Are you planning a trip to the UK and want to visit a seaside town? Are you looking for something to do other than just visit London the capital? You may need inspiration for your next trip to the UK! We cover this, along with tips, advice, and more, with these Things to do in Hastings.
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.
Only a train ride away 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 on a summers evening.
All this and more can be explored with these things to do in Hastings.
When to visit
The best time to visit Hastings would be during April through to September. The spring and autumn of April to May and August to September will see cooler days, but still perfect to explore many of the sights in Hastings. It is also considerably quieter.
The summer months are great to relax back on the beach and soak up the sun, whilst getting some sightseeing done in between. Yet the summer months will be the busiest.
Winter sees, cold and wet days, but will be much quieter.
The UK (United Kingdom) use the British Pound £.
It would be a good idea, if you are arriving from outside of the UK, to purchase the £ in your home country, although you can use debit/credit cards, and cash machines. Please note, you could be charged for the use of your debit/credit card, and cash machines whilst traveling in Hastings. Please check with your bank or card provider before you travel.
Hastings is located on the south east coast of England in the county of East Sussex. The name Hastings derives from the battle of Hastings which took place about 6 miles from the town in 1066.
During the Victorian period, Hastings became a popular seaside resort, for Londoners getting out of the smoke for a short weekend away. A regular train service made this easy, taking only a couple of hours.
Hastings has declined from its heyday of a tourist location, and has now become a fishing port. Needless to say, Hastings still sees its fair share of tourists, visiting many of the historic parts of Hastings from the smuggler’s caves, Norman castles, to the fun vibe along the seafront.
Things to do in Hastings
Hastings brings back so many good childhood memories, we 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 we are 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:
Price: £5.25 – $7.84 – Euros 5.92 per adult cash only – you can purchase a 3 in 1 super saver ticket. This allows you to visit Hastings Castle, Smugglers Adventures, and Blue Reef Aquarium for £18.94 – 21.46 Euro – $23.33 per adult.
Opening times: 10am – 4pm
Getting there: Bus stop Castle Hill Road, buses 28, 347 before walking a short distance
William the Conqueror built Hastings Castle in 1066, after landing in Hastings. Built around a pre-existing church with great views across the land and sea, making it an ideal fortification during the period.
It is somewhat disappointing that little remains of the castle, due to weathering and the sea air causing parts of the old castle to fall into the sea. During World War II the castle was also a target for bomb raids.
The first thing that is seen as you come into Hastings along the seafront, is this old castle looking down at you, but once you are in the mist of the castle, you can only imagine how grand it must once have been.
Price: £8.10 – $12.09 – Euros 9.14 per adult – you can purchase a 3 in 1 super saver ticket. This allows you to visit Hastings Castle, Smugglers Adventures, and Blue Reef Aquarium for £18.94 – 21.46 Euro – $23.33 per adult.
Opening Times: 10am – 4pm
Getting there: Bus Stop Castle Hill Road, buses 28, 347. Bus stop The Stade, bus 70, 73, 100, 101, 20, before walking a short distance.
The Smugglers Adventures is located on the West Hill in Hastings, just a short distance from Hastings Castle.
As you walk down into the caves of the Smugglers Adventures, you will soon feel the temperature drop, and the light fade away, fear not, there’s no longer pirates hiding their pieces of gold. Interactive exhibitions teach you about the history behind smuggling in Hastings 200 years ago.
The caves in the 20th century were used as an air raid shelter during World War II. On one fateful day the caves received a direct hit from a bomb, but the caves below remained undamaged.
The gift shop was once a ballroom, could you just imagine how extravagant it might have once been.
The Smugglers Adventures are great for the young and old, with different interactive displays, taking you on a journey!
Opening times: 10am – 9pm
Getting there: Bus stop, Pier, bus 22a, 23, 23b, 26, 70, 98, 304, 305, 349, 20, 22, 22c, 99
The Pier was built in about 1872, and saw its prime during the 1930s, it later became a popular music venue in the 1960s seeing many famous musician and bands playing to a large captive audience.
