The 34 Best Things to Do in Whitby

Whitby is a picturesque coastal town in North Yorkshire, England. It’s a charming town with beautiful views. We got to Whitby about twice a year…


Whitby is a picturesque coastal town in North Yorkshire, England. It’s a charming town with beautiful views. We got to Whitby about twice a year and over the years, I’ve discovered that there are lots of things to do in Whitby for all ages.

The town is full of history, beautiful beaches, marine life and plenty of places to eat and drink.

So let’s look at the best things to do in Whitby, from visiting historic landmarks to enjoying the beautiful beaches and exploring the surrounding countryside.

Text says '34 best things to do in Whitby'

1. Climb the 199 Steps

No visit to Whitby is complete without climbing the famous 199 Steps. These ancient steps lead up to St Mary’s Church and offer spectacular views of the town and harbour. As you make your way up, you’ll pass by old gravestones and benches, which were originally built for the pallbearers carrying coffins up to the church. Once you reach the top, you’ll get to see breathtaking panoramic views of Whitby and the surrounding coastline. Of course, the famous Whitby Abbey is up these steps also.

199 Steps at Whitby

It’s a challenging climb, but well worth the effort for the stunning views.

Location: The bottom of Church Street, Whitby.

View from 199 Steps Whitby

2. Whitby Abbey

One of the most popular attractions in Whitby is the famous Whitby Abbey. Perched on the East Cliff, the ruins of this ancient monastery overlook the town, there are breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline. The abbey dates back to the 7th century and has a fascinating history. Bram Stoker, the author of “Dracula,” was inspired by this magnificent church, making it the setting for Count Dracula’s dramatic landfall in his famous novel. During your visit to Whitby, you’ll see lots of references to Dracular!

Whitby Abbey

The Abbey is managed by English Heritage and offers visitors the opportunity to explore the beautiful ruins and enjoy panoramic views of the town and coastline. You can explore the Gothic remains, wander through the abbey’s grounds, and visit the museum to learn about the history and mystery of this famous landmark.

Read my full review of Whitby Abbey here.

Visit the website here.

3. St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church is at the top of the famous 199 Steps. It’s not only a place of worship but also a site of incredible beauty, especially at night. The church and its surrounding graveyard are illuminated, creating a hauntingly beautiful scene. This atmospheric setting has served as inspiration for countless artists and writers, including Bram Stoker himself. Take a stroll through the churchyard and marvel at the stunning.

St Mary's Church

This historic Anglican church features stunning Gothic architecture and has a tower dating back to the 12th century. As you walk up the steps, you are met with breathtaking views of the town and the coastline. Inside the church, you’ll find fascinating details, including beautiful stained glass windows and a Jacobean pew from the 1600s. Take a moment to explore the churchyard, where you’ll find ancient gravestones and a monument to Richard Cholmeley, a local landowner.

Visit the website here.

5. A Walk to Saltwick Bay

Saltwick Bay, a hidden gem along the Yorkshire coastline near Whitby, is often overlooked by visitors. This secluded beach has breathtaking views of the North Sea and is surrounded by cliffs, making it a popular spot for fossil hunting and rock pooling.

Saltwick Bay - Whitby

Accessible via a steep path on Cleveland Way, the effort is rewarded with a tranquil and serene space to unwind. While not suitable for all-day visits, it’s a must-see during a trip to Whitby. Visitors can choose from various routes, such as a 30-minute walk from Whitby Abbey along the coastline or driving to the small car park before Whitby Holiday Park.

Another option is walking from a small beach past the Duke of York by Whitby Abbey’s 99 steps during low tide, followed by a scenic coastal path walk back to Whitby Abbey.

Note that these paths are rocky and not suitable for wheelchairs or prams.

6. Robin Hood’s Bay

Just a short distance from Whitby, you’ll discover the charming coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay. This picturesque village is known for its quaint fishing cottages that cascade down from the top of a cliff to the water’s edge.

Signpost in Whitby on Cleveland Way

Explore the narrow streets and alleyways, which were once the hiding places of smugglers during the 18th century. Take a walk to the harbour and soak up the atmosphere of this historic village. If you’re feeling adventurous, join a rock pooling expedition at low tide or enjoy a meal at one of the traditional inns. Robin Hood’s Bay offers a delightful escape from the bustle of Whitby and provides a glimpse into the region’s rich maritime history.

