Best Things To Do in Hastings, UK | Seafront Attractions & More
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If you’re looking for things to do in Hastings, then this post is just for you!
Hastings is a lovely seaside resort town filled with rich history, unique character, and delightful adventures. It is a great getaway destination for history buffs, art lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and foodies alike. There are many fun things to do in Hastings for every type of traveller.
Here you’ll come across mediaeval landmarks, captivating museums and art galleries, and an array of scenic environments. Whether you’re looking to relax on the serene shores or stroll around Hastings Old Town, there is plenty on offer.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about this spectacular town as well as the best activities, eateries, and accommodation in the area.
Where is Hastings?
Hastings is situated on the southeast coast of England in East Sussex. The town is a popular destination for day trips from London and weekend getaways.
History of Hastings
Hastings has been inhabited for centuries and is home to a rich history and heritage.
The Middle Ages was a notable period for this coastal town. One of the most famous events in Hastings’ history is the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was an important battle in English history that took place on Senlac Hill, about 13 kilometres from Hastings.
In this bloody battle, William the Conqueror defeated England’s army and killed the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, King Harold II. Following this, the Normans became the rulers of England.
An iconic landmark that represents this shift is Hastings Castle. It is the first Norman Castle in Britain that was built shortly after the Norman Conquest.
From the 18th century, Hastings started to develop from a little market town to a seaside resort. By the end of this period, it became a popular holiday destination for the wealthy to spend their time bathing in the sea during the summer season.
Today, the town is a charming place to visit for a relaxing seaside getaway. When visiting, you can immerse yourself in the rich history and enjoy many Hastings’ attractions.
Hastings: Things To Do
When it comes to enjoyable things to do, Hastings has plenty on offer. Whether you’re a history buff looking to explore a museum or an outdoor enthusiast seeking a scenic setting, there is something for everyone in this lovely town.
Explore Hastings Old Town
Nestled between two cliffs, Hastings Old Town is a great place to discover hidden gems. It boasts beautiful architecture, a wealth of character, and an artsy atmosphere.
The historic buildings and half-timbered houses will give a glimpse of the town’s history.
There are many things to do in Hastings Old Town for a few fun hours of exploring. You’ll come across several boutique shops, art galleries, and quirky antique stores.
As you stroll around the charming streets, you’ll find several restaurants and cafes for a tasty treat. There are also wine bars and pubs if you want to enjoy a drink with a lively atmosphere.
Relax at Hastings Beach
Head to this beautiful pebble stone beach for a relaxing experience on Hastings’ seafront. Hastings Beach boasts a combination of sand and shingle. It’s a wonderful spot to chill after exploring the Old Town.
You can enjoy a leisurely walk, admire the ocean and city views, or take a refreshing dip. Lifeguards supervise the Pelham, Marina, and Pier areas between July and September. Additionally, dogs are not allowed in these areas from May to September.
You’ll also find a lovely promenade and pier. As the beach is near plenty of eateries, you’ll be spoilt for choice with options to satisfy your belly. There are also public toilet facilities at the beach.
Admire the Stunning Views with Cliff Railways
There are two funicular railways in Hastings: The East Hill Lift and the West Hill Lift. Both offer a thrilling experience with breath-taking views of the town.
The West Hill Lift is a 150-metre railway that opened in 1891. This fun ride departs from the lower station on George Street. It will take you through a tunnel to Hastings Castle and St Clement’s Caves.
In addition to the stunning views from the hill, you’ll also get to experience Victorian engineering in the old-age coaches.
The East Hill Lift is an 81-metre railway that opened in 1902. While it is shorter than the West Hill Lift, it offers a steeper ride.
The journey via the East Hill will take you to the gorgeous Hastings Country Park, which overlooks the Rock-a-Nore and Old Town. Here, you’ll enjoy park access and beautiful beach views.
Wander Around Hastings Country Park
When it comes to what to see in Hastings Country Park, the list is endless. The 660-acre reserve is rich in biodiversity and features ancient gill woodlands, impressive cliffs, and serene shores.
There are several rare species in the area, including lichens, mosses, and liverworts. In the woodland areas, you’ll likely spot a few animals like stoats and weasels.
And if you’re visiting during spring and autumn, there are various migrating birds passing by the area. These include Red-rumped swallow and Sardinian warbler.
There are also fascinating historical landmarks and cliffs with fossils for you to discover. And after tackling the nature trails, you can have a relaxing picnic in the park.
Hastings Country Park is a great place for a dog walk, but keep in mind that it can be muddy at times, so suitable walking shoes are best. You’ll also find a charming café and toilet facilities at the visitor centre.
