Why visit Hastings? The English seaside town in East Sussex is just two hours from London and oozes with both history and charm. Read on to find out our top three reasons to visit Hastings.
Hastings surprised us.
We had heard of Hastings before our recent visit, but always in context with the famous 1066 Battle of Hastings, which ironically was fought not in Hastings but rather in the aptly named nearby town of Battle. Walking through the narrow, winding streets of Hastings is like walking through a history lesson, but more fun. With a myriad of old buildings that span the centuries, not to mention a fishing heritage that remains vibrant to this day, Hastings has plenty to see during an afternoon stroll. And that doesn’t count the picturesque waterfront and sharp cliffs that kiss the English Channel. On a clear day, it’s even possible to glance at France which lies in the distance.
For a seemingly sleepy seaside town, there’s a lot to do in Hastings. There are museums and an 11th century castle. There’s a noteworthy art gallery. And there are loads of cute shops. However, with less than 24 hours in Hastings, we didn’t have time to visit any of these spots. Yet, we still had a great time and can fully recommend Hastings as a fun day trip from London or, better yet, for a longer visit.
Our Top Three Reasons to Visit Hastings.
The Hastings beach extends for miles, providing an ideal place for a leisurely stroll or a more active run or bike ride. We loved walking along the beach as the sun was setting, as did the families and couples enjoying picnics on the city’s boardwalk. We also enjoyed walking on the Hastings Pier (pictured above). After a £14 million renovation completed in April, 2016, the pier is the perfect spot for a waterfront stroll with options for ice cream cones and fortune-telling to boot.
Hastings is an authentic fishing town with a multi-generational crew of fishermen working and living the fishing life . These fishermen bring their fresh catch into town each day, where fishmongers sell the ultra-fresh fish to the public in little shacks on the Stade. For visitors like us, the fish is also available at chipperies throughout Hastings as well as at sit down restaurants.
We were tickled to meet Sonny Elliot at his Rock-A-Nore Fisheries after eating his smoked salmon for breakfast that morning. A bit of a local celebrity, Elliot took the business over from his father and is doing a fine job at keeping the fish smoking tradition alive.
Rock-A-Nore Fisheries is located at 3 & 4 Rock-A-Nore Road, Hastings, TN34 3DW, United Kingdom.
We couldn’t resist eating fish and chips in Hastings since we knew that the fish was literally plucked from the local waters that day. We had several recommendations for Maggie’s Fish Market Cafe, a local chippery located in a fishing hut on the Stade, but our timing didn’t work out. That’s how we ended up at the Blue Dolphin for some of the freshest, straight-up fish and chips we’ve ever eaten.
The Blue Dolphin is located at 61B High Street, Hastings TN34 3EJ, United Kingdom.
Keeping the fish theme going, we enjoyed a surprisingly sophisticated, locally sourced meal at the casual Pavilion Restaurant & Bar on the recently renovated Hastings Pier. In addition to the generously plated fresh food, highlights of the lunch included pints of local Harvey beer and conversation with our friends from The Travel Bunny.
The Pavilion Restaurant & Bar is located at 1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JU, United Kingdom.
We also shared a few small plates at The Crown, a local public house with elevated pub food and an extensive selection of beers. We opted for pints of dry cider to go with our beetroot fish cake and twice cooked chips. Sitting at the bar afforded us the perfect spot to chat with the friendly staff and people watch.
The Crown is located at 64-66 All Saints’ Street, Hastings TN34 3BN, United Kingdom.
Full and tired, we capped our night at The First In Last Out where we sipped on locally produced beers and plotted our return to Southern England in general and Hastings in particular.
The First In Last Out is located at 14-15 High Street, Hastings TN34 3EY, United Kingdom.
Where to Stay in Hastings
There’s only one hotel where we will stay when we return to Hastings, and that’s The Old Rectory. This charming B&B offers the epitome of both style and comfort, and their classic breakfast of English staples, like kippers, is a gourmand’s delight. As a bonus, the hotel is conveniently located near all of Hastings’ best attractions, shops and restaurants. You can literally park the car at The Old Rectory and walk almost everywhere.
The Old Rectory is located at Harold Rd, Hastings TN35 5ND, United Kingdom.