Known for its rich maritime history and contemporary attractions, Hastings makes for a brilliant day out. It offers a fun day out for the whole family, with plenty of historical landmarks to uncover, as well as recreational activities out on the water. That goes without mentioning the two famous funiculars.
Getting there couldn’t be easier, with direct trains from Bexhill to Hastings and major roads such as the A21 and the A2690 providing easy access if driving.
Here’s what you need to know about this East Sussex town and its harbour.
Hastings Old Town has plenty of history. Hastings started off as a Saxon settlement and eventually grew into a small market town by the 10th century.
It eventually found its feet as a medieval fishing village, with local fishermen fishing in the North Sea. The catches were mostly sold in Great Yarmouth nearby. Unfortunately due to the harbour being silted up and experiencing frequent floods, this stunted the growth of the port.
By the 19th century, Hastings had grown to a population of just over 3,000 and by the end of the century, this rose to over 65,000. The seaside resort also grew alongside the fishing industry which still dominated the area.
You can visit the Hastings Fishermen’s Museum, which is an independent museum that uncovers the area’s fishing traditions. Housed in a Grade II-listed building, it opened in 1956 and inside, you can see old photographs, model boats and other artefacts.
Out on the harbour you’ll pass colourful boats and may even see fishermen at work. To enjoy the fruits of their labour, head to one of the local fish markets.
Landmarks and attractions
Key landmarks in Hastings include:
- Hastings Castle: Built in 1067, this iconic landmark stands high above the town and over the English Channel. Although it’s a ruin, due to its old age, it’s a fantastic place for exploring.
- Hastings Pier: This is a must-do on your trip to Hastings. The famous pier was built in 1872 and is a Gold RIBA Stirling Award-winning landmark with eateries and plenty of benches for you to sit on and watch the world go by.
- Smugglers Adventure: Here, you can explore caverns and secret passages and discover the area’s smuggling history, where gangs ruled the roost.
- Shipwreck Museum: This independent museum is based in the Old Town and is filled with interesting artefacts from ships wrecked in the English Channel.
- Hastings Old Town: Wander past Tudor buildings and dip in and out of independent shops and tearooms while getting a feel for the area’s history.
- Funiculars: Hastings is home to two funiculars (East Hill and West Hill), one of which is the steepest in the UK! Ride one to enjoy spectacular views at the top.
Down by the harbour, you can get stuck into a wide array of water-based activities.
You can try your hand at sailing, kayaking or paddle boarding to experience the fishing village from a whole new angle from the sea. Seasoned pros and newbies can enjoy these activities – and particularly during the summertime when you can follow them up with an ice cream and a harbourside fish and chips.
If you’re looking for a trip to a picturesque market town beside the sea, Hastings is a great choice. It offers something for everyone, from adventure activities to historical and cultural institutions.