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A perfect day in Whitby

From historic ruins and clifftop graveyards to seaside views and super-fresh fish in cosy pubs, Whitby in North Yorkshire has it all

Whitby Abbey
Photograph: Shutterstock

Whitby is not your average seaside spot. A former fishing town isolated by miles of moor, it’s got amusement arcades and donkey rides, but you’ll find clifftop graveyards and whalebone monuments too – and it’s all loomed over by the spectral splendour of Whitby Abbey, a 1,360-year-old ruin. The setting for Bram Stoker’s vampire-filled novel ‘Dracula’, it now hosts two Goth Weekends each year. Spooky! Goth, or not – there’s plenty to sink your teeth into here.

RECOMMENDED: Explore nearby York, Harrogate and Haworth  

Whitby, Yorkshire
Photograph: Shutterstock

First up

Climb the 199 Steps – it’s tradition to count as you go. Your reward is views over the harbour and a chance to explore St Mary’s Church, with its triple-decker pulpit and graveyard that clings to the clifftop. Hunt out Humpty Dumpty’s tomb.

Whitby beach, north Yorkshire
Photograph: Shutterstock

Soak up the vibes

Stroll around Whitby Harbour to waste some coppers at the arcade. Eat an ice cream on Whitby Sands, a golden beach unfolding from the West Pier for 2 miles along the coast lined by grass- tufted cliffs and multi-coloured beach huts.

Photograph: Mick Atkins/

Stop for lunch

Ask any local where you’ll find the best fish and chips and they’ll say Magpie Café. Its battered cod and chips fried in beef dripping are so good that long queues snake down the pavement for them. For fine dining, Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern’s The Star Inn The Harbour serves beautiful plates of fresh-as-it-gets seafood.

Photograph: Shutterstock

Splash the cash

Stock up on smoked fish at Fortune’s Kippers, a tiny, ramshackle smokehouse with charred black walls that has been trading since 1872. Visit Whitby Jet Heritage Centre to take home a chunk of dark Whitby jet, the local gemstone.

generic pints of beer
Photograph: Shutterstock

Drink like a local

You’ll find watering holes on every corner, ranging from the twee to the raucous, all with at least one punter dressed in vampire garb. Hit up the cosy Endeavour for sing-a-longs, or The Duke of York for harbour views. Sink a pint of Whitby Whaler right next to one of the tanks it was made in at Whitby Brewery Taproom.

Photograph: Shutterstock

If you only do one thing

You can’t miss the gorgeously spectral thirteenth-century ruin of Whitby Abbey looking down on the town from its clifftop spot. Bram Stoker was so taken by the gothic pile it inspired him to write ‘Dracula’. Walk among the crumbled ruins, touch the old stones and watch fun re-enactments of his novel there.

Photograph: Sawdays

If you stay the night, wake up here

Full of elegant furnishings and beautiful antiques, No 19 Hilda’s Terrace is an exquisite spot to rest your head. Super-friendly owners Peter and Lucy have devoted the first floor of their Georgian townhouse to guests, where bright, white rooms are filled with shuttered windows, charmingly creaky floorboards and Shaker-style furniture. A breakfast of bread from local bakery Bothams, jams and cereals will be hidden in a mini-fridge in your room so you can enjoy it at your own pace in the morning, and in the next-door bathroom you’ll find a freestanding bath for a sumptuous soak. From £75 a night. 

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