As Britain’s – and possibly the world’s – first resort, Scarborough has long been an attraction for people of all ages. Yet there’s so much more to discover right on our doorstep – We highly recommend day trips to York, Whitby & Robin Hoods Bay and that you check out some of the many beaches making up our beautiful coastline.
A 10-minute walk from the Steeple and Belfry, the South Bay is Scarborough’s main attraction. As well as the amusements, fairgrounds, ice cream parlours, donkey rides and fish & chip shops, there’s also the Scarborough Spa Complex and the working harbour – where the pleasure steamers and boats depart.
The South Bay has a fine sandy beach and an RNLI-patrolled swimming area during the main season. The cliff lift provides easy access to the town centre.
Head around the castle headland along Royal Albert Drive and you’ll come to the more relaxed North Bay. The southern end is where the surfers and water sports enthusiasts hang out, while the fine golden sand, rockpools and brightly-coloured chalets make the northern beach popular with families. Just past the chalets is Scarborough’s Sea Life Sanctuary at Scalby Mills – which has a pebble bay and rockpools that kids will love.
Two miles south of the town is this stunning horseshoe bay, which offers clean water, year-round surf and a wide sandy beach that’s a favourite with birdwatchers and fossil hunters. We’ve even seen a seal sunbathing on the beach.
There’s a surf shop at the top of the cliff, which is home to a hire centre and Scarborough’s surf school. It provides free surf forecasts, tide tables, and toilet, changing and shower facilities. A snack hut is also open during the main season. You can park all day on the cliff top for around £2, but if you’re happy to walk for a couple of minutes, roadside parking is free.
Situated just north of Cloughton, between Scarborough and Whitby, this hidden gem is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic on the smooth rocks and explore this beautiful pebbled bay. Head past the Hayburn Wyke Inn (which does good home-cooked food and real ales) and down through the wooded valley, where a stream meanders down to a waterfall that cascades directly onto the beach.
Around seven miles south of Scarborough, the resort of Filey has a huge, sandy beach set in a wide bay. It is popular for sailing, windsurfing and other water sports – and lessons are available. The beach is edged by small wooden chalets and the historic promenade, where you can enjoy fish and chips by the Coble Landing and look out to the dramatic Filey Brigg – a rocky outcrop filled with rockpools to explore.
Hunmanby Gap and Reighton Sands connect to form a huge, flat sandy beach just south of Filey. Even when it’s busy, Hunmanby Gap feels quite deserted, such is its size. And with spectacular views of Bempton Cliffs towering over 100m above the beach, you’ll feel very small.
The good news is that you don’t have to descend too far to get to the beach. From the car park at Hunmanby Gap (which has a minimal charge in the summer), it’s a leisurely five-minute stroll down a pathway. During the main season, the café is open, which has a decked area with picnic tables – so you can grab a bite to eat and enjoy the wonderful view. There’s also toilet facilities, which is very handy, particularly if you have kids in tow!
This picture-postcard fishing village, located between Scarborough and Whitby within the North York Moors National Park, is home to sandy, family-friendly beaches, as well as fantastic shops, cafes and pubs.
Once a centre for smuggling, the village tumbles steeply down to the beach – which is great for budding fossil hunters. Parking is at the top of a long, steep hill – so you’ll probably be ready for a drink at the Victoria Hotel on the way back. The view from there is superb.
This stretch of spectacular chalk cliffs – at over 100 metres, among the tallest in Britain – is home to one of the largest sites of nesting sea birds in England. But it’s not all about the cliffs. Flamborough Head also has beautiful coves, sea caves and stacks to explore – as well as its two historic lighthouses. The original chalk tower was built in 1673 and is still standing – the oldest surviving such tower in England.
Although Flamborough is small, it has more than its fair share of good pubs if you want to stop for a bite to eat. The North Star, Rose & Crown and The Seabirds Inn all rate very highly on TripAdvisor.
There are two beaches in Whitby, one each side of the River Esk. The largest, with two miles of sand stretching from West Pier to Upgang, is West Cliff Beach. With its brightly coloured chalets, donkey rides, deckchairs and lifeguards (in the summer months) it’s popular with families. There are a number of public toilets here.
Tate Hill Beach, on the east side of the river, is a small, sandy beach near the mouth of the harbour, which is perfect for picnics, barbeques and soaking up the sun… weather permitting!
Sandsend is a small fishing community just north of Whitby – about a 40-minute drive from Scarborough. Its lovely sand and shingle beach is divided by a large stream running through the woods into the sea. As the stream is very shallow, it’s a great place for kids to floating in their dinghies and paddle in the water.
The deck of the Sandside Café, on the very edge of the beach, is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat and take in the lovely view. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, Sandsend beach is just a short walk from the beautiful Raithwaite Estate, with its many dining options.
There is a small, sandy beach at Staithes – but it’s not the main reason to visit this coastal hamlet just north of Whitby. Famous for higgledy-piggledy fishermen’s cottages, cobbled streets and brightly-coloured coble boats, it’s a picture-postcard setting.
