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Things to do in Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Scarborough, England’s oldest holiday resort is situated on the North East Coast in the county of Yorkshire.

Looking across Scarborough Beach
Looking across Scarborough Beach © gb27photo - stock.adobe.com

Scarborough offers visitors wonderful fresh bracing air from the North Sea, an interesting and busy harbour, two beautiful clean and safe sandy beaches, an historic castle, superb walks and cliff top scenery, as well as traditional seaside attractions for families.

Beach huts at Scarborough North Bay
Beach huts at Scarborough North Bay © Steve Silver Smith - stock.adobe.com

The popularity of Scarborough as a Spa began in the early 1600s, when it is reputed a Mrs. Farrow discovered a stream of mineral water flowing from a cliff to the south of the town.

News quickly spread about the benefits of drinking this water, the aristocracy and even Royalty came to Scarborough on annual visits to recuperate from their unhealthy lifestyle.

Scarborough Beach. Date: circa 1890
Scarborough Beach. Date: circa 1890 © Archivist - stock.adobe.com

The more adventurous visitors took to sea bathing, which became a fashionable pastime.

Bathing machines were invented to protect the modesty of female bathers at a time before ‘mixed bathing’ was acceptable.

Hotel in Scarborough
Hotel in Scarborough © Speedfighter - stock.adobe.com

In the 18th century, Scarborough prospered and expanded, many new hotels were built to accommodate the ever-increasing flow of visitors and the arrival of the railway in the 1850s made Scarborough more accessible.

In 1867 the magnificent Grand Hotel was built, which at the time was the largest hotel in the world.

Looking West from the Vincent Pier, Scarborough Harbour
Looking West from the Vincent Pier, Scarborough Harbour © clivewa - stock.adobe.com

Scarborough continued to be a favourite holiday destination, with visitors from inland industrial towns coming to enjoy the clean air and sweeping sandy beaches.

Today’s visitors can still enjoy these same benefits together with many new attractions.

Sunset over Scarborough Lighthouse
Sunset over Scarborough Lighthouse © Sue Leonard - stock.adobe.com

Visitors to Scarborough will want to visit the ruins of the Norman castle, which dominates the headland dividing the north and south bays.

The castle is often the background to historical re-enactments which take place during the season.

Scarborough Castle ruins
Scarborough Castle ruins © Speedfighter - stock.adobe.com

Below the Castle is the Church of St Mary, dating from the 12th century.

The graveyard is the final resting place of author Anne Bronte who died while visiting Scarborough in 1849.

St. Mary
St. Mary's Church on the hillside above Scarborough © Wendy - stock.adobe.com

The other Church worth visiting is St Martins, a Victorian Church on the south cliff, which contains fine pre-Raphaelite decoration by Burne-Jones and Rosetti.

North Bay is home to several family attractions including a miniature railway and the Sea Life Centre, with its underwater walk and seal sanctuary.

Scarborough Castle above the North Bay, Scarborough
Scarborough Castle above the North Bay, Scarborough © Paul - stock.adobe.com

Also at North Bay there is an outdoor theatre and the award-winning Peasholm Park, which has a boating lake and mystical gardens.

South Bay is home to the elegant Spa complex, with exhibitions, theatres, cafes and a pub. The harbour is full of interest, with fishing vessels and Yachts. The bay is backed by the Valley gardens and South Cliff gardens and a fine esplanade.

Dragon Boats
Dragon Boats © Steven Clough - stock.adobe.com

Visitors can choose from a wide variety of evening entertainments - the Futurist Theatre on the seafront shows the latest cinema releases and top quality family entertainment.

The Stephen Joseph Theatre offers cinema, music, and theatre, in particular the works of local author Sir Alan Ayckbourn. There are a wide variety of pubs, music clubs, sport and leisure centres to enjoy.

Scarborough Grand Hotel and harbour
Scarborough Grand Hotel and harbour © jasonbatterham - stock.adobe.com

If you plan to eat out in Scarborough, you will be spoiled for choice, there is everything from fish and chip shops, cafes and pizzerias to top quality restaurants and hotels.

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