The best things to do in Robin Hood

The best things to do in Robin Hood's Bay

Julie 18 April 2023

A jewel in the crown of the Yorkshire coast, Robin Hood’s Bay is regularly named one of the UK’s prettiest villages thanks to a beach that’s backed by dramatic cliffs and narrow, winding streets that are filled with traditional fisherman’s cottages and interesting shops.

It’s a great destination for a UK holiday whether you’re visiting this lovely village with friends, family or as a couple and lots of Robin Hood’s Bay’s pubs, cafes and cottages are dog-friendly too

To help you make the most of a getaway to the Yorkshire coast, take a look at the best things to do in Robin Hood’s Bay and browse our range of Yorkshire coast cottages.

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Discover the history of Robin Hood’s Bay

Boats at the dock in Robin Hood's Bay with views out to sea

Although it has a long history as a fishing port, Robin Hood’s Bay is probably best known for the smuggling that took place in tunnels, secret passageways and twisting narrow streets. 

You can learn more about Robin Hood’s Bay’s smuggling past on one of the regular ghost walks that take place after dark or follow a 50-metre mosaic that runs along the sea wall which illustrates a timeline of the village from the Jurassic period to the present day.  

Wander around historic cobbled streets

A cobbled street leading through Robin Hood's Bay

The best way to discover all that Robin Hood’s Bay has to offer is by walking from the cliffs at the top of the village down to the beach. The walk is fairly steep but there is a maze of alleyways to explore with lots of shops, pubs and tea rooms where you can stop and catch your breath.

There are places to call in at every corner such as The Higgledy Pig where you can stock up on local craft gin and Browns where you can treat yourself to ice creams and chocolates that are made on site.      

Step back in time for Christmas

The Robin Hood’s Bay Victorian Weekend typically takes place during the first weekend of December and includes live music, period costumes, fun games and a traditional Christmas market. The village is given a festive makeover with twinkly lights and magical window displays. 

Popular events include carol singing, treasure hunts, face painting, pop-up galleries and a Christmas Tree Festival of Light in St Stephen’s Church. Attending Robin Hood’s Bay Victorian Weekend is a great way to kick off the festive period and get into the Christmas spirit. 

Learn more about the Yorkshire coast

The Old Coastguard Station in Robin Hood's Bay

The Old Coastguard Station is a National Trust site that’s located next to the sea on the Robin Hood’s Bay slipway. Along with information panels where you can learn about the sea life and geology of the Yorkshire coast, there are interactive models that will show you the power of the tide.

A highlight of The Old Coastguard Station at Robin Hood’s Bay is a recreated rockpool teeming with marine creatures in a special glass tank.  

Hunt for fossils at Boggle Hole

Rock pools at Boggle Hole Beach

If you fancy trying rock pooling for yourself, we recommend heading to Boggle Hole Beach. Call in at YHA Boggle Hole to purchase a scavenger book for little ones then go exploring in the various pools that are formed on the beach when the tide is high. Remember if you are picking up any marine life to do this carefully and put it back where you find it.

The beach is located at the southern edge of Robin Hood’s Bay and is also a top choice for fossil hunting. The Jurassic cliffs that come right to the edge of the beach make it a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) with ammonites regularly found here.  

Take the dogs to the beach

View across the beach at Robin Hood''s Bay

The main beach at Robin Hood’s Bay is accessed directly from the village and is dog friendly all year round. It’s important to check the tide times as the sandy beach is generally only accessible during low tide when your dog will typically have lots of company from other canine companions having fun on the sand.

With wonderful views of the surrounding cliffs and villages, it’s a popular choice with artists and photographers and, as with nearby Boggle Hole, you can also find interesting rock pools and fossils during a visit. Call in at Muir Lea Stores on your way to this dog-friendly Yorkshire beach to pick up buckets, spades and anything else you need for your time on the sand.  

Walk along the Cleveland Way

The Cleveland Way leading to the beach

The Cleveland Way is a National Trail walking route that covers pretty much all of the North Yorkshire coast, from Saltburn at the top to Filey at the bottom. Following the well-marked cliff-top path is a great way to see the best of the beautiful heritage coastline and from Robin Hood’s Bay, you can either walk north to Whitby or south to Scarborough.

The walk from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby is around 7 miles and passes by Saltwick Bay, which is home to the Von Trump shipwreck, and May Wyke where you can see a colony of seabirds in spring and summer. Once at Whitby, you can explore Whitby Abbey and the colourful harbour before catching a bus back to Robin Hood’s Bay. 

Watch the seals at Ravenscar

Seal bathing on the rocks at Ravenscar

If you decide to walk the other way along the Cleveland Way to Scarborough, one of the places that you’ll pass is Ravenscar. Built on spectacular rocky cliffs, it’s known as the town that never was. There were plans for it to be turned into a top resort in the Victorian era but the transformation never actually happened - possibly as the path down the beach is a steep one. 

