colourful historic housesToday, I want to share a few things we did on a recent day trip to Hastings. This Sussex seaside town is one of my favourite places to visit on a day trip from Brighton. To me, Hastings is a grown-up version of Brighton in that it’s a beach town with a unique independent, creative spirit, but without the student hedonism, fewer hen parties and smaller crowds in the summer.

The last time I was in Hastings it was with a back-to-back schedule of places to research for my second guidebook, Secret Sussex. This time, I was keen to wander freely and see where our moods would take us. Of course, we were drawn back to our favourite cool and unusual past discoveries, but found a couple of new places, too, all of which I am excited to share here, in the hope to inspire your next day trip to Hastings. Follow me!

cafe seats overlooking beach

Side point: If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that when visiting a place, I try to avoid the obvious places, and explore away from the crowds, in search of unique and unusual discoveries only locals and visitors in the know would seek out. Obvious sights feature occasionally – it depends – but always as an accompaniment to a generous helping of uniqueness.

hastings day trip

We started our Hastings day trip with breakfast at the colourful Goat Ledge Café on the waterfront at St Leonards, the town next-door. It’s set inside a brightly painted hut with colourful tables and chairs out front, and specialises in mainly fish rolls, as well as a few other options. It’s a nice spot to settle into the seaside Hastings vibe, lap up the fresh sea breeze, do some people watching while you wait for your food to cook. Side point: I highly recommend the Goat Ledge Sunrise bap: Hastings smoked haddock, crisp lettuce, chilli jam and chive mayo topped with a free-range fried egg. Delicious. With a side of hash browns and a cappuccino.

Tummies full, we walked along the seafront promenade from St Leonards, towards Hastings Old Town. On the way, I discovered an incredible shop called Arthur Green’s; a flea market in an old Edwardian gentleman’s tailoring shop, complete with original shop interior and an entrance mosaic. Swoon! Back on the promenade, we also get totally distracted by another curiosity, a Victorian weather kiosk complete with a barometer and daily updated weather information.

victorian weather kiosk

Hastings Old Town

Hastings Old Town is my favourite part of Hastings for all the beautiful streets to explore. We start in George Street, a pedestrianised lane lined with pubs, cafes, and shops, all fronted by historic facades. I love Hanushka coffee shop for its interior of floor-to-ceiling shelves crammed with old books you can browse while you sip your coffee. Also along here I love The Clockwork Crow home shop which has a hidden café out the back, and The Hastings Bookshop with its  section on local history.

timber fronted houses

Elsewhere, I can’t get enough of the raised walkways, half-timbered houses and Tudor facades on All Saints Street, one of which – number 135 – is occasionally open for tours (which features here). Equally lovely is the High Street, which runs parallel to All Saints Street in Hastings. It has more pretty houses and raised walkways to admire, and independent shops, including Robert’s Rummage, an excellent little thrift store we pick up two board games almost brand new and a wine bottle opener for just £10!

Further along High Street I’m drawn to the façade of the Electric Palace, a tiny independent community cinema, run by volunteers and survives on ticket and drink sales alone, I vow to support next time I’m in Hastings; before passing a darkened fairy-tale-esque shop called AG Hendy, which has a similar atmosphere to the house I talked about above, because it’s owned by the same person.

Hastings Twittens

After a mooch around the shops, to the west of the old town we wander up and into a tangle of narrow lanes known as Twittens leading up to West Hill. What are twittens, you ask? Twittens are skinny stairways and passages that connect the historic streets in this part of the Hastings old town. The twittens are lined with beautiful historic homes, colourful facades. I can’t stop photographing them. It’s my favourite part about a visit to Hastings, and I could spend my entire Hastings day trip wandering around them.

Eventually we emerge up on West Hill for a beautiful view across the Stade, noting the famous castle. It makes me think of the town’s incredible long history. Famous for its connections to William the Conqueror, who came from Normandy in 1066 and defeated English King Harold in the Battle of Hastings in nearby Battle.

Museums in Hastings

Back down in the old town, we pay a visit to The Flower Makers Museum hidden away in a high street shop that dates back to the 14th century. On street level there’s a shop selling artificial flowers, but the basement hides a museum dedicated to the art of flower making. Although, I love a visit to the True CRIME Museum which features displays with forensic evidence from serial killings and other criminal activities (also featured here), we decide we fancy an early dinner before heading home.

restaurant interior

Dinner in Hastings

Fish and chips at The Neptune on Pleasant Row are incredible and food at The Crown pub on All Saints Street never fails, but we decide it’s Thai food we fancy, so off we stroll to Boulevard Books on George Street. A bookshop by day, cosy Thai restaurant by night. Luckily, they had a  little table for two free, in the politics section, out the back. I recommended you book though as it’s a small restaurant and was almost full when we dined at 5pm. It’s cash-only BYOB place does a two-course set menu for £17 a person. The starters – think satay chicken and summer rolls – come beautifully presented on pattered Thai plates followed by heaped plates of piping hot Pad Thai noodles, spicy mouthfuls of which we ravenously gobble as we reminisce on our day trip to Hastings.

seaview hastings

How to Get to Hastings

It’s easy to get to Hastings from Brighton on the train. Direct rail services depart Brighton and the journey takes around 40 minutes. Driving to Hastings is an option, too. It takes around 40 minutes to an hour to drive to Hastings from Brighton, and there’s parking in town.

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