Whitby Abbey
Children, Family, Travel

10 Things to do in Whitby

We had a week in Whitby at the end of May 2021, we got up to loads of fun activities and I wanted to shared our favourite ten (or so).

1. Boat Trip

Around the harbour there are several opportunities to take a short trip out of Whitby harbour or a longer excursion to fish or potentially see marine wildlife. Small boy took an immediate and irrational dislike to the pirate ship tour, so we went with the Yellow Boat (well, apparently they are really called Whitby Coastal Cruises, but they have yellow boats). On a warm sunny day, this was a perfect activity to cool off and admire the beauty of Whitby from the sea. I think it would be fun for all ages, our boys loved it and I’m sure my parents would have too. Getting down to the boats and on and off requires a bit of balance and mobility though.

2. Beach

Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach? Answer: himself and small boy!

Well, there it is, we don’t really do beaches as himself hates sand with a passion and the first time we took small boy he screamed for an hour solidly – not an experience to be repeated. Whitby’s beach looks beautiful but, well, sand….

However, just along from Whitby is the aptly-named Sandsend, where there is a nice pebbly beach. Perfect for himself and large boy to do some metal detecting, for small boy to throw stones in the sea and for me to build rock piles. What’s not to like?

3. Fish and Chips

During the week we were in Whitby we had fish and chips several times, from Magpies, Trenchers, and Fish Box. We’d recommend all three, we had delicious different dishes each time and the fish, scampi, and crab were all beautifully fresh – and of course, you’ve got to have mushy peas on the side!

4. Abbey

The Abbey is probably the most famous landmark in Whitby – it’s ancient, revered and immortalized in some story about a vampire or some such (yeah, I haven’t read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, sorry). You can challenge yourself to climb the steps (actually, it wasn’t that bad) or you can park at the top of the headland behind the Abbey and walk round. Either way, as it comes into sight the view is astounding. In summer, its beautiful and the contrast of the stones, the blue sky and the green grass is stunning. In winter, I suspect it looks rather sinister and unwelcoming. Can you imagine the monks living there 1000 years ago, amid North Sea storms and gales? We got tickets to enter the English Heritage site and get up close to the ruins, the boys loved it and were surprisingly interested in the history when we went into the museum part.

5. Fossil Hunting

OK, I’ll ‘fess up. For us, this is probably really #1 on the list. The whole reason we went to Whitby was so that we could go fossil hunting. The boys are big dinosaur lovers: after 4 large boy told nursery he wanted to be a palaeontologist (they wrote scientist because the young lady looking after him had trouble spelling palaeontologist). Small boy’s favourite dinosaur is currently the triceratops but previous holders of that position have been scansoriopteryx (I had to check how to spell that) and quetzalcoatlus (yep, had to check that too).

So we did loads of research before we went, mainly reading websites like UK Fossils Network and Fossils UK. I’d been there as a student about 20 years ago, so we decided not to go on an organised tour but we knew we needed to be very careful with the tides as they can rise quickly. Well, we’d timed our holiday pretty badly with the tides: mornings the tide was coming in so we knew that wasn’t safe and afternoons high tide was getting later each day. So we realised we needed to go down to the foreshore in front of the East cliffs quite early on during our stay. We eventually got past the waning tide and had an absolutely marvellous time. We’d brought hammers and a backpack and encountered an archaeology student from York University who had found some squid cones that he kindly gave to the boys. We found dozens of bits of oyster imprints, some pyritized, as well as several bits of ammonite. It had been very calm weather, rather than stormy seas which bring down the fossil-yielding stones from the cliffs, so we were lucky to find such delights.

6. Bike Ride

I suspect that if you know Whitby is built on steep hills, you just read that heading and thought “she’s just not sensible”. Hear me out.

Whitby is at one end of the Cinder Track, the old railway line linking Whitby and Scarborough. It’s 21 miles long and a nice stony path, relatively flat. You can start from Whitby itself or from Trailways cycle hire just outside town (and not at the bottom of the hill, cunning!) and ride as far as you like. The boys and I rode or ran up to Trailways from the cottage we were staying in, another time I think we’d happily hire bikes for the adults and have a day out on the old lines – either heading out into the countyside, or back towards Whitby a bit to admire the viaduct.

Whitby viaduct
Whitby viaduct, from the drive of our holiday cottage

7. Splash Park

We don’t like beaches (yeah, I said that already, nevermind), but the boys love water parks. At the top of the West cliffs, behind the promenade is a fabulous little splash park. Nothing very extravagant, but perfect for an hour splashing about and giving parents a break, or enjoying ice creams from the kiosk. Free, fun, and easy.

8. Sunset

I’m a sucker for a sunset. A sunset over the sea even more so. Just wander down to the beach, or to the top of the West cliffs, or over to the Abbey and you’ll get a different beautiful end to each day. There isn’t much more to say than that is there?

Sunset over the sea
View from Whitby parade as the sun goes down

9. Mooching about the shops

Any long-standing readers of this blog have probably picked up that himself and I do love a mooch. By that we mean, just wandering and browsing, pottering in and out of shops with no particular purpose or purchase in mind. The lanes around Church Street on the East side of the harbour are perfect for this. We spent hours peering through the windows of many shops selling jet, admiring cakes and perusing menu boards. We failed to resist temptation in the book shops and indulged the boys in bargain bundles a couple of times.

10. Park

Whether you have children you want to entertain or exhaust away from the sea front, or you just fancy a bit of peace and quiet, escaping the crowds on a busy weekend, Pannett Park is a lovely retreat. The playground is great fun with various opportunities for climbing, sliding and swinging for smaller and bigger children. Away from that area though, there are paths through the gardens, filled with flowers and facts boards, a sea monster, and lovely views as well as an art museum at the centre.

Bonus: Eat and Drink Wonderful Treats

We enjoyed some lovely meals, snacks and delicacies in Whitby, here are our top picks:

How about you?

Do you love Whitby too? What are your favourite things to do there?

27 thoughts on “10 Things to do in Whitby”

  1. I LOVE Whitby, it’s such a magical place. Their annual Goth Weekend is amazing too! Looking for fossils is such a great idea, and definitely something that would interest younger ones! Looks like you all had a fabulous time, thanks for sharing some great activities x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love Whitby. It used to be a regular for us when we lived in North Yorkshire. Fish & chips by the beach is definitely a must when you visit! I didn’t actually realise there was a splash park there, my little girl would love that! I love all the independent shops in Whitby, especially all the little jewellers using Whitby jet. I’m glad you had a great time.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhh I’ve been looking at pictures on your Instagram page and I was ever so slightly jealous – I had Whitby on my bucket list for sooooo long now, I can’t wait to go! The fish and chip sounds like what I could eat right about now too… x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oohh, Whitby looks so much fun! These are some great activities to do. What a perfect combination – bike ride and sunset, you had me at this haha. Glad you enjoyed yourself ☺ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Whitby was one of my Dad’s favourite places to visit as a child. Originally from Sheffield, he often spoke about it so fondly. One day he took us when we were about 8, but I don’t remember too much about it. It does look like a beautiful place to visit. I’ll definitely be sticking it on my list for when I’m next in the UK.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. An awesome lineup of things to do smell 👌. Whitby is a lovely place. The whitby regatta is a great event too. I’m sure you may have been but definitely worth checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

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