Hastings Old Town in East Sussex is my favourite local seaside town. Slightly bohemian, and incredibly artsy, the old town comes with oodles of quirk. Its muddle of houses, shops and pubs sit tucked between two cliffs a fifteen-minute walk east of Hastings main town. Slightly worn in places, Hastings Old Town has a wealth of character and a welcoming community feel. It’s small enough to explore on foot but there’s enough to keep you busy for a weekend. Read on for the best things to do in Hastings Old Town…

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclaimer.

Hastings Seafront

The Stade, Hastings Old Town

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

Start at the Stade. The shingle beach, called the Stade, is home to Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet. Stade is the old Saxon word for landing place and it’s where you’ll see Hastings’ working fishing boats, the net huts and the Fisherman’s Museum. Nearby are stalls selling freshly caught fish, winkles, cockles, shrimp and other locally caught seafood. I always buy a pot of cockles and load it with vinegar – delicious!

Tip: Guard your seafood carefully. The seagulls have become incredibly canny at whipping them from your hand. They even employ diversion tactics where one gull will distract you whilst the other pinches your pot of prawns.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

Looking for somewhere to stay in Hastings? Check rates and availability

Hastings Net Huts

You can’t miss the net huts on The Stade. About thirty towering wooden sheds with pitched roofs gather together on the shingle. The grade II listed black sheds were built to house fishing gear which, before the days of plastic, would rot away if left in the open. The sheds’ lofty stature was due to lack of space on the small beach so they were built upwards instead of outwards and tarred for weather-proofing.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

Hastings Fisherman’s Museum

Learn more about the huts and the history of fishing in the area at Hastings Fisherman’s Museum which is in the old church on the Stade. The last surviving Hastings sailing lugger, The Enterprise, is installed inside. Nearby is the Blue Reef Aquarium and the Shipwreck Museum. The museum is open 364 days a year, and admission is free, although donations are welcomed.

Hastings Beach

Walk to end of Rock-a-Nore through to the other side of the car park and you’ll come to Rock-a-Nore beach with view of Hastings Country Park in the distance. A good spot for picnicking and rock-pooling.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownRock-a-Nore Beach, Hastings

The Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Just past the net huts on The Stade is the gleaming, black-tiled Jerwood Gallery. The award-winning gallery, which opened in March 2012, houses the Jerwood Collection of Modern and Contemporary British art together with varied temporary exhibitions showing the best of British painting. There’s also a roof café overlooking the fishing beach and a sun terrace with panoramic coastal views. A shop stocks a wide selection of gifts, books and products relating to the current exhibitions. The Jerwood will be relaunching on 6th July as Hastings Contemporary, a new, independent modern and contemporary art gallery for Hastings.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

The gallery is part of the Coastal Culture Trail along with the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery. Entry: Adults from £8. Children under 16 go free. On the first Tuesday of every month the gallery is free to all between the hours of 4pm – 8pm. Opening Times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm, Bank Holiday Mondays, 11am – 5pm (Last admission 4.30pm)

The Stade Open Space

Behind the gallery is an open space for outdoor events in the heart of Hastings. The circles you’ll see on the ground represent the path trodden by the horses which once worked the capstans to pull the fishing boats to shore. Stade Saturdays is a programme of free performances which take place here from May to October including dancing, music and small concerts.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Hastings? Check rates and availability

The Funicular at East Hill Cliff Railway

For fabulous views over the town’s mishmash of roof tops, The Stade and access to Hastings Country Park head up the East Hill Cliff Funicular on Rock-a-Nore Road. It’s the steepest funicular railway in the UK and originally opened in 1902. It’s kind of like taking a tram up a cliff. The East Hill Lift is wheelchair accessible.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

The West Hill Lift, Hastings

Of course, Hastings doesn’t do things by halves so you’ll find a second funicular hauling visitors up the West Hill. The lower station is accessed from the pedestrianised George Street. West Hill Lift passes through a tunnel and on reaching the top, as well as more fabulous views, there’s access to the ruins of Hastings Castle and Smuggler’s Adventure caves.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

Hastings Smuggler’s Caves

St Clements Caves, named after the nearby church, are home to the Smugglers’ Adventure which tells the dark, and sometimes ghostly, tales of smuggling along the Sussex coast over 200 years ago. ‘Hairy Jack’ leads visitors through tunnels, caverns and caves. Kids and adults alike will love the caves and the displays, interactive activities and hands-on features.

Explore the Twittens

You could take the funicular back down to the Old Town or you could wind your way back down through the ‘twittens’. Twittens are a thing in Sussex. If you haven’t heard of them before they’re narrow passageways that link streets and lanes together. Hastings Old Town has a network of them. As you pass the weather-boarded cottages and half-timbered cottages of All Saints Street you’ll notice these little alleys disappearing between the houses and you’ll find them leading down from the West Hill.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

Don’t pass The Crown in All Saints Street without stopping for a bite to eat or a drink. The lively independent pub serves great food in a contemporary setting. For a contrast keep going and you’ll come to The Stag a sixteenth century Inn with ancient beams and a rustic feel. They also serve good food and have live music. At this point cross the street and walk back down the other side until you come to a twitten. Make your way down the passageway and you’ll come to The Bourne (A259). The Bourne is a busy street and was once a site of a stream heading down to the sea. Cross The Bourne and you should see a small car park opposite. At the back of the car park is Wellington Passage. Walk through and you’ll come to the High Street…

Looking for somewhere to stay in Hastings? Check rates and availability

High Street, Hastings

The High Street in Hastings is my favourite shopping street with dozens of independent shops selling everything from art and antiques to upmarket homewares, flowers, artisan breads and general quirk. A wander up and down the High Street dropping by the eclectic mix of shops will keep you occupied for an hour or two. There are some good pubs, coffee shops and delis in the High Street too.

