UK

Day trip to Hastings – from London – Oh I do like to be beside the seaside 

During the Victorian period, Hastings like other towns on the coast of England, became very popular. Hastings is still a popular seaside town, with Londoners and staycationers, looking for a cheap getaway. 

While locals are looking for a quick getaway, so are tourist that flock to the UK, looking for an easy day trip from London to the coast on a hot summer’s day. And this Day trip to Hastings is ideal.  

Hastings is famous for its history with the battle grounds from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 on its doorstep, remains of a Norman castle overlooking this seaside town located on the south east coast of England and more. 

Less than 2-hour train ride from London, making Hastings a great place to soak up that sea air, relax back on its lovely beach, or just taking an evening stroll along the seafront in summer.  

There is plenty to see and do, as we take you around these best things to do in Hastings on a day trip. 

Want a hassle-free trip without the planning, but still visiting Hastings on a budget? We offer free tours of Hastings, taking you to all the best places to visit. For more information or to book our service then click the link. 

There may be affiliate links within this article, using these links will not cost you anything extra, but we may earn a small commission to help us maintain our travel blog. Thank you for your support. 

How to get to Hastings 

Hastings is very easy and simple to visit on a day trip from London, with a direct train taking less than 2 hours.  

You could also drive, as there is plenty of car parks, that’s reasonably priced.  

If you’re not travelling from London but elsewhere in the UK, don’t worry, we have all the details on how to visit Hastings on a day trip, including all modes of transport. 

Train 

There’s a direct train from Charing Cross, stopping at a few other locations in London, before heading south to Hastings. The journey should take less than 2 hours, with about 4 trains an hour. 

There is a train from Brighton, stopping in Eastbourne and Bexhill, taking about 30 minutes.  

Exploring the capital before taking a day trip to Hastings? Then you might want to check out this London for First Timers to help you plan your trip around the UK.  

Bus 

A direct bus from London Victoria, connects with Hastings, taking over 2 hours.  

While the bus is longer, it is the cheaper option, if you are travelling on a budget. 

Other bus routes connect Hastings with Eastbourne and Battle. 

Driving 

Taking a road trip around the UK, is an excellent idea, you get to see far more, plus you can stop in quaint little villages along the route. 

The most direct route from London, is to make your way via the A21, which is junction 5 on the M25 motorway.  

The negative with driving, is the roads in the UK can get very congested, especially so on a hot summer’s day, or bank holiday weekend, when locals and tourist are heading to the coast, to spend the day by the seaside. This in turn, could cause delays with your travel plans. 

If you do intend to drive, then you must leave early to avoid disappointment.  

Parking 

There is plenty of parking in the town centre, and we have never not found a space, however during the summer, parking can become quite limited. In our experience, we would recommend the following car parks: 

Cornwallis Street Car Park – A short distance from Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, and the town centre. 

Sea front – Parking along the seafront will be on road parking, and limited, but in a good location. 

Pelham Place – One of the larger car parks along the seafront and very reasonably priced. It is also in a good location, as the car park leads directly onto the beach. 

Castle Hill Road Car Park – A much smaller car park with limited spaces, but we have always been lucky, and have always found parking. Castle Hill Road Carpark is a short distance from the town centre, and the seafront. 

Hastings Parking – Located in the Old Town, and in a great location for relaxing on the beach or exploring the Net Shops in the old town. 

Hastings is the town I grew up in, no matter the season, we have never not found a parking space. 

Aerial view of the remains of Hastings Castle
Aerial view of the remains of Hastings Castle

Walking around Hastings 

Walking is the best way to get around Hastings and just love exploring the sights on foot. 

While the main town centre is flat and perfect for walking from one place to the other. BUT there are areas, such as Hasting Castle, Castle Hill and the East hill, that are on top of a cliff.  

It isn’t difficult to walk to the top of these cliffs, but there is certainly an uphill climb to reach the top. Once you make it to the top, you are rewarded with views across Hastings Town and the beach below.  

Although you could take the Funicular from both the West Hill and East Hil, which will save you the climb up. More on the Funicular’s in Hastings later. 

When to visit Hastings 

The ideal time to visit Hastings, is during April through to September.  

As the weather improves, the seaside town starts to come back to life, following the long winter months. 

The summer months are the busiest and the most expensive, with locals heading to the coast for the day, to soak up the sun. While spring and autumn, is far cooler and certainly less crowded. 

If you’re on a budget, you might find travelling through the winter of December to February cheaper and very quiet. The only caveat, is most places will have reduced hours, or close during the winter period, plus it can feel bitterly cold. 

To help you plan your day trip to Hastings and choose the best time to travel, we have a free travel planner, that you can download and use again and again. 

Things to do in Hastings on day trip 

Hastings brings back so many good childhood memories, I would come to watch cricket at the local cricket ground, or a family day out at the seaside during the summer. 

