One of the most popular seaside towns in Yorkshire, there’s lots to do while you’re on holiday in Whitby.
The town lies in the deep valley at the mouth of the River Esk, against a backdrop of the wild moorlands of the North York National Park.
There are beautiful, clean, sandy beaches on both sides of the town, the sheltered, dog-friendly Tate Hill to the east and the larger West Cliff to the west, with bright beach huts, donkey rides and a children’s splash pool.
Whitby is an ideal base for exploring the heritage coast and the magnificent countryside of the North York National Park.
If you’re staying at one of the popular holiday parks in Whitby, read on to discover some of our favourite things to do in the area.
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Dating back to the 16th century, the 199 Steps leading up to historic St Mary’s Church and iconic Whitby Abbey are an irresistible challenge for visitors to Whitby.
The 199 Steps are one of the most popular attractions, and the spectacular views from the top are worth the effort.
There are benches along the way to catch your breath, and there’s always the Whitby Tour Bus to the top if you don’t fancy the climb!
One of the best-known historic monuments in Yorkshire, the towering, gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey are an opportunity to discover the Abbey’s long history, full of stories of poets, saints, and Viking raids.
Experience the atmosphere which inspired Bram Stoker to create Count Dracula as the bats fly overhead. Explore the grounds, visit the recently revamped museum with its interactive displays and installations, and take in the magnificent views of the coast.
A visit to Whitby Abbey is a terrific value day out for the whole family; book online for the best prices.
There is an interactive visitor centre, digital reconstructions and an audio tour.
Captain Cook Memorial Museum
The famous explorer and navigator was born and learned his seafaring trade in Whitby. The Captain Cook Memorial Museum is situated in the 17th-century house where he stayed when he wasn’t at sea exploring the uncharted waters of the Pacific, Arctic, and South Atlantic oceans.
Walk in Cook’s footsteps as you explore the museum houses collections of Cook’s original paintings, sketches, letters, and artefacts from his voyages.
The courtyard garden includes plants from the South Seas. The 2022 special exhibition, “Navigating the Pacific”, describes how Europeans and Polynesians navigated the earth’s mightiest oceans.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
A fantastic, unforgettable family day riding a steam or heritage diesel train across 24 miles of beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
The North Yorkshire Moors Railways is one of the world’s finest heritage railways. The 23-mile route runs from the lively, historic market town of Pickering, which is famous for seafood, along the coast to Whitby.
There are five exciting stops that you can hop on and off along the way:
- Pickering: 1930s theme station, historic attractions
- Levisham: 1912-style station, scenic walks, Skelton Tower for incredible views
- Newtondale: for a forest walk, wildlife
- Goathland: famous as the original Hogsmeade Station from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Grosmont: where the trains are stored and maintained
Dogs are welcome, but they have to buy a ticket.
Locations around Whitby trigger an intriguing, spooky audio drama, “In the Footsteps of Bram Stoker”.
The story begins at the Old Lighthouse on the West Pier. The story is in two parts, experienced using your phone and headphones, and recounts the story of Bram Stoker when he arrived in Whitby as locals talk about the strange events which happened in the town before he started writing Dracula.
The full experience covers about 5 miles and lasts 3 hours, with a fantastic soundscape and visuals as the narrator describes the next location for each chapter.
You can listen to the journey from your holiday home if it’s raining.
Loads of fun for the children aged 0-16 at Mini Monsterz, a huge indoor soft play space at Ruswarp, less than 2 miles from Whitby.
Young thrill seekers will love the Death slide and the Plunge, and everyone will enjoy the climbing wall, ball pool, obstacle course, and interactive play areas.
- Laser Tag: open from 6 pm, a variety of games for all the family, including Last Man Standing, Team Deathmatch
- Café: fantastic food, decking platform with views, free Wi-Fi
- Separate area for Under 4s, a baby area
- Giant sandpit, buckets and spades
- Gift shop
- Open seven days
- Booking recommended
Whitby Coastal Cruises
Various exciting boat trips sail from Whitby along the spectacular East Yorkshire coast.
- Daily 20-minute trips out into the bay or along the coast, marine wildlife, seabirds, no need to book.
- Sunset and twilight cruises.
- Fishing trips: Great value, fun fishing for the whole family, 2–3-hour trip aboard the Coastal Fisher, a traditional ferry boat led by an experienced angling skipper.
- Under 5s free on the Esk Queen and Summer Belle.
- Adult and child life jackets.
- Sea dogs are free.
The Moors National Park Centre
There are lots to see and do for everyone on a day out at the Moors National Park Centre on the banks of the River Esk.
Discover the wildlife, the residents, and places of interest through interactive exhibits and galleries that house contemporary artists’ exhibitions. There are indoor and outdoor activities for children, including the popular outdoor adventure play area, the enchanted Crow Wood and the climbing wall.
