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Best things to do in Whitby Yorkshire (+ travel tips & map)

Planning a trip to the Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby? Wondering what to see and do? In this article, we cover the very best things to do in Whitby plus tips on where to eat and stay during your visit.

Known as the location where Bram Stoker conceived Dracula, Whitby is a popular seaside town located on the coastline of North Yorkshire. Whitby is a perfect destination for a short break with lots to appeal to history lovers, rail enthusiasts, fans of Dracula and more! 

Whatever the season Whitby is a great destination for Yorkshire day-trippers or those looking for a weekend break.

During the summer months, a number of festivals attract annual visitors to the town including the Whitby Steampunk Weekend, Whitby Folk Week and the Whitby Regatta. There are also very popular twice-yearly Goth Weekends when goths and alternative music lovers descend on the town. 

If you are tempted by the thought of a long weekend or even a day trip to this English coastal seaside town this post about the best things to do in Whitby will give you lots of inspiration and ideas for your Whitby itinerary.

Things to do in Whitby

Whitby Abbey

The inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula Whitby Abbey sits on a hill overlooking the town. Take a stroll through the gothic ruins and enjoy the view over the harbour. 

Now owned by English Heritage there is a visitor centre which tells the story of the abbey and how it came to be the ruin we see today. 

The Abbey is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. 

Whitby Abbey
Whiby North Yorkshire is known for its haunting abbey

The Magpie

It is impossible to visit Whitby without eating some of the fish and chips for which the town is known.

The best place to visit? The Magpie Cafe.

Expect a LONG queue as the place is famous for its delicious battered cod!

Where? 11 Pier Road

Open: 11.30 – 9 pm 7 days a week 

READ MORE – Traditional English food to tantalise your taste buds

The Whalebone Arch

Whitby was once a whaling town and the arch made from 2 whale jawbones is a reminder of its past.

The bones that stand there today are not from illegally hunted whales but those from a whale killed legally by Inuits in Alaska.

It is possible to take Whitby whale watching tours from the harbour.

Where? North Terrace

the Whalebone Arch
Views over the North Yorkshire coast from Whitby

The 199 steps

Climb the 199 steps to the top of East Cliff for views over the town and harbour. At the top you will find the medieval church of St Mary. 

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Captain Cook served his apprenticeship in the town in 1746. Although a controversial figure around the world if you want to learn more about the man who literally sailed about as far as it is possible to go from Whitby this is the place to visit.

Where – Grape Lane

The Captain Cook Experience

Take a 25 minute trip around Whitby harbour and along the coast to Sandsend in HMS Endeavour (or rather a smaller replica of the famous ship sailed by Captain Cook in 1768) 

Trips are dependent on tides and weather conditions. No booking is required and sailings start between 10 and 10:30 am most days. 

Robin Hood Bay
The brightly coloured beach boxes in Whitby

North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Train lovers will enjoy the opportunity to travel from Whitby to Pickering on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

The train is run by volunteers on a not for profit basis. There are a number of experiences to choose from throughout the year.

Click here to book tickets on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Take the train across the North York moors

Robin Hood Bay

The small fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay is located 5 miles south of Whitby. Worth a visit to explore the narrow cobbled streets and search for fossils along the sandy shoreline. 

Don’t miss the wonderful Robin’s Hood Bay Book Shop located on 1 Chapel Street – a quaint and lovely little shop to explore. 

Robin Hood Bay Yorkshire

Plan your visit

How to get to Whitby

By train

  • The distance from London to Whitby is 207 miles 
  • Time taken by train: Fastest route is 4 hours 34 minutes
  • Leave from: London Kings Cross to Whitby via York
  • No direct trains to Whitby from London
  • Direct trains to Whitby from Middlesborough and Newcastle other routes require at least one change.

By car

Distances and estimated drive times to Whitby from major cities

  • London – 300 miles – 5 hour drive
  • Newcastle – 70 miles – 1 1/2 hour drive
  • York – 50 miles – 1 1/4 hour drive
  • Manchester – 122 miles – 2 /12 hour drive
  • Edinburgh – 180 miles – 3 1/2 hour drive

Take a tour from York

If you prefer to take a tour to Whitby from York there are quite a few available. To help with your planning I have handpicked the best for you which all include a visit to Whitby.

I recommend Get Your Guide for tours. Advantages of using a large company such as Get Your Guide include the choice of an excellent variety of tours around the world, great reviews as well as the ease of booking using a preferred currency.  Most tours can also be canceled up to 24 hours before with no cost too. (Check terms and conditions when you book)  

Travel by steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway on a small group tour from York. Explore the Moors on rural roads and spend time in the amazing fishing town of Whitby.

Discover the best of North Yorkshire’s villages, market towns and moorlands on a full-day tour to Whitby, Helmsley, North Yorkshire Moors National Park and more.  

View of Whitby

Where to stay in Whitby – accommodation options

There are accommodation options to suit all travel styles and budgets including Airbnbs, apartments and hotels.

Flying Scotsman Engine Shed

Located 2.7 km from Whitby Abbey this holiday home includes free WiFi, 2 bedrooms, a fully fitted kitchen and dishwasher. There are opportunities for golfing and cycling nearby. 

image of The Flying Scotsman Engine Shed in Whitby
The Flying Scotsman Engine Shed in Whitby

Whitby Marina View

Located 2.7 km from Whitby Abbey this accommodation includes free WiFi, 1 bedroom, a fully fitted kitchen and city views. It also has free private parking which is a bonus as parking in the town can be tricky.

Marina View in Whitby
Marina View in Whitby

Whitby Watermark Apartments

These luxury apartments include a fully equipped kitchen, dining area and lounge with flat-screen TV and DVD player. Free parking is available on site. WiFI is also available and free of charge.

Whitby harbour

Tips to make the most of your trip to Whitby

  • It can be cold – even in summer (it is on the North Eastern coast of England) so take a jacket to keep you warm and dry (yes even in summer)
  • Parking can be tricky in the town especially during busy weekends.
  • Whitby is famous for jet which is found in the area. The black mineral can be found in lots of jewellery on sale in the town.
  • Buy some fish and chips – it absolutely has to be done! If you like kippers don’t miss a trip to Fortunes Smokehouse and shop – these kippers are pretty special. The shop is owned by the 6th generation of the Fortune family who have been running the business since 1872

Map showing Whitby attractions

This map was made with Wanderlog, a road trip planner

Visiting Yorkshire and beyond

Read more about visiting Yorkshire and destinations in England’s 9 regions: