For almost a thousand years this town’s name has been associated with the Battle of Hastings, which took place in 1066 at nearby Battle. Hastings’ attractions include the ruins of Hastings Castle plus other attractions that relate to the Hastings’ seafaring past.
Hastings has been settled since prehistoric times and it was an important fishing village during Saxon times. Because of its proximity to the English channel, Hastings one of the first places to be impacted by the Norman Conquest with William the Conqueror landing nearby at Pevensey and defeating King Harold at Battle. After the Battle of Hastings, the first of many Norman castles was built at Hastings. Although mostly in ruins, Hastings Castle is open to visitors and provides a vantage point for spectacular views of Hastings and the south coast.
The town has long been noted as an important fishing port and it is home to Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet. Hastings’ Old Town area is the centre of the town’s fishing industry and unlike other fishing ports (Grimsby for instance) the Old Town remains a charming neighbourhood with its unique net shops (tall wooden sheds used to store fishing gear), small independent businesses and a relatively high concentration of fish and chips shops. The Old Town is where you will find many of Hastings’ tourist attractions including the Blue Reef Aquarium, Hastings Fishermen’s Museum and the Shipwreck Museum. The Hastings Contemporary art gallery is a more recent addition to the old town.
Hastings’ location also made it a hotbed for smugglers with an estimated 40,000 smugglers operating in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Smugglers Adventure attraction inside St Clements Cave has a series of life-size dioramas depicting the history of smuggling in the local area.
Seaside resorts became very popular during the Victorian era and like many other towns on the south coast, Hastings grew rapidly during this period with its population increasing 20-fold. Like other seaside resorts, it developed with a wide seafront promenade lined with large hotels. However, it developed on a smaller scale to nearby Eastbourne and Brighton.
Hastings has excellent transport connections to London and other destinations in East Sussex.
It is served by both bus and rail with direct train services connecting Hastings railway station to Battle, Brighton, Eastbourne and Rye as well as direct services to Ashford International (where you can transfer for Eurostar trains to Belgium and France) and to London.
Hastings is also served by local bus services, which extend to other towns and cities in both East Sussex and Kent. Although the train is often quicker, the bus is a good way to get to other places in East Sussex particularly as it is usually cheaper and more frequent than the train with more central departure points.
Most local bus routes are run by Stagecoach, which has regular buses to other destinations in the southeast. Buses 304 and 305 go to Battle, bus routes 98 and 99 go to Eastbourne, bus route 98 goes to Herstmonceux (from St Leonards). Routes 100 and 101 (the Wave) go to Rye where you can connect with the Wave bus route 102 to Hythe, Folkstone and Dover.
There are also regular National Express coach services to London. National Express coaches depart from Queens Road in the town centre (near Specsavers).