Sidenote: In England, what is summer actually??? I’ve been here since mid-June and it’s rare that it’s over 70 F LOL. #summerinengland
Well, I’ve got ya covered, babe (or dude or unicorn or whatever ya identify as)!
After spending alllll of July in northern England, I’m convinced that this region has some of the most beautiful seaside towns in the UK!
And I wouldn’t have heard of ANY of them had I not ventured my way up north. In fact, many people living in England haven’t even heard of all of these Yorkshire coastal towns (case in point: when I’d tell Brits that I was going to Saltburn-by-the-Sea, most would look at me like I was from another planet. I’d then have to follow it up with “Near Whitby”). These 5 seaside towns run in a line down the east coast. They’re not very far apart, so you could theoretically choose a home base and take day trips (Whitby would probably be the best for this since it’s the biggest of the 5 and in the middle), or you could travel in a one way line on a road trip.
**Be aware that the weather in each of these small coastal towns can be foggy and cold, even during summer! So bring all your layers and probably a raincoat because it will most likely rain at least once during your visit even if the forecast says it won’t. #whatisthismadnessFor your reference, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Whitby, and Scarborough are all towns while Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay are villages. What’s the difference?? A town has a market, while a village has no cathedral OR market, but does have a church. If you’re curious about other classifications (like hamlets and cities), go here. Warning: Some of these things will get redundant – I recommend you walk little of the Cleveland Way in each place, and go to the ocean lol. But I’m still including it in each list in case someone just wants to go to one town and skips through the post.
But without further ado, here’s what I deem the top Yorkshire coastal towns to visit:
TO DO LIST:
- Ride the Saltburn Cliff Tramway because it’s super cool and super old (and only £1.10 each way)
- Skip along the pier because it’s England’s northernmost pier (!!!!!!!)
- Play games at the Amusement Arcade
- Stare at the ocean of course (Although it was never really warm enough for me to actually swim in it LOL)
- Walk through the Saltburn Woods on the Cleveland Way (there’s even a tea house you can visit!)
- Eat at a restaurant with #views (I ate at The Spa Hotel which was delish, but The Seaview Restaurant also looked nice and overlooked the beach)
- Amble along the cliffs to get your sweat on (although it’s usually so windy your sweat will be pretty much nonexistant)
TO DO LIST:
- Wander the narrow streets
- Traipse up the road for a view (head down into town, walk across the bridge, then up the road on the other side)
- Hike along the cliffs and the Cleveland Way for more views
- Hang out at the beach and get your tan on (weather permitting LOL)
- Pop in the shops – lots of artist and craft shops here
I literally just went to Staithes for a couple hours – you don’t need a TON of time there as it’s a pretty small village, but it’s 10000% still worth a stop because it is SO FREAKING CUTE.
My favorite parts, of course, were the amazing views and narrow streets. I’d also recommend you spend time at the beach and walk along the cliffs above the town. There are also a ton of village stores to wander through, restaurants, and teahouses (of course – Dotty’s Vintage Tearoom seems to be the popular choice, but it was unfortunately closed the day I visited.)And if you go during the breeding season (spring/summer) you can get dive-bombed by gulls like another tourist did. Seriously – that’s their breeding season, and they can get mighty territorial! This only happened once I got out of the town and up into the hills, though. So if you stay IN the town, you should be fine if birds aren’t your thing (although I got to see their chicks in the nest and it was SO FREAKING CUTE.)
TO DO LIST:
- Saunter up the 199 Steps to St. Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey
- Stroll over to the West Cliffs for a view
- Eat Lemon Top ice cream!
- Check out one of the many museums
- See the North Yorkshire Moors Railway’s old steam trains
And it’s easy to see why – the town definitely has that whole creepy vampire vibe going on. Like if The Drac himself popped out while I was walking down the street I wouldn’t have batted (this one wasn’t even on purpose) an eye.Okay, let’s change directions from our friend Drac (although are blood-sucking things that want to kill you really friends?) to the architectural beauty that is the Whitby Abbey! To get up to the Abbey, you should walk up the 199 steps (which sounds intense but literally took like 10 minutes lol) because the views are life.
You do have to pay to go inside the Abbey, but you can find the view in the photo above for free!There’s also St. Mary’s Church right before you reach the Abbey, which is super pretty and also has some nice views. You also can’t miss the cool graveyard you can have a wander in that adds to the spooky vibes. Bonus points if it’s gloomy when you visit, which tbh will probably happen at least once because the weather changes constantly.
The church seems to be open at varied times (although 10AM-4PM seems to be the general consensus), so you may want to check this website or call them before visiting if you want to go inside. However, you can walk around outside of it at any time!Oh, and did I mention the PONIES??? No, I don’t think I did. So I’m mentioning it now. There are ponies. PONIES. I didn’t have time for this, but I’ve heard that you can also walk to the lighthouse and that’s supposed to be really pretty. Or you can walk to the West Cliff, in the photo above, and snag that view. Apparently you also HAVE to have their famous “Lemon Top” ice cream (although that’s not just a Whitby thing, but a Yorkshire thing so you can get it all over) which is basically vanilla ice cream with a drop of lemon sorbet on top. I am not really a lemon ice cream person (chocolate or die, baby) so I didn’t get it, but if you like sorbet things, it is apparently a MUST HAVE.
