Perched in hills, reaching out to the sea, the coastal town of Hastings is filled with amusement arcades and a pier, partly an old curiosity shop with antiques, rustic pubs, half-timbered houses, and eccentric locals to welcome visitors. The newly inaugurated world’s largest underground BMX skatepark has affirmed Hastings place on the British seaside map.
Perhaps you remember the name from all the history lessons, but there is more to this quaint town. All the ornate things essential for a memorable seaside holiday are available with glorious artifacts from its history. Just a few hours from London, Hastings is also known as the place with the best fish and chips in the world.
The ruins of the castle of Hastings can transport you back in time as Britain’s first Norman castle, built by William the Conqueror in 1067. Step into the Smugglers Adventure that was historically utilized by smugglers to stash their contraband but now houses an unnerving array of waxwork bootleggers or head to the castle’s cinema room for a viewing of ‘The 1066 Story’.
While the original Hastings Pier burned down in 2010, it was one of the 14 piers built by master pier-maker Eugenius Birch. Recently it has been restored with improved amenities. It has hosted The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix in the ballroom, and the renovated pier has been enhanced with a camera obscura, a cafe bar, and restaurants.
The locals are regularly engaged in eccentric celebrations that are at par with London’s parties. On Pirate day in the summers, the locals do their best Captain Jack Sparrow impressions, along with their pets, while bloodthirsty pirates attack the town. A weekend of delicious fish dishes, workshops, and live music is celebrated in the Midsummer Fish Festival. The Hastings Week in October marks the anniversary of the famous battle of 1066 with a re-enactment of the war and other exciting events.
On either side of the valley, Hastings has two funicular railways. West Hill leads up to the Castle and St Clement’s Caves, and East Hill Cliff Railway, the steepest in the UK that opened in 1902. If you walk far enough, you will have excellent views of the town, or you can visit the nature reserve at Hastings Country Park in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, expanding to Fairlight’s FireHills.
Out of all, the World’s largest underground skatepark is a compelling reason to visit Hastings. Opened in a former swimming pool building under Hastings promenade, the world-class facility is provided with Britain’s first cradle. Along with lessons, it hosts parties with an after-school club with low-price offers. The shop displays the biggest selection of BMX bikes, skateboards, skate shoes and clothing all over Europe.
You cannot miss seafood at the place with the UK’s largest land-launched fishing fleet. Head to the Rock-A-Nore for a fulfilling meal at the end of your day, where you get fresh-off-the-boat seafood and fish for £1 in the 200-year-old building that has waterproofed fishing nets by tanning. It has a distinctive establishment to suit your more formal needs, with a limited staff providing only one sitting per night.
Explore the Old Town for the most delicious sausage rolls at Judges Bakery with red onion relish. Blue Dolphin’s fish and chips are the closest versions of the British staple, although you can get your chips from any of the open-front shops at the seafront.
There are even food-centric festivals to commemorate the sea with two delicious festivals, the Bexhill Festival of the Sea and the Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival. From shareable platters to vegetarian to gluten-free options at the east, Radley’s Bar & Bistro, the nest buffet of Hastings has something to offer for every belly.
The historic elements continue to embody the identity and vibe of Hastings. The recently relaunched Hastings Contemporary was formerly Jerwood Gallery, housing massive drawings by illustrator Quentin Blake, among artists where a thriving local arts lifestyle persists.
The delicately stripped AG Hendy & Co Home Store amplifies nostalgia with its candles, open fires, and staff in period costumes to walk back to its beginnings while specializing in utilitarian homeware. Similar independent shops, galleries, and guest houses can be traced through the storied alleyways of Twittens.
The Stade is lined by distinctive tall wooden huts protected for their heritage, housing Britain’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet. The seafront scene makes for an ideal Instagram moment, and the nearby sheds behind the net huts can reel you in with the catch of the day.
Accessible by car, train or plane choose your choice of transport based on your preference. The A21 links it to M25 and London to drive on your own or rent a mini car. Charing Cross services can transport you within 1 hour and 30 minutes to Hastings station. Foreign or distanced visitors can take the southern train at Gatwick Airport Rail Station to the direction of Ore Rail Station directly headed to the Hastings Rail Station.