When it comes to a bit of classy charm, Whitby blows all of northern England’s coastal resorts out of the water. The narrow medieval streets are lined with restaurants, pubs and cute little shops, and everything more or less leads down to the handsome harbour, where colourful fishing boats move in and out during the day. Keeping a watchful eye over the whole scene is the ruined and utterly atmospheric abbey atop one of the cliffs that hems the town.
Whitby wouldn’t be a coastal resort without the requisite amusements and pleasure arcades, but unlike other resorts they are merely a part of the overall aesthetic rather than the overwhelming, defining feature. In spite of them, Whitby manages to retain much of its 18th-century character, when the town’s most famous (adopted) son, James Cook, was making his first forays to sea on his way towards becoming one of the best-known explorers in history.
Besides the caravan of ordinary sun worshippers and beachcombers that flood the town throughout the summer months, Whitby is popular with good-time girls and boys, retirees, hikers, bikers and even Goths – who flock here for two festivals honouring the king of the vampires: Bram Stoker set part of Dracula here.
And finally there’s the all-important matter of fish and chips, and in Whitby you’ll find the best in the whole country.
Whitby destination guides
North Yorkshire Trails
A mixture of coastal and moorland walking the Cleveland Way