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The 15 best things to do in Hastings

From fantastic galleries to vintage shopping and beachside fish and chips, Hastings has it all

Joe Minihane
Written by
Danielle Jones
Joe Minihane

Hastings spent an alarmingly long time getting overshadowed by some of the biggest names in the seaside town industry. But no longer. Luckily for Hastings (but unluckily for those of us who wanted to keep it a secret), people have now caught on to the wonders of this brilliant place, and a cultural explosion (partly due to an exodus from London’s art scene) has followed. 

But despite its newfound trendiness, Hastings’ heart remains very much the same. Famed for the Norman Conquest of 1066, (and subsequent Hastings Direct advert), Hastings is full of history. Here you’ll find vintage shops, an old pirate town and the rather brilliant Hastings Contemporary Gallery, as well as some of the finest Art Deco architecture around. Here are the best things to do in Hastings right now. 

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Best things to do in Hastings

Hastings Pier
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Hastings Pier

What is it? The landmark Hastings is famous for. 

Why go? A huge, classic seaside pier that is strikingly beautiful, and makes way for some seriously nice sunsets. Restored from its original Victorian era, Hastings Pier actually won a Stirling Prize for architecture in 2017 for its fantastic wide promenade. The perfect spot for an ice-cream, we say. 

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

Why go? Formerly the Jerwood Collection, Hastings Contemporary plays host to rolling exhibitions from some of the world's leading contemporary artists, including the likes of Jake and Dinos Chapman and Sarah Lucas. 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? Hidden away in underground caverns, a museum about the rise and fall of smuggling.

Why go? This is the full 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.

Old Roar Gill
N. Chadwick

4. Old Roar Gill

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 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.

Hastings Castle
Hastings Castle

6. Hastings Castle

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. 

Sham City Roasters
Sham City Roasters

7. Sham City Roasters

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.  

Teddy Tinker’s
Teddy Tinker's

8. Teddy Tinker’s

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.

Maggie’s Fish and Chips
Maggie's Fish and Chips Restaurant

9. Maggie’s Fish and Chips

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.

Judges Bakery
Judges Bakery

10. Judges Bakery

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. 

The Crown
The Crown

11. The Crown

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.

Di Pola’s Gelato
Di Pola's Gelato

12. Di Pola’s Gelato

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.

East Cliff Railway
Photograph: Shutterstock

14. East Cliff Railway

What is it? A very fun, way to get to the top of Hastings Cliffs.

Why go? As the steepest funicular railway left in the UK it’s a half-nail-biting-half-relaxing way to travel and provides an unbeatable view of Hastings’ Old Town, Stade and Rock-a-Nore. Once at the top you’ll be treated to the beautiful Hastings Country Park filled with wildlife and historical landmarks.


15. Stooge Coffee

What is it? A chilled-out coffee shop that's also a ramen restaurant. 

Why go? During the peak summer season, Hastings can get super busy. Head to Stooge Coffee to kick back with an iced latte and some of the finest cake on the south coast, or opt for a steaming bowl of ramen when it's cooler (every Friday and Saturday). The coffee comes from Pharmacie, a roasters based in Hove, and the ramen restaurant is BYOB.

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