It has certainly changed over the years, but I’m not here to take you on a trip down memory lane, we are here to tell you about all the best things to do in Hastings: 

Hastings Castle 

Price: £6.25 per person, £5.00 Children between 3-12, £20.50 family ticket ($7.66, €7.28 Per adult, $6.13, €5.82 per child, $25.12, €23.86 for a family ticket). Cash and card are accepted. Ticket is only available to purchase at the castle.  

A 3 in 1 super saver ticket grants you access to Hastings Castle, Smugglers Adventures, and Blue Reef Aquarium for £21.94 per adult, £17.25 per child aged between 3-12, £73.88 for a family ticket. ($26.88, €25.54 per adult, $21.13, €20.08 per child, $90.52, €86.00 per family ticket) 

Opening times: June to September – 10am to 5pm, October 11am-4pm Closed in November and December. 

Not much is left of the castle that was built by William the Conqueror back in 1066.  

After defeating King Harold in the Battle of Hastings, William built a number of castles around the coast of England.  

A castle was built around a pre-existing church, neither of which remain. 

Hastings Castle would have had the ideal vantage with views looking out across the channel and land surrounding it.  

Sadly, due to weather and sea air, parts of the castle have fallen into the sea below and during World War II, the castle was targeted by bomb raids.  

As you wander around what is left of the castle, you can only imagine how grand it would have once been. It must have been terrifying, if any invaders where to land in Hastings, following its construction.  

The ruins of Hastings Castle on the West Hill
The ruins of Hastings Castle on the West Hill
Bev & Shams at Hastings Castle
Bev & Shams at Hastings Castle

Smugglers Adventures 

Price: £10.25 per adult, £8.25 per child between 3-12, £35.00 for a family ticket ($12.56, €11.93 per adult, $10.11, €9.60 per child, $42.88, €40.74 for a family ticket). You can purchase tickets online, or at the venue. 

A 3 in 1 super saver ticket grants you access to Hastings Castle, Smugglers Adventures, and Blue Reef Aquarium for £21.94 per adult, £17.25 per child aged between 3-12, £73.88 for a family ticket. ($26.88, €25.54 per adult, $21.13, €20.08 per child, $90.52, €86.00 per family ticket) 

You can book the tickets here 

Opening times: June to August 10am-5pm 

Only a few minutes’ walk from Hastings Castle, you’ll find The Smugglers Caves.  

The fascinating caves, formed during the last Ice Age, but have always kept a little bit of mystery about them.  

What is known about the caves, is that it was once an air raid shelter, which received a direct hit during World War II and where the gift shop is now, use to be a ballroom.  

It is also believed the caves may have been used to hide contraband by smugglers, before distributing them around the country. Don’t worry, there’s no longer pirates hiding their pieces of gold. 

The Smugglers Adventures is great for a family day out beside the seaside. Inside, you can learn more about the history of smuggling in Hastings over 200 years ago, with interactive exhibitions, videos and displays. It’s also a great way to get out of the heat, into the cool dark caves. 

Take the Funicular up to the East Hill 

Price: £4.20 per adult for a return, £2.60 child return, £12.00 for a family return.  

Walk up to the East Hill is free 

Opening times: April to September 10am – 5:30pm daily, October to March 11am to 4pm weekends only. 

Located at the far east of Hastings, is the East Hill Funicular. A steep funicular railway takes you up to Hastings Country Park on the East Hill. 

This short journey, takes you on a few minutes ride to the top. As you climb, you get epic views of Hastings and the Old Town below.  

Great for families or couples looking for a picnic spot.  

If you have some time, enjoy a little scenic walk in Hastings Country Park. 

There’s also a West Hill Funicular, that takes you up to the West Hill, where you’ll visit Hastings Castle and the Smugglers Adventures. 

Hastings Adventure Golf 

Price: £8.50 per person for 1 course, £4.25 child (5 years or less), £25.00 starting for a family of 3. There are other family options too. ($10.44, €9.85 per adult, $5.22, €4.93 per child, $30.72, €28.98 for a family of 3. 

You can check their price list here 

Opening times: Summer – 8:30am – 10pm, winter – 9am-6pm 

Adventure golf, also known as crazy golf, is a putting course with different obstacles. Great fun for a family looking to round the day off, with a round of crazy golf, or a group of friends looking for light entertainment before returning home.  

Hastings have 3 courses that you can play. 

The most popular, but hardest course is the Adventure Golf. Play through obstacles, that will challenge any player. Compacted within this 18-hole course are fountains, waterfalls, caves, ramps and so much more. 

Play the two other Crazy Golf or Pirate courses. Both providing entertainment, with windmills, pirate ships and so much more.  

Crazy golf is great fun. 

