"East Coast Seaside Town" Top 5 Page for this destination Whitby by suvanki

Whitby Travel Guide: 388 reviews and 834 photos


Whitby, a little gem on the East coast of England!

The name Whitby derives from the old Norse 'Huiti's Farmstead' and in Anglo Saxon times it was known as Streonshalh!

My first ever holiday was spent here, (I don't remember it as I was only a few months old!) and its a place that I've enjoyed returning to many times over the years- I still get the same thrill of the first sight of the sea after crossing the North York Moors!!

Whitby has something to offer for everyone, visitors are a mix of families, school parties, historians, ramblers, artists, bikers, musicians, buskers, traditional dancers and Goths.

Whitby is steeped in history, with St Hildas Abbey (dating back to 657AD) dominating the skyline of the East Cliff. The site of the abbey, has seen numerous desecrations and reconstructions. Viking raiders destroyed it in the 9th century, to be rebuilt during the Norman Conquest.
In 1914 German bomber planes caused extensive damage.

The town itself has Roman origins.

Whitby gained importance as a fishing port, making it a close community, as most families were involved in its associated industries. Fishermen, boat builders, fish merchants, fish smokers etc.

Whitbys most famous inhabitant was probably Captain James Cook (1728-1779) , the voyager and explorer. Cook served his apprenticeship in Whitby, before serving in the Royal Navy, then setting off to explore new lands. One of his sailing vessels was The Endeavour, a Whitby built ship, which he sailed on one of his most important voyages, to Tahiti.

Whitby was the most important whaling port in the north of England, during the late 18th and early 19th century. Father and son William Scoresby Snr and Jnr, were legendary Whalers from this area. As many as 20 ships would leave on expeditions, returning with barrels of blubber, to render into oil.

Jet also provided a lucrative income, and employment for the people of Whitby. The first recorded workshops were in 1808.
This fossilised stone was mined, from nearby hillsides,(or picked from the beaches) then bought to Whitby, where the stone was fashioned into jewellery and trinkets.
It is thought that about 200 men were involved in the mining process, with about 50 workshops, and 1, 500 people employed in the industry around 1873.
Queen Victoria, following the death of Prince Albert, wore Whitby jet, its black stone being considered appropiate for the mourning period.
The industry declined in the 1920's due to cheap imports from Spain.

During the Victorian era, a local photographer, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, recorded the lives of local people and scenery. His sepia photographs are highly regarded, capturing the feel of the era.

Holding Back The Years!

Whitby resides between the North York Moors, and The North Sea, at the mouth of the River Esk.

It is a popular resort, for holidaymakers and day trippers.

Whitby still manages to retain a certain old world charm, with many examples of old buildings, and a pride in its cultural history.

If you remember the video for Simply Reds 'Holding Back The Years'you'll have seen a bit of Whitby and the surrounding area.

Although the fishing industry isn't as prosperous these days, a small fleet still ventures out daily, returning with crabs and lobsters mainly. These can be eaten in the many fish restaurants and cafes, or dressed crab, shrimps/ whelks/ cockles can be purchased from the kiosks along the harbour. But, you must have Fish & chips at least once!

Whitby pays homage to Captain James Cook, through a memorial statue on the West Cliff,and a museum, on Grape Lane, where he resided. Also, a replica of The Endeavor sails into Whitby at fairly regular intervals (next due 17th Dec 04 - 2nd Jan 05) A Captain Cook festival takes place 23-31 October 04.

A reminder of the whaling days can be seen at the top of the steps on the West Cliff..The Whalebone Arch has been a popular landmark for many decades.

Whitby jet can still be purchased, a dozen craftspeople are still employed in this industry. Antique shops sell examples, but The Whitby Jet shop on Church street, ensures you're getting the genuine article.

The legend of Dracula, and links with Whitby, draw many visitors. There is a Dracula walking tour, and shops stock various souvenirs of this character ,varying in quality and taste!
Its quite usual to see Goths. etc, around the streets of Whitby, and particularly around the Abbey. There's an Annual Goth Weekend over Halloween with special events advertised around the pubs etc.

Examples of Frank Meadow Sutcliffes photography can be purchased at The Sutcliffe Gallery, along with books about this man.

Other things to do and see in Whitby.

Whitby is a great place to explore. Lots of narrow winding streets in the old town. The view over the roof tops from the Abbey, out to sea, and inland over the moors.

Crossing the River Esk, is the old swing bridge, that links the East and West sides.

The bustling harbour area, with fishermen landing the catch, or mending nets etc. The Lifeboat Station..please give a donation to help their important work!
The long sandy beach is ideal for walking along, paddling/swimming is quite safe (but the North Sea is pretty cold!) There are also donkey rides for children. The nearby shingle beach is good for beach-combing, and fossils can often be found. I found a great ammonite here a few years ago
Plenty of shops, both for stocking up on everyday items, plus plenty of art/ craft/ souvenir/ antique/ outdoor gear stores.

Along Church Street you can be entertained by buskers, or there are regular folk/ dance festivals including an annual Sword Dance festival.(My local Handsworth Sword team usually appear here)
A row of amusement arcades provide a way of getting rid of your loose change! You could even try a game of Bingo.
When you're hungry or thirsty, there are many cafes, restaurants, pubs, and take aways to tempt you.
Seaside fare of Candy Floss, Waffles, Rock etc are available. Old fashioned sweets can be found on Church Street.

Near to Whitby are other attractive seaside towns/ villages as well as The North York Moors to explore.

Robin Hood's Bay, Staithes, Scarborough, Bridlington, Filey, Beverley, Goathland, Pickering are just a few must see's whilst in this area!

The #93 Service runs from Middlesborough to Scarborough stopping at Whitby, RHB and other villages on this coastal route.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Scenic seaside town, history, character, something for everyone
  • Cons:Can get congested in Summer months.
  • In a nutshell:A Seaside town with character!
  • Last visit to Whitby: Sep 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (41)

Comments (19)

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Jul 2, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Hi Sue, a great page about Whitby, I am looking forward to visiting there soon! It is interesting to read about the James Cook connection.

  • RoscoeGregg's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    OMG! We ate here! Friends from the UK took us here and I am still full. We did it after a walk along the coast from Robins Hood Bay. A top drawer day. The Magpie Forever! Randy

  • Kaspian's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    I just saw a BBC story on this town--it looks like fun!!

  • Tattugran's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2010 at 1:53 AM

    I love the sound fo this shop.Thank you for sharing

  • shadowlight's Profile Photo
    Nov 13, 2008 at 4:09 PM

    great pub nice and friendly good food big big portions nice beer and staff, if intrested in Dracula Bram stoker drank at this pub while staying in Whitby, next year 3rd time back to Whitby

  • Aug 30, 2008 at 5:42 PM

    It's called "Grape Lane", not "Grape Street"

  • Solivagant's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2008 at 2:05 AM

    I wouldn't bother with Bothams - recently we found its atmosphere rather faded and tired, the air heavy with the smell of stale cooked food AND at 3pm they had run out of scones! Nearby is Sherlock's Cafe. Without the history of Bothams but a lot better!

  • originalribenababy's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2007 at 3:08 AM

    I adore Whitby, we used to go every year when I was little, it was like a family pilgrimage :) In more recent times I've quite enjoyed the chocolate fountanis everywhere :) Will have visit again soon, thanx 4 the page

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2006 at 9:11 PM

    199 steps? I better start getting in shape now! Looks like a nice place for a day at the seaside.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2006 at 2:00 AM

    Genuine five star tips with photos to match


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