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The 14 best things to do in Hastings

Whether you want fine art, fish and chips on the pier or a wander round an historic castle, these are the best things to do in Hastings

Joe Minihane
Written by
Danielle Jones
Joe Minihane

Hastings has fast become one of south east England's hippest seaside resorts. Beloved by many for its old school charm, in recent years it's become an artists' haven, with painters and sculptors heading to the coast for the amazing spaces and incredible light.

The town is imbued with an independent spirit, reflected in its thriving shopping scene, not to mention the superb Jerwood Gallery and award-winning pier. There's history galore, right through from 1066 to its status as a smugglers' paradise. Throw in some of the finest Art Deco this side of Miami, and you've got plenty of reasons to head to Hastings for a short break. 

Pressed for time? Check our guide to the most perfect day in Hastings.

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Find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world.

Best things to do in Hastings

What is it? Hidden away in underground caverns, a museum about the rise and fall of smuggling.

Why go? Thefull Indiana Jones experience. Head through the underground corridors, once used by smugglers, with only a torch to light your way. Meanwhile, you'll learn about the people who risked life and limb to earn a bob or two on the black market. Word is the chapel is the most haunted spot in town.

What is it? A wooded enclosure complete with its own waterfalls.

Why go? This nature reserve is home to a host of rare flowers and birds. Look out for spotted flycatchers, grey wagtails and kingfisher, as well as bluebells and wood anenome in the spring. It's also a paradise for insects, with some of the rarest in the UK making this oasis of calm their home.


What is it? A cabaret bar in Hastings Old Town.  

Why go? Formerly Blackmarket VIP, a raucous live venue, Dr Jekyll's hosts regulkar cabaret, as well as club nights to satisfy the most discerning of night owls. 

Hastings Pier

4. Hastings Pier

What is it? Hastings' most iconic landmark

Why go? Redesigned and reopened in 2016, Hastings Pier one the prestigious Stirling Prize for architecture in 2017. It's easy to see why. This Victorian gem has been restored to its former glory, with a wide promenade that's perfect for eating ice cream and watching the world go by.


What is it? An impressive collection of contemporary art housed in one of southern England's finest buildings.

Why go? The Jerwood Collection features well-known British artists such as Lowry and Sickert as part of its permanent collection and plays host to a number of other brilliantly curated changing shows. The building itself is also a sight to behold. Its shiny tiled exterior reflects the nearby craggy cliffs and waves from Hastings Beach.

What is it? A museum detailing the shocking real-life tales of crimes and their punishment.

Why go? Don’t try to deny it; we all love a touch of the macabre. Tapping into the neverending obsession with true crime, this ace museum explores the grisly truth behind some of the strangest and most twisted crimes committed. From the notorious Krays to tales of murder and gore, this bizarre collection will engage and enthral your strangest of curiosities.


What is it? The beautiful ruins of a Norman castle overlooking all of Hastings.

Why go? The castle may not be at its former glory but the historic significance is certainly still there. Built during the Norman Conquest of Britain, the castle’s construction is important enough to be depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Shut in winter, you can still marvel at its ramparts from afar during the colder months.

What is it? Hastings' best coffee spot, serving up vegan treats, houseplants and oddities.

Why go? Definitely one of Hasting’s best-kept secrets, Sham City Roasters specialises in the very best coffee around, with a superb veggie and vegan menu to match. Head here if you like cold brew, fairy lights and pop-culture references aplenty. Stay for the vegan doughnut.  


What is it? A delightful little vintage cave of treasures.

Why go? Selling absolutely anything you can imagine, and even a few things you can’t, Teddy Tinker’s in the St Leonard’s area of Hastings is the place to lose an hour or two browsing. For something that’s really one of kind make sure to check out their selection of vintage fabrics and handmade costume jewellery.

What is it? Hastings’ best-loved chip shop with an incredible view.

Why go? Maggie’s is reputed as not only the top fish and chip shop in Hastings but is also known as the spot serving the largest portions too. Found on Rock-a-Nore Road, their fish is locally sourced and they have vegetarian options for non-pescatarians. Grab a portion of chips with lashings of vinegar and enjoy looking out over the boats. Word of warning: it gets busy so try to book ahead.


What is it? Hastings' premier bakery, open for almost 200 years.

Why go? As well as offering the traditional takes on bread, Judges also serves a huge selection of pastries and cakes. Ingredients are mostly sourced from the local area, with plentiful options for those with specific dietary requirements. Try the Mack-a-Roll, like a sausage roll but filled with smoked mackerel. 

What is it? An independent pub serving up local craft ales and awesome artwork.

Why go? Head to The Crown to be treated to a delicious pub lunch, complete with  homemade bread and a local craft brew. On the walls you’ll be able to spot artwork from Hastings creatives, all part of the pub'srotating gallery. Its cosy surroundings make it the ideal place to forget about the outside world.


What is it? An ice-cream parlour selling some of the best gelato in the south.  

Why go? Don't be tempted by a 99 on the pier. When in Hastings make sure you head to Di Pola’s. Serving every conceivable flavour imaginable (liquorice anybody?), there’s a reason there is always a queue outside this place. Grab a double scoop of whatever you fancy and visit the arcades opposite.

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