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Top 5 Seaside Towns and Villages Near Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

Discover Yorkshire's stunning coastline with these days out by the sea.

Whitby

Soak up the sun at these Yorkshire seaside towns, all within easy reach of Leeds.

‘I do like to be beside the seaside’ as the song goes – and well, who doesn’t? So why not make the most of the summer sun and head out to Yorkshire’s stunning coastline? After all, it’s just 2 hours away. From traditional seaside towns with funfairs, donkey rides and amusements to little villages with unspoilt beaches and incredible views – make the seaside your next day out.

Bridlington

Bridlington, Yorkshire

If you’re looking for a traditional day out at the seaside, Bridlington is just an hour and a half away from Leeds. There are two beaches to choose from. North Beach is a pebble and shingle beach, lined with amusements and funfair rides, and South Beach promises glorious stretches of golden sand. While you’re here, trek along the award-winning promenades, pay a visit to the historic harbour and take a ride on the pleasure boats out to the stunning Flamborough Head.

Bridlington Old Town is full of medieval charm, with tight streets, fascinating architecture and cool shops. Want a little culture? Stop by Gallery Forty Nine to see their latest exhibition or delve into the area’s history at Bridlington Priory Church, which dates back to 1143, and Bayle Museum, the old entrance to the Priory and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. You can also catch a show or a concert at the renowned Bridlington Spa or grab a bite at The Lamp Restaurant, which serves up classic British grub in a listed building. If it’s a chippy dinner you’re after, go for the originally named North Beach Fish and Chips and look out over the water as you eat.

Staithes

Staithes

Credit: Pete Richman licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Staithes is one of Yorkshire’s best kept secrets, a charming coastal hamlet that overlooks the North Sea. It’s just one hour and forty minutes from Leeds by car and promises stunning views of the coast as well as a picturesque village worth exploring. A throwback of days gone by, it boasts narrow streets, ginnels and tall houses built into a sheltered cove at the base of a cliff. But it’s not just character, Staithes has loads of history too, because it was once one of the biggest fishing ports on the North Sea.

There’s plenty to see and do while you’re here. Relax on the small, sandy beach, take one of the old fishing boats out or nip into The Cleveland Corner Bistro, which has a reputation for working magic with fresh local seafood. It’s quite an arty town too, so Staithes Gallery and Staithes Studio are both worth a visit – alternatively, you can take on the Painted Illusion Trail that artist Paul Czainski has created. It’s also the perfect place to start a nice long walk, with coastal pathways taking you to Boulby Cliffs or Runswick Bay.

Scarborough

Scarborough, Yorkshire

The fact that Scarborough is thought to be the world’s first seaside resort, with a history stretching back more than 400 years, makes a visit absolutely essential. Just an hour and a half from Leeds in the car, or 15 minutes less by train, Scarborough has not one, but two beaches that you’ll want to visit. South Bay is traditional, with arcades, shellfish stalls and ice cream vendors – grab a scoop in the renowned Harbour Bar. North Bay, on the other hand, is more relaxed, with sandy beaches, bright huts and even a miniature railway.

If you can peel yourself away from the beaches, there’s plenty more to do here. Try Eat Me, a great little industrial-style cafe, or Lanterna, a critically acclaimed Italian restaurant. Alternatively, you can learn about the town’s history at Scarborough Castle, which overlooks the town from the rocky headland, or at Rotunda Museum, which is believed to be the world’s first purpose built museum. Don’t pass up your chance to try out one of their two Victorian funicular lifts too, which makes getting up and down the cliffs a doddle.

Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hood's Bay

Credit: deargdoom57 licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

If you want to see the Yorkshire coast at its most beautiful, Robin Hood’s Bay is the place to go. About an hour and 45 minutes from Leeds in the car, it’s the perfect antidote to busy city life. Look out over the scenic village, where brooding cliffs meet red roofed fishing cottages and cobbled pathways lead to a rugged, unspoilt beach – it’s one of the best spots in the UK for fossil hunting.

Despite its isolation, Robin Hood’s Bay has plenty to see and do. It’s known as Smuggler’s Town, because in the 18th century it was used to smuggle alcohol, tea, French lace and cigarettes into the country, to be sold on the black market. Paul Johnston runs Smuggler’s Tours all year long, telling their interesting stories, or you can visit the Old Coastguard Station, which is now a local museum. If you want to do something a little bit different, take the short walk inland to Sneaton Forest and Falling Foss Waterfall before heading back into the village for a pint at The Laurel Inn – its unique bar is made out of rock.

Whitby

Whitby

Credit: Rigel licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Whitby is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Yorkshire, and you’ll soon see why. About an hour and a half from Leeds in the car, it’s wonderfully picturesque with a Blue Flag beach that both grown ups and kids will love. You can also enjoy donkey rides, picnic stalls and lifeboat cruises, which sail past the fishing trawlers from the fully working harbour.

There’s more to explore in Whitby than just the waterfront though. It’s packed full of history, from Whitby Abbey’s ruins to the Captain Cook Memorial Museum and the Whale Bone Arch. You can even take the Dracula Walk around Victorian Whitby, the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s novel. All that sun, sea and sightseeing will surely leave you hungry, and while the The Magpie may be recovering from its recent fire, The Whitby Catch, Fusco’s or Fortune’s will sate your appetite with a loaded portion of fish and chips on the Quayside. The local farmer’s market is a must visit too and if you get thirsty, The Duke of York sits at the foot of the 199 steps that lead up to the Abbey.

Feature image copyright Magnus Hagdorn licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.