Sadly the pier closed to the public in 2008, and stood redundant with its gates closed for some years. It wasn’t until October 2010 when a fire broke out destroying 95% of the pier.
It reopened in 2016 after rebuilding work took place. Only few period features remain on the new pier! The small cafe was once part of the old Victorian pier, now reopened serving good hot drinks, and snacks. Whilst it could never replace the old pier and the Victorian architecture, but its replacement has done it justice.
Priory Meadow Shopping Centre
Opening times: 8am -6pm
Getting there: Hastings Train Station. Bus stop: Railway Station stop B, buses 26a, 28, 20. Bus stop: Priory Meadow, buses, 7 26a, 23, 21, 21a, 21b, 22a 22, 22c, 27, 347, 23b, 26, 023, 2, 28,
The grounds of the current shopping Centre sit on what was an old cricket ground. The cricket ground was built in 1864, and its last game was played here in 1989.
The shopping Centre was opened in 1997, and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The lasting memory of the cricket ground that once stood is a statue of a batsman playing a shot in the center of Queens Square. The ball from the shot can be spotted in the wall just behind J.H Finds Jewelers.
My siblings and I have fond memories as youngsters, growing up watching our father play cricket at this ground, before seeing it being built to the extravagant shopping Centre.
If you are looking to do a bit of shopping whilst visiting Hastings, then Priory Meadow would be the only place you will find the branded shops, such as Boots, Primark, HMV, Superdrug and more.
The old town
Opening times: 24 hours
Getting there: Bus stop The Stade, bus 70, 73, 100, 101, 20,
The old town is to the east of the current town, and has a unique feature! There are tall black sheds that stand in the old town on the seafront. These where built to store fishing gear that would deteriorate if left in the sea air.
Net Shops are built upward, due to limited space, and originally built on posts to allow sea water to flow freely beneath. Over time shingle has built up stopping the sea from reaching the net shops.
A few net shops have cellars, allowing for greater space and storage.
Opening times: 24/7
Getting there: Bus stop Castle Hill Road, buses 28, 347 before walking a short distance. Bus stop: Gordon Road, bus no. 28.
The West Hill is located just east of Hastings Castle, is a large expanse of green with a view of the East Hill, the old town, and the sea front.
Hastings Castle and the Smugglers Caves are located on the West Hill, so this would be the ideal place to sit back on the grass in the summer, enjoying a picnic and admiring the views.
There is a lift at West Hill, but this is rarely open, and a fee is applicable.
Price: Free – East Hill Lift £2.70/$3.16/Euros 2.93
Opening times: 24/7 – lift times April to September 10am to 5:30pm daily, October to March 11am to 4pm weekends only.
Getting there: Bus stop The Stade, buses 70, 73, 100, 101, 20.
Located at the far east of Hastings, East Hill has a large expanse of green making this a good spot for a picnic with the family. There are some lovely views of the old town, and the sea front below.
What makes it fun reaching the top of the East Hill, is taking the East Hill Lift. It is a funicular railway, which takes you to the top, and when you are ready, you can either take the lift to the bottom, or walk down the steps.
To travel on a budget, you can walk up and down the steps for free.
Where to stay
Where you stay is important, there are a few factors you need to take into account before booking that place, these are:
- Price – This always has to be within our budget
- Location – how easy will it be to get around Hastings
- Transport links – where are the transport links to get us to and from the airport, and to different locations within or outside of the town.
- Reviews – what are the reviews from other travelers who has stayed here
Here are just some of the places to stay in Hastings with a budget in mind, but also taking into account the above factors.
Located in the Old Town of Hastings, and between the West and East Hill. The Laindons are in a good spot for exploring the Old Town, and to take an evening stroll up the West and East Hill. There are limited transport links, but is in a close proximity to all amenities.
We have only read good reviews about the hotel, and from its appearance, its décor is to a high standard which is reflected in their pricing of a room.
