This lovely atmospheric harbour town was once home to Bram Stocker, who, inspired by its dramatic setting and historic splendour, penned the 19th-c classic novel 'Dracula' here. The old town clusters round the ancient harbour at the mouth of the River Esk and the modern seaside resort lies along the west cliff. High up, on the far side of the rive,r stands St Mary's church and the picturesque ruins of the town's famous Abbey (shown below).

Whitby Town and Abbey
Whitby - View from West Cliff (Postbyte (CC0))

Whitby has a rich maritime heritage. Captain Cook, who was born at nearby Marton, sailed on one of his earliest voyages from Whitby harbour and the ships he used for his initial around the world adventures were also built here. The area around old Whitby has changed little since Cook walked these streets. The elegant terraces of West Cliff, that run up the hill behind the harbour, are graced by a statue of the famous captain plus an icon archway formed by a whale's jawbone. The winding road to the harbour is known locally as the "Khyber Pass".

One of the best views of the town is from St Mary's churchyard, which is well worth the climb up the 199 steps to the top.

Places of Interest to Visit in Whitby

Whitby Abbey

The picturesque ruins of this ancient monastery stand high on the headland, overlooking the harbour. The site has been hallowed since 658 AD, when the abbey was founded by Hilda, the daughter of the King of Northumbria. Danish invaders destroyed the original church buildings and the current ruins date from the early 13th-c.

Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey (Tim Dowley (CC0))

A beautifully carved memorial to "Caedmon the Swineherd" stands near the old parish church. Caedmon was inspired to sing his wonderful 'Hymn of Creation' in St. Hilda's Abbey and afterwards became known as the father of English sacred poetry.

Opening times: Apr~Sep, daily 10-6; Oct~Mar, Thu-Mon 10-4 (closed Xmas & NY) Admission Charge
Location: Whitby, YO22 4JT - Tel: 01947 603568
Facilities: Parking, cafe, picnic area, shop.

Whitby Museum

Located in the gardens of Pannett Park, it has exhibits devoted to the famous English navigator 'Captain James Cook', with models of his Whitby built ships (Discovery, Endeavour & Resolution), which bore him across the Pacific on his many voyages of discovery. There are also displays of fossils, taxidermy and intricately carved jet jewellery; a dense black form of coal found along the local shores.

Opening times: daily from 9:30 (closed Monday) - Admission Charge
Location: Pannett Park, Whitby YO21 1RE
Tel: 01947 602908

RNLI Whitby Museum

The finely restored brick built Victorian lifeboat station is now open as a museum. It contains an extensive collection of maritime relics, paintings and photographs pertaining to the work of the Whitby Lifeboat crews.

Opening times: daily from 10am (11am Winter) - Admission Free
Location: Pier Road, Whitby YO21 3PU
Tel: 01947 602001

Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Located in a 17th-c shipping merchant's house that once belonged to Captain John Walker. It was here that the young James Cook began his seamanship apprenticeship in 1746. On display is a fine collection of exhibits covering the life and works of Captain Cook, including a wealth of paintings, maps and manuscripts, models and artifacts that help illustrate the story of his famous world-wide voyages.

Opening times: daily, times vary - Admission Charge
Location: Grape Lane Whitby YO22 4BA
Tel: 01947 601900

Whitby's Old Lifeboat Trips

Take a trip around the Esk River on a historic 1938 lifeboat, the "Mary Ann Hepworth".

Opening times: times vary - Admission Charge
Location: New Quay Rd, Whitby YO21
Tel: 07779 318948

Map of Whitby


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