There are holiday events and activities, a tea room serving cake and refreshments, and a gift shop.
Close to the centre of Whitby, the beautifully kept grounds of Pannett Park are a peaceful sanctuary, ideal for a family picnic, a walk in nature or a time out to relax.
Pannett Park was acclaimed as one of the best public parks in Yorkshire, with incredible views, a fantastic play area, and a range of formal and wildflower borders.
There’s also a wildlife woodland, scented rose gardens, a wild plant bank, and a rare floral clock.
The Jurassic garden is home to a life-size replica of prehistoric sea creatures.
Various trails, picnic and play areas make Pannett Park a wonderful day out for the whole family.
There is a museum and art gallery with paper and crayons provided for leaf rubbing.
Tea rooms serve refreshments and cake.
Whitby Whale Watching Centre
Sperm and humpback whales, sharks, seals, bottlenose dolphins, jellyfish and flocks of seabirds are among the marine wildlife you might spot on this amazing 4-hour boat trip from Whitby Harbour out into the North Sea.
The experienced crew helps to spot the whales, and the trip also contributes to conservation by providing data to the Seawatch Foundation.
It’s recommended that you wear warm, waterproof clothing and sunscreen and bring some refreshments.
Dalby Forest, Go Ape
Half an hour’s drive from Whitby, Dalby Forest is the perfect landscape for an outdoor adventure. Go Ape is one of the nation’s favourite forest experiences, with two or three hours of fun and excitement high up in the treetops.
Activities at Dalby Forest:
- High ropes, zip wires, Tarzan swings and rope bridge crossings are among the many thrilling activities.
- Segway: learn how to segway along the forest trails.
- Dalby Moors Activity Centre: archery, airsoft, paintballing.
The secluded Saltwick Bay is described as one of Whitby’s best-kept secrets. The rocky, unspoilt bay is the source of local folklore and tales of drowned sailors and smugglers.
Black Nab is an iconic group of rocks which extend out into the North Sea, and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the sound of underwater bells.
At low tide, you can walk along the beach from Whitby to watch the sun rise and set into the sea during the summer solstice.
It’s a wonderful, scenic walk across the Cleveland Way from Whitby Abbey. You’ll catch a glimpse of the notorious shipwrecks of the SS Rohilla and the MV Creteblock.
Robin Hood’s Bay
This charming fishing village on the heritage coast, five miles from Whitby, is a fantastic place for adults and children to visit.
There’s a beautiful, dog-friendly sandy beach, rock pools to explore and ancient fossils to find. Walking through the narrow, winding cobbled streets, you can follow in the footsteps of the sailors, fishermen and smugglers from days gone by.
Packed full of legend, history, and folklore, nowadays, Robin Hood’s Bay is a lively town with a variety of individual shops, cafes, pretty gardens, pubs, and restaurants, with scenic coastal and countryside walks and cycle paths within easy reach.
The 7-mile walk on the clifftops along the Cleveland Way guarantees spectacular views and takes about 3 hours.
Falling Foss Tea Garden and Waterfall
Falling Foss is a delightful attraction about 6 miles from Whitby, with a beautiful, 30ft tumbling waterfall tucked away in the heart of the tranquil Sneaton Forest.
There are various paths from the May Beck or Falling Foss car parks, and the Hermitage Cave is well worth visiting.
There’s a fantastic outdoor café and tea garden, with a selection of homemade goodies next to the waterfall.
Children will love letting off steam in the wooden play area.
Falling Foss is open from April until September. Good footwear is required; unfortunately, the location isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.
Whitby has two beautiful, clean, sandy beaches on either side of the River Esk.
With its colourful beach huts, West Cliff Beach runs for 2 miles from the West Pier to Upgang Ravine.
You can hire deckchairs and windbreaks, and go for a donkey ride, and the sand is perfect for building castles, flying kites and ballgames.
There’s a children’s splash pool and rockpools to explore, and lifeguards are on duty during the summer months.
The smaller, soft, sandy Tate Hill Beach to the east is sheltered by the cliffs, ideal for picnics and barbecues, and dogs are welcome all year round.
There are various cafes, fish and chips, and children’s amusements at Battery Parade near West Pier.
Steps and ramps leading down to the sand make Whitby Beach accessible for everyone.
A lovely place to relax and watch the boats, browse the shops, or have a drink in the pub, Whitby Harbour has been at the heart of Whitby for centuries.
The fishing industry dates back as far as the 1300s and the colourful harbour is still busy with a working fishing fleet, pleasure boats, yachts and cruisers coming and going.
A walk along the West Side waterfront leads past the fish market, the shellfish house and the ice house.
The swing bridge across the estuary is over 100 years old, and a handbell is still used to signal its opening and closing.
The Grand Turk tall ship and a miniature replica of the Endeavour, Captain Cook’s ships, are moored at the Dock End.