Hastings is a bustling seaside town in East Sussex, that has long been an important port for fishing fleets.
The strategic importance of its location was famously demonstrated in 1066 when the famous Battle of Hastings was fought seeing William the Conqueror defeat King Harold and change the course of English history forever.
Recently, Hastings has become increasingly well known as a tourist hotspot due to its stunning coastlines, charming Victorian architecture, vibrant nightlife and abundance of cultural attractions.
Visitors flock here during the Summer months to take advantage of its stunning beaches and pier-side amusements.
Overall, Hastings is a great place to visit with lots of things to see and do, read on to find out some of my favourites!
Things To Do In Hastings
1. Hastings Country Park
Hastings Country Park is a beautiful nature reserve and popular tourist attraction located just east of the historic town of Hastings.
The park covers an impressive 345 hectares (850 acres) of stunning sandstone cliffs, glens, footpaths, nature trails and picnic areas.
This area of outstanding natural beauty has become a haven for wildlife and a haven for species such as peregrines, black redstarts, fulmars, Dartford warblers, stonechats and yellowhammers.
In addition to these local residents, the area also sees many spring and autumn migrants including rare species such as Sardinian warbler, red-rumped swallow and Pallas’s leaf warbler.
The park has a visitor centre, The Bale House, that contains information about the area including its habitats and local wildlife, also a café and shop.
Address: Hastings Country Park, 148 Martineau Ln, Hastings TN35 5DR
2. Hastings Old Town
Hastings Old Town is a unique destination situated between two majestic cliffs, serviced by funicular railways.
Rich in history and Tudor styling, the old-school seaside vibe here has something to offer for everyone.
Visit Hastings Fishermen’s Museum to learn all about the town’s fishing heritage or the nearby Blue reef Aquarium to explore the depths of the ocean.
The Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets lined with quaint shops, lively pubs and tucked-away sights.
On the old town High Street you’ll find art galleries showcasing works from local artists, as well as galleries exhibiting pieces from around the world.
Address: Hastings Old Town, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3AR
3. Shipwreck Museum
The Shipwreck Museum houses some of the oldest artefacts and relics from famous shipwrecks, giving visitors a unique opportunity to discover the rich history behind them.
Visitors can explore displays of two major historic shipwrecks, the 17th-century warship Anne and the 18th-century Amsterdam.
This free museum contains some fascinating exhibits and interactive displays and is well worth a visit.
Address: Shipwreck Museum, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3DW
4. Alexandra Park
Alexandra Park is a stunning 44-hectare (109-acre) park that stretches through the heart of Hastings.
This beautiful landscape is home to a range of formal and informal gardens, as well as wild northern wooded areas.
It boasts one of the best collections of trees, making it renowned for its arboretum and majestic grandeur.
The lower park includes a boating lake, bowls green, cafe, adventure playground, bandstand, war memorial and information point.
Alexandra Park is an inviting space filled with vibrant colours throughout all four seasons – from the spring blossom through to vibrant autumn foliage.
Address: Alexandra Park, St Helen’s Rd, Hastings TN34 2LG
5. Hastings Pier
Hastings Pier is one of England’s most iconic landmarks, first opening its doors in 1872 after being designed by Eugenius Birch, a well-known Victorian engineer.
Since then, the pier has been a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike, drawing crowds to its various events and activities over the years.
The pier became especially renowned during the 1960s and served as a music venue for many iconic artists such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Jones, and Pink Floyd.
It was during this period that the pier truly flourished and earned itself a reputation as a vibrant centre for entertainment.
Sadly, Hastings Pier suffered some damage during World War II when it was closed to the public.
However it reopened shortly afterwards and continued to be enjoyed for decades until 1990 when major storm damage caused its closure once again.
Despite attempts to restore it back to its former glory, disaster struck again in 2010 when 95% of the pier was destroyed by fire.
The pier has since reopened on 27th April 2016 and became an award winning pier in 2017 for its architecture.
Throughout the summer months, Hastings Pier has live music and a whole host of summer festivals.
Address: Hastings Pier, 1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JY
6. Cliff Railways – West Hill Cliff Railway & East Hill Lift
The West Hill and East Hill lifts, otherwise known as Cliff Railways, are two of Hastings’ most beloved attractions.
Built in 1891, the heritage railway is a symbol of local pride and a reminder of Victorian era engineering prowess.
The UK’s steepest funicular railway, the West Hill Lift, has its original wooden Victorian coaches, and runs through a tunnel between George Street lower station and Kings Road upper station.
The East Hill Lift gives access to Hastings Country Park, home to rare wildlife, eco-friendly gardens and incredible views over the Stade.
Great for all the family, with a variety of attractions at the top of West Hill, including a children’s playground and a miniature golf course, as well as a cafe.
Address: Cliff Railways, West Hill Lift, Rock a Nore Road, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3DW
7. Hastings Contemporary
The Hastings Contemporary is a world-class museum of Modern British art located on The Stade in Hastings.
Founded in 2012 as the Jerwood Gallery, the gallery is home to a wide range of memorable exhibitions featuring work from renowned artists.
Nestling between the beach and Hastings Old Town, the impressive exterior is covered with over 8,000 black tiles that were hand glazed in Kent.
The distinctive design has been widely acclaimed by both visitors and critics alike; it won the National Award 2013 from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Address: Hastings Contemporary, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings TN34 3DW
8. Hastings Castle
Hastings Castle is a keep and bailey castle ruin located high above the town of Hastings, with the area giving spectacular views.
