When planning our visit, we weren’t too sure what to do in Whitby. Neither of us had been and we didn’t know much about the seaside town. Much to our surprise, it’s the perfect size for a lovely day out.
With stunning views, delicious food and streets steeped in history, Whitby has become one of our favourite places to visit.
Before we even got to Whitby, we were loving our day out. It was a pretty miserable morning as we left York. Even as we drove through the North York Moors the weather didn’t seem to lament.
Things soon started to improve, however, after passing the misty and eerily looking Hole of Horcum. As we rose from one of the many dips in the road, you should have seen our relief when we saw the horizon parting. The clouds parted, showing glimmers of sun and what looked like a beautifully clear day over the sea.
Parking in Whitby
As Alan drove through Whitby, he asked Megan to find some directions to a car park. She reassured him there was no need for that because there were loads of car parks altogether.
Man, was she right! As you drive into the middle of Whitby, you take a right at a roundabout next to the train station and it brings you down to three or four car parks, all within seconds of each other.
The first car park we went into was long stay, but it was completely full, even on a cold January morning. Luckily, we could just pop into the next car park. This short stay car park had a maximum stay of four hours, which was perfect for us. It set us back £5, but we weren’t too bothered about that.
The car park is part of a Co-op and if you haven’t done your weekly shop, you can get your parking back on your shopping. To get our £5 we would have had to spend £40, so we just took the £5 hit.
Bonus: the car park takes card! Even though we’d been prepared with change, we didn’t need it.
Whitby West Pier and Lighthouse
Car parked. We were ready to go off and explore. First stop was Whitby Pier. The pier encircles Whitby harbour on two sides, east and west. The more popular, and closest to the town, is the west pier.
As you look at the piers, the west pier is the one on your left. We set off towards the lighthouse at the end. Walking down, you get some beautiful panoramic views of Whitby.
Turning to your right you can see Whitby Abbey, peering over the cliffs. To your left, a beautiful sandy beach and the slopping, grassy cliffs. Further along the beach, you can see Whitby Pavilion. The large windows, staring out to the pier and the sea.
At the end of the pier is a lighthouse standing 13 metres. You can go climb up the lighthouse for £1.50 for adults and £1 for children to take in, assumingly astonishing, views. Feeling a bit hungry, we opted to skip the lighthouse and head for some food.
As we began our walk back up the pier, Alan stopped to take a few more pictures. Whilst looking out to the beach, we noticed there was a group of people from the coastguard coming into the water.
It looked like they were running a training exercise to rescue people stranded on the rocks. Two of them were sat on the rocks waiting to be rescued as a team of six made their way through the water.
It was really interesting to see them doing their training. After quite a few pictures, our bellies were really starting to rumble.
Fish and Chips in Whitby – Fisherman’s Wife
We hadn’t planned where we were going to eat. All we knew is that we were going to get fish and chips. We were at the seaside. It’s practically the law. The walk back along the pier gave us plenty of time to think of where to eat.
Whilst umming and aahing about where to eat, we looked up and could see, staring straight out to sea, The Fisherman’s Wife. Just to the right of the pier, above the beach, the restaurant had a great view.
We wandered up to it, then followed a sign that took us up some stairs between two buildings to get to the main entrance. Once inside, we were met by really friendly staff. They asked where we’d like to sit, and naturally, we sat right next to the windows.
Both of us ordered haddock and chips, with Megan getting a small haddock and Alan getting a medium. There was a large haddock option, but Alan’s fish was already looking pretty big!
The meal wasn’t especially cheap, £11.99 for small and £12.99 for the medium, but it was delicious. If it were the summer, we may have opted to get fish and chips from a takeaway and eat it outside, but we didn’t feel like it was a bad deal. Lovely food, friendly service, a killer view and somewhere warm to sit and rest our legs.
Whitby Whalebone Arch
All fed and watered, the next thing on our list was the Whitby Whalebone Arch. One of the most famous points in Whitby. To get there, we walked out of The Fisherman’s Wife and carried on walking up the hill.
