What do Dracula and Alice in Wonderland have in common? Whitby!
Bram Stoker often came to Whitby on holiday and heard about a schooner which ran aground at Whitby during a dreadful storm.
It should because this is how Count Dracula ends up in Whitby.
He then ran up the 199 steps leading to St Mary’s Church and the grandiose Gothic Whitby Abbey, whose impressive ruins dominate the landscape to this very day
There’s a blue plaque on the house in the impressive Royal Crescent where Bram Stoker stayed between 1890 and 1896. It’s just around the corner from our seafront guesthouse.
Lewis Carroll also spent many happy holidays here in Whitby in the 1850s and 60s. He loved to tell stories on Whitby beach and it’s here that he is believed to have dreamt up The Walrus and The Carpenter poem that Tweedledum and Tweedledee recite to Alice in Through the Looking-Glass.
He too has a blue plaque – under his real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – where he lodged at 4 East Terrace.
You’d be hard-pressed to find two more contrasting novels. But both authors found their creative spirits stirred by Whitby.
A Town of Contradictions
This pretty-as-a-picture beach resort is a town of contradictions.
On the one hand, it’s a traditional seaside resort with a sandy beach, amusement arcades, fish and chips, and ice-cream.
On the other, it’s a bustling fishing port world famous for its kippers, scampi, lobster and crabs as well as white fish such as cod for the world-renowned Whitby fish and chip suppers.
It attracts holidaymakers who want to combine the fresh sea air and brisk walks amid untouched nature on the North York Moors, as well as Goths captivated by the historic buildings, Dracula’s haunts, and ghostly goings-on.
The River Esk carves a picturesque path between the contrasting east and west sides of Whitby.
East Cliff with its huddle of pretty 18th century fishermen’s cottages, narrow cobbled streets and imposing Whitby Abbey and the posher, more genteel Victorian West Cliff.
Exploring Whitby’s West Side
Riviera Guesthouse is located on Whitby seafront by West Cliff and is perfectly situated to explore all the delights of the town on foot. We’re across the road from the sandy Whitby beach – you can enjoy the views and salty sea air from our en suite guest bedrooms.
From here, you can easily stroll around the elegant Royal Crescent and head to the landmark Whalebone Arch which pays homage to Whitby’s whaling past.
These replica bones make a perfect frame for a picture of Whitby Abbey on the headland opposite.
A few feet from the Whalebone Arch is an impressive statue of the 18th century explorer and navigator Captain James Cook.
To get to know Whitby better, visit Whitby Museum for an insight into its incredible heritage from when dinosaurs roamed these splendid lands. The Victorian museum is in the peaceful Pannett Park offering far-reaching views over the town and has its own Jurassic park complete with life-size crocodile sculpture.
You can then head to the River Esk where several restaurants serve delicious fish and chips, including the legendary Magpie Cafe – reputed to serve the best fish and chips in the world!
Near here you can climb onboard the replica HMS Endeavour for the Captain Cook Experience or take other Whitby boat trips for a chance to glimpse seals, whales and dolphins.
What to do in Whitby’s east side
Head over the pretty Whitby Swing Bridge to the darker side of town.
Over in the east side you’ll find quaint cobbled streets and fishermen’s cottages along with the famous 199 steps leading up to St Mary’s church and Whitby Abbey. If you have the energy, it’s worth ascending the steps for the impressive views across Whitby and out to sea.
The church graveyard, in the shadow of the Abbey ruins, is used as a setting in Dracula. If you were writing a Gothic novel, you could not picture a more ideal place than the fabulous Abbey ruins.
Near the bottom of the 199 steps is the Museum of Whitby Jet where you can find out more about this precious black gemstone naturally formed from fossilised wood.
Around the corner is Fortune’s Kippers smokehouse and shop which has been smoking Whitby kippers for around 150 years.
We serve these at the Riviera for breakfast so you can sample before you buy some from the smokehouse to take home.
You can feel the tradition of old Whitby as you wander amid the old buildings that line the cobbled streets.
For a truly atmospheric experience, we also recommend a visit to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which is filled with fascinating displays of the explorer’s historical voyages.
As you’ll discover, Whitby’s so much more than a traditional seaside town. It has a history dating back to the dinosaurs.
Whitby is on the Jurassic coast of Yorkshire and this area is the second most popular area in the UK for fossil hunting.
After all that exploring, pop into The Endeavour pub for fine river views while enjoying a craft beer or craft gin.
You can even bring your own fish and chip supper – and they’ll provide cutlery!
Things to do near Whitby
If you can tear yourself away from town, there are many delightful places to explore within an hour’s drive.
Favourite places to visit in North Yorkshire are:
- Castle Howard: Magnificent stately home. One of England’s finest historic houses is set in romantic parkland with lakes and fountains. You’ll recognise it from several period dramas and movies including Bridgerton.
- Rievaulx Abbey: Stunning views of the first Cistercian Abbey in North England. Explore the Abbey ruins and see how they compare to Whitby Abbey.
- Robin Hood’s Bay: Fascinating old fishing village with a lovely sandy beach, cobbled streets and superb restaurants.
- Scarborough: Britain’s first seaside resort and still a fine place to visit with a wonderful sandy beach, countless attractions and gorgeous restaurants.
- North Yorkshire Moors National Park: Fabulous open countryside and one of Britain’s largest expanses of heather moorland makes this an idyllic place to hike away the cobwebs and experience nature at her very finest.
- Falling Foss waterfalls: A magical woodland walk ending with a tea garden and 30-foot waterfall.
- Malton market town: You can’t come to Yorkshire without visiting one of our traditional market towns. Malton has a heady reputation for its fine restaurants, food shops and monthly food market.
Take a look at our Top 10 Things To Do When Staying In Whitby for further inspiration on things to do in Whitby and North Yorkshire.
Whether you’re a Goth, fan of fine literature, nature lover, beach lover, historian, seafarer, metal detectorist, hiker, biker, photographer, or foodie who wants to sample the best fish and chips or Whitby scampi, Whitby will work its way into your heart.
Ready to visit Whitby? Head over and choose your room at the Riviera today- with or without sea views – you choose!