Car-free around HastingsEast Sussex

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Celebrating the relaunch of Hastings Contemporary, here are some car-free things to do in and around this colourful seaside town. You can get to Hastings by railway in as little as 80 minutes from London and prices on the train start from £5 (for advance tickets with Southern rail from London Victoria). The quickest journeys are from London Bridge with Southeastern and both lines showcase some lovely South Downs scenery. There are also trains and buses arriving from all over Kent and Sussex and beyond. Hastings is a great base for a staycation - scroll to the end for more tips on buses, bikes and places to stay.

  • County: East Sussex
  • Great for: architecture | art galleries | beaches | cliff railway | good cafés | museums | viewpoints |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
Multi coloured exterior of Towner gallery - from our Hastings car-free trip
  1. 4. Coastal Culture Trail

    Two more fabulous galleries, with shifting exhibitions of contemporary art and imaginative cafes, are spread over the eighteen glorious miles of coastline west of Hastings. You can reach them by bike, bus, train or on foot. The railway is fast and efficient or bus 99 offers a cheap and leisurely journey with views from the window of ruined Pevensey castle across the marshy levels. It usually stops right outside the De La Warr pavilion (ask the driver if you’re not sure). A Stagecoach day rider ticket is a good investment if you’re going far by bus.

    • The De La Warr pavilion at Bexhill on Sea is a cutting-edge creative space with a fabulous sea-view cafe. To visit by train or bus, see Good Journey’s directions.
    • The vibrant Towner gallery in Eastbourne is celebrating ten years since it opened on the current site with a huge, bright, geometric mural that covers the towering façade. It’s a short walk from the railway station, heading for the sea. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
    • Nearby, you’ll find the newly revamped Devonshire Quarter and a Napoleonic-era tower, with a seafront café. Stroll along the shingle or promenade (lots more places to eat along the way) and soak up the sunshine in this golden corner of the country.
    • You can also cycle between the galleries. The flat promenades between Hastings and Bexhill make a particularly good bike route and Sustrans suggests lots more routes into the Weald and the undulating, green South Downs.
    • If you’re starting from the Eastbourne end, Let’s Bike offers cycle hire and will deliver/collect or you can take the bikes back on the train. Have fun exploring!
    • If you happen to be in Eastbourne between about October and February, look out for the starlings that nest in the pier. Every evening, they swirl and spread across the sunset sky as they settle down for the night.
  1. Buses, bikes and places to stay

    Here’s a bit more practical info if you’re planning a staycation in the Hastings area

    • If you’re taking several bus rides around the area, Stagecoach offers a variety of Dayrider tickets for unlimited trips across the city or further afield.
    • If the bus journeys are on the same day that you arrive by train, get a bargain PlusBus ticket for unlimited bus travel all around Hastings and as far as Bexhill so you can walk along the beach to the De la Warr Pavilion and catch the bus back.
    • You can hire bikes from Bell’s Bicycles, which is very close to Hastings Contemporary on George Street and rents out bikes (with helmets and locks) on a very reasonable, flexible tariff.
    • There are lots of places to stay in Hastings and Eastbourne, including the Apollo Guest House, less than five minutes’ walk from the railway station. Right on the seafront, the Bank Hotel and Bistro is just a five-minute stroll from St Leonards station and close to coastal bus routes. Down the coast in Eastbourne, the Devonshire Park Hotel, ten minutes’ walk from the station and two minutes from the sea, offers a ringside view of the psychedelic Towner gallery.
  • De la Warr pavilion interior view - from our Hastings car-free trip
  • Multi coloured exterior of Towner gallery - from our Hastings car-free trip
  • Starlings off Eastbourne pier - from our Hastings car-free trip