You can walk down Cleveland way on the 6 mile journey along costal paths, or drive to Robin Hood’s Bay.

7. Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Learn all about the life and achievements of Captain James Cook, one of the world’s most celebrated sailors, at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

Housed in a 17th-century house where Cook served as an apprentice, this museum is a treasure trove of artefacts, correspondence, and artwork from Cook’s three voyages around the world.

Get a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of Cook’s expeditions and learn about the impact he had on exploration and navigation. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the life of this renowned explorer.

Visit the website here.

8. Whitby Harbour

You can’t go to Whitby without a stroll along the charming Whitby Harbour. This stunning harbour is the result of centuries of human intervention at the mouth of the River Esk. The harbour has played a crucial role in Whitby’s development.

Whitby Harbour

There are lots of colourful fishing boats bobbing in the water. The harbour is also home to several excellent seafood restaurants where you can indulge in a delicious meal while enjoying the picturesque views.

9. Wander along the Whitby Piers and Lighthouses

Walk along the two Whitby piers. The east pier and the west pier each have their own lighthouse. These piers have stood since the 1500s and offer a glimpse into the town’s maritime heritage. The lower tier of the west pier is also worth exploring, where you might spot local fishermen casting their lines into the sea.

10. Visit the West Pier Lighthouse

While the east pier lighthouse is not open to the public, the west pier lighthouse can be visited on select days. Climb to the top for a unique vantage point and take in the panoramic views of Whitby and the coast.

Visit the website here.

11. Take A Boat Trip

With its strong connection to the sea, Whitby offers a lot of boat trips for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in whale watching, sunset cruises, or fishing excursions, there’s a boat trip for everyone.

Whitby Boat Trip - Captain Cook Experience

Explore the North Sea or venture along the River Esk for a chance to see the stunning coastline and marine life up close. A boat trip allows you to experience Whitby from a different perspective and create lasting memories.

I’ve been on the Captain Cook Experience, which is a great boat trip for pirate lovers and children.

12. Whitby Beach

Located just west of the River Esk, Whitby Beach is a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline that offers a perfect spot for relaxation and seaside fun. This Blue Flag-awarded beach boasts excellent facilities, including lifeguard services during the summer months.

Take a dip in the refreshing waters of the North Sea or enjoy a walk along the shore. In the summer, the beach comes alive with, snack stands, and traditional seaside activities. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at surfing or join a surf school to catch the rolling waves. Whitby Beach is a wonderful place to soak up the sun and enjoy the coastal ambience.

You can rent a colour beach hut if you want!

13. Walk to Sandsend

On nice days, a walk from Whitby to Sandsend is a wonderful way to spend the day. It’s about 2.5 miles walk along the beach. Just walk past the colourful beach huts and keep going! During high tide, you can take a street route but that is not as scenic, so be sure to check the tides before you set off!

Walk along the beach, then grab a drink or lunch in Sandsend before heading back to Whitby by foot, car or taxi.

14. North York Moors National Park

Whitby is located in the heart of the North York Moors National Park, a stunning landscape characterised by rolling hills, heather moorland, and picturesque villages. Go on a journey through this breathtaking national park, where you can enjoy scenic walks, cycling routes, and wildlife spotting.

There are the charming villages of Runswick Bay and Sandsend or hop aboard the North York Moors Railway for a nostalgic steam train ride through the park.

Visit the website here.

15. Museum of Whitby Jet

Whitby is known for its unique gemstone, Whitby Jet, which has been prized for centuries for its deep black colour. Visit the Museum of Whitby Jet to learn about the geology, history, and legacy of this fascinating gemstone.

Church Street, Whitby

You can find the museum in the historic Wesley Hall on Church Street, the museum has a collection of Whitby Jet jewellery, artefacts, and displays that showcase the craftsmanship and beauty of this local treasure. Learn about the art of jet carving and the cultural significance of Whitby Jet throughout history. A visit to the Museum of Whitby Jet is a must for jewellery enthusiasts and those interested in the local heritage.

Visit the website here.

Located within the scenic Pannett Park, the Pannett Art Gallery is a cultural gem in the heart of Whitby. This gallery showcases a range of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Explore the collections that focus on the town’s maritime history and fishing heritage, as well as contemporary and traditional art exhibits.

