Hastings in two days: what to see if you’re in town for the weekend

07.06.2024Maria Kulik

Antique stores, a stroll through the old town and the fishing quarter, and the freshest seafood can all be enjoyed in the town of Hastings, a 1.5 hour drive from London. "ZIMA" has put together a guide on how to spend your time productively and enjoyably if you find yourself there for one weekend.

Day 1

Old Town

You can start your day in Hastings with a stroll through the Old Town. It is located between two hills, east and west. The place is a maze of narrow, tangled streets and alleys dotted with buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and Tudor times.

Old Town is full of antique and independent stores – you can find literally everything from vintage clothing to chocolate lobsters. Those on the hunt for rarities are advised to check out Hastings Antique Warehouse. It spans 5 floors and is the largest antique mall in the Southeast. Also worth checking out is the Roberts Rummage, a real treasure trove where each item tells its own story. However, it is forbidden to take photos in this store – its owner strongly requests it.

In addition, check out Old Hastings Pottery. Here you can not only buy your favorite piece, but also learn about how it was made.

Various events are often held in the Old Town. For example, the Seafood and Wine Festival (this year it will be held on September 14 and 15) or the celebration of Jack in the Green, a vibrant English tradition associated with the May Day celebrations and dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

“To me, the coolest pub in Hastings is Ye Olde Pump House. It’s just in the old town, so if you’re walking around and want to have lunch or stop in for a pint in the evening, head there. The place is atmospheric: cozy fireplace, low ceilings. This pub seems to be many years old, but it only opened in 1956 and before that there were 3 separate houses. Nevertheless, the tourists really like it – no one passes by,” says local resident Tom.

“For lunch you can go to Goat Ledge. It is located right on the beach. True, it’s not very close to the Old Town, but if you suddenly decide to just stroll along the beach, head there. Try the Bap there. It’s something between a burger and a sandwich. The ingredients are the freshest. But, when you eat lunch, watch out for seagulls dragging your Bap away,” shares another Hastings resident Jessica.

Fishermen’s Quarter

In the Middle Ages, the seaport of Hastings was one of the Five Ports of England, the union of which was considered a serious military and economic power.

The pebble beach of the Old Town is often called Stade. This obsolete Saxon term means “place of wharf”. Today it is home to Europe’s largest fleet of fishing boats launched from shore.

Also lining the beach are chain stores – black tar-covered wooden sheds that used to store fishing gear. They stood in front of the Old City for many centuries and served as warehouses for equipment that was made of natural materials – cotton nets, hemp ropes and sails that could rot if left outdoors when wet. To prevent this from happening, fishermen would first dry their gear on the beach and then put it in “stores”. By the way, they got this name not because they sold something here, but because “shop” is an old term for a workplace, such as a workshop.

There is a fisherman’s museum next door to the chain stores, so if you happen to want to know more about the history of the place, we strongly advise you to visit it.

Next to the fishing district, you’ll find the Museum of Contemporary Art . Artists such as Sarah Lucas and Jake and Dinos Chapman exhibit here. Note also the gallery building itself – its gleaming facade reflects the nearby rocky cliffs of the beach.

“A very nice place for dinner is The Stag Inn. The oldest pub in the city, which was opened as far back as the 16th century. It also hosts various American folk bands on the weekends, so if you want to enjoy great food and live music, make sure you go to this pub,” Martin shares.

Day 2

“You can stop by Judge’s Bakeryfor breakfast. It is considered the best in the city, and was opened almost 200 years ago. There’s a huge selection of breads, pastries and other cakes. Don’t forget to try the Mac-a-roll, by the way. It’s like the famous sausage roll, only with smoked mackerel,” advises Joe.

Hastings Country Park

On day two, head to a local nature reserve – Hastings Country Park Local Nature Reserve. It is a very picturesque location with views of the coast as well as the Old Town. The reserve itself covers 342 hectares of ancient woodland, heathland and grassland. It extends 5 kilometers east to the village of Fairlight. Incidentally, it is said that this particular reserve was the inspiration for the creator of mechanical television, John Logie Baird.

Another attraction in Hastings is the West Hill and East Hill Cliff Railroad. They are considered the steepest cable car in the United Kingdom. Now only its western part is open to visitors.

“The best Fish and Chips in town is at Maggie’s Fish and Chips. The fresh fish is delicious and the sea view from the cafe is beautiful,” says Paul.

City Museum

Check out the Hastings City Museum, where you can learn more about the city’s history. There are halls with dinosaurs, local wildlife, and North American Native American collections. And the museum also offers insight into the story of Hastings native and conservationist Archibald Belaney, who was known as Grey Owl.

Hastings Castle

Perhaps the most important attraction of the city is Hastings Castle, or rather the ruins that remain of it. The construction of this fortress began in September 1066 by order of William the Conqueror. A month later, one of the most important battles in English history, the “Battle of Hastings”, was fought a few miles away. On October 14, 1067, the army of the Norman Duke William defeated the army of the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II. So William became the new king, better known as, William the Conqueror, and England became a feudal monarchy.

When King Henry VIII declared himself head of the Church of England in 1534, he ordered the destruction of St. Mary’s Chapel, which was located on the castle grounds, and left the building in ruins. By the end of the 18th century, however, Hastings had become a popular tourist destination and the ruined castle had become a tourist attraction. Although there is little left of the castle today, its ruins continue to attract visitors who can see Hastings Castle from March to October.

“For dinner, the best option is to go to Webbe’s Rock-a-Nore. The seafood pasta there is very good. And look out for the hake fish served with roast potatoes, chorizo, green beans, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan Tuile, and tomato and thyme sauce,” Adam advises.

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