Not surprisingly, considering the beautiful landscape, there’s a thriving art scene, with a well-established artistic community known as the Staithes Group. The Staithes Gallery is on the High Street, providing a showcase for their work. Staithes is also a fossil-hunters paradise, with so many ammonites to be found in the area, it’s known locally as the Dinosaur Coast.
Famous as the setting for Heartbeat, Goathland (or Aidensfield as it is known on TV) is a beautiful village set in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. The steam railway from Pickering to Grosmont stops at Goathland station – which is also famous as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films.
The tumbling waterfall of Mallyan Spout is the highlight of a three-mile circular walk from the village, through some of the region’s most spectacular woodland.
Goathland is about a 40-minute drive from Scarborough. You should also make a detour on the way to the Falling Foss Tea Garden at Midge Hall, near Little Beck. It overlooks the 30ft waterfall and is an ideal place to stop along this riverside walk.
York is a spectacular medieval city housed within 13th-century walls. At its heart is York Minster, one of the world’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals. Visit the famous Shambles (the most picturesque street in Britain), National Railway Museum and Jorvik Viking Centre. Explore the city’s many cobbled streets and laneways. And enjoy a cruise along the river – or a meal at one of York’s countless quality restaurants, cafes and bars. Oscar’s
There’s so much history, heritage and culture in York – and it’s only a 45-minute drive from Scarborough. We recommend the Park & Ride at Monks Cross or the Pay & Display next to Sainsbury’s at Foss Bank, as city centre parking can be very expensive.
About 35 minutes from Scarborough, Whitby is well worth a visit. Aside from being a fish and chip mecca thanks to the Magpie Café, Hadleys and Quayside, this old whaling port is brimming with history and culture. Its famous connections include Captain Cook, Bram Stoker, the gemstone jet and the Goth Festival, which takes place twice a year. The spectacular 13th century abbey that inspired Dracula overlooks the harbor and the town’s network of narrow medieval streets.
If you’re heading up to Whitby, we suggest turning off to Robin Hood’s Bay on the way. Just be prepared for a steep walk back to your car.
Filey’s main attraction is its huge, sandy beach. But there’s still plenty to explore in this small town to make a visit worthwhile. Enjoy a relaxing walk along the traditional Promenade and Coble Landing, or head to the park at the southern end of the town, where there’s mini golf, go-karts and a boating lake.
Filey Country Park on Church Cliff Drive, has a large play area for the kids, a miniature golf course and amazing views over Filey’s sweeping bay.
If you’re planning a trip to York, it’s worth popping into this lovely market town on the way. With upmarket homeware stores, delis, bakeries, cafes and antique shops set around its historic market square, it’s a great place to explore – especially on market day. Both the Talbot Hotel and The Old Lodge are beautiful places to eat and drink.
If you’re heading out towards Helmsley or Dalby Forest, you’ll pass through the chocolate box village of Thornton-le-Dale. There’s a good range of traditional tea rooms and bakeries, and the quaint stone cottages make it a beautiful village to walk around. Walk along the river and you’ll pass a thatched cottage that may look familiar – it’s one of Britain’s most photographed homes.
A few miles further along is the bustling market town of Pickering – home to the famous North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway. There’s plenty to see and do here; see the medieval wall paintings at the 12th century church, walk around the grounds of Pickering Castle or explore the many boutique stores, galleries, antique shops and restaurants in the town itself.
There are many great places to eat here, but we recommend driving three miles or so up the Whitby road to the Fox & Rabbit at Lockton for a great meal in lovely surroundings.
This charming market town has it all – a beautiful market square; a castle; the stunning 12th century Rievaulx Abbey; stately homes and country halls; upmarket boutiques, delis and tea rooms; and inviting inns. All surrounded by stunning countryside and award-winning restaurants. The Michelin-starred Star Inn at Harome is just up the road, as is the equally impressive Pheasant Hotel.
If you want a dining experience with a difference, the GI Sukawaka restaurant, at the Canadian Fields glamping site in nearby Nawton, is fantastic. High quality, reasonably priced dinner is served in a large heated tipi, which is not something you see every day.
This picturesque village on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors is home to plenty of free-roaming sheep, a good pub in The Crown, and the Ryedale Folk Museum – which is a great place to fill a few hours learning about how we used to live. Head through Hutton-le-Hole up to Blakey Ridge on the North Yorkshire Moors for amazing views as far as the eye can see. The 16th century Lion Inn, on the highest point of the moors, is a lovely pub serving good quality food and a selection of real ales. It has a tendency to get snowed-in during the winter, so you never know your luck.
If you’re looking for a country drive around Scarborough, you’ll find some lovely countryside around Hackness, Harwood Dale, Troutsdale and Forge Valley. Head up Scalby Rd and turn left up Lady Edith’s Drive, about 800m past the hospital.
You’ll drive past Throxemby Mere and into Forge Valley Woods. You can either turn left and follow the river through Forge Valley, or turn right towards Hackness, where you’ll find the lovely Hackness Grange Country House Hotel. You can then head over the river towards Troutsdale or go straight on to Dalby Forest. Either way, the scenery is beautiful. And it’s right on your doorstep.