Visit Hastings Pier
Hastings Pier is a Victorian gem that dates back to 1872. It was damaged by a storm in 1990 and a fire in 2010. However, the pier was refurbished and opened to the public in 2016.
It is one of the most iconic Hastings tourist attractions and has been a popular point of interest since the early 90s. At the pier, you’ll find stunning architecture, a cute café, and some food and drink stands.
Other events hosted here include open-air cinema and theatre, street performances, farmers’ markets, and live music events.
Putt at Hastings Adventure Golf
Visit Hastings Adventure Golf for a fun experience with three 18-hole courses. This popular miniature golf course sits on the seafront, so you can expect some beautiful views too.
The Adventure course has a tropical feel with waterfalls and fountains, while the Pirate course boasts two epic pirate ships. You can also enjoy traditional seaside fun at the Crazy Golf course that features a windmill and watermill.
The ticket prices range from £7.75 to £16.50 per single player, depending on the number of courses chosen. Tickets are offered at special prices for senior citizens, children aged five years or younger, large groups, and families of three to five individuals.
If you’ve built up an appetite after some friendly competition, head to the food court for a delicious bite. Indulge in chocolate-covered strawberries, crepes, ice cream, doughnuts, and more.
Grab a Cone at Di Pola’s Gelato
Nothing beats a delicious scoop of ice cream while exploring Hastings’ seafront attractions. Visit Di Pola’s Gelato for mouth-watering Italian gelato.
The menu features a wide selection of delicious flavours, such as oreo, honeycomb, sea salt caramel, mango, and passionfruit. The flavours change each week, but you’re sure to find something that suits your palate.
Enjoy creamy gelato or sorbet in a classic cone or cup with a tasty topping. You can eat it at the shop or take a stroll to the beach.
There are also a few cakes and biscuits to indulge in, and if you’re looking for a warmer treat, grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.
Stroll Around Alexandra Park
If you want to take a scenic walk-in nature, Alexandra Park is one of the best places to go in Hastings. This 109-acre park opened in 1864 and stretches through the heart of the town.
Here you can stroll around the beautiful formal flower gardens, take in the lovely aromas, and admire the stunning statues. You’ll come across more natural and wooded areas in the northern part of the park.
The area is also home to glistening reservoirs. These large bodies of water were used to supply fresh water in Victorian times. After ambling around in nature, head to the on-site café for a Full English breakfast or an inviting cup of coffee or tea.
For those travelling with kids or pups, there is a lovely play area and plenty of green space for them to run around. If you’re an eager angler, toss your rod in the park’s fishing pond.
Alexandra Park is an excellent spot to enjoy a picnic and watch the geese glide in the river. There are also toilet facilities on the premises.
Tour Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
Immerse yourself in history, culture, and arts at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. The museum was established more than 125 years ago and sits in a gorgeous Elizabethan-style mansion.
There is plenty to discover at this spectacular site, including interesting artefacts and interactive displays. In addition to the diverse exhibitions, the museum hosts enjoyable events.
Take a Trip to The True CRIME Museum
Learn shocking real-life stories about past crimes and their punishments at The True Crime Museum. It is home to engrossing exhibits that showcase violent events by some of the most infamous gangsters and serial killers like John Haigh, the Acid Bath Murderer.
At this fascinating museum, you can view striking displays of forensic evidence from many twisted crimes.
There are also interactive exhibits, and you can have your mugshot taken to remember the bizarre experience.
View Maritime Artefacts at the Shipwreck Museum
The Shipwreck Museum is an independent charitable museum where you can learn about numerous vessels that have been wrecked in the past. These shipwrecks occurred in the English Channel, from Goodwin Sands in Kent to Pevensey Bay in East Sussex.
The museum features interesting information about the environmental conditions during the events as well as maritime artefacts from the sunken ships. There are also exhibits of fossils from local areas.
A visit to the Shipwreck Museum will satisfy your senses and curiosity as it focuses on providing a multi-sensory experience through sound, smell, and touch.
You’ll also find a gift shop on the premises if you’re looking to buy a quirky souvenir made by local artisans.
The museum is wheelchair accessible, and admission is free. As it is located in Old Town, you’ll find many other must-see attractions and charming restaurants nearby.
Admire Artwork at Hastings Contemporary
Hastings Contemporary, formerly known as the Jerwood Gallery, is an art museum situated on the historic Stade. The building itself is a wonderful thing to see in Hastings. It features around 8,000 black tiles that were glazed in Kent, providing a simple yet elegant look.