ROBIN HOOD’S BAY
TO DO LIST:
- Look for fossils on the beach (although I actually found one in Saltburn!)
- Meander through the picture perfect streets
- Eat ice cream on the beach (!!!)
- Walk along the Cleveland Way
- Visit the Coastguard station for some history (£1 entry fee) or the Smuggler’s Museum for info about that (free, but donations encouraged)
- Go tide pooling during low tide (although be careful – the tide comes in quick, like within 2 hours, so be aware!)
First of all, it’s a GREAT place to find fossils due to the differing layers in the rock.
Second of all, IT IS SO PRETTY AND HAS AMAZING VIEWS.Third of all, there’s an ice cream truck ON THE BEACH!!!!! Not next to the beach. Not near the beach. Not under the beach (although how cool would that be?) BUT ON THE BEACH. And the ice cream was pretty good!
Fourth of all, this village was (maybe still is????) a smuggler’s haven back in the day. Due to the narrow, winding streets, isolation of the town surrounded by marshland, and hidden compartments in houses Robin Hood’s Bay became a smuggler’s paradise during the 18th century. It’s said that an object could start at the bottom of the town and travel all the way through without seeing any daylight! You can read more here and here.Most of these Yorkshire coastal towns and villages also have a history with smugglers, but Robin Hood’s Bay is the most famous for it.
I went to a couple museums, and they were okkkkk, but what I enjoyed the most was walking along the beach, the walk along the Cleveland Way (I wish I’d gotten to do the whole thing, but I didn’t have time) for fantastic views – especially since you pass through a town called “Boggle Hole” and that’s worth it enough in my book.Also, a “boggle” is apparently a pixie/house elf if you were wondering (I had to Google that haha.)
So you’re basically bound to encounter something exciting in Robin Hood’s Bay, whether it’s a fossil, boggle, or smuggler!
TO DO LIST:
- Explore the Scarborough Castle
- Ride them rides, bb!!!
- Chill at the beach
- Peek into St. Mary’s Church
- If you haven’t gotten enough of the Saltburn Cliff Tramway, there’s another one in Scarborough!
Scarborough is just an all-around super cute town. Plus it’s in that super famous song, Scarborough Fair. And any town that has a song named after it is worth visiting, in my opinion.
GETTING THEREIt will take anywhere from 2-3 hours to get from Saltburn-by-the-Sea (the northernmost of the places on this list) to Scarborough (the southernmost town) by bus, 3 hours by train, and about 1-1.5 hours by car. I did not have a car, and am way too scared to even try to drive a manual car on the WRONG (yep I said it) side of the road, so I took the bus. Be prepared for some super pretty views!
If you’re feeling REAL feisty, you can actually WALK between all of these seaside towns along the Cleveland Way! It’s about 40 miles (or 64 kilometers) but I believe in you!!
If a long walk isn’t your style, you’ve got some other options: you CAN take the train, but I’d highly recommend the bus as it’s way cheaper. The trains don’t go to Staithes or Robin Hood’s Bay either, so you’d only be able to hit Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Whitby, and Scarborough going this route. And you want to see ALL of them, don’t you??? (Answer: YES, yes you do.)Ok, so I’m going to assume you’re going to make the smart choice and take the bus, which makes it quite easy to get between these 5 seaside destinations. You’ll be taking the Arriva buses to travel between the cities, and will either take the X4, X3A Sapphire, X93 MAX, or 5 Sapphire (or a combination). I pretty much just used Google Maps for everything and didn’t have any issues, but you can also use the Arriva Bus Journey Planner online!
The bus system is pretty easy to navigate, the drivers carry change, and they take contactless card and cash. Just tell the bus driver where you need to go, and they tell you the cost. You can purchase a one-way ticket, round-trip ticket, or a day pass for a certain region either online beforehand or directly on the bus (I just made all my purchases directly on the bus as it was easier.)Some of the buses are even double decker (!!!!) which is basically the coolest thing ever. They’re not too pricey, either – it’s £8.50 for a day pass from Saltburn to Scarborough. And yes, this means you can ride the bus as much as you want throughout the day, so I stopped in Robin Hood’s Bay first, then Whitby.
Be early, though, as I’ve had numerous occasions where the drivers showed up (and then promptly left) a minute or two before the scheduled time.That was fun, especially when I was chasing after the bus waving my arms wildly at the driver like a maniac. And no, he didn’t stop. And then I had to walk from Skelton-in-Cleveland where I was staying to Saltburn like the peasant I am. Actually, I had to run in my Birkenstocks because I’d signed up for a yoga class and was now running late. #soml
So I showed up to yoga 10 minutes after class started, sweating, with no mat (I’d borrowed one last time from the instructor), breathing like a train wreck and trying to sneak in as quietly as possible.
You can imagine how well that went.But in spite of the too-prompt bus drivers, I love northern England! I have a special affinity for Yorkshire (since I studied abroad in York, that whole area will always have a special place in my cold little heart), and will always be more than happy to return.
Plus, I love the English coast and am already plotting my return…