Things to do in Hastings
Synonymous with the battle of 1066 which happened in the nearby countryside, the history-rich Hastings is a charming seaside town. It still has all the character and charm of its Victorian seaside resort origins including seafront squares, elegant parks and a pier lined with good old-fashioned amusements.
With a scenic beach, top seafood restaurants, a world-class art gallery, bookshops, kitch cafes, England’s steepest funicular railway, a beautiful medieval Old Town and an array of hidden gems – there are plenty of things to do in Hastings. In this article we’ve gathered 10 of our favourite places in Hastings for you to enjoy with your family. The best part is that our fabulous Combe Haven Holiday Park lies just a 2.5-mile drive away so all this can be experienced with a minimum of little fuss.
Explore Old Town
Set between two cliffs serviced by funicular railways, the Old Town is the area of Hastings that roughly corresponds to the extent of the town prior to the 19th-century. Some of this area dates back to the Middle Ages and is riddled with narrow passageways, lined by an enticing array of independent cafés and restaurants as well as shops selling art, antiques and flowers. You’ll find the Hastings Fishermen's Museum, the Bluereef Aquarium and a seafront funfair to enjoy amongst the other options on this list, so there really is no better place to start exploring.
East Cliff Railway
Address: East Hill Lift Lower Station, Rock-a-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW
The best way to get to the top of Hastings Cliffs is of course, via the UK’s steepest funicular railway. The East Cliff Railway is more relaxing than it is nail biting, unless of course you’re scared of heights. But even then, the panoramic views out over Hastings’ Old Town, Stade and Rock-a-Nore will be well worth it. Once at the top you’ll find the beautiful Hastings Country Park overflowing with wildlife and fascinating landmarks to discover.
Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve
Address: 148 Martineau Ln, Hastings TN35 5DR
Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is a large area of forests, hills, glens, streams and waterfalls with superb views that are reminiscent of the Italian coast. This place is an absolute goldmine for anyone wanting to walk with paths leading to the Firehills and out across to Fairlight. It’s also a great place for a picnic or to let your kids go and unearth a love for nature.
Address: St Clement’s Caves, Hastings TN34 3JJ
Hastings was once a hotbed of smuggling activity. This shady history comes to life at Smugglers Adventure, a museum hidden away in the underground caverns that were once used by the smugglers themselves. You can explore these underground corridors with nothing but a torch to light your way and learn about the criminals who operated in the area, risking it all to make their fortunes on the black market. Rumours of hauntings only add to the atmosphere of this spot!
Old Roar Gill
Address: 3 Penhurst Cl, Hastings, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 7HF
Hidden in the outskirts of Hastings is a small nature reserve complete with its own waterfalls. The wooded enclosure has a steep valley which is great fun to explore with your family and the dog. There is no official path to Old Roar, so you’ll have to forge your own way through, but the powerful sounds from the waterfalls make for an impressive ambience.
Address: 1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JY
The most iconic landmark in Hastings, the pier, won the prestigious Stirling Prize for architecture in 2017 having been redesigned and reopened in 2016. It's easy to see why as this Victorian gem boasts a wide promenade brimming with kids' entertainment and an excellent bar at the end. You can even order a pizza directly to your table. The best time to visit is at sunset when you can sit and watch the sky change colour.
Address: Castle Hill Rd, Hastings TN34 3JL
The beautiful ruins of this Norman castle contain dungeons, a cloistered chapel and an audio-visual show. While the walls are now largely in ruins, the site is still full of great historical significance and was even depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Wander through the remaining ruins to discover the story behind the ruins and take in the breath-taking views of Hastings below.
Hastings Museum & Art Gallery
Address: John's Place, Bohemia Rd, Hastings TN34 1ET
Smaller museums are often a joy and provide insider information and local history that you simply would not learn otherwise. Hastings Museum and Art Gallery is no exception. With sections dedicated to local history, the natural sciences, contemporary photography and global artwork and plenty of hands-on exhibits there's a lot to see (including the world’s first TV!), so take your time. Children are also well-catered for, so it’s a great spot for the whole family.
St Mary in the Castle
Address: 7 Pelham Crescent, Hastings TN34 3AF
This venue and former church is built into the cliffside of Hastings, on the town’s beautiful and traditional seafront. With a capacity of 1,066 (yes, really) and a large stage where the vicar once preached, St Mary in The Castle now hosts live music and exhibitions and can also be hired for filming, weddings and exhibitions. The venue has wonderful acoustics, three bars in the main auditorium and a café on site, meaning that seeing a live show here is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Hastings.
Address: Rock-a-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW
Formerly known as the Jerwood Gallery, the Hastings Contemporary is widely known as the cultural hub of Hastings. The gallery champions modern and contemporary art. Since opening nine years ago, the Hastings Contemporary has developed a reputation for its focus on painting and on Modern British art. The building itself is also a sight to behold with its shiny tiled exterior reflecting the nearby craggy cliffs and waves from Hastings Beach. It is also surrounded by Hastings’ famous net huts - tall, narrow wooden sheds, up to three stories high, painted black, standing in neat rows on the beach, so why make sure to check these out when you visit!