What we love the look of about this small hotel, is that it is of Georgian period, with only a small number of rooms, and is run by a couple following their dreams of running a guest house.
Combe Haven Caravan Park
Reasonably price, for a 2-bedroom caravan, with great facilities such as swimming centre, in house entertainment and more. It is about 2.5 miles from Hastings Town Centre, with public transport access, and plenty of parking at the park.
There are good reviews from guests, expressing that the park is very good, including the facilities and the caravans.
How to get there:
Getting to Hastings is very easy, and very simple to navigate, there’s plenty of public transport and car parking spaces.
We have highlighted the closest bus stops above, but here are some other methods of visiting Hastings:
There’s a direct train from London to Hastings, on the South Eastern line taking about 2 hours, making it easy and convenient for families to visit the seaside for a day trip. The train leaves Charing Cross, stopping at a number of stations in London before heading south to Hastings.
There’s also a direct train from Brighton to Hastings stopping at Eastbourne and Bexhill along the way. The Southern Service is a coastal route taking about 30 minutes.
If you have hired a car, or taking a weekend trip down to Hastings by car, the most direct route to take is junction 5 off the M25 onto the A21 towards Hastings. Traffic can be a little congested and slow on the A21, from Tunbridge Wells. On a very good summers day, or May bank holiday weekend, the traffic is the busiest, you could spend hours on the road before you reach Hastings.
If you intend to drive, we would suggest leaving very early morning to avoid the busy traffic, and then leaving later in the afternoon/evening to again avoid heavy traffic.
In our opinion walking in Hastings is the best way to get around, and just love to walk around exploring the sights. Hastings is quite flat, but there are steep inclines to reach Hastings Castle, West Hill and the East Hill, but the climb is well worth the view.
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 along the seafront and 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.
There are a number of regular bus routes to and from Hastings, including the following:
Battle, Eastbourne bus 99, London Victoria and Rye bus 100,101.
Places to eat
Food is so important when it comes to travelling, experiencing a typical fish and chips by the seafront is a must, here are some of our recommendations, or different things to try in Hastings:
Fish and chips
If you haven’t had a typical fish and chips before, and wondering what it is? It’s cod or haddock battered with large pieces of fried chips. Not the healthiest meal with all that batter, but one that must be eaten when visiting any seaside town.
Our recommendation would be Hastings Pier Chippy. It is located on the pier, serving very good fish and chips, with the best curry sauce. Just watch those sea gulls, they will try and take a chip!
A typical large fish and chips should not cost anything more that £10.00 – 11.33 Euros – $12.32.
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.
This great café, serves sandwiches, hot and cold drinks, cakes and a small selection of savoury dishes. On a hot summers’ day, there is limited seating outside, so why not take away and have it on the beach whilst admiring the views of the sea.
1066 Café offers reasonably priced food and drink.
Eat @ The Stade
Located in the old town, with plenty of seating inside or outside, they offer a good range of hot and cold meals, from all day breakfasts, burgers and sandwiches to waffles and sweet dishes.
Their menu is very well priced especially for the good food that is served. Well worth visiting if you are hungry after climbing to the top of the East Hill.
If you like to eat seafood, and want a healthier option, then RX Fisheries in the old town is the place to go. It is freshly cooked, offering cockles, prawns, jelled eels and more all ready to eat. You can also order fresh cod, haddock and more to cook later.
Things to do outside of Hastings
If you are planning a weekend trip to Hastings, we would recommend exploring Battle, about 6 miles from Hastings. Why you might ask? Well:
This small town in East Sussex, is the place where the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066, and where William of Normandy defeated King Harold II. It is said that Harold died from an arrow in his eye!
After the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror agreed to build an Abbey on the spot where the Battle of Hastings took place. The high alter inside the Abbey is believed to be where Harold died.
To learn more about Battle Abbey, and the Battle of Hastings, you can explore the museum and exhibitions.
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.
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