Initially, the Jerwood Gallery opened in 2012 and housed an impressive collection of modern British art. In 2019, it was rebranded as Hastings Contemporary, an independent contemporary art museum.
Here you can view masterpieces that reflect the town’s artistic heritage and independent spirit.
You could easily explore the artwork in around an hour, and it is near many other exciting attractions. The on-site café is also a lovely spot to grab a cup of coffee while admiring the gorgeous sea views.
Tour Hastings Castle
If you’re looking for historical places to visit in Hastings, viewing the magnificent ruins of this Norman castle should definitely be on your itinerary. Hastings Castle was built in 1067 by William the Conqueror.
Over the years, it has been attacked, burnt, and abandoned. Although much of the castle has fallen into the English Channel, the remarkable ruins are still a sight to behold.
Hastings Castle reflects England’s historical, cultural, and political shifts following the Battle of Hastings. There is also a small structure on the premises where you can watch a video explaining the history of the castle and the battle.
The site is filled with historical information and features large grounds to wander around. As it is nestled on a hill, you’ll have breath-taking views of the sea.
There are a few little shops and eateries nearby for a delicious snack after touring the spectacular site.
See Marine Life at Blue Reef Aquarium
Discover diverse marine life at the Blue Reef Aquarium. Here you’ll find over 250 different species and more than 3,500 animals.
The aquarium is home to hundreds of sea creatures, including seahorses, sharks, rays, and clownfish. After you’ve found Nemo, head to the jungle area to see snakes, scorpions, and more interesting animals.
There are hourly talks and feeds, where you can learn more about the animals and watch fascinating presentations.
If you want to satisfy your stomach, there is a café for refreshments. The Blue Reef gift shop is a great place to get a marine-life gift or cuddly toy for a loved one.
Visit Smugglers Adventure
Smugglers Adventure is a popular tourist attraction that tells tales about smuggling on England’s South Coast. Tour the St Clements Caves on the West Hill in Hastings to find out more about the rise and fall of these shady dealings.
In this spooky site, you’ll find life-sized figures of smugglers, bootleggers, and pirates. There are also information boards, interactive games, and graphic displays to get a glimpse of the past.
Smugglers Adventures is a great place to visit for travellers of all ages. And it’s near several other must-visit attractions, including the Blue Reef Aquarium and Hastings Castle.
Where To Eat in Hastings
When compiling your list of places to go, Hastings has many charming eateries that should not be missed. Here are a few spots you should visit for a delicious culinary experience.
Rustico Neapolitan (Hastings)
If you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine, head to this quaint restaurant for authentic Neapolitan Street food. Indulge in delicious pasta from Nonna’s kitchen or share a cheesy pizza with friends.
There are plenty of light bites and drinks if you’re stopping by for a quick nibble. The restaurant also offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes.
If you have space left after your meal, be sure to try one of the tasty desserts or take a tub of Italian gelato to go.
Webbe’s Rock-a-Nore offers contemporary dining in the heart of Hastings Old Town. With the beach and boats right on its doorstep, you can expect tasty, fresh seafood at this splendid restaurant.
The menu features many delicious dishes, including oysters, shellfish platters, Thai green prawn and seafood curry, and more. There are also several yummy desserts, such as refreshing sorbets and raspberry crème brûlée.
The interior provides a cosy atmosphere with dark wood floors and comfy seats. The outdoor terrace offers a scenic setting to enjoy a meal while marvelling at the stunning sea views.
Maggie’s Fish and Chips
Taste the catch of the day at Maggie’s Fish and Chips. This seaside spot in Old Town provides a casual setting to enjoy classic dishes.
Each meal is freshly cooked to order at the café. The extensive menu includes haddock and chips, fishcakes, battered halloumi, and plenty more. There are also kids meals, tasty sides, desserts, and drinks.
If you want your fish and chips on the go, the café offers takeaway options. Or head to Maggie’s at the Boat stand. You can also rent Maggie’s Van for parties and functions.
Judges Bakery Hastings
Judge Bakery Hastings offers a wide selection of tasty treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. Indulge in crispy pastries, delectable cakes, and golden loaves of bread.
You can also opt for a more savoury treat, perhaps a pastry with spinach, pine nut, and cheese.
Whether you have a Belgian chocolate brownie with a cup of coffee or grab a pecan pie for later, these delicious items will have your taste buds tingling.
The bakery also offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Hanushka Coffee House
Hanushka Coffee House is a charming shop on George Street. The dark wood furniture provides a cosy atmosphere that’s perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee with a good book in hand.
There are wide bookshelves with an array of donated books that you are welcome to read.
