I’ve been going to Whitby in Yorkshire on family holidays twice a year, every year, since I was a toddler. This popular seaside town holds a special place in my heart and I always love going back.
Whitby is the setting for a lovely weekend away and luckily for me, it’s where I spent the last few days! We were blessed with great weather which is a rare treat for England in April. I always stay in an apartment in the West Cliff area of Whitby and walk down into the harbour area via the infamous whale bones archway. When we arrived in the harbour, the town was full to the brim with visitors queuing up for fish and chips and ice-creams.
There are a few touristy things to do in Whitby such as Whitby Abbey, Captain Cook museum and The Endeavour. Having been a few times now, and for anyone in Whitby longer than a few days, it’s nice to find hidden gems.
For a first full day in Whitby I like to walk down the pier and back, past the arcades and into the town centre. It offers a lovely view of Whitby Bay. You’ll also find the Dracula walk-through experience here, another to add to the list of Whitby attractions.
There are plenty of lovely walks and footpaths hidden away behind the beaten track; it can become repetitive repeating the same walk into town every day. On any first day in Whitby, I head straight over the swing bridge and left into the cobbled streets. This area is known as ‘Sandgate’ and it’s where all of my favourite shops and cafes in the town are.
For me, no trip to Whitby is complete without a trip to Sandgate Sweet Shop. As soon as you step down into the tiny shop you’ll see row upon row of glass jars full to the brim with every sweet you can imagine. They even do vegan bonbons! All the sweets are sold by the 1/4 pound and given out in white paper bags; I always feel like I’ve stepped back in time being in this shop.
We took a small walk up the cobbled streets to reach the infamous 199 steps up to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey. The steps provide great vantage points of Whitby and most photos of the town are taken here. If you get tired during the ascent, or simply want to watch the world go by, there are a few benches on your way to the top.
Whitby Abbey is an English Heritage site that you can pay to walk around and see up close. It’s definitely worth doing on a first trip to Whitby but I actually prefer to spend my time on the clifftop facing the town. It might sound a bit morbid but I find it fascinating to read the headstones of the graves in St Mary’s cemetery and walk around the churchyard.
My ‘favourite’ headstone (if that’s the right word!) is the one that details the lives of Francis and Mary Huntrodds. Francis and Mary were a couple who were born on the same day, married on their joint birthday, and died together on their birthday in 1680. Their story is so lovely to me and I must have told it to various people at least a dozen times.
Once I’m back at the bottom of the steps I like to wander around town and call in on a cafe or two. There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of cafes in Whitby but my favourites are Sherlock’s, Abbey Steps Tea Room and Rusty Shears. You’ll be spoilt for choice when you try to choose a restaurant as well, The Edge, Moutrey’s and The Magpie are regular haunts for my family and I.
In the evening of our first day we walked out of our apartment to be greeted with pink, blue and orange hues filling the sky. We made the most of the gorgeous sunset and took a walk along the beach. I managed to see the town in quite literally a whole new light!
I would love to hear from you if you have an upcoming trip to Whitby. I’m also more than happy to provide advice and recommendations, including where to find the best fish and chips (and vegan chips)!
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