A G Hendy, Hastings

Be sure to drop into AG Hendy which has to be the quirkiest shop in Hastings. Stepping inside the 1920s shop front you’ll be transported to a bygone era of ostrich feather dusters, vintage kitchenware and housewares of the kind you’ll remember your Grandma using. Much of the stock is eco-friendly and its worth checking out all the floors some of which are home to Hendy’s collection of vintage oddities.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownA G Hendy, Hastings

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownHomewares at A G Hendy, Hastings

Made in Hastings offers a range of lovely homemade crafted gifts and homeware from talented makers in and around Hastings.  Little Treasures has a good stock of retro and vintage goods.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownLittle Treasures, Hastings

The FILO

The First in Last Out (FILO) is one of the best of Hasting’s 27 pubs. With a real fire going throughout the winter it’s a cosy place to enjoy a meal and live music. The pub serves six of its own ales produced in its on-site microbrewery. You’ll find the FILO at 14-16 High Street next to Wellington Passage – allegedly one of the most haunted spots in the town.

Coffee and Cake

For coffee and a bite drop by Penbuckle’s Deli. The tiny tea-room is open 7 days a week and serves fantastic coffee, cakes and pastries. Savoury offerings include light lunches, cheese and charcuterie platters paired with a glass of wine or craft ale. Judges bakery next door is good for coffee too and sells and range of artisan breads and local organic goods.

Electric Palace Cinema, Hastings

If you like your films vintage then step into the Electric Palace Cinema on the High Street for less mainstream arthouse and world film screenings. It’s oh so Hastings!

Reste

Reste is a beautiful shop of cool, calm colours and beautiful handmade pieces. A source of artisanal and handcrafted products and accessories tracked down from around the world and brought to Hastings. It’s a shop I can never resist visiting when I’m in town. They also host craft workshops.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownReste, High Street, Hastings

You’ll find them at the bottom of the High Street just before you turn right onto…

George Street, Hastings

An amble down George Street is a must-do on your visit to Hastings. The narrow pedestrian street links the old town with the seafront. You’ll find some fabulous independent shops, restaurants and cafes. Stop for coffee, find a window seat and watch the quirky world of Hastings go by.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownGeorge Street Cafe, Hastings Old Town

Looking for somewhere to stay in Hastings? Check rates and availability

Butler’s Emporium

Butler’s Emporium started out in 1832 as a hardware shop and many of the original fixtures have remained which makes it the perfect backdrop for an eclectic mix of homeware, haberdashery, clothing, jewellery and accessories.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownButler’s Emporium, George Street, Hastings

As well as galleries and gift shops in George Street you’ll find an old-fashioned sweet shop, a tobacco and pipe shop a few vintage shops. Right at the end is Di Pola’s gelato shop – I recommend the pistachio flavour gelato.

Vintage Hastings

Vintage is big in Hastings Old Town. As well as a profusion of antique and bric-a-brac shops there’s a wide range of vintage shops selling clothing, furniture and household goods in the High Street. For Bric-a-brac try Courthouse Street which cuts through from the bottom of the High Street to The Bourne.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownCourthouse Street for bric-a-brac shops

Where to eat in Hastings Old Town

I have a few favourite places to eat in the old town.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownTurkish cuisine at Isabella’s

When you’ve eaten head for one of the old town pubs. Most have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Good pubs for music include The FILO, The Dolphin, The Standard and the Jenny Lind. The Jolly Fisherman on Hastings seafront is a cosy bar selling local craft beers and nibbles.

Where to Stay in Hastings

Bed and Breakfast Hastings

There are a good choice of B&Bs in Hastings and I can recommend The Laindons guest house in the heart of the old town at 23 High Street. The Georgian grade II listed building has five contemporary style rooms and serves breakfast in the airy conservatory overlooking the East Hill nature park.

The Laindons, Hastings B&B

Check rates and availability at The Laindons

For more B&Bs and hotels in Hastings check our handy map.

Booking.com

Festivals and Events in Hastings

There’s usually something going on in Hastings Old Town so time your visit to coincide with one of the town’s festivals or events.

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

How to get to Hastings

By Train

From London there’s a direct service with South Eastern trains from Charing Cross, Waterloo or London Bridge to Hastings. The fast trains takes around 1.5 hours. From Victoria with Southern Rail it takes around two hours.

From Brighton trains to Hastings are with Southern Rail and the service takes around 70 minutes. Check Southern rail for advance tickets and off peak deals.

From Hastings station walk to the seafront and head east. The walk to the old town takes around 15 minutes.

By Car

If you’re driving use the M25 and turn off at the A21. There is some on-street parking but it can be hard to find in the old town. Rock-a-Nore car park past The Stade has plenty of parking. More Hastings parking information can be found here.

So, there are some of my favourite things to do in Hastings Old Town. Have I missed any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.

Some of the posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you buy an item after clicking on one we receive a small (commission (at no extra cost to you). If you choose to buy anything through them it’s very much appreciated, thank you.

Pin it!

Hastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old TownHastings, East Sussex. A bit bohemian, incredibly artsy and brimming with quirk. Small enough to explore on foot with enough to keep you busy for a weekend.What to see and do in Hastings Old Town

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This