On the glorious east coast of Yorkshire, there are many beauty spots. From the seaside fun of Scarborough to the natural wonders of Flamborough, this rugged coastline has a reason for everyone to visit. One favourite place which stands out as something special is the evocative town of Whitby.
Situated just over 40 miles and an hour’s drive from York, Whitby is wonderfully unique; filled with ancient history and modern life, it can provide a variety of experiences. As a family day out, a romantic weekend away, or a week of exploring, Whitby has it all. Here are some attractions to enjoy whilst here:
The Whitby skyline is a stunning sight, with the elevated abbey a spectacular brooding presence. This 7th century landmark was a former monastery, and now the abbey looks out across town from the east side cliff top as a grade I listed building. The grounds are wondrous to wander round; this site was inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and remains a favourite destination for fans of horror and goth. But fear not, the abbey tour makes this gothic site a fun and family friendly visit.
To reach Whitby Abbey, you must climb the 199 steps, something which has become a famous landmark in itself. Originally wooden and dating back to at least 1340, the now stone steps wind steeply up to the sky and down to the sea. Benches provide a welcome break for those who need it in the throngs of folk who are counting each step as they go.
Atop the 199 steps and past the abbey, you’ll discover the perfect place to stop off, and perhaps stay a while. Surely the most idyllic brewery anywhere, Whitby Brewery also serves a great pint. Micro brewing since 2013, they were an immediate local success, and more recently moved to this new site. As well as brewing their range of tasty ales here, the tap room and large outside courtyard provide a lovely social setting to sup it fresh. Elsewhere, there are a plethora of pubs, especially traditional ale houses like The Elsinore and The Fleece, plus a drink with a view at The Duke of York, and stylish craft bar Arch & Abbey.
Back down to ground level, staying on the east side, meander the quaint cobbled streets filled with rows of independent shops. You’ll find gemstone stores such as Ebor Jetworks and WH Hamond selling local Whitby jet; literature, including, of course, Dracula, at The Whitby Bookshop; homeware at stylish hygge haven The Sandy Seahorse; and everything you didn’t know you wanted but definitely do at Kemp’s, an emporium of the beautiful and the unusual. Across the River Esk bridge to the west side, where fabulous food shops such as The Whitby Deli and Whitby Wholefoods will tempt you with the best local produce.
As well as Whitby’s unique attractions, it’s also simply a terrific seaside resort. The west beach sprawls in sand for two miles. Whitby harbour operates commercial fishing for fresh Whitby crab and cod. Boat tours also operate, including the Captain Cook Experience, replicating the navigator’s journey on the HMS Endeavour. The west pier is a revitalising stroll, ending at the handsome lighthouse. And back on the beach front path, arcades provide family entertainment, and a bandstand nods to the cultural events held here, from goth weekends to Whitby folk week.
A short walk from the seafront up on the west cliff, where many stay due to the array of b&bs here, the unique whalebone arch curves over the town below. Representing Whitby’s whaling tradition, this arch of whale jaw bone was erected in 1853 and has been replicated since. This intriguing artefact is a photo opportunity not to resist.
Whitby offers a great selection of places to eat out at. Of course, fish and chips are a must, and the choice is wide and wonderful. Magpie Cafe is famous for good reason, with queues out of the door to sample the superb fish and chips in an authentic setting. Locals have their own favourites for visitors to discover, from Quayside to Mister Chips. Other cuisine is catered for too, with Humble Pie n Mash serving its name expertly, and Ditto providing high quality modern bistro excellence. Lunch and coffee is taken care of at the likes of The Blitz, Sherlock’s and The Art Cafe. Or a wonderful walk to Sandsend will take you to Fish Cottage and their fine seafood by the beach.
Images: Anete Lusina @anetelusina