Free Things to do on your day trip to Hastings 

Budget travelers should include these free things to do in Hastings.  

Walk along the sea front 

Taking a short stroll along the sea front, is an awesome thing to do when you’re down by the seaside.  

Feel the sea freeze against your face, enjoy the views of Hastings Sea front. Get all romantic as you walk hand in hand with your loved one.  

Hastings Pier 

Opening times: 10am – 9pm 

Hastings Pier was built in about 1872, but its prime was during the 1930s. It later became a popular music venue in the 1960s, with musicians and bands playing to a captive audience.  

As a child, I can remember spending the day, down by the seaside with my family. Of an evening, the family would stroll along the pier, before returning home.  

But back in 2008, Hastings Pier sadly closed down and the gates remained closed for some years. Then, in October 2010 a fire broke out, which destroyed about 95% of the pier.  

After the devastating fire, the pier was rebuilt and reopened to the public back in 2016. Only a few Victorian period features remain.  

The small café on the right, was once part of the old Victorian Pier. Now it serves hot drinks and a small selection of snacks and cakes.  

While the old pier could never be restored or replaced, I still hold those childhood memories as a family spending the day in Hastings and walking along the pier. 

Step back in time, as you walk along the pier. Make a point of stopping at the colourful beach huts, or the café for something nice to eat. 

Priory Meadow Shopping Centre 

Opening times: 8am – 6PM 

Looking for a bit of retail therapy on your day trip to Hastings? Then Priory Meadow Shopping Centre is the main shopping mall.  

The shopping centre has only been here since 1997. The ground here was once a cricket ground, with many a local match played here. 

As you know, I grew up in Hastings and coming from a big cricketing family, I have a few memories, of watching a cricket match. But the last match that was play at the grounds here was back in 1989.  

In memory of this historic ground, a statue of a batsman playing a shot is found in the middle of Queens Square. The ball from that shot can be spotted in a wall. But can you find it? Let us know in the comments below. 

There’s only a handful of branded shops, the popular Primark, Boots, HMV, Superdrug, just to name a few. 

Priory Meadow Shopping Centre
Priory Meadow Shopping Centre in Hastings
The statue to in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre. Can you spot the ball in the shop facade?
The statue to in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre. Can you spot the ball in the shop facade?

The Old Town 

A day trip to Hastings must include a wander through the Old Town. 

Hastings Old Town is located about a 15-minute walk east from Hastings Train Station and it is totally worth it. 

Wander the narrow streets, admire the Tudor buildings, just get lost in the Old Town. Don’t forget to drop into a pub and enjoy a cooling beer on a hot summer’s day, or sit by a roaring fire on a cold winter’s day. 

Some pubs in the Old Town in Hastings date back to the 16th Century, with many period features restored. 

After getting lost in the back streets of the Old Town, make your way along Rock-a-Nore Road to the Net Shops, for fresh fish to eat on the go.  

Net Shops are tall black sheds, used to store fishing nets and equipment. Due to the sea air, the equipment would deteriorate if left exposed.  

They were built vertically rather than horizontally, to accommodate more space and originally built on stilts to allow sea water to flow freely beneath. Over the years, shingle has built up, stopping the sea water reaching the net shops.  

A selection of net shops, sell fresh catch of the day, including cockles, whelks, mussels, jellied eels and more. A must eat, at the seaside, just watch those guls, they will steel your goods.  

We tried Whelks in Margate, it’s definitely got a required texture, I felt like I was just chewing on it like chewing gum. It had an extremely salty taste too, but Shams seemed to eat them ok without complaints. 

When on the coast you have to try something different. Have you tried any unusual seafood? Let us know in the comments below. 

The Old Town
The Old Town in Hastings

Amusement Arcades 

The amusement arcades will keep the little ones entertained for an entire day, with a variety of games and coin machines.  

I have fond memories with my family, playing on the 2p machines. I use to save all my pennies, just to play on them on holiday.  

A 2p machine, is similar to a slot machine, you put 2p (a British small coin) into the machine, hoping to win more pennies, or a small toy. 

I first introduced the amusement arcades to Shams, on our first trip to Hastings as a couple. She loved them and we would have endless fun playing the 2p machine.  

The amusement arcades, originated from the penny arcade, which dates back to the early 20th century. Arcades grew in the early 1970s and 80s, with more arcade games, such as pinball, video arcades, claw cranes etc. 

There are a number of great arcades in Hastings, but the best in our opinion is Playland Amusements located along Pelham Place. 

Inside is a little dark, but the games are great and definitely entertaining. Try winning something to take home as a souvenir.  

The machines, not only dispense coins and small toys if you win, but also tokens, which you can claim prizes. Once you have finished, hand in your tokens, to find out how many you have, before choosing a prize based on the number of tokens you have won. 

