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What is Whitby famous for feature

This small, lively coastal town on the Yorkshire coast has plenty to shout about, from some of the finest fish and chips to Count Dracula and elderly witches.

Read on to discover 8 things Whitby is famous for…


1. Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey is one of the first things that comes to mind when discussing Whitby’s iconic landmarks. The original abbey was destroyed during the Viking’s invasion and was later rebuilt in 1077. Many of the abbey’s Gothic features can be spotted amongst the ruins today.


2. Captain Cook

captain james cook

Many are unaware that Captain James Cook, the 18th-century explorer commonly famed for discovering Australia, has close ties with the town of Whitby. Cook was apprenticed to a shipowner in Whitby, with his first voyage being on board The Freelove, carrying coal down to London from the North. The harsh North Sea would prove invaluable experience for Cook’s future expeditions.


3. Whaling

whitby whale jaw bone

Whitby was a key Whaling port in the early 18th-century and the whale jaw-bone arch is a reminder of this heritage. It may come as a surprise that these bones were replaced in 2002 as a result of the original’s starting to decay. The bones present today were donated by Whitby’s sister city of Anchorage, Alaska, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the relationship.


4. Dracula

Whitby's Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula has to be one of the most famous horror novels of all time and, of course, it is set in the coastal town of Whitby. The story goes that the notorious Count Dracula had been hiding on a ship that arrived in Whitby and, once he arrived, he unleashed an evil upon the town’s residents. Bram Stoker wrote the novel during his stay in Whitby and many of the town’s streets and landmarks are featured throughout the book.


5. 199 Steps

199 steps

The 199 steps, leading up to St Mary’s church and the famous Whitby Abbey, are an iconic landmark in Whitby. In Bram Stoker’s famous novel, Dracula ascended the steps in the form of a dog. The steps have been present for hundreds of years and have played an important role in many resident’s funeral requests.  Many locals final request was for their coffin to be carried up the steps to St Mary’s church, rather than be taken on the parallel road by hearse. It is said that the wooden benches were originally used as resting points for pole bearers.


6. Maggie of Whitby

witch maggie

Whitby is not short on its share of myths and rumors relating to witchcraft. One of the most famous stories is of Mad Maggie, who lived at the bottom of the 199 steps. Maggie was notorious for announcing people’s nearing death, and she was never far wrong either. She also foretold that upon her own death, a devastating storm would hit Whitby that would result in many sailor’s deaths and part of the town being flooded. Legend has it that when her body was discovered, such a storm struck the town.


7. Fish and Chips

 fish and chips on Whitby's beach

Whitby is home to a fantastic range of fish and chips and is regarded as the ultimate destination for lovers of the quintessential British seaside dish! Don’t just take our word for it, on your next visit to Whitby, be sure to sample your fair share of fish and chips.

Find the best fish and chips in Whitby.


8. Whitby Jet

whitby jet

It may come as a surprise that the popular Whitby Jet, is fossilised monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana. This type of tree could be found along the Jurassic coast millions of years ago. The trees would fall into the ocean where they would sink to the bottom, becoming trapped and oxygen deprived. It is believed that it takes around 180-million years for Whitby Jet to form.

Read our guide to Whitby Jet.


Feeling inspired to experience many of Whitby’s gems? Find your ultimate self-catering holiday cottage in Whitby here. For fascinating days out in the area, browse our Yorkshire Travel Guide.


Image credits: WelcomeImages, SOMEBODY 3LSE and John

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