Whitby: The Seaside Town Where Harry Potter Films Were Shot

Whitby: The Seaside Town Where Harry Potter Films Were Shot
Whitby harbour and pier on the Yorkshire east coast as seen from the famous 199 steps leading to Whitby Abby. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The seaside town of Whitby in the UK has been a location for several films over the years, thanks to its charming cobbled streets, historic buildings, windy beaches, and clifftops with views.

OT Staff
December 29 , 2022
04 Min Read

The small and quaint fishing town of Whitby on the coast in northern Yorkshire in England, can mould itself to fit many bills.

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.


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. 

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. 

The information

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 a local bus to Whitby.

Where to stay: The YHA behind the Abbey is the cheaper alternative, with reasonably priced dorms and private rooms. If you want a more exclusive place to live, there are several cottages throughout town to choose from.

Whitby Abbey at night. 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.

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.

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,

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.

 Goathland, a picturesque village in Whitby, has drawn tourists since the 19th century, but numbers increased after appearances in movies and television series. The train station, where North York Moors steam trains frequently stop, is a major attraction that has attracted travellers for years. In the first Harry Potter movie, which was released in 2001, the celebrity station was transformed into Hogsmeade station. The Whitby harbour has a replica of Endeavour, the ship Captain James Cook used to sail to Australia and New Zealand. The full-scale copy was turned into a floating museum to mark the 250th anniversary of Cook's first expedition to the Pacific. It was in Whitby that Cook began his maritime career.

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