Nonlinear classical Hamiltonian lattices exhibit generic solutions — discrete breathers. They are time-periodic and (typically exponentially) localized in space. The lattices have discrete translational symmetry. Discrete breathers are not confined to certain lattice dimensions. We will introduce the concept of these localized excitations and review their basic properties including dynamical and structural stability. We then focus on advances in the theory of discrete breathers in three directions — scattering of waves by these excitations, persistence of discrete breathers in long transient processes and thermal equilibrium, and their quantization. The second part of this review is devoted to a detailed discussion of recent experimental observations and studies of discrete breathers, including theoretical modelling of these experimental situations on the basis of the general theory of discrete breathers. In particular we will focus on their detection in Josephson junction networks, arrays of coupled nonlinear optical waveguides, Bose–Einstein condensates loaded on optical lattices, antiferromagnetic layered structures, PtCl based single crystals and driven micromechanical cantilever arrays.