Built in 1066 by William of Normandy, this Norman castle has withstood centuries of storms and sieges, and today serves as an important reminder of Britain’s turbulent past.
In 1070, William ordered the building to be reconstructed out of stone, along with the addition of St Mary’s Chapel.
However, in 1216 King John ordered it to be destroyed and during 1220 Henry III re-fortified it once again and by 1287, violent storms had caused much of its face to be washed away into the sea.
More recently in 1951, Hastings Corporation purchased the site and converted it into a tourist attraction where visitors can delve deeper into the history of this magnificent castle.
Address: Hastings Castle, Castle Hill Rd, Hastings TN34 3HY
9. Hastings Fishermen’s Museum
Hastings Fishermen’s Museum is a must-see attraction in the East Sussex seaside town of Hastings.
It is dedicated to the fishing industry and maritime history of the area, and is housed in a former fishermen’s church known as St Nicholas’ Church.
This simple Gothic Revival-style stone chapel dates back to 1854 and was built for the local fishing community, serving them for nearly 100 years.
The museum offers insight into the rich fishing heritage of Hastings, with detailed displays highlighting its importance over time.
Its exterior has been listed at Grade II by English Heritage, due to its architectural and historical significance.
Great for a visit from anyone interested in the fishing industry and maritime history.
There is also a shop onsite that is well stocked with a variety of souvenirs, fossils and gemstones, cards and local history books.
Address: Hastings Fishermen’s Museum, Rock-a-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW
10. The True CRIME Museum
The True CRIME Museum is an unusual museum containing one of the UK’s largest collections of crime memorabilia.
Located along the coastline of Hastings, this museum is filled with a wide array of objects related to some of history’s most notorious criminals.
Visitors have the rare opportunity to explore and learn about famous murders and perpetrators from around the world.
The museum features an incredible range items from real-life crime scenes, such as a genuine lethal injection deathbed and actual acid containers used by John George Haigh.
Guests can also test their detective skills by trying to guess which celebrities are featured in police mug shots.
Furthermore, visitors can enter the Cinema Cave where they can hear infamous murderers describe their heinous deeds in their own words, bringing history alive like never before!
Address: The True CRIME Museum, Palace Court, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JP
11. Blue Reef Aquarium
Blue Reef Aquarium is the perfect place to discover the mysteries of the underwater world.
Located in a stunning coastal location, visitors can explore over 3500 marine creatures and reptiles from across the globe.
Take an unforgettable journey through South East Asia, South Pacific and native waters as you observe seahorses, pufferfish, turtles, tropical sharks and even a Giant Pacific Octopus.
For those looking for something more exotic, explore the Jungle Room full of snakes, spiders and lizards.
Knowledgeable Sea Life Experts provide scheduled talks throughout the day so guests can learn about their favourite creatures whilst being entertained with fascinating facts.
Of course no visit is complete without taking a wander through the Ocean tank which includes an amazing underwater walkthrough tunnel surrounded by colourful fish.
Address: Blue Reef Aquarium, Rock-a-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW
12. Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery offers visitors an opportunity to explore thousands of objects from local history, natural sciences, fine and decorative arts, and world cultures.
Visitors can be sure to find something of interest as they browse through 97,000 items.
The museum features an early local history gallery which explores all aspects of pre-Saxon life in Hastings.
It also displays local wildlife with eye-catching displays of different habitats as well as a dinosaur gallery.
Additionally, it houses a collection from North America’s Plains and Sub-Arctic areas which tells the story of conservationist Archibald Belaney who was born in Hastings.
An extension in 1932 created an art gallery and a store was added in 1988 for visitors to purchase souvenirs.
The museum has lots of features for children including local smuggling history, fossils that transform into dinosaurs and displays about local animals and birds.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, Hastings Museum is free to visit and has free parking in the grounds.
Address: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, John’s Place, Bohemia Rd, Hastings TN34 1ET
13. Smugglers Adventure
Smugglers Adventure is an exciting tourist attraction located on the West Hill in Hastings.
Visitors can explore the labyrinth of tunnels, passages and caves to discover the dangers, fears and hardships faced by the Sussex smugglers in the 18th century.
Upon entering Smugglers Adventure, you will experience a range of captivating life-size figures, dramatic lighting and eerie sound effects, all designed to bring the past vividly alive.
The attraction underwent major renovations in 1998, which introduced new displays and interactive activities into the mix.
Open daily, this family friendly attraction, located mainly underground, is well worth a visit.
Address: Smugglers Adventure, St Clement’s Caves, Hastings TN34 3JJ
14. Hastings Beach
Hastings beach has a mix of sand and shingle backed by soaring cliffs.
The beach is quite close to the town centre with plenty of facilities, including car parks, public toilets, some showers, and lots of cafés, restaurants and shops.
Great for water sport enthusiasts, the beach is a popular place for windsurfing, kiteboarding and swimming.
Deck chairs are available for hire and the beach is cleaned daily during summer with dog free zones.
Address: Hastings Beach, Hastings, East Sussex
What does Hastings Town Centre have?
Hastings Town Centre has lots of independent shops as well as many high street chains, there are also a good selection of cafes, restaurants and takeaways.
Where are St Clements Caves?
St Clements Caves are located on the West Hill and are best known for their underwater tunnel.
This hidden gem tells the dark secrets of the ancient smuggling industry.
What are the Hastings Net Shops?
The Hastings Net Shops are a unique, historic landmark.
These black, side-by-side shops are the traditional storage buildings of the Hastings fishing fleet.