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Plan a Perfect Weekend in Sandsend, Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay

Coastline at Whitby
Places to go
July 2023
Reading time 4 Minutes

This dramatic stretch of the coastline offers a frighteningly good day out with its winding streets, scrumptious treats and a story or two to tell

While each has its own distinct personality, together this dynamic trio offer a peek at the darker corners of the coast's history and mythology (think smugglers, vampires and ghosts). The small fishing village of Sandsend has streets dotted with holiday homes and a handful of cafés, restaurants and shops. Only two miles away, Whitby, which inspired Captain Cook's travels and Bram Stoker's Dracula, is known for the postcard-perfect Gothic ruins of a 13th century abbey and 20-foot whalebone arch. In between the two are rows upon rows of shops, bars, restaurants, visitor attractions and museums. To the south of Whitby is Robin Hood's Bay - another pretty village proud of its fishing heritage, and which was a favoured smuggler's haunt in the 1700s.
Whitby Abbey Whitby Abbey
Fish Cottage Fish Cottage
Robin Hood’s Bay Robin Hood’s Bay

Base Camp
The natural choice for a spa break on this stretch of the coast is Raithwaite Sandsend. Tucked between the sea and the moors, this coastal retreat has wooded grounds, a stylish restaurant, a great outdoor sun-trap terrace and, of course, a spa, all within walking distance of the beach. A touch further inland you’ll find the Mulgrave Estate, which has various holiday cottages to choose from. In Whitby, the award-winning Riviera Guesthouse has 15 comfortable ensuite bedrooms. For something a little different, try their Whitby Kippers for breakfast, served in the dining rooms which have floor-to-celling bay windows with stunning sea views. With one of the best views in Whitby and once a favourite of Lewis Carroll, La Rosa Hotel’s rooms have been inspired by the town’s rich heritage. If you like seafood, check into one of The Marine’s four stylish rooms before enjoying a delicious meal in their restaurant below. If self catering is more your style, we love Bird’s Eye View which welcomes up to 10 guests and has views of the sea and both of Whitby’s piers, and Raven House in Robin Hood’s Bay which has plenty of space for al fresco dining (both bookable via Stay North Yorkshire).

Read More: The Whitby Wild Swimmer Who Began Cold Water Swimming for a Very Important Reason

Pool at Raithwaite Sandsend Raithwaite Sandsend

Perfect Weekend
If you’re starting in Sandsend, the beach should be your first port of call after breakfast at Sandside, the café-in-a-cabin, a firm favourite for families, surfers and dog-walkers. Just off the beach, sit outside and soak up the sun at Fish Cottage Sandsend, a seafood restaurant and takeaway serving locally-caught seafood (everything from tacos to regular fish and chips). Their nuduja fries are a must-try too, and you can even order a takeaway to enjoy on the sand. The Crab Shack is the newest foodie go-to for just-caught fish and triple-cooked chips – enjoy yours with your four-legged friend at the trestle tables. If you prefer wining and dining, try Raithwaite’s restaurant for just-picked veg from the Dales, the freshest seafood from Whitby, and mushrooms foraged from their own grounds, or head to the award-winning restaurant at Estbek House (there’s an impressive wine list here too).

You’ll want to spend the whole day in Whitby to make the most of everything on offer and to see the sights, so prepare for an early start. Top of the must-see list is obviously Whitby Abbey whether you choose to park up at the abbey itself, or climb the 199 steps, but don’t forget about Whitby Museum in Pannett Park – it’s not only a lovely lunchtime picnic spot, the museum is celebrating 200 years of collecting, so there’s plenty of history to discover. Nothing says a trip to the seaside like fish and chips, and Whitby’s Magpie Café is one of the finest fish restaurants in the area (but prepare for a queue). It’s just opposite Bram Stoker’s Bench and just up from the Dracula Experience. Ditto is a small family-run café serving hearty homemade sandwiches and delicious cakes.

Read More: Why This Robin Hood's Bay Shop is the Only Business in the World to Knit Traditional Yorkshire Ganseys

To make the most of this part of the coast, take advantage of Whitby’s many boat trips – we love The Captain Cook Experience, a short ride out to sea on an authentic replica of HMS Endeavour, where you’re told many of this iconic explorer’s tales. When you’re back on dry land, it’s worth popping into Hopes and Beans, a sweet coffee shop next to Whitby’s swing bridge. There are plenty of independent shops to discover in the town, which is also home to W Hamond, the original Whitby jet shop, dating back to 1860 and made popular by the Victorians. You’ll spend longer than you think browsing the shelves of The Whitby Bookshop, and find fabulous gifts for the men in your life in Furbellow & Co (which is also home to its own barbershop). There’s plenty of fun for the whole family here though, with amusements, rides and pirate-themed adventure golf, plus The Whitby Sculpture Trail with sculptures by Hull-born artist Emma Stothard dotted across the seafront. Time for dinner? Trenchers is an acclaimed destination for fish and chips, or browse the brasserie menu at The Moon & Sixpence which overlooks the harbour. If you fancy cocktails, Macy Brown’s is the place to be.

Round off the weekend with a spot of fossil-hunting, beach-combing and rock pooling in Robin Hood’s Bay. Or take on a day of coastal foraging with Taste the Wild – after spending time on the beach you’ll enjoy a delicious two-course lunch made using local and foraged ingredients. Browse the modern gansey fisherman jumpers at Berties Of Bay and Yorkshire craft gins and beers at The Higgledy Pig, then pop by the Galley On The Quarterdeck – a real hidden gem for fresh coffee and arguably the finest sea view in all of Robin Hood’s Bay. The Coastguard’s Station reveals the secrets behind living and working on the coast, and you can even join a ghost walk should you want to learn more about the bay’s smuggling history. Just above the village is Old St Stephen’s church, built in 1822 and crammed with local history, you’ll find memorials to shipwreck victims and a model of SS Pretoria.

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