Things to do near Hastings 

If you have some time, or planned a weekend trip to Hastings, then this short hop on the train to Battle is a must. 

Battle Abbey 

This small town in East Sussex, is the location where the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066. The exact spot that William of Normandy defeated King Harold II with an arrow in his eye, has been debated.  

It is believed that William the Conquer built the abbey on the spot where the Battle of Hastings took place and the high alter inside the Abbey is where Harold died.  

There isn’t much left of the Abbey, but you can still learn more about the Battle of Hastings, explore the museums and exhibitions and walk around the grounds of the ruined Abbey. 

Places to eat in Hastings 

The best dish at the seaside is fish and chips. The fresh fish that’s battered and served with big chunky chips is nostalgia when you’re at the coast.  

If you have had enough fish and chips to last you a holiday, we have a few recommendations, plus a few best places to eat fish and chips. 

The Fish Hut 

Never had fish and chips before, then make a stop at The Fish Hut, for a good portion of battered cod or haddock with a large portion of chunky chips.  

We would also recommend mushy peas and curry sauce on the side.  

Other options are available if you have eaten enough fish, such as battered sausage, pies etc.  

The indoor seating is limited and very basic, but on a hot summer’s day, you might find a small outside table, if there isn’t a queue already.  

Alternative, take your delicious fish and chips up to the East Hill and admire the view, or down to the beach and relax while the sun sets.  

Just watch those seagulls, they will have your fish and chips.  

For a large portion of fish and chips shouldn’t cost anything more than £15.00 ($18.43, €17.39) 

Ice Cream 

You can’t visit Hastings and leave without having an ice cream! After a hot sunny day down at the seaside, an ice cream is a must to cool you down. There’s a small ice cream stool at Hastings Pier, or in the old town. 

1066 Café 

Located in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, with limited indoor and outdoor seating.  

This small café, offers light meals both eat in and take away. Purchase a sandwich, hot drink or cold drink, a piece of cake or a small selection of savoury dishes.  

If you’re on a budget, buy a sandwich and a drink and enjoy your meal on the beach.  

Places to eat in Hastings, tea and sandwich at 1066 cafe in Hastings
Budget friendly tea and toasted sandwich at 1066 Cafe in Hastings

Eat @ the Stade 

The clean, spacious and bright café, offers great indoor and outdoor seating and a good range of dishes. 

Order from a choice of burgers, all day breakfasts, sandwiches. If you left room for dessert, then indulge on a little sweet. 

Meals start at £5.00 ($6.14, €5.80), depending on what you order and the portion sizes are very good. On a budget, then you must stop here for a good meal that will keep you going for the rest of the day. 

RX Fisheries 

If you like to eat seafood, then RX Fisheries in the old town is the place to go. 

A choice of cockles, prawns, jellied eels, fish medley and more all ready to eat. You can also order fresh cod, haddock and more, ready to cook later. 

Where to Stay in Hastings 

We have recommended a lot of places to visit in Hastings in just a day trip, if you can budget a weekend stay in Hastings, then here are a few recommendations on where to stay in this small seaside town: 

The Laindons 

Perfectly located in Hastings Old Town, with the West Hill and East Hill on either side.  

Staying here, will help you split your weekend up, with spending a whole day in the Old Town, before spending the rest of the weekend exploring the sea front and taking a trip to Battle Abbey.  

What we love about the property, is the Georgian period features. It appears so cozy with only a limited number of rooms.  

It’s also run by a couple who are following their dreams of running a guest house. 

Guests have only left good reviews, which draws us to our recommendation. 

Combe Haven Caravan Park 

Stay in a snug caravan, ideal for couples or families looking for a reasonably priced stay in Hastings.  

Facilities are normally good in caravan parks and Combe Haven is no different, with a swimming centre, in house entertainment and more.  

Located in a quiet area of Hastings about 2.5 miles from the town centre. Public transport connects the park with Hastings and plenty of off-road parking, for guests who have driven.  

Holiday and caravan parks are normally a great place to stay and with good reviews, it’s perfect for your weekend in Hastings. 

View of Hastings and the pier
View of Hastings and the pier

Conclusion 

Hastings is packed with a wide variety of things to see and do, that will keep you going for a day if not a weekend. 

Our favourite places on this day trip to Hastings, is definitely the historic Hastings Castle and Smugglers Caves, before relaxing with fish and chips in hand as the sun goes down, on the East or West Hill.  

It might sound romantic, but Hastings is perfect for families, with so much entertainment, but also for a day trip with your palls, to relax and have a bit of fun. 

So, pack your day pack, book that train fare and head off to the coast of Hastings, for an electric day trip. 

Have you visited Hastings before? What was your highlight? Is there anywhere you would recommend that we have not included? We would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.  

Continue your United Kingdom travel planning, with these useful posts:

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: