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A guide to Yorkshire’s seaside towns and villages holiday cottages

A guide to Yorkshire’s seaside towns and villages

Julie 17 July 2023

Yorkshire is blessed with a long stretch of beautiful coastline that’s filled with beautiful beaches, bustling seaside resorts and peaceful coastal coves. 

Seaside towns and villages are dotted along the coastline in both North and East Yorkshire and whether you are looking for classic seaside resorts such as Whitby and Scarborough, pretty villages like Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay or the peaceful nature reserves of Flamborough, you’ll find it on the Yorkshire coast. 

Read on to discover more about Yorkshire’s seaside towns and villages and to find your perfect place to stay on the Yorkshire coast.


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Seaside towns and villages in North Yorkshire

Staithes is a seaside village in Yorkshire

Much of the North Yorkshire coast is either bordered by or included in the North York Moors National Park with a cliff-top path running all the way from Saltburn at the top through to Filey at the bottom thanks to the Cleveland Way National Trail.

This part of Yorkshire is known for pretty fishing villages that weave their way through the cliffs and historic harbours where you can watch the boats go by before tucking into the catch of the day. 


Saltburn

Saltburn is a Yorkshire seaside town

The starting point for the seaside stretch of the Cleveland Way National Trail, Saltburn is a small Yorkshire coast town that’s a top destination for foodies and surfers. 

The annual Saltburn Food Festival is a great chance to sample the wares of local artisan makers and you can surf the choppy waves of the North Sea with equipment hire and lessons available from Saltburn Surf School.

Other Saltburn highlights:

  • Catch the Saltburn Cliff Tramway down to the beach. The funicular railway dates back to 1884 and you can enjoy spectacular views of the sea through the tram’s stained-glass windows.
  • Stroll around Saltburn Valley Gardens which are a remnant of the town’s Victorian heyday and feature colourful flower borders along with a miniature railway and children’s play area. 

Staithes

Staithes in North Yorkshire

Just down the coast from Saltburn is the beautiful village of Staithes which was once one of the largest fishing ports in Yorkshire. The traditional fisherman’s cottages are dotted around a large, sheltered harbour which has a beck running prettily through the middle of it.

Once a year, the cottages in Staithes are transformed into miniature art galleries as part of the Staithes Arts and Heritage Festival with lots of talks and workshops for visitors to enjoy too.

Other Staithes highlights:

  • Uncover the rich history of this seaside village at the Staithes Museum. Alongside thousands of historic photos and artefacts, a section dedicated to explorer Captain James Cook includes a recreated street from 1745.
  • Enjoy the view and a fresh crab sandwich at The Cod and Lobster. This historic pub is right at the edge of the harbour so you can look out to sea and watch the waves lapping against the wall as you tuck into your tasty lunch.  

Runswick Bay

Red-roofed cottages in Runswick Bay

Not far from Staithes is another of Yorkshire’s prettiest coastal villages, the horseshoe-shaped cove of Runswick Bay. This peaceful place is a great option for a laid-back day at the coast with red-roofed cottages that blend in with the rugged cliffs and a sheltered beach that’s perfect for a picnic.

Cars aren’t allowed to drive along the quaint streets of Runswick Bay so you can safely wander amongst the village's lovely buildings that seemingly cling to the edge of the cliffs.

Other Runswick Bay highlights:

  • Explore the fascinating rock pools and interesting rock formations that surround the beach at Runswick Bay. There’s also a series of small caves in the cliffs called Hob Holes where, according to local legend, the hobgoblins lived.
  • The sea at Runswick Bay is sheltered and calm so it’s an ideal location to try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) with lessons and equipment hire are both available from Barefoot Kayak.

Sandsend

The seaside village of Sandsend

Sandsend is the closest village to Whitby, and you can easily reach the popular seaside town by simply strolling across a long swathe of sand that connects the two places. Sandsend Beck runs right through the middle of the village and kids will love dipping their toes into this gentle stream. 

You can follow the path of the stream to explore the remains of Mulgrave Castle and take a wander around the surrounding woodland. The beach at Sandsend is also particularly good with lots of space to spread out on and golden sand that’s just right for building a sandcastle. 

Other Sandsend highlights:

  • Estbek House is a fine-dining restaurant with an elegant black and white dining room and a menu that’s full of fresh local seafood. This was the first Yorkshire coast restaurant to get two AA Rosettes, so you know you’re in for a treat. 
  • Stroll along the handsome promenade where you’ll find lovely shops such as Serendipity and Wild Hart where you can pick up gifts for friends and mementos of your Yorkshire coast holiday.

Whitby

Whitby is a popular Yorkshire seaside town

Whitby is understandably one of the most popular places to visit in Yorkshire with lots to see and do, whatever your age. Children will love the penny arcades and traditional seaside shops that you’ll find along the bustling Pier Road, while older visitors will enjoy exploring the cobbled streets of Whitby’s Old Town. 

This cobbled part of town is where you’ll find, amongst other things, Whitby Jet jewellery, hand-made glass lucky ducks and traditionally smoked Fortune’s Kippers. It’s also where you can start walking up 199 steps to reach Whitby Abbey.  

Other Whitby highlights:

  • Climb aboard a boat in Whitby’s colourful harbour to sail into the North Sea. Options include a 20-minute round trip to nearby Sandsend on a replica of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour or a sunset cruise on one of the town’s distinctive yellow vessels.
  • Walk up to West Cliff where you’ll find Whitby’s iconic whalebone arch along with a pitch-and-putt golf course, go-karts and a beach that’s framed by colourful beach huts.     

Robin Hood’s Bay

A maze of narrow streets leads you from cliffs at the top of Robin Hood’s Bay to the beach below with lots of characterful cottages to pass along the way. The steep cliffside village is filled with hidden alleyways and secret passages so it’s no wonder that this once-thriving fishing port became a haven for smugglers during the 18th century.

These days, Robin Hood’s Bay is a magnet for holidaymakers with lots of shops, pubs and eateries to call in as you make your way through the village to a dog-friendly beach at the bottom of the bay. Lots of cottages in the village date back to the 17th century and are still filled with original period features.

Other Robin Hood’s Bay highlights:

  • Step back in time at the annual Robin Hood’s Bay Victorian Weekend which takes place during the first full weekend in December. You can browse festive stalls, dress up in period costumes and take part in traditional Victorian games.
  • Learn about the marine life and geology of the Yorkshire coast at The Old Coastguard Station Visitor Centre, a National Trust site with fascinating exhibitions located on the slipway at Robin Hood’s Bay. 

Cloughton

Cleveland Way running through Cloughton

The small village of Cloughton (which is pronounced Clow-ton) is surrounded by Cloughton Woods and is close to a beautiful hidden valley called Hayburn Wyke. The woodland is home to a variety of breeding birds, along with badgers, roe deer and foxes. You can follow a stony path through the trees to a rocky shore below.   

This secluded pebble beach comes complete with a tumbling waterfall and is perfect if you want to get far from the madding crowd and enjoy a romantic picnic by the sea.  

Other Cloughton highlights:

  • Sit down to a meal or enjoying a drink in one of the country pubs around Cloughton. The Blacksmith’s Arms in the village dates back 250 years and forms part of the royal Duchy of Lancaster Estate. 
  • Walk from Cloughton to nearby Scalby where you’ll find the beach of Scalby Ness which is a good spot for fossil hunting and Scalby Beck which is a top pick for fishing.

Scarborough

Scarborough in North Yorkshire

One of the UK’s first-ever coastal resorts, Scarborough is a town that has stood the test of time thanks to its sandy beaches and family-friendly attractions. With a miniature railway, boating lake and the Luna Park pleasure beach, Scarborough ticks all the boxes for a nostalgic holiday by the sea. Especially as there are two brilliant beaches to choose from.

It’s even home to the UK’s last remaining seaside orchestra which plays on the Scarborough Spa Sun Court during the summer season. After listening to the morning concert, you can catch the Victorian cliff lift down to the beach below.

Other Scarborough highlights:

  • Attend a show at Scarborough Open Air Theatre, an outdoor venue set in a natural amphitheatre that dates back to the 1930s. The summer season at Scarborough Open Air Theatre is always filled with world-class musicians and previous performers have included Sting and Elton John.
  • Enjoy the view from Scarborough Castle, a 12th-century fortress that’s set within 16 acres of grounds. Its position on a rocky promontory makes it one of the only places where you can look out over both of Scarborough’s bays and beaches. 

Cayton / Cayton Bay

Looking out over Cayton Bay

Not far from Scarborough is Cayton Bay, a popular spot for a day at the beach thanks to its wide sweeping stretch of sand and lovely clean water that’s great for swimming and water sports. The lovely bay is an unspoilt spot where you can fly a kite, watch birds or simply lay out a towel to lie on and relax.

Cayton itself is home to a 12th-century church and a gastro pub called The Farrier which is housed in a historic building that was once the village blacksmiths. There’s also the Stained Glass Centre where you pick up wonderful pieces and take courses to learn more about this ancient craft. 

Other Cayton Bay highlights:

  • Try surfing in the waves of the North Sea with Scarborough Surf School which is based in Cayton Bay and provides lessons and equipment hire for different ages and abilities.
  • Have fun with the family at Playdale Farm Park. This Cayton Bay attraction features farm animals, tractor rides, go-kart tracks, adventure trails and a large indoor and outdoor play area.  

Filey

Ariel view of Filey, a seaside town in Yorkshire

Towards the bottom of the North Yorkshire stretch of coastline lies Filey, an elegant seaside town that comes with Edwardian architecture, Victorian pleasure gardens and a whopping 5-mile stretch of golden sandy beach. 

Filey Brigg is a long, narrow peninsula to the north of the town that marks the end of the Cleveland Way National Trail walking route. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a nature reserve where you can spot grey seals, harbour porpoises or even minke whales. 

Other Filey highlights:

  • Meet meerkats, alpacas, wallabies and chipmunks, and see amazing exotic birds at Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park. There are also wildflower meadows, wildlife ponds, woodland trails and a special sensory garden to explore.
  • Take a walk down Filey Coble Landing, a cobbled slipway leading to the beach that’s home to traditional wooden fishing boats along with a selection of amusement arcades, seasonal stalls, shops and cafes. 

Seaside towns and villages in East Yorkshire

Seabirds circling Bempton cliffs

You’ll find chalk-white cliffs and clean beaches on a visit to the East Yorkshire coast. This part of Yorkshire attracts hundreds of thousands of seabirds each year and forms part of the Yorkshire Nature Triangle so it’s a top pick for outdoor enthusiasts, especially as there are large stretches of sand where you can relax under big skies.


Flamborough

Beach and lighthouse in Flamborough

Flamborough Head marks the most easterly point of the Yorkshire coastline, and this area is best known for its dramatic white cliffs and beautiful nature reserves. A historic lighthouse on the headland can be climbed for stunning views out to sea and there are cliff-top paths where you can follow scenic walking trails.

There is a trio of dog-friendly beaches at Flamborough for holidays with four-legged friends. North Bay Beach is a good spot for sea canoeing and as well as caves and rock pools to explore, there’s a charming cafe that’s housed in an old lifeguard station.

Other Flamborough highlights include:

  • Walk to nearby RSPB Bempton Cliffs where you can witness one of the UK’s most spectacular sights when half a million seabirds gather together to nest on the cliffs between April and October.
  • Explore the Danes Dyke Nature Reserve which is an area of wooded ravine that’s home to carpets of snowdrops and bluebells along with exotic trees, butterflies and herds of native roe deer.  

Sewerby

Sewerby Hall and Gardens

The small village of Sewerby lies just to the north of Bridlington and is the only south-facing seaside resort in East Yorkshire. There’s a small, pebbled beach accessed by walking down Sewerby Steps which were built directly in the cliff face. 

Sewerby is home to a handsome church, a lovely tearoom and The Ship Inn pub which features roaring log fires, cask ales, craft beers and a large garden with a pizza oven. A land train runs between Sewerby and Bridlington to whisk you between the two seaside resorts in the summer months.

Other Sewerby highlights:

  • Tower over a miniature kingdom that’s hidden amongst the trees with a visit to Bondville Model Village. This perfectly formed seaside village features fishing boats, pubs, canals and even a castle on top of the hill.     
  • Visit Sewerby Hall and Gardens, a cliff-top stately home which is set in 50 acres of 19th-century parkland. Alongside grand formal gardens, there are also woodland trails to follow and a zoo that includes penguins and Capuchin monkeys. 

Bridlington

Harbour and bandstand at Bridlington

Bridlington is a top pick for a traditional seaside holiday that has something for everyone with a pair of excellent beaches, a bustling harbour, characterful period buildings and vibrant promenades. Children can still take a donkey ride along the lovely beach and the Bayside Fun Fair is full of classic seaside rides for a day full of fun.

Bridlington’s South Beach is a mile-long stretch of sand with colourful beach huts and backed by the Princess Mary Promenade where you’ll find ice cream parlours, amusement arcades and cafes. 

Other Bridlington highlights:

  • Wander around Bridlington Old Town which is steeped in history and filled with independent shops and cafes. Entering this part of Bridlington is like stepping back in time and the streets were used to film the 2016 big-screen remake of Dad’s Army.
  • Take a jaunt out to sea on the Yorkshire Belle, a pleasure cruiser that can either take you around the lighthouse or up to nearby Bempton Cliffs with daily sailings during the peak summer months.

Hornsea

Ariel view of Hornsea

Hornsea is a small and sedate town in East Yorkshire which has everything you could want from a seaside resort but without the hustle and bustle of places like Scarborough and Whitby. This lesser-known seaside town has a Blue Flag beach where you can stretch out on the sand, and a traditional promenade to stroll along with charming cafes that offer tea and cake.

There’s a large park surrounding the centre of Hornsea which is popular for walking and ball games. Hall Garth Park also features a free skatepark and a children’s play area.   

Other Hornsea highlights:

  • Rowing on Hornsea Mere which is the largest freshwater lake in Yorkshire. As well as heading onto the water in a wooden rowing boat, you can spot birds from a special woodland viewing hide at the side of the lake.
  • Saving money at Hornsea Freeport, a factory outlet shopping centre that offers up to 50% discounts on a range of high street brands. 

Withernsea

Tower at Withernsea beach

Withernsea is a small seaside town in East Yorkshire that comes with a clean sandy beach that’s backed by granite rocks and a stretch of sea that’s perfect for paddling in. A pair of castellated towers mark the entrance to the beach and contain small exhibitions and several craft stalls.

Plans are currently in place to rebuild Withernsea’s historic pier for future generations to enjoy but for now, there’s a wide promenade to walk along and a Fish Trail marked by sculptures, tiles and plaques that you can follow to learn more about the coastal town.

Other Withernsea highlights:

  • Wander around Withernsea Valley Gardens, a sunken garden that’s been created from a former mere. A purpose-built stage in the gardens is often used for musical performances and there is a children’s play area with a fairground in peak season.
  • Enjoy the view from the top of Withernsea Lighthouse. There are 144 steps to climb up to the observation deck where you can look over the seaside town and out to sea. There’s also a tranquil garden at the bottom where you can relax after your climb.

Kilnsea

Lighthouse at Spurn Point

This tiny little Yorkshire village lies right at the bottom of the East Yorkshire coast close to the Spurn Point Nature Reserve. The remote spot is miles and miles away from the region’s more bustling seaside resorts with a hidden beach that’s one of the best choices in Yorkshire for peace and quiet. It’s surrounded by Kilnsea Wetlands where you’ll find bird hides and walking trails.

The beach is perfect for long walks with vast skies, crashing waves and an abundance of sea birds flying above you. 

Other Kilnsea Highlights:

  • Take a Jeep safari around Spurn Point, a long thin peninsula that changes with the tides. There are also observatories where you can watch the wildlife and a 128-foot-tall lighthouse which you can climb for an even better view.
  • Learn more about this unique landscape at the Spurn Point Discovery Centre where there’s a cafe, bike hire and activities for little ones. 

Plan your getaway to the Yorkshire coast

North Bay in Scarborough

Hopefully after reading about the seaside towns and villages highlighted in this guide, you have been inspired to visit the Yorkshire coast. 

Whether you’re looking for a family holiday to somewhere like Whitby or Scarborough or visiting the dog-friendly beaches of Flamborough, you’ll find plenty of Yorkshire holiday cottages to choose from.

 

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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