The menu features a number of delicious meals, including sandwiches, paninis, cakes, hot chocolate, and of course, coffee.
Where To Stay in Hastings
With so many popular Hastings places to visit, you might want to stay a few days to experience it all. Here are a few of the top accommodation options in the area.
The Lansdowne Hotel
The Lansdowne Hotel offers 4-star accommodation on Hastings’ seafront. It is set in a beautiful Victorian structure and is within walking distance of many top attractions.
It’s just a short stroll to the beach, and most of the rooms boast beautiful views of the sea. The rooms have flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, coffee and tea facilities, and some have private balconies.
Other services include laundry facilities, a full English breakfast, and an on-site bar.
Royal Victoria Hotel
The Royal Victoria Hotel is another great seafront accommodation option that’s within walking distance to the serene shores. It sits in an old-age building that dates back to 1828.
The stylish rooms feature stunning furnishings and décor, providing an elegant ambience. Here you’ll have free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, and spectacular views.
If you opt to stay in a suite, you’ll have spacious seating areas. A few of the superb hotel facilities include a piano bar and an on-site restaurant.
Enjoy a comfortable stay at this 19th-century seafront hotel. The Chatsworth Hotel provides cosy rooms with breathtaking sea views.
Some of the room amenities include en-suite bathrooms, room service, and tea and coffee making facilities. There is also an Indian restaurant for an exquisite culinary experience.
If you want to show off your dance moves, you can hire the hotel’s entertainment centre for a private party.
How To Get to Hastings, England
Now that you know where to stay in Hastings, what to do, and where to eat, you might be wondering how to get here. You can travel to Hastings by car, train, or bus.
If you’re heading on a beach day trip from London, you can take a 1 hour and 47-minute train ride.
Taking a train provides the quickest and most direct journey. However, you can also drive from London to Hastings, which will take around 1 hour and 56 minutes.
Keep in mind that driving to the destination may take longer due to traffic, and you’ll also have to deal with parking fees. You can also hop on a National Express bus from London to Hastings, which will take around 2 hours.
Things To Do Near Hastings
Are you wondering where to go from Hastings? There are plenty of places to visit nearby with many exhilarating experiences on offer. Here are a few must-see towns and things to do around Hastings.
Battle is a small town located 10 kilometres from Hastings. It is home to the famous Battle Abbey that stands on the site of the Battle of Hastings.
Learn more about the iconic historical event by touring the museum, ruins, and battlefield.
Eastbourne is an idyllic resort town situated on the southeast coast of England, just a 40-minute drive away from Hastings. Here you’ll find stunning Victorian buildings, serene shores, modern arts, and fascinating museums.
When visiting Eastbourne, be sure to check out the Eastbourne Pier, Eastbourne Beach, and Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway.
Take a day trip to Rye in East Sussex. There is plenty to see in this English town, and it’s only 20 kilometres from Hastings. You’ll come across stunning half-timbered houses along the winding cobblestoned streets.
If you’re a history lover, visit the Rye Castle Museum and wander around Mermaid Street, where you can marvel at gorgeous historical buildings.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hastings
Before planning your trip to Hastings, there might be a few more things that you want to know. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers about this stunning seaside town.
Is Hastings Worth Visiting?
Yes, Hastings is worth visiting. This seaside resort town offers picturesque views of the English Channel and plenty of fun activities.
Here you can visit art galleries, historic maritime museums, charming eateries, serene shores, and more.
Is There Anything To See in Hastings?
There are many wonderful things to see in Hastings, including the ancient grounds in Hastings Country Park and the gorgeous Hastings Beach.
Discover hidden gems in the Old Town or see maritime artefacts at the fascinating museums.
What is There To Do in Hastings For Free?
A few of the best free things to do in Hastings is exploring the Old Town, taking a stroll in Alexandra Park, and relaxing on the beach or pier.
Is Hastings Beach Dog Friendly?
Hastings Beach is a great place for a scenic dog walk, but pups are restricted in some areas.
Dogs are not allowed in the Pelham, Marina, and Pier areas from May to September. However, there is plenty of space for your furry companion to run around but be sure to keep an eye out for signs around the beach.
A Footnote on What To Do in Hastings
Hastings is a lovely destination for a coastal getaway. Whether you’re looking to spend your time visiting art galleries and museums or wandering around in nature, there is an array of adventures on offer.
So, get ready for a well-deserved, relaxing trip in this splendid seaside town.
If you’re seeking more fun adventures in East Sussex, consider visiting the seven sisters’ cliffs for gorgeous views of the ocean and rolling hills.
READ MORE ABOUT THINGS TO DO IN KENT UK
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