Battle of Hastings, 1066. An event and year that’ve been burned into my memory since 9th grade English history class. A former professor was extremely passionate about England’s history, which was a good match for my already developed interest in the Tudors and Britain’s royalty.
As it turns out the battle was actually fought at the nearby town of Battle (appropriate naming), but Hastings is known for being a quintessential seaside town.
When I moved to England, Hastings went on my list of places I wanted to try and visit while living here. And so, when I decided to stay in the city for a spring bank holiday, I decided to take a day trip down to Hastings.
Just two hours from London Victoria, Hastings in East Sussex is filled with history and charm.
Off the train, first up on the agenda? Visiting Hastings’ Castle and the east overlook. The actual battleground in nearby Battle is one of the most historic places in England, it’s where William the Conqueror built his first castle. The castle ruins that overlook the city are from an abbey, which commemorates the battle.
And, if you’re not as interested in the history of Hastings, you’ll at least appreciate the view atop the cliff of the city below and sea in the distance. On a clear day, it’s even possible to glance the outline of France. This is one of two cliffs in Hastings- the West one. The East one is on the other side of town, and also offers great views, plus more lounging area for picnics and lazy afternoons on a sunny day.
Taking the tram down the hillside, we hit the narrow winding streets in search of coffee and lunch. Hit up Hanushka Coffee House for great iced coffee in a cute environment, with bookshelves for walls- it feels like you’ve been transported to the center of a library.
Wandering through a few floral and antique shops, we eventually made our way to The Pelican diner for lunch. Highly recommend- great grilled cheese, burgers and shakes.
After lunch, we wandered through Old Town for a bit, stopping in more shops- a favourite: Made in Hastings. And then, headed over the the East Cliff lift to see the view from the other side. We stayed at the top for a while, reading in the sun and then headed down to the beach below to listen to the waves for a while.
Before we knew it, it was mid-afternoon and time for a pint. The Lord Nelson is a rowdy favourite among locals, but we also liked The Hastings Arms and The Crown Inn.
On the way back to the train, we grabbed fish and chips from the Blue Dolphin, which turned out to be an excellent decision- so fresh.
A great day by the sea, the perfect start to English summertime.
Have you ever been to Hastings? Or any British seaside towns you loved?