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From the atmospheric Abbey towering over winding cobbled streets to the windswept beach and working harbour, Whitby is not your traditional coastal town. An Enjoy England award winner for Best Day Out, be sure to sample Yorkshire’s best fish and chips, discover ancient vampire legends and sit under the whale bone arch, watching the brightly coloured fishing vessels passing by.
Blue Flag Beach Visit Whitby's award winning Blue Flag beach.
Whitby Abbey A Grade I listed building overlooking the harbour and town.
Originally made for actors performing in Whitby who liked to carry a good luck charm, these little glass ducks can now bring you good luck.
Although Magpie’s are famed for their fish & chips, we recommend the seafood hotpot. It’s delicious!
The opening of Whitby's swing bridge is strictly governed by the tide tables produced by the Whitby Harbour Office.
With its cobbled lanes leading to a handsome harbour, fishing trawlers sailing past lifeboat cruises, and rickety pubs jostling for position alongside lively bars, Whitby is a town of endless charm and surprising contrasts.
The town is divided in two by the harbour and the River Esk Estuary. The older part of the town, located on the East bank, is a jumble of narrow mediaeval streets, while the newer town is found on the opposite bank.
Whitby’s rich historic identity reveals itself at every turn. From admiring the ancient Abbey to standing beneath the haunting whale bone arch, or from visiting the annual Goth Weekend to exploring the bustling fish market, your adventure starts here. Why not pay a visit to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, a handsome 17th Century harbourside house where the great explorer, James Cook, came to serve his apprenticeship in Whitby in the year 1746.
Curious Stories and Secrets of Whitby. Unique Walking Tours of Whitby inform you of Unwritten Local Folklore with Tales of Pirates, Smugglers, Dracula, Whaling, Whitby Abbey, Captain Cook and many more facts about this ancient town and port. Take a leisurely stroll through Whitby's streets and alleys while you listen to curious tales and stories handed down in the oral tradition and often known only to local folk and old characters of the town.
Whitby Abbey, with its haunting tumbledown ruins and windswept cliff top stronghold, is an utterly atmospheric destination. Plan an evening visit and watch the sun setting over the cliffs, or visit during an illumination evening to see the imposing Abbey bathed in colourful light. You can explore the history of the Abbey at the nearby visitor centre, a perfect hideaway if the weather’s not on your side! If you’re a lover of mediaeval history, you might also enjoy a visit to the Church of St Mary – an ancient place of worship that’s remarkably well preserved, with a Norman arch and sweeping 199-step staircase. The Captain Cook Memorial Museum is based in a 17th Century harbourside house where the great explorer James Cook served his apprenticeship in 1746. See letters in Cook's own hand, original paintings and drawings, ship models and maps, and strange objects from newly discovered lands. Enjoy fun days out for all the family on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Travel from Pickering to Whitby and be transported back to an era when magnificent steam engines ruled the railways.
Not a fan of ghosts and ghouls? Then look away now, as Whitby was the place where Bram Stoker was inspired to write his chilling novel ‘Dracula’. The town now plays host to many Dracula tours, taking visitors on a haunting walk round the vampire’s old hunting grounds, and there’s even a Dracula museum housing the original cape worn in the original 1958 Hammer Horror film. The town also plays host to a twice annual, world famous Goth Weekend – featuring vampire balls, concerts and readings.
Visit the annual Whitby Folk Week in August, when the town is filled with singers, bands, traditional dancers, storytellers and music workshops. Or perhaps you’d prefer the Goth Weekend? This twice-yearly festival is one of the most popular Gothic events in the world, featuring live bands and fringe events. Don’t forget to visit the Elsinore – the pub where the whole event started. Alternatively, with a first prize of £1,000 for the single heaviest trout, Whitby Angling Festivals are held all year round. Watch expert anglers land some seriously big fish – then celebrate with fish and chips afterwards!
Whitby is purported to serve the best fish and chips in the country. And certainly the most well known restaurant is The Magpie. This traditional fish restaurant has traded on the quay for over seven decades, serving delicious traditional fish and chips and rich seafood hotpots for ultimate seaside comfort-eating. Alternatively, Fusco's of Whitby have been selling top-notch fish and chips since 1968. Finally, don’t forget to visit Fortune’s. No chips here, but you can buy the most delicious kippers from the smoking shed near the Abbey. Wrapped in newsprint, they’ll make the car smell delightful on the journey home!