Enjoy a walk through the park, admire the floral displays, and enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature. The Pannett Art Gallery offers a peaceful retreat where you can immerse yourself in the local art scene and appreciate the creative spirit of Whitby.

Visit the website here.

17. Whitby Museum

Whitby Museum, located in Pannett Park, offers collections and displays covering a wide range of topics, from fossils and natural history to costumes and social history. It opened in 1823 and is one of the oldest museums in the region.

Whitby Museum offers visitors a large collection of exhibits that showcase the town’s rich maritime, social, geological, and archaeological history. The displays cover a wide range of topics, including the famous explorer Captain Cook, the local whaling industry, fossils and geology of the Yorkshire coast, and the town’s connections to the literary classic, Dracula.

It’s the perfect way to learn all about Whitby’s fascinating past.

Visit the website here.

18. Visit The Whale Bone Arch

You must visit Whitby’s iconic Whale Bone Arch. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Whitby thrived as a whaling town in North Yorkshire. Originally, successful whalers would tie a whale’s jawbone to the ship’s mast as a sign of their triumph.

Whale Bone Arch - Whitby

To commemorate this history, a whalebone arch was erected on Whitby’s West Cliff in 1853. This picturesque spot also features a statue of Captain Cook, who learned seamanship in Whitby. The current arch is the third to stand in this location, replaced in 2003 with bones from a Bowhead whale killed legally by native Alaskan Inuits. The original bones were preserved as a symbol of the risky whaling trade.

Visit this unique landmark and take some memorable photos against the backdrop of Whitby’s charming streets. The whalebone arch frames the landscape of Whitby perfectly, making it a perfect holiday snap.

19. The Endeavour Experience

Check out The Endeavour Experience in Whitby. You can step aboard a full-scale replica of Captain James Cook’s famous ship, HMS Endeavour and experience what life was like on board the original vessel during Cook’s pioneering voyages.

Visitors can explore the ship’s recreated decks, cabins, and interactive exhibits, gaining insights into the challenges and triumphs of Cook’s historic explorations. Learn about the crew’s daily routines, navigation methods, and the scientific discoveries made during their voyages.

The Endeavour Experience also looks into Cook’s legacy as one of history’s greatest explorers and navigators. It highlights his contributions to geography, cartography, and science, shaping our understanding of the world.

Me at Whitby Abbey

20. The Dracula Experience

The Dracula Experience in Whitby is an immersive attraction that takes you on a journey into the world of Bram Stoker’s legendary novel, “Dracula.”. This experience offers a spine-chilling adventure for those with a taste for the macabre.

Step inside the dark and mysterious world of Count Dracula as you walk through the interactive museum. The attraction’s scenes and special effects transport you to the eerie settings of the novel, including Dracula’s castle and the eerie Carpathian Mountains.

Learn about the origins of the “Dracula” story, Bram Stoker’s inspiration, and the connections to Whitby. The Dracula Experience also delves into the vampire folklore and legends that inspired Stoker’s iconic character.

The Dracula Experience is a of fun, it’s a bit cheesy for adults – it’s a bit outdated now but children would find it scary. I personally didn’t find it scary but we still enjoyed it and I can’t wait to take my son when he’s a bit older. It doesn’t take long to go around but is a good rainy day activity.

Visit the website here.

21. Visit the Amusements

Another one of the fun things to do in Whitby is the amusements. Everyone loves the Amusements! There are three in Whitby. They offer things like mini golf, 2p slots, children’s rides, a small race track, ten-pin bowling and arcade games.

My toddler loves the small race track that has electric cars for £1 a go!

Pebble Beach at Whitby

22. Hunt For Fossils

Whitby is known for its fossils, so why not hunt for some yourself? During low tide, visit Tates Hill Beach which is a pebbled beach which you can get on at the bottom of Church Street down by the Duke of York pub.

When the tide is low, you can cross over the pier and walk along the rocky beach and discover lots of hag stones, sea glass, shells and fossils. We have been lucky and found a couple before!

23. Check out the local shops

Whitby’s narrow, cobbled streets are a delight to explore. As you wander through the town, you’ll encounter quaint cottages, boutique shops, and restaurants. Take your time to meander through the labyrinth of streets, and you’ll stumble upon hidden alleys and passageways just waiting to be discovered. Each corner reveals a new treasure, making for an enchanting experience.

