Visit Hastings for independent shops filled with quirky dungarees and glittering notepads, coffee shops pouring steaming lattes with the smell of cinnamon in the air, and antique shops stuffed with wooden furniture which spills into the streets. Here you’ll find a town packed with attractions for a weekend break, and is simply a place to enjoy a quieter pace and mooch, and where it seems dogs almost outnumber humans. For more information on Hastings and other fabulous English destinations, the Rough Guide to England has got you covered.
Children come with their plastic collections of buckets and spades and pour stones into containers, the pebbles pouring between their fingertips. Little ones spin on arcade rides with lights flashing through the air, while older teens compete at penny machines to win a stuffed animal figure hanging on the wall.
A Hastings holiday is to be enjoyed by the seaside, with its sprawling boulevard-style roads and palm trees floating in the afternoon breeze, but it’s also a town coated in history and thrilling hikes. What’s more, which Line of Duty fan could forget Adrien Dunbar’s infamous quote when clarifying his character’s name: ‘The name’s Hastings, like the battle’?
Intrigued? Find out how Hastings became the UK's must-visit seaside town.
You can learn more with the ‘1066 Story’ a 20-minute film on the history of the castle, and afterwards enjoy a picnic lunch here. If you’re going to be exploring more of Hastings’ attractions why not opt for a 3-in-1 Combi ticket, which grants you entry to Blue Reef Aquarium and Smugglers Adventure at a discounted price?
Smugglers Adventure tells visitors the history of smuggling through caves on the South Coast of England 200 years ago. If you are more interested in creative pieces, head to the Hastings Contemporary and delve deep into contemporary British art.
Hop on the speedy East Hill funicular railway and shoot up the cliff. This is the steepest funicular in the country at 39 degrees, but you move at surprising speed up the clifftop. If you want to skip the funicular, you will have to head up the cliff using the Tamarisk Steps which are to the left of the train tracks.
You will find this next to the Dolphin Inn pub. At the top you will land in Hastings Country Park. Here you will be treated to spectacular, sprawling views of Hastings and beyond. Spot the gentle tidal waves of the sparkling blue sea and follow the lanes of the town with its pastel-coloured walls and chimney tops. You can’t miss the bright yellow gorse during the summer.
The cliff top is a great place to enjoy a picnic, so bring plenty of goodies for yourself. And you will spot an endless number of dogs running around the greenery and exploring the great outdoors. There is a slight incline to the walk, but if you can, carry on and you’ll pass a reservoir. If you are a keen walker, you can continue all the way to Fairlight, where you will follow part of the Saxon Shore Way.
Paisley and Friends is a great place to find gifts, while Tails of Leonards provides optimum dog spotting as a dog grooming parlour and Kings Oriental sells a plethora of candles and essential oils. On High St, you can enjoy sifting through the vintage pieces at Hawk & Dove, and Hastings Antiques Warehouse and The Hastings Bookshop sell what they say on the tin.
Trundling down other streets, you will find Tommy’s Pizzeria for well-priced, thin and delicious pizza with all the usual toppings you could ask for. Finish off with their lime key pie. To really start your day right head to Fika 44 with friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere. There is a lovely covered outdoor area at the back filled to the brim with hanging plants and is a popular dog hangout spot.
There is a full menu for hot drinks, we recommend the turmeric latte, and packed breakfasts with the likes of poached eggs, balsamic glazes, cherry tomatoes, salmon and prosciutto. For a sweet start opt for the banana bread layered in mascarpone, granola and a berry compote with a delightful crunch.
Top image: Hastings old town dominated by the east cliff and funicular railway © Nicola Pulham/Shutterstock