There’s something about living in London that makes you a little bit obsessed with getting out of it.
And by out of it I mean out of London itself, not off your face on overpriced cocktails stumbling off the night bus oh god where are my keys out of it.
Like, spending your Saturdays at the latest pop-up is all well and good but with London basically being the transport hub of the UK there’s no excuse not to explore a bit further afield once in a while is there?
I mean, get yourself to bed at a reasonable hour Friday evening, get up early on Saturday, and by 11am you could be scoping out possible lunch spots in Brighton, or Cambridge, or Canterbury.
Or Hastings in East Sussex which, at just under 2 hours away by train, is a perfect place to take a day trip.
And with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of reasons you should take a day trip to Hastings. Come on, some sea air will do you good.
#1. Because it’s less than 2 hours away
Ok, I’m generalising. You may not actually live in London. But if you do, all you’ve got to worry about on Saturday morning is getting yourself to London Bridge or Victoria station (I went to London Bridge because it’s closer), buying yourself a big coffee and some snacks for the journey, and sitting back while the lovely English countryside rolls by.
Or, you know, getting some more shut-eye because Hastings is the last stop.
#2. Because it has a beautiful pebble beach
Now don’t get me wrong. I love a sandy beach as much as the next girl. That is, if I’m staying right near the beach and the weather’s hot and I can basically shower all the sand off me at a moment’s notice because HELLO my hotel’s right THERE.
When I’m on a day out somewhere, though, I’m totally happy with a pebble beach. You can still sunbathe and paddle in the sea and, with so many other things to do in Hastings, you’re probably not going to be spending all day on the beach anyway.
#3. Because you can take a tram up a cliff!
Yup you read that right: a tram. Up a cliff.
Other people were getting on this tram with a look of apprehension on their faces but I have no idea why. Like, I probably walk around London faster than this thing travels. It’s a short journey at just the right pace for you to snap some photos of the lovely views across the beach and, at £2.50 for a return ticket, an absolute bargain given the views you’ll see when you get to the top.
East Hill lift, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings
#4. Because the views from Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve are stunning
Once you’ve travelled up East Cliff on the tram you’ll arrive at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve. This place really is the best spot for views over the beach, the sea, and the Old Town (which we’ll come to in a minute HANG ON).
And if you really want to make your visit to the country park special bring a picnic and enjoy a bit of lunch with a gorgeous view over Hastings (there’s a Sainsbury’s right by the train station – bonus!)
#5. Because the Old Town is an Instagram addict’s dream
When you arrive in Hastings by train you’ll be right in the centre of Hastings town centre. And, while this part of Hastings is great for high street shopping, it’s the Old Town with its quaint little cafes, its Tudor buildings, and its pastel-coloured houses that you really need to walk around. Not only is full of boutiques and quirky shops but its flower-laden pubs, its adorable tea rooms, and its pretty streets are basically an Instagram addict’s dream.
And I should know, I’ve basically been spending half my life on there recently.
#6. Because it’s home to the cutest little cafés
Growing up in England, my family and I would spend a lot of our holidays on the south coast in places like Dorset and Devon where finding somewhere to stop for a cream tea was sometimes the most important part of the day. So it’s little wonder that I ended up in cute little tea shop called Tea Beside the Sea on George Street in Hastings Old Town sipping a cup of English breakfast tea (a cup of tea with a saucer because OF COURSE), slicing into a fresh, crumbly scone, and piling on the jam and cream like there was no tomorrow.
#7. Because getting a history lesson has never looked so good
If you went to school in the UK you’ll have probably covered the Battle of Hastings at some point in history class. Or maybe, like me, your time at secondary school is such a long time ago that recalling anything you learnt is like trying to nab a spot on Bondi beach in the middle of summer: pretty flippin’ impossible.
I prefer taking my history lessons outside of the classroom to be honest and that’s why one thing I definitely wanted to do on my day trip to Hastings was visit Hastings Castle. Or, at least, what’s left of it. This 11th-century Norman fortress is not only a beautiful spot to walk around but also has great views over the ocean.
Take the West Hill lift on George Street in the Old Town up to West Hill (more amazing views) and take a left up the hill to find the castle.
Hastings Castle, Castle Hill Road, West Hill, Hastings, TN34 3AR
#8. Because Hastings is also home to an award-winning art gallery
I know, right? Art galleries are usually the last thing you expect to see by the seaside, but Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery is a must-see if you’re into either 20th and 21st-century art or contemporary art. Like I said in this post, I find that there’s something really calming about visiting an art gallery and, with its spot by the historic fishing beach overlooking the sea, Jerwood Gallery is a haven for those who need a little respite from the busyness of the seafront.
Jerwood Gallery, The Stade, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings, TN34 3DW
#9. Because sitting by the sea will soothe stressed-out city dwellers
There’s a reason I chose to live in Bondi and St Kilda during my time in Australia: both were by the sea, and any time I was feeling stressed out I could easily pop down to the beach and watch the waves and feel instantly better about whatever was going on in my head. I’ve written before about my anxiety and spending too much time in the city just makes it worse. That’s why, during my trip to Hastings, I made sure I spent some time just sitting by the sea. This spot I found, to the east of the beach, was perfect.
#10. Because you need some fresh fish and chips in your life
Forget about fish and chips from the takeaway at the bottom of your street. Unless you do, in fact, like by the seaside, it’s just not the same as ordering fish and fat-cut chips and knowing the piece of cod basically came from the fisherman across the road. And it doesn’t get fresher than that.
#11. Because taking a day trip makes you feel like you’re travelling, even when you’re not
Oh wait, I wrote an entire post about this last year. Maybe have a read of that when you’re done here. Because taking a day trip in the country you live in, and exploring somewhere you’ve never been before, really does give you the same kinda warm fuzzies that travelling somewhere new can. I’m rarely happier than when I’m walking around with my camera in my hand and a day trip gives me the opportunity to do exactly that without venturing too far from home.
How to get to Hastings from London
The easiest way to get to Hastings from London is to get a train from either London Bridge or Victoria. Southeastern trains run a regular service and should get you there in just under 2 hours.
Upcoming events in Hastings
- Hastings Seafood & Wine Festival: If you like seafood and wine (and WHO DOESN’T?!) plan your trip to Hastings for the 19th or 20th September when Hastings Seafood & Wine Festival will be in full swing. You’ll be able to taste some of the delicious sea food and local produce Hastings has to offer and there will also be live music and street entertainment. A perfect day out for foodies.
- Hastings Bonfire: Held during Hastings week, the Hastings Bonfire, on October 17th, is to commemorate the Battle of Hastings as well as the traditional foiling of the gunpowder plot of 1605. There’ll be a torch lit procession through the streets followed by a bonfire and fireworks on the beach.
I visited Hastings courtesy of Visit 1066 Country. However, as always, all opinions are my own.