24. Explore the Surrounding Areas of Whitby

While Whitby itself offers plenty of attractions, the surrounding areas are also worth visiting. Take a trip to Runswick Bay, Staithes, and Saltburn for a day filled with scenic coastal views and charming seaside towns. Venture south to visit the picturesque village of Robin Hood’s Bay, Scarborough, and the breathtaking Flamborough Head. These nearby destinations provide opportunities for further exploration and discovery.

Read this post for more information: 22 Best Beaches in Yorkshire

25. The Haggerlythe

The Haggerlythe is an ancient shelf in Whitby’s cliff face, derived from Old Norse, meaning ‘sloping area on the cliffs.’ Once home to wonky houses, workshops, monastic buildings, a chapel, and a clay pipe factory, it rests under the East Cliff. Overlooking this historic site are St Mary’s church and Whitby Abbey. Henrietta Street extends from Church Street at the base of the 199 Steps.

It’s usually quiet in this area, there are a few benches and it’s the perfect place to take in the stunning views of Whitby. Relax, listen to the sea and take photos.

26. The North York Moors Railway

The North York Moors Railway is a heritage railway in North Yorkshire, England. It operates on a section of the original Whitby and Pickering Railway, which was opened in 1836. The railway runs for approximately 24 miles, passing through the stunning landscapes of the North York Moors National Park, providing visitors with breathtaking views of the countryside.

The heritage railway is famous for its well-preserved steam and diesel locomotives, vintage carriages, and historic stations, that have a real nostalgic feel. The journey takes you from the charming market town of Pickering to the picturesque coastal town of Whitby, stopping at various beautiful stations along the way, such as Goathland, known as “Hogsmeade” in the Harry Potter films.

The North York Moors Railway not only offers a fun way to explore the scenic countryside but also gives you the opportunity to learn about the railway’s history and the region’s heritage.

Visit the website here.

27. Whitby Brewery

Whitby Brewery is a craft brewery by Whitby Abbey. It was founded in 2013 and the brewery is known for producing a wide range of high-quality craft beers.

Me at Whitby Brewery

They craft a large selection of ales, lagers, stouts, and seasonal brews, catering to different tastes and preferences.

You can even get a pizza between 1 pm – 7 pm which is cooked on the pizza oven in the brewery.

We walked to Saltwick Bay and when we came back to Whitby, we stopped in here for a delicious pizza. It gets busy! It has indoor seating as well as outdoor benches which look onto the Abbey.

Visit the website here.

Read my full review of Whitby Brewery here.

28. Museum of Victorian Science

You’ll need to drive to visit here, and it’s only suitable for those 16 and over. The Museum of Victorian Science will give you a thrilling virtual tour of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, featuring a mesmerising display of Geissler Tubes, Bouquet Tubes, Railway Tubes, Jacob’s Ladder, a telegraph system, early x-ray tubes, and other electrifying demonstrations.

Learn all about the educational practices of young Victorians as you witness the use of static accessories and rare artefacts that were once employed by them. Prepare to be captivated by crackling sparks, electric flames, and the eerie ambience of this historic laboratory, offering a glimpse into the scientific pursuits of a bygone era.

Visit the website here.

29. Fortune’s Kippers

Fortune’s Kippers is a famous traditional smokehouse located in Whitby,.The smokehouse has a long history, dating back to the 19th century. It was established by George Henry Fortune in 1872 and has been a family-run business ever since.

Fortune’s Kippers is famous for its expertly smoked kippers, which are herring that has been split open, gutted, salted, and cold-smoked to achieve a rich and flavorful taste. The kippers are traditionally hung in the smokehouse and exposed to oak smoke for several hours, infusing them with a distinctive smoky aroma and delicious taste.

Over the years, Fortune’s Kippers has earned a reputation for producing some of the finest kippers in the country. They continue to use traditional smoking methods, passed down through generations, to maintain the authentic taste and quality that has delighted customers for over a century.

The smokehouse itself is a fascinating sight, preserving a time-honoured tradition of smoking fish and providing a glimpse into Whitby’s maritime history.

Visit the website here.

Whitby Beach

30. Falling Foss Tea Garden

Falling Foss Tea Garden is a lovely tea garden near Whitby. It’s located within the scenic Falling Foss waterfall and woodland, this idyllic spot offers a delightful retreat for visitors seeking a tranquil and relaxing experience.

