Whitby lies on the coast in the north of England. It forms part of the North York Moors National Park and is absolutely stunning. I had no idea it was so beautiful, but it really took my breath away and I loved every minute of visiting. Here are 12 great things to do if you’re there to make a perfect weekend break of it (I recommend doing items 1-9 on day 1, and 10-12 on day 2), or add it to places like York, Ripon, Knaresborough, Thornton-Le-Dale and Helmsley to make a week of it.
1. Whitby Abbey
No trip to Whitby would be a visit without seeing Whitby Abbey, its most famous attraction. Founded in the 600s above a clifftop, this insane ruin was a centre of Medieval life in England. It was dissolved (as with most other such places) by Henry VIII in the 1500s, and today it stands beautiful and majestic atop the cliffs. Be warned though, it’s very very windy!
Interestingly, there’s a very strong link between Whitby Abbey and Dracula as well, as Bram Stoker visited Whitby in 1890 and based a lot of his novel on inspiration from in and around the town.
2. Church of St Mary
A beautiful church on the hilltop just in front of the Abbey, this has to be one of the most scenic graveyards you could imagine. There are also normally wild horses in the fields around, which are really nice to see.
3. 199 Steps
To get some gorgeous views out across Whitby Bay, walk down or climb up (or both) the 199 steps. This was one of my favourite views of the visit,
4. Shop in the stunning streets
Whitby has a lovely array of shops – its famous for its jet, a gemstone. It also has lots of boutique stores selling lovely things and it’s really easy to spend a few hours browsing in the town.
5. Captain Cook Memorial Museum
Captain Cook, the famous explorer who sailed to Australia and New Zealand, did an apprenticeship in Whitby, living in a house here for a few years. You can now visit that house to learn about his life, his journeys and his legacy. There are also some interesting exhibits on sailing in general and I easily spent an hour in the museum.
6. The Endeavor Experience
Sticking on the Captain Cook theme, climb aboard the HM Bark Endeavour (a full-size replica of the world-renowned ship Cook sailed) to dive into her rich history to learn about everything from navigation techniques, surgery on board ships (gruesome) and ship security.
You can also take to the seas on many boat trips around the harbour – the pirate boat option looked a particularly fun way to spend an hour.
7. Whitby Brewery
Brewed on-site, this craft beer serving brewery is just opposite the Abbey and perfect for sampling some local produce. We had the Abbey Blonde and it was really refreshing on a hot day.
8. Dracula Experience
The Dracula Experience is a unique tour through the Dracula story and the connection to Whitby. The museum uses animated scenes, electronic special effects and live actors. It’s a bit of fun and great for children. They also organise night time ghost hunts as well, if you’re in to that sort of thing!
9. Whalebone Arch
In the 17 and 1800s, Whitby had a thriving whaling industry, a port from which ships braved the Arctic seas off Greenland to hunt. Commemorating this tradition is the whalebone arch – there have been 3 over the years, but the current one was erected in 2003 and comes from a Bowhead whale killed legally by native Alaskan Inuits.
10. Take a trip to Robin Hood’s Bay
One of the most beautiful villages in all of England, Robin Hood’s Bay is just a 5 minute drive from Whitby. Famous for its narrow and stunning cobbled streets, as well as its history for smuggling, this place packs a punch and is perfect for a half day trip. If you like you could even walk from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay – it’s around 6 miles.
11. Visit Staithes
Another absolutely beautiful place along the coast, a few miles from Whitby, is Staithes. Here the star attraction is to walk to the view point with an ice-cream and just enjoy the views. There is also another Captain Cook Museum as he trained here too, as well as some lovely little houses, shops and a local art exhibition.
12. Go to the beach in Sandsend
Another lovely village near Whitby is Sandsend, a small fishing spot. I loved strolling the beach here, and there are also some lovely houses and cottages to enjoy too. It’s also the perfect place to sample freshly caught fish and chips – beyond delicious.
What do you think of Whitby? I absolutely loved staying there and am really glad I’ve been able to discover a bit more of Yorkshire this year. As always, stay safe and happy travelling everyone.