The best places to visit on the Yorkshire coast
The Yorkshire coast, with its abundant beaches and charming towns, has been attracting holidaymakers for hundreds of years. Here are the best places to visit, whatever your seaside wish list.
Britain’s largest county boasts 45 miles (72km) of diverse coastline, yet all too often Yorkshire’s visitors default to Whitby for a seaside break. While the atmospheric Gothic town is a minibreak must, don’t overlook its North Sea neighbours and their varied delights. Whether you crave award-winning sands, windswept hikes, historic jewels or attractions aplenty, there’s a place to suit you on the ‘Dinosaur Coast’.
1. For family fun: Scarborough
Britain’s original seaside resort – made famous for its spa waters in the 17th century – is buckets (and spades) of fun. The South Bay specialises in the bustle of traditional arcades and shops, cockles and ice cream, beach huts and boat trips, while North Bay is the place for wide open sands and surf.
Kids will love the seal hospital at Sealife Scarborough, riding dragon pedalos in oriental-themed Peasholm Park, spying fossils at The Rotunda Museum and exploring the history-steeped walls of Scarborough Castle.
You can also catch big name music acts at Scarborough Open Air Theatre and ride vintage carousels at The Scarborough Fair Collection.
Funky Bike & Boot hotel near South Beach offers a cinema room and free cake, dog grooming and wetsuit-washing facilities, plus bike and surfboard storage. For a quirkier stay, The Windmill has self-catered apartments within its 18th-century, Grade-II-listed tower.
READ MORE: Check out our full guide to the North York Moors
2. For arty inspiration: Staithes
Nestled between two cliffs, this characterful village captured hearts when it appeared on the Christmas special of BBC’s Whitehouse & Mortimer: Gone Fishing.
Ships still sail out of the harbour to catch cod and crab, but Staithes also has a famed artistic community who’ve been drawn to the winding streets since Victorian times.
You can learn more at Staithes Gallery, which also runs an art school, while the Captain Cook & Staithes Heritage Centre tells the story of the 18th-century explorer, whose maritime adventures were inspired by his time living here.
The Cod & Lobster has been serving ale and seafood since Cook’s times, a miracle given large chunks of the seafront pub have been ravaged by storms.
There are stylish local cottages for hire including the modern Harbour Cottage, quirky and charming Victoria Cottage and Harbourside, with views directly over the bay.
3. For quaint charm: Filey
Butlins made Filey’s fortune, but today the town offers a more sedate seaside experience.
Its five-mile sandy bay has geologically important Filey Brigg to the north (pictured), where you might spot seals or shipwrecks, while the promenade houses mini golf and a coastal-themed sculpture trail by artist Russ Coleman. Both Cleveland Way and Yorkshire Wolds national trails start and end in Filey too.
Volunteer-run Filey Museum is diminutive but award-winning, eschewing multimedia screens for hands-on exhibits detailing local history. Head to nautical-themed Lighthouse Tearoom for indulgent afternoon tea or The Boat Shed for cocktails and pizza. If you have space, pick up handmade treats from Sterchi’s Chocolatiers, a town institution since 1919.
Yorkshire Coastal Cottages has a selection of self-catering boltholes where you can collapse later.
4. For a laid-back vibe: Sandsend
Just a stone’s throw from Whitby, this village grew thanks to the 19th-century alum industry and it enjoys striking views of the abbey without the crowds.
When the tide is out, you can stroll right along Sandsend Beach to Whitby Sands, or otherwise hike to the town via the Cleveland Way National Trail.
Families will enjoy paddling in the beck which runs out to sea, before a pint and a seafood lunch at traditional boozer The Hart Inn.
For dinner, reserve a table at Estbeck House Hotel, a 2 AA Rosette restaurant with rooms. Each of the five bedrooms in this Grade-II Georgian building is furnished with locally made quilts and artwork.
READ MORE: The UK's most beautiful beaches photographed from the skies
5. For natural wonders: Flamborough
There’s a rugged beauty to Flamborough, perched atop a striking chalk peninsula teeming with birdlife and beaches. Nature lovers flock here to see guillemots and puffins – best spied at nearby RSPB Bempton Cliffs (pictured).
Flamborough is filled with history too: it was settled by Vikings between the 8th and 10th centuries, and it’s home to the ancient Danes Dyke and two charming lighthouses dating from 1669 and 1806.
Enjoy the scenery to full effect at Wold Farm Campsite, which has traditional pitches, wooden pods and bell tents accompanied by panoramic views and its own private path to puffin-viewing areas. After a windswept hike, enjoy a chippy tea from High Street Fisheries or dine at Seabirds Inn, a top spot for Yorkshire steaks and seafood plates.
6. For retro delights: Bridlington
Home to Art Deco concert hall Bridlington Spa – which has hosted everyone from The Rolling Stones to Jessie J – this East Yorkshire town oozes entertainment. Away from the curtain calls, there are two sandy beaches, separated by a harbour and the largest lobster port in Europe – also the boarding point for seabird-spotting cruises.
Tearooms, antique shops and pubs populate the winding streets of the Old Town, backdrop for the 2016 Dad’s Army film and home to an annual Dickensian Festival. Don’t miss sundaes and shakes at kitsch Tophams Parlour, serving ice creams since 1947, while Lamp Restaurant offers cosy fine dining under an original Victorian street light.
Furnished with V&A treasures, Sewerby Hall and Gardens sits in parkland on the cliff tops and has a zoo, pitch and putt, an adventure playground and three cottages for hire.
7. For peace and quiet: Runswick Bay
This whitewashed village clinging to the cliffs has one road, some 90 cottages and terrible phone reception – perfect for anyone craving peace. You can still see traditional fishing cobles in the sandy cove, as well as beachgoers enjoying rock pooling, fossil hunting, paddle boarding and kayaking. Barefoot Kayak offers lessons and equipment hire.
Runswick Bay Cottages has immaculate self-catering accommodation, but if you don’t fancy cooking, The Royal Hotel serves up hearty meals beside a roaring fire. Be sure to pre-order sourdough loaves and sweet treats for your visit from traditional bakery Beech Grove.
READ MORE: Check out our full guide to the Yorkshire Dales
8. For surf and thrills: Saltburn-by-Sea
Victorian holidaymakers got their thrills at Saltburn – proud home of Yorkshire’s only remaining pier and a Blue Flag status beach – and the town retains an innocent charm. Every generation will enjoy the vintage, water-balanced cliff lifts, Saltburn Valley Gardens with its woodland centre and miniature railway, and Saltburn MiniGolf on the promenade.
The bay is a surfing hot spot too, with Saltburn Surf School offering lessons and equipment hire. Refuel with cod and chips from Cat Nab Fish Bar or the catch of the day at appropriately named Seaview Restaurant. Further panoramic views are available at The Spa Hotel, a comfortable family-run hotel in the former Assembly Rooms.
Main image: Helen Hotson/Shutterstock
Be the first to comment
Do you want to comment on this article? You need to be signed in for this feature