HomePlaces To GoWhitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire against a dramatic sky.
Yorkshire and the Humber
North Yorkshire
England
United Kingdom
Yorkshire and the Humber
North Yorkshire
England
United Kingdom

Whitby Abbey

Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • From an integral religious landmark to an iconic symbol of Gothic literature, Whitby Abbey is one of the most notable buildings in English history.
  • Founded as a site of the Christian monastery around 657, the Abbey went on to inspire England's very first poet as well as the world-famous story of Dracula by Bram Stoker.
  • The impressive English Heritage ruins now overlook the rugged North Sea coastline in Yorkshire and are home to a fascinating museum, revamped visitor centre and interactive guide of the grounds.
  • Don't miss the array of family events taking place at Whitby Abbey throughout the year such as seasonal Halloween ghost tours, Christmas experiences and half-term explorer quests.

North Yorkshire's Whitby Abbey has a legacy like no other and has been mesmerising visitors from all over the world for nearly 1500 years.

Whitby Abbey was established all the way back in the 650s by the King of Northumbria and became one of the most significant sites of the Church of England within the Anglo-Saxon world. It then developed into a Benedictine Abbey and was later rebuilt in its iconic Gothic-style across the 13th and 14th centuries. By the late 18th and 19th centuries, the monumental structure of Whitby Abbey had started to erode due to wind and rain, and by this time the town had become a popular seaside tourist destination in itself. People began to flock to see the dilapidated abbey in Whitby, and it was then that Bram Stoker's infamous novel Dracula took up the landmark as the site of its Gothic vampire story. The final destruction of Whitby Abbey befell during the First World War when the North Yorkshire town came under attack by the German army in 1914.

You can uncover all this history of Whitby Abbey and much more on a visit to the bygone grounds yourself. A stroll through these one-of-a-kind ruins will have the whole family awe-inspired as you walk the very footsteps of some of the most prominent literary figures in British history, such as our first-ever named poet, Caedmon, and Dracula's Bram Stoker. Alongside the site of the Whitby Abbey ruins, an upgraded visitor centre and museum recounts the past of this North Yorkshire landmark through tons of Church of England artefacts, medieval manuscripts and trinkets from the ruins using audio-visual information and interactive touchscreens, on which you can question the most notable figures of the Whitby town. Here you can also find a rare signed copy of Dracula by Bram Stoker himself, making this one of the most popular Whitby museums with literary buffs in Yorkshire. Pick up a souvenir of your visit to Whitby Abbey and refuel at the lovely new coffee shop in this 17th-century information building. The rich religious and Gothic legacy of Whitby Abbey also makes it a perfect location for seasonal events for families to immerse themselves in throughout the year. From Easter hunt quests and replica Viking battles to spooky Dracula performances and Halloween ghost stories, there's something fun to get involved in all year round at Whitby Abbey.

The historic site of Whitby Abbey is one of the most iconic and popular destinations to visit in Yorkshire as a family. Play hide and seek amongst the ruins, brave the famous 199 steps leading up from Whitby town and beach, and learn tons of fascinating facts about Whitby Abbey in the wonderful history museum. If you and your little ones loved these atmospheric Church of England ruins, then make sure you check out fellow English Heritage site Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, as well as the region's cathedral landmark of York Minster.

What to know before you go

  • Whitby Abbey is open every day from 10am to 5pm.
  • English Heritage members can enter for free. Otherwise, there are varying ticket prices for adults, children and concessions. Family tickets are also available.
  • There is cafe on-site at Whitby Abbey as well as a large open grass picnic area with tables overlooking the view.
  • Alternatively, there are also many other Whitby restaurants nearby such as Abbey Wharf seafood restaurant, The Fleece pub, The Star Inn and Quayside fish and chips.
  • Wheelchairs are available for visitor use at the entrance to the car park and in the visitor centre.
  • Whitby Abbey has a flat, accessible route for wheelchair users and buggies around the grounds as well as ramps into the ruins, lift access inside and rest points located throughout the grounds.
  • There are accessible toilets located on-site.
  • Assistance dogs are welcome at Whitby Abbey.
  • Audio tours designed with visually impaired visitors in mind are available in English with a hearing induction loop system and are included in your admission ticket price. Tactile models can be found in the exhibits for visually impaired visitors, as well as tour transcripts and film subtitles for visitors who are hard of hearing.
  • There is a gift shop on-site selling souvenirs, books, wine, gifts and Whitby Jet products.
  • Male and female toilets can be found in the car park as well as a baby changing facility.
  • Whitby Abbey is pushchair friendly.
  • Dogs are welcome in the Whitby Abbey grounds as long as they are kept on leads.
  • The museum is located within the visitor centre and features interactive activities, educational touchscreen games, historical artefacts and digital images. There is also an audio-visual exhibition here with information all about Whitby Abbey's history.
  • Filming and photography is allowed on the Whitby Abbey grounds as long as it is for personal use only.
  • Please note that drones are not allowed from or over any areas of the Whitby site.

Getting there

  • Whitby Abbey is located just east of the coastal town of Whitby in North Yorkshire.
  • If you are driving to Whitby Abbey, there is road access along the cliff top and a car park located 100 metres away with accessible parking spaces.
  • The nearest train station is Whitby, situated half a mile away from the Abbey grounds.
  • Whitby Abbey can be accessed via the Esk Valley bus service via the routes 97 and 97A, as well as the Whitby Town Tour bus. Whitby town centre is also served by the Yorkshire Coastliner, Arriva buses, and Coastal & County bus lines.
  • Cycling is encouraged around this scenic area of Yorkshire, and Whitby Abbey can be accessed from the National Cycle Network.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines
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English Heritage

English Heritage brings history to life in an engaging way to over 10 million people every year, caring for over 400 historic palaces, houses, monuments and other locations.

The remarkable collection of English Heritage buildings and monuments began to assemble as early as 1882. These were basically a collection of the greatest sites, which told the story of Britain. From prehistoric sites to historical bridges, gardens, forts and castles, English Heritage sites include Stonehenge, Rochester and Tintagel Castle, Rievaulx Abbey, Eltham Palace and Audley End House and Gardens.

As a registered charity, the English Heritage is governed by a board of trustees. The charitable trust depends on the income generated from admission and English Heritage membership fees to its properties and income from holiday cottages and gift shops. It is also funded from grant-in-aid income from the government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The difference between National Trust and English Heritage is that the National Trust is purely a charitable foundation that is funded mostly by members’ subscription and donations to look after their historic houses and gardens throughout England. English Heritage was originally run on a budget, funded by taxes by the British Government as a national heritage collection. In 2015, the English Heritage split into two parts: English Heritage Trust and Historic England. The government provided £80 million to English Heritage to become a charitable trust.  

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