The charming seaside town Whitby is not as far from London as it might seem. Two train rides if you have lots of money, three bus rides if you don’t. Is it the perfect place for your weekend getaway? It could be, if…
You want to be blown away by nature.
Whitby is located on the east coast of Yorkshire by a three-mile long beach. Fields dotted with sheep surround brick houses and cobblestoned streets. Steep maroon cliffs dive into the sea. Saltwick Bay, a 15 minute walk from Whitby Abbey, is considered one of the best places in the UK to photograph the sunrise. You can hike down to the shore and stare into the North Sea.
You want to be blown away, literally.
The ocean breeze that gushes in from the east will play havoc with your hair. It won't invite you to lie down on the beach. Add this to the yearly average temperature of 12 Celsius. It’s not the Bahamas but it is refreshing.
You’re into literary history.
Several writers have used Whitby as a retreat for recreation and inspiration. Most famous is perhaps Bram Stoker, who spent time in the village before his classic Dracula was published in 1897. The author based both locations and plotlines on Whitby's geography and traditional folklore. Lewis Carroll was supposedly inspired to write several poems during his walks on the beach, "The Walrus and the Carpenter" later lending its name to a pub on charming Church Street. And half an hour inland are the North York Moors, where Emily Brontë let her ghostly Cathy wander, calling out for Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
You like beachy food.
Whitby might not have a pier like Brighton's but the closest they get – Pier Road – is quite a find for a foodie. Stuffed with ice cream stalls, candy trucks and chip shops, this is the place to go if you’re looking for cotton candy, hot dogs and the traditional Whitby rock. Amongst several pubs and restaurants is Quayside, a chip shop that was voted Best Independent Fish and Chip Takeaway in Seaside’s 2014 awards. In addition to crunchy fish they serve tasty chunky homemade tartar sauce.
You like dogs.
Seemingly every other person in Whitby has a dog. Thus every other shop in town has a sign in their window stating whether dogs are allowed in or not. Most of the time they are. So you won’t escape them there and you certainly won’t escape them on the beach, where there’s a huge designated area for canines.
You’re a goth.
Both the ruins of Whitby Abbey and the Church of St. Mary are lit up at night. When the sun goes down the charm of the old ruins gradually seeps out and is replaced with an eeriness that grows if you stick around to read the tombstones.
You like people.
Whitby has a fairly small town centre, which means chances are you will be seeing the same people more than once. Sometimes the guy who served you coffee in the morning will stop you in the street in the afternoon to ask you how your day is going. If your biggest mission is to blend in with the crowd you might find the town too small.
You like to walk.
Whitby makes a good base if you enjoy hiking along the coast. Three miles north is the village of Sandsend, which can be reached by an hour-long stroll on the beach, and six miles south is the tiny village of Robin Hood’s Bay.
If you’d rather stay in town and explore its history you will enjoy Whitby Abbey or the Church of St Mary. If you plan to see them up close, you will either have to climb the 199 steps up or take the Donkey Road, the steep cobblestoned path to the top. Either way your calves won’t thank you. (Though your inner historian probably will.)
You like fresh air.
The aforementioned wind from the aforementioned North Sea fills your lungs with fresh and salty air, making you feel far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Which is why you went in the first place, right?
How to get there: From London you can take the train via York. Megabus and National Express offer cheaper tickets to Leeds or York, with the local 840 bus to Whitby.
Where to stay: The YHA behind the Abbey is the cheaper alternative, with dorms from £18 a bed and private rooms from £30. If you want a more exclusive place to live, there are several cottages throughout town to choose from.