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A City Guide to Whitby - An English Seaside Town

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Sprawling over hills and cliffs, Whitby is famous for its landmark abbey and as a location for Dracula. In the atmospheric old district, you can browse boutiques along twisted cobbled streets, while the newer area has amusement arcades and old-school cafés selling fish and chips. Between the 2 flows the river, dotted with colourful fishing boats.

The abbey and headland


The best way to see Whitby is by climbing the 199 steps to windswept Whitby Abbey, which commands panoramic views of the town, sea, and North York Moors. A brooding gothic atmosphere pervades the skeletal remains of the abbey, and neighbouring Church of St. Mary, Whitby with its weather-beaten graveyard and blackened tombstones. It’s hardly surprising that Bram Stoker immortalized the steps and church in his horror novel "Dracula," set in Whitby. Running parallel to the 199 steps is the vertiginous, cobbled Donkey Track, historically used to walk donkeys to the beach in summer.


The historic old town


Below the abbey is a warren of narrow streets and alleyways, bristling with russet-roofed fishermen’s cottages. You can find the famous Whitby Jet, a black precious stone, in jewelry shops lining Church Street. Or wander up steep Grape Lane and visit the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, in a former house of a 17th-century shipowner. For local Whitby flavors, pick up some kippers from Fortunes Smokehouse or lunch at the Humble Pie and Mash, followed by a beer at the traditional Black Horse pub on Church Street.



West Whitby


West of the River Esk is Whitby's more modern district. Grand Georgian mansions built by prosperous shipbuilders overlook a statue of explorer Captain Cook, whose ship HMS Endeavour was built here. Nearby, a huge whalebone arch commemorates Whitby’s whaling heritage. If you fancy being spooked, visit The Dracula Experience, which highlights Whitby’s links with Bram Stoker’s classic. Head inland to the attractive Pannett Park and visit Whitby Museum, which exhibits Jurassic fossils and artifacts on whaling and Captain Cook’s travels.


  • The Dracula Experience, 9 Marine Parade, Whitby YO21 3PR; Tel: +44 1947 601923; Website: The Dracula Experience

  • Whitby Museum, Pannett Park, Whitby YO21 1RE; Tel: +44 1947 602908; Website: Whitby Museum


Piers and beaches


Along Pier Road, the distinctive tang of freshly frying fish and chips is in the air. If you're tempted, stop for lunch or a takeaway at the legendary Magpie Café. You can ride an elevator at West Cliff down to the sandy beach, backed by vibrantly painted beach huts and with donkey rides in summer. Or you can wander along West Pier and admire the views of the town. If the weather’s good, relax on the smaller Tate Hill Beach in the harbor or go rock pooling next to East Pier.


  • The Magpie Café, 14 Pier Road, Whitby YO21 3PU; Tel: +44 1947 602058; Website: The Magpie Café


Along the harbor


With shrieking gulls wheeling overhead, take a stroll past fishing nets and lobster pots along the harbor and marina bordering the River Esk. You can pick up fresh fish at the bustling market on the quayside, or sample it in one of the town's many seafood restaurants. Fishing trips run from the harbor - or try crabbing next to the swing bridge.