Just up the road, before you reach the large mound, there are some steps on the righthand side. These take you straight up to the Whalebone Arch. Before you go up the steps, if you look behind you, there’s a really nice view of Whitby Abbey.
Up at the top, you can stand under the famous Whalebone Arch and pose for a picture like Megan. Again, up here you have amazing views of Whitby Abbey, as well as Whitby harbour.
We spent a few moments up here reading about the arch, as well as about Captain Cook. There is also a monument to Captain James Cook, celebrating his life, which when not at sea, was largely spent in Whitby. If you fancy learning a little bit more, there is also a Captain Cook museum in his former home.
Dracula’s Bench – Bram Stoker Memorial
Now, let’s mention the elephant in the blog… Dracula. You can’t come to Whitby and not do anything Dracula related. A short walk from the Whalebone Arch a bench commemorating the author Bram Stoker, famous for his Dracula novel.
It is believed that this view of Whitby Abbey is what sparked the use of Whitby in his novel. The bench was erected by Scarborough Borough Council in 1980 to mark the 68th anniversary of Stoker’s death.
We’ve got to give it to him, it is one heck of a view.
Whitby is split in two by the River Esk. So after seeing the spectacular views from the west side, it was now time to cross over and experience life in the east.
Before tackling the 199 steps, we needed some more sustenance. The second law of the seaside is you must eat doughnuts. Before crossing over the river, we stopped by one of the many cafes offering doughnuts, waffles, candyfloss and other delicious treats. A bag of four doughnuts only set us back £2.50.
Crossing the river we came to Whitby’s main shopping streets. Strikingly similar to York’s cobbled streets, we kind of felt at home. A mixture of traditional sweet shops and chocolatiers, along with jewellers selling Whitby Jet, we made our way towards another of Whitby’s famous landmarks.
Our bellies full of fish and chips and doughnuts, we hardly “leapt” up the 199 steps as Dracula did. Instead, we were rewarded for our leisurely stroll up to the top with even more stunning views. One way looking out to sea and the other looking to the harbour.
Whitby Abbey and Visitor Centre
After scaling the 199 steps, you’re presented with the Church of St Mary and Whitby Abbey. You can take a stroll out to the left through the graveyard for a view of the coastline. This was is a dead end, but offers a lovely view.
Head around the side of the church through the large gates on the right and you’ll see the Whitby Abbey Visitor centre. This alone looks grand enough to be an English Heritage property.
The 17th Century mansion stands one storey shorter than it was built. During a storm in 1790, it lost its roof and the top floor has been removed since. A metal sculpture shows you what the house would have looked like in its original form.
We’d decided before we came to Whitby that we weren’t going to go into Whitby Abbey today (we’re saving money post-Christmas). However, it’s free to have a wander around the courtyard of the building and there are plenty of places around where you can see the magnificence of the Abbey. We’ll definitely be coming back to go in one day soon.
Restaurant, cafes and pubs
Whitby is not short on stunning views. It’s also not short on places to eat and drink. We wish we could have spent a day or two in Whitby, just so we could have tried out some of the restaurants and cafes around. Each one offers its own uniquely beautiful view.
If you’re looking for something a little stronger than a coffee, there are plenty of pubs dotted around. We can only assume that many come with their own ghost stories of drunken sailors and widowed women.
Our thoughts on Whitby
Whitby has stolen a special place in our hearts. The beautiful coastline, pristine beach and rich history puts it as a contender for the best seaside town in Britain. Obviously, to make that claim, we’ll have to visit a few more. Don’t worry, we’ll keep visiting them to see if we’re right.
Carbon Neutral Travel
Here are the stats for this trip for our Carbon Neutral Travel Pledge.
Miles driven: 92 miles
Carbon emissions: 0.03 tonnes
Money donated: £5
Trees planted: 1
Total travel emissions: 0.05 tonnes