Perched on the Yorkshire coast, Whitby is Gothic, historic and dramatic.
Scratch the surface of Whitby to unravel a town layered with history and intrigue. The spooky ruins of Whitby Abbey that stand above the town are a gothic wonder and the inspiration behind vampire masterpiece Dracula. Find boutiques, tearooms and quirky museums in town, before watching the sunset over the ocean from St Mary's Churchyard.
Scoff at Cranberry Swamp
Start your day right with brunch in this gluten-free cafe in Whitby’s bustling West Cliff. The house kedgeree pulls in the foodies and feels particularly apt in this fishing town. The décor is heart-warmingly retro – think your stylish gran’s front room in the ‘70s. Plus, the loos are glittery!
You’ll know exactly what to do in Whitby once you’ve swotted up on local history in this independent museum. Jet, Captain Cook, whaling, fossils: everything that Whitby is famous for is covered here - and brought to you by resident Captain Croc, Clarence the Crocodile. If you’re remotely squeamish skip the Hand of Glory, a mummified human hand found in the wall of a local cottage.
Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in Whitby and the eponymous villain leapt ashore here as a big black dog. These scenes form two of eight depicting Whitby’s Dracula connection, brought to life by animatronics and human actors in this chilling experience. Sir Isaac Newton also used to own the building which is said to be haunted.
One of the most rewarding things to do in Whitby is simply mooch the streets. Start at the whalebone arch high up on West Cliff, amble down to the harbour, cross the bridge and climb the famous 199 Steps to St Mary’s Churchyard. The views back across Whitby are well worth getting your sweat on.
This cosy little cafe is charming both inside and out. Pop in for tea and cake in quirky Victoriana surrounds that, as you can probably guess, pay homage to Arthur Conan Doyles' Sherlock Holmes.
Shop for jet jewellery at W Hamond
Whitby’s original jet jeweller is the place for souvenirs. It has been making and selling jewellery from its spot at the foot of the 199 Steps since 1860, and they still source their jet – which is fossilised wood – from England’s north-east coast. Watch their jewellers in action, then pick a piece as a keepsake.
According to locals, this is one of the best restaurants in Whitby. It’s an intimate bistro-style place that prides itself on being different. Expect dishes such as beef and beetroot cannelloni, and a potage of vegetables topped with a crispy egg. Book ahead – there’s only space for 20 covers per night.
You can’t escape the supernatural vein running through Whitby so enter into the spirit of things (sorry) on a ghost walk. Starting at the Whale Bone Arch, Dr Crank of Whitby Walks whips up tales of the paranormal so rooted in the town’s alleyways, crannies and pubs that you’ll never see Whitby in the same light again.
There’s more than a touch of the boudoir about this hotel. It’s furnished with antiques and thrift-shop gems, and the views and breakfast hampers are to die for. Each of the bedrooms is themed after an aspect of Whitby’s quirky heritage – the Bram Stoker room is for fearless souls only.
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The tiny fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay is an easy 5-mile bus ride, or 3-hour walk if you’re feeling active. Explore the twisting alleyways once favoured by smugglers or hunt fossils on the craggy, elemental beach.