Whitby is full of charming, cosy little pubs, and one of the most well known is The Duke of York, a traditional tavern at the foot of the 199 steps leading up to the Abbey. With some pubs dating back to the 19th century, expect cosy interiors, open fires and low ceilings, as well as memorabilia and tributes to the town’s fishing and whaling past. If beaches and seaside views are more your bag then head down to the promenade and visit one of the tiny coastal cafés, serving warming hot chocolates in winter and refreshing ice creams during the warmer months.
Located at the foot of the North York Moors National Park, Whitby is overflowing with delicious, seasonal local produce. The local farmers’ market has a great selection of local cheeses, bread, cakes and meat, or visit Sleights family butchers – a short distance away from the town – to taste the most fantastic pies and sausages. For those with a sweet tooth, the town has a number of traditional sweetshops that serve old fashioned delights such as sherbet pips, ginger creams and creamy toffee and fudge. Perfect for chewing on a walk or hike around the coast!
Whitby’s sweeping, sandy Blue Flag beach is the perfect place for families to spend an afternoon. Little ones will enjoy rock pooling with a fishing net and bucket to store their newly found treasures, or catching crabs off the pier. Believe it or not, the crabs love bacon! So head down to the water, attach some bite-size lardons to a piece of string and wait for the pinch. On the beach itself, you’ll find donkey rides, picnic food stalls and even lifeguards watching the waves – perfect for a relaxed family outing.
Children will love taking a trip out into the spray on the old Lifeboat, before visiting the Lifeboat Museum which recalls the many heroic rescues since the lifeboat was first stationed in Whitby in 1826. The current Lifeboat station lies directly opposite the museum, on the east side of the harbour. A perfect outing for a rainy day.
Whitby’s most successful whaling year was 1814, when eight ships caught 172 whales, producing 1400 tons of oil with 42 tons of whale fins. Whitby’s whale bone arch is a unique memorial to the 18th century whaling boom that transformed the fortunes of the town – presented to the town in 1963, the huge jawbones are a superb sight. You can spot whaling memorabilia all over the town, from the pub signs to the carvings by the quayside, and Whitby is still the best place on the whole Yorkshire coast to spot whales – so grab your binoculars and prepare to be amazed!
Let children be inspired by the story of Captain James Cook, Yorkshire's most famous son. The Captain Cook Memorial Museum is where the great explorer came to serve his apprenticeship in 1746. Kids will be fascinated by the strange objects from newly discovered lands, and the story of this most adventurous chap - free explorer's guide for children also available.
For a memorable day out, you can sail right up to Sands End in a beautiful Whitby-built, 40% scale replica of the HMS Endeavour. With sea shanties and tales of Captain Cook’s voyages at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, it’s an invigorating coastal adventure. For a more laid-back view of Whitby’s naval history, explore the harbour, brimming with colourful vessels including trawlers, cobles and pleasure-craft. The Regatta weekend is one of the busiest times in the town, with rowers racing the wide bay and many other events.
The Captain Cook Memorial Museum on Grape Lane is the perfect place to learn about this world famous explorer who called Whitby his home. The museum is housed by the harbour, where a young James Cook stayed as an apprentice and trained as an seaman. If you’re spending an afternoon in the town, you could also pop in to the Sutcliffe Gallery and explore the photography of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, famous for his sepia photographs of Victorian Whitby.
Melville's Moby Dick focuses on a number of Whitby whalers, such as William Scoresby, one of Whitby’s most famous sea captains, who once caught 18 whales on one trip. Another world famous author, Lewis Carroll, visited Whitby several times. The author famously brought things he saw around him into his stories and he was supposedly inspired to write his poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by his walks along Whitby beach. Whitby Civic Society has created a White Rabbit Trail around the town with a quiz and certificate available for children. Bram Stoker also based part of his novel “Dracula” in Whitby and mentions the Church of St Mary’s and the 199 steps, both on the east side of Whitby.
Divided by the River Esk, the town splits into two distinct halves joined by a swing bridge: the cobbled old town to the East, and the newer (though mostly eighteenth- and nineteenth-century) town across the bridge, generally known as West Cliff.
One hundred and ninety nine steps take you down from the cliff top into the Old Town's maze of narrow streets and shops selling antiques, crafts, and jewellery made from locally-mined Whitby jet. Cobbled Church Street is the Old Town's main thoroughfare, barely changed in aspect since the eighteenth century, though now lined with tearooms and gift shops. Parallel Sandgate has more of the same, the two streets meeting at the small marketplace where souvenirs and trinkets are sold; there's a farmer's market here every Thursday.
Explore the town
Whitby is the perfect town to wander around, take in the sights either side of the harbour.
Look out for frequent celebrations of Whitby's ship building heritage.
A monument to commemorate the once large whaling industry in Whitby.
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