist destinations mainly clustered in BN1, other districts have you covered for all the weird and wonderful sights and sounds of the city. Fancy rummaging for vintage treasure, head to North Laine for their Saturday flea market. Keen on taxidermy? The Booth Museum of Natural History is the place for you. Football fan? Take a trip to the Amex. If brunch is more your thing, Hove is the perfect destination. Want to go to a drag night, head to Kemptown. Looking for a family friendly postcode, Portslade could be perfect. Whether you’re old, young, gay, straight, looking for a family home or student digs, Brighton has it all. You just need to head to the right postcode.