It’s now a tiny peaceful village that not only has some of the best views around but is home to a colony of seals. Around 300 grey seals live at Ravenscar and you can see them lounging on flat rocks or bathing on the beach. It’s important not to get too close to them so the best way to see them in detail is by bringing along a pair of binoculars.   

Visit the beautiful Falling Foss Tea Garden

The May Beck stream in Falling Foss tea garden

Just a short drive from Robin Hood’s Bay, you’ll find Sneaton Forest, which is home to the beautiful Falling Foss Tea Garden. This is a great family-friendly spot to visit where you can follow a woodland trail with the kids to a tumbling waterfall and enjoy a paddle in the gentle May Beck stream. 

After exploring the pretty woodland and watching water cascade down the 30-foot Falling Foss waterfall into the peaceful pool below, you can enjoy a drink and a cake in the tea garden. It’s an idyllic way to spend the day surrounded by a beautiful forest in the North York Moors.  

Pick up a traditional fisherman’s gansey

The Lauren Inn and Old Darpery in Robin Hood's Bay

There are lots of independent Robin Hood’s Bay shops to browse while you’re exploring cobbled streets and hidden alleyways. Berties of Bay is a heritage clothing brand that’s located in the old village bakery where you can pick up traditional Yorkshire coast clothing such as knitted fisherman’s gansey jumpers and beanie hats.

Another lovely Robin Hood’s Bay shop is Jessica Hogarth where you can purchase coasters, placemats, chopping boards and mugs bearing her distinctive coastal designs. Other options for shopping in Robin Hood’s Bay include The Old Drapery which sells a range of ladies' clothes and Jet Black where you can get jewellery made with local Whitby Jet.    

Tuck into fresh fish and chips

Pathway down to the beach with The Fish Box on the way

The Yorkshire coast is famous for its fresh fish and chips and there are several places in Robin Hood’s Bay where you can enjoy this popular British treat including Brambles Bistro and Maid Marion Fisheries. 

The Fish Box is located around halfway down the steep bank that you’ll need to walk down to get to the bottom of the village. It comes with indoor and outdoor seating and you can enjoy panoramic sea views while you tuck into classic cod and chips with all the trimmings.  

Relax in a Robin Hood’s Bay pub

View along street to The Laurel Inn

You won’t have far to wander in Robin Hood’s Bay before coming across a good pub where you can get to know locals and fellow visitors alike while people-watching with a pint. If you’re looking for something cosy then The Laurel Inn is the smallest pub in Robin Hood’s Bay and Smugglers Ale House is a historic building near the dock that’s brimming with atmosphere.

The Bay is a Robin Hood’s Bay pub with one of the best locations in the village. The 19th-century inn is nestled right next to the sea and comes with outdoor benches where you can make the most of your spot. 

Cycle along the Cinder Track

The Cinder Track is a traffic-free cycle trail that follows the path of a disused railway line between Whitby and Scarborough with calling points at several Yorkshire coast villages including Robin Hood’s Bay. 

Bike hire is available from Bay Cycle Hire in the village if you fancy taking a scenic ride along the coast towards Scarborough. One of our favourite coves to head to on this part of the Cinder Track route is Hayburn Wyke where you’ll find an 18th-century coaching inn surrounded by woodland and a secret waterfall that tumbles onto a pebbled beach.

Enjoy a meal in a converted chapel

Tea, Toast and Post with a bike outside and a letterbox

Yorkshire has long been a top destination for foodies and there are various cafes, bistros and restaurants in Robin Hood’s Bay where you can enjoy a meal with friends or family. The Cove is a historic chapel by the sea that’s now a dog-friendly bistro where you can tuck into sourdough pizzas while enjoying the view.

Further up the village is Tea, Toast and Post, a cafe and music venue in Robin Hood’s Bay’s old post office building with artisan sandwiches on the menu, live music nights and a jukebox full of classic tunes. For dinner, we recommend heading to Brambles Bistro where you can enjoy sharing steaks, local fish and vegan options in this cosy family-run restaurant.   

Find your perfect place to stay in Robin Hood’s Bay

Pretty whitewashed cottage in Robin Hood's Bay
Alice Cottage in Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay is filled with traditional 17th-century fisherman’s cottages that come with characterful features such as exposed beams, sash windows and original fireplaces. Many come with small courtyard gardens where you can watch the world go by and immerse yourself in village life.

Other options include staying at the top of the cliffs above Robin Hood’s Bay in the small village of Fylingthorpe or getting away from it all in the heather-clad Fylingdales moorland that’s not far from the seaside. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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