The tea garden is known for its serene surroundings, with lush greenery, a peaceful stream, and the enchanting Falling Foss waterfall as its backdrop. It provides a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing guests to unwind and immerse themselves in nature’s beauty.

The tea garden menu includes homemade cakes, scones, sandwiches, and freshly brewed tea. You can sit in the outdoor seating area, taking in the sights and sounds of the waterfall and surrounding forest.

Falling Foss Tea Garden is with walkers, hikers, and families exploring the nearby Falling Foss woodland trail. The trail takes visitors through scenic paths and leads to the breathtaking sight of the waterfall.

Visit the website here.

31. Whitby Goth Weekend

For those intrigued by alternative culture, the Whitby Goth Weekend is a must-see event. Taking place twice a year, in April and November, this alternative music festival attracts goths from all over the world. The event showcases unique fashion, live music, and a vibrant atmosphere. Immerse yourself in this subculture and witness the creativity and individuality that define the Whitby Goth Weekend.

32. Go Crabbing

Always fun for the kids, go crabbing adventure in Whitby! Whitby offers the perfect setting to try your hand at crabbing. Armed with a bucket, bait, and a crabbing line, you can set out to the harbour or pier and drop your line into the water, eagerly awaiting the moment when a crab takes the bait.

You can buy crabbing equipment for the shops by the harbour.

33. Marine Discovery Centre

Opening in August 2023, a new Marine Discovery Centre is coming to Whitby. They will have 30 species across 3 tanks, as well as a touch pool where you can interact with some of the creatures.

Visit the website here.

Whitby - top of the 199 Steps

34. Go on a Ghost Walk

Whitby Ghost Walks gives you an eerie experience. Go on a spine-chilling journey through the haunted history of Whitby, North Yorkshire, England. Led by knowledgeable and entertaining guides, these ghost walks provide a unique opportunity to explore the town’s darker side and discover its ghostly legends and tales of the supernatural.

During the guided tour, you will wander through the atmospheric streets and alleys of Whitby, passing by ancient buildings, historic sites, and mysterious locations that are said to be haunted. The guides will tell you chilling stories of ghostly encounters, local folklore, and paranormal occurrences that have intrigued and captivated locals and visitors alike for generations.

Visit the website here.

Have you been to Whitby?

Whitby is such a lovely town on the Yorkshire Coast, there’s a wide range of activities and attractions for you to enjoy. From the famous Whitby Abbey and the historic 199 Steps to the picturesque harbour and charming streets, there’s something for everyone in this idyllic seaside town. So learn and enjoy its rich history, indulge in delicious seafood, and take in stunning coastal views. A day in Whitby is always a day well spent!

Read my other guides:


  1. I will have a great time anywhere there is a beach or body of water. The boat ride looks like a fun adventure. I love going to the museum. You have showcased a number of touristic things to do in Whitby. Thanks for sharing.

  2. For all that I’ve travelled around the UK I’m not sure I’ve ever been to Whitby. One day if we visit, I’ll have to come back to look at your list and plan some things to do with the kids. My brother however has special memories – if I’ve got the story correct, he proposed to his now wife at Whitby Abbey.

  3. I’ve never been to Whitby but it looks great. If I ever get a chance to go the Victorian Science museum would probably be at the top of my list, it sounds fascinating!

  4. This place looks breathtaking, and I know I’d enjoy almost everything (a special accent to the bays because I love those), but considering my current capability to engage in any slightly more demanding physical activity the stairs are probably a huge no-no for me. xD

  5. Love Whitby! I took the girls last month, maybe the one before. We try to go semi-regularly as it’s quite accessible for us. It’s such a lovely drive across the moors too. I’ve not heard of the Haggerlythe, I’ll have to remember that one for our next visit. We love falling foss too, that was one of Dan & mine’s first dates all those many moons ago. I know someone who got married there too – The photos are stunning!!


  6. We loved our day trip to Whitby and only did a fraction of the things on this list. That said, it’s great itinerary inspiration for anyone traveling to the area. We will bookmark this and share with friends who plan to visit Whitby!

  7. I haven’t ever been to Whitby before. But it looks like there is so much to do and enjoy. Thank you for sharing your suggestions.


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