So you've booked a week-long break in the beautiful seaside town of Whitby. However, you’re probably wondering what to do whilst there. Let us show you how to spend a week in Whitby.
After visiting Whitby many times we find it so interesting how different people have such different experiences when visiting this peaceful seaside town. We thought it would be useful to put together a brief itinerary of how we spend a typical week in Whitby. Hopefully hearing about some of our favourite things to do in Whitby will give you some inspiration for your next trip.
Day One – Get settled
Depending on arrival time usually, we will drop off our bags, quickly check out our accommodation and freshen up. Then it's straight out for a coffee or hot chocolate from Clara's and a little walk around the town.
After satisfying our thirst and snapping a few photos we drive the few minutes to Sandsend to watch the sunset and try to spot seals!
On our way back we grab some fish and chips from Silver Street Fisheries. Then head back to the accommodation to relax before our busy week.
Day Two – Visit Robin Hood's bay
Located just five miles south of Whitby, is the little fishing town of Robin Hood's Bay. Known to locals simply as ‘The Bay’ it is an ideal spot to spend the day or go for an afternoon walk. Here you will find brooding cliffs overlooking crooked streets of red-roofed cottages, and a gorgeous little bay with a delightful sandy beach for you to enjoy. The view will always take my breath away.
As a Writer, I love visiting here because my mind runs away down its tiny windy streets, it's like stepping into a fairytale. Definitely take some time to explore them while you're there.
Robin Hoods Bay is not just a pretty face though. It also has some fabulous museums and places of interest that you really should see. The first of these is the Old Coastguards Station which is located right at the edge of the sea. A National Trust Visitor Centre, the Old Coastguards Station is a place for all the family to get hands-on and explore what makes this part of the North Yorkshire Coast so special. From wildlife to geology, the impact of elements, and smuggling; you will find it all here.
If you haven’t had enough of smuggling tales during your visit to the Old Coastguards Station, you should head for the Robin Hoods Bay museum located in the heart of the village. Here you will find three rooms cram-packed with displays and exhibits. From smuggling to fishing, shipping, and the many tragic shipwrecks that occurred here; this museum has it all. There are also 1000 years of Fylingdales history, including maps and tales of prominent ‘bay’ families.
The final suggestion of places to visit whilst in Robin Hoods Bay is the early 19th century Church of St Stephen. This stands majestically on the hillside looking down upon the North Sea. It and its graveyard are a stark reminder of all the tragic shipwrecks that have occurred here. Inside St Stephen, you will find painted box pews, a full-length gallery, a three-decker pulpit, and many memorials to those lost at sea. Outside, in the windswept and stark churchyard, there are gravestones tightly huddled together. Many of these bear the names of strangers, and locals alike, whose lives were cruelly claimed by the sea.
Day Three – Explore all things Captain Cook
We have learned so much about Captain Cook on our trips to Whitby. Here are a few ways to learn more about Captain Cook on your trip to Whitby whilst exploring the town and having fun at the same time.
Captain Cook has incredibly strong ties with the town of Whitby, and Whitby certainly has not forgotten him! There are a couple of museums, a memorial in his name, and even a district named in his honour.
On first arriving in Whitby, Cook was apprenticed to a local shipping firm and lodged in the home of his employer, John Walker. This house, which is still standing, and located on Grape Lane is now the home to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. In the museum, there are a plethora of all things Captain Cook including letters, maps, replica model ships, and artwork brought back from the South Seas. The attic where Cook slept and spent most of his time as a lodger is also open for you to see. This wonderful space has retained the atmosphere that it must have had during Cooks time and also houses annual exhibitions.
While we're there we wander down Grape Lane, which interestingly is in the heart of the Captain Cook District and you should seriously consider exploring this area whilst you are there. It is full of lots of little hidden gems such as the Natural Wonders fossil shop.
One of our favourite Captain Cook-themed things to do is the Captain Cook Experience Cruise. If you take this cruise, you will go out to sea and hear stories about the life and adventures of Captain Cook. If you are a history buff, you will certainly love this adventure. Also, you’ll have a good time even if you don’t love history, thanks to the gorgeous views that you’ll see from the ship if you're lucky you might even spot a seal or dolphins!
Following this, if you’re not all Captain Cooked out it is well worth making the walk to the harbour to see and venture aboard the marvelous HM Bark Endeavour. Of course, this is not the actual ship that James Cook sailed upon, rather it is a replica that has been renovated into a shining glory. Aboard this floating museum, you will find all sorts of interactive displays and interesting snippets of history. On the main deck, there is a range of experiences such as learning nautical knots, cooking up a map, and sea shanty karaoke. On the top deck, you’ll find the capstan, ships wheel, canons, and the curious seat of ease!
Day Four – Relax on the beach and try crabbing
No holiday at the seaside would be complete without a trip to the beach. This is especially true of Whitby since they have two lovely ones. We can spend an entire day playing, hunting for fossils, rock pooling, and relaxing on the beach. The shops along the harbour sell plenty of toys, buckets and spades, and gear for crabbing, all reasonably priced too.
