Hastings is a coastal town in East Sussex, located on the southern coast of England. The beachside resort town gives its name to the most famous events in British history – the Battle of Hastings, that took place in 1066 between King Harold’s English and William the Conqueror’s Normans.
Nestled between the East and West Hills, this charming town offers a variety of options to explore.
How To Get There
By Car: Hastings is on the end of A21 which links it to M25 and London.
By Train: Hastings is the endpoint on the Hastings Line. One can catch it through Tunbridge Wells or Sevenoaks from London Charing Cross.
Though there is a direct service via Eastbourne to London Victoria, it takes more than 2hrs for the journey in comparison to the 1hr 30 mins on the Charing Cross line.
By Air: The nearest airport is London Gatwick. After arriving catch the Southern Train at Gatwick Aiport Rail Station towards the Ore Rail Station direction. It leads directly to Hastings Rail Station. The journey lasts about 1hr 30mins to 1hr 40 mins.
What to Do
Though the Sea and 1066 dominate this town’s attractions list, there is so much more one can explore. From the country’s steepest Funicular to the nook and corners of the narrow passageways in the Old Town. Its a great place for a weekend getaway!
1.Hastings Old Town
The oldest parts of Hastings showcases its Medieval roots. The easternmost valley follows the 14th- century wall, built during the 100 Year War.
The alleys on the High Street are dotted with half-timbered houses and Georgian facades. These buildings house lovely antique shops, offbeat vintage boutiques, traditional pubs and inns, galleries, cafes, and seafood restaurants.
The Old quarters are always bustling and host many events throughout the year, the most famous being the Seafood and Wine Festival during the summer.
Location: High St, Hastings
2. Net Lofts and Hastings Fisherman Museum
Traditional fishermen sheds used to store nets are called “Net lofts”. A row of these well preserved net loft can be seen in this seaside town as an ode to its glory fishing days. One must surely visit the Fisherman’s Chapel in Rock-a-Nore road. It was built in the 19th century and hosts the Hastings Fisherman’s Museum.
Location: Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings
The town lends its name to the Battle of Hastings, but the actual battle took place a few miles north in the small town known as… well, Battle. Its a 15 min drive from Hastings and deserves a visit. After emerging victorious in the battle, William the Conqueror as a penance for all the bloodshed built an abbey on the site of the battle. The Abbey was built in 1070. Most of the abbey now remains in ruins as it was torn down during the Reformation.
One can take the audio informative tour of the battlefield or walk in the 19th century walled garden.
Location: High St, Battle
4. Hasting’s Castle
The West Hill hosts what’s left of the Hasting Castle. William the Conqueror had it built as soon as he landed, even before the Battle of Hastings even took place.
Through its 1000 year long history this structure has withstood the test of time. Some of its walls collapsed in the sea during a storm, it was burned, abandoned and bombed. Somehow a third of its structure still survives. Today its more famous for its “whispering dungeons” and its recounting of the events of 1066.
Location: West Hill, Hastings
5.Hastings County Park and Nature Reserve
Hastings County Park is over 600 acres of ancient woodland, cliffs, and spectacular scenery. One can take walks to do wildlife spotting or take a bird watching trails thanks to the many migrating birds that fly through the English Channel in Spring and Autumn.
Location: Fairlight Rd, Hastings
The 2 Funicular railways rattling up and down the steep cliffsides are a steady attraction ever since they were built. The oldest of the two is the 150 meters long West Hill Lift built in 1891. The one on the East Hill boasts to be the steepest in the country with 78% gradient. It opened in 1902 and is topped by two towers that house the water tanks used for the hydraulic propulsion.
Location: Rock-A-Nore Road, Hastings
Lovers of Art fear not, this quaint town host the famous Jerwood Collection. Located on the Stade, the gallery exhibits the best of modern and contemporary British Art. It usually hosts three temporary exhibits. Artists like, Christopher Woods and Quentin Blake, have been a part of the past exhibits.
Location: Rock-A-Nore Road, Hastings
Built in 1872, the Hastings Pier is 280 meters long. One can spend time at the state-of-the-art exhibition in “The Deck” visitor center
or in the cafe on the upper floor which offers scenic views. The pier also hosts many family activities like free live music, outdoor cinema in summers.
Location: White Rock, Hastings
Hastings and its surrounding areas were once frequented by Sumgglers and pirates. The sandstones caves on the West Hill were burrowed deep to smuggle contraband like Rum. St Clements Caves were rediscovered in 1820 and attracted the Royal attention making them a tourist attraction in Victorian times. The Smugglers Adventure is a fascinating and fun family activity that divulges the life and times of these notorious traders.
Another excellent family activity option is the Blue Reef Aquarium with its wild array of aquatic creatures.
Location: St Clement’s Caves, Hastings
Only 12 miles northeast of Hastings lies the quaint little town of Rye. This town is a must since it’s one of the best preserved medieval towns. One can stroll along the cobbled Mermaid street. The town is full of boutiques, shops, cafes, tearooms, restaurants, and inns. Best places to visit are Camber Castle, built by Henry VIII. There is also the Great Dixter House and Gardens in Northiam.