The first beach in Whitby is located on the East side of the River Esk and is known as Tate Hill beach. It is the smaller of the two beaches in Whitby and for anyone taking their dog on holiday, allows them to be walked there all year round. The second, and larger beach, is found on the other side of the River Esk by the West Cliff. It is the more popular of the two beaches. There is also a gorgeous row of brightly coloured beach huts that every visitor to Whitby must-see.
When in Whitby we always have a go at crabbing! It's a great pastime and so much fun for kids and adults too. This is done next to the Whitby Bridge and has been a favourite pastime in the town for many generations. All you need to do this is a single fishing line, bucket, and bait. Oh, and an awful lot of patience! Check out our full guide to crabbing in Whitby and follow some of our tips and tricks.
Day Five – Discover all things Dracula
After studying Dracula in University, let’s be honest it would be sinful to spend any time in Whitby and not explore the Dracula connection! Dracula and Whitby are, you see, intrinsically linked and there is a fabulous array of things to do and visit related to this.
First off on our day of all things Dracula has to be the Bram Stoker Memorial bench which offers you a fabulous vantage point over to the Abbey ruins and St Mary’s Church. It was here that Bram Stoker took his inspiration for the Whitby chapters of his gothic love story, and it’s plain to see why.
The memorial bench can also be visited during the famed Dr. Crank’s walk entitled ‘In Search of Dracula’. This walk runs most evenings and takes you to all the places, not just the bench, featured within the novel. This includes Whitby Abbey and St Mary’s Church where you will find the gravestone of Dracula’s first victim here; Swales.
Whilst in Whitby we love to explore the moody but picturesque ruins of Whitby Abbey, they have a truly unique atmosphere which is the perfect backdrop for any gothic horror story. They are the most remarkable and obvious inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel Dracula.
Last, but certainly not least is the fabulous Dracula Experience. This, interactive experience with amazing animated and special effects scenes tells the tale of Dracula in a scary and exciting way. Visitor beware, however, as it is said Dracula himself may reside here!
Day Six – Walk, walk, and more walks!
It’s hardly surprising that with its location right on the edge of the North York Moors National Park that Whitby has an amazing selection of walks to choose from. Some are long, some are short, some are on the coast, and some go through the countryside, but they all have one thing in common! All the walks here are full of magnificent scenery and a definite to-do on your list. We always make sure to do at least one of our favourite walks whilst on a trip to Whitby.
The first walk we would recommend, and one of the most popular is the Whitby to Sandsend 3.5 mile trek along the coast. This is a simple beach walk with easy terrain that will help you blow the cobwebs away. You’ll need to allow around an hour and a half for this walk unless you stop at the Sandside Cafe, which you should.
Another favourite of ours is the May Beck and Falling Foss circular. This one is 2 miles out of Whitby and into the North Yorkshire Woodland. It includes seeing the 30 foot Falling Foss waterfall and the babbling May Beck. In summer this is a gorgeous shady walk and in autumn a spectacular showing of woodland colours at their best. This is a magical place for children to explore, my little boy will spend hours exploring and paddling in the streams. Check out Falling Foss Tea Garden here for delicious food, a relaxed peaceful atmosphere, and plenty of marshmallows to toast.
Day Seven – Shopping, shopping, and a stop for cake!
Like many other towns, there are plenty of shops that you can meander around whilst you are on holiday here. However, these aren’t just ordinary shops, rather they are unique and amazing Whitby shops that sell fantastic things. One of our last days in Whitby will usually be spent wandering around these beautiful shops and picking up a few souvenirs. It would be impossible to list every single great shop that Whitby has to offer. So, rather, we will just list some of our, and hopefully soon to be your favourites that you may not have heard of previously.
- Made in Whitby is a quaint and cute little shop that sells unique and handmade Whitby items. Gifts on offer here include sweet knitted characters such as dolls and bunnies, greeting cards, picture frames, clocks, baby clothes, jewelry, and much more.
- The Green Dragon is for the connoisseur of real ale and sells over 200 locally sourced and international ales. You can, if you care to, also try before you buy in their cozy Georgian-styled taproom with its animal portraits and displays of taxidermy.
- Ebor Jetworks is a 17th-century jet workshop that makes fantastic, beautiful, and creative jewelry out of Whitby’s most famous asset, jet. It is owned by Sarah and David Steele who also run jet polishing demonstrations six days a week in their workshop.
- Lucky Ducks or Whitby Glass is the home to the famed Whitby lucky duck that comes in a wonderful range of colours including one for every birthstone. They are incredibly popular and recently have come to also include a duck that changes colour with the weather.
Finally, if you need a rest there are so many beautiful places to stop for drinks and most importantly cake! One of our favourite places is Sherlock’s Coffee Shop. Here you can enjoy a fabulous array of cakes, scones, or a delicious Yorkshire cream tea all in a historical setting. Sherlock's is, you see, entirely dedicated to the great Arthur Conan Doyle character, Sherlock Holmes, in fact, it is a real shrine to him. You will never leave Sherlocks hungry or thirsty and for those of you with dogs they are welcome here.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about how we spend a week in Whitby, of course, there is so much more we could have mentioned, these are just some of our favourite things to do. Hopefully, this has given you some inspiration for your next trip. Let us know your favourite things to do whilst in Whitby in the comments, we'd love to hear them.