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Scarborough Guide

Here’s our guide to Scarborough to help you plan your trip and decide where to stay.

North Side

Multi-coloured beach huts, deckchairs, strolls along the promenade… The North Side is where the golden days of the British seaside are alive and well. Grade II-listed Peasholm Park was constructed in 1912 and visitors can enjoy trips on the boating lake, lantern displays and brass band concerts. The famous naval battles, still going strong after eighty years, take place each summer against the back-drop of the recently restored Japanese gardens. Nearby, the early twentieth-century Open Air Theatre has been lovingly rebuilt. Originally opened in 1932, it plays host to a wide range of musical events, from Tom Jones to Elton John, Britney Spears to Kylie.

The North Bay promenade is home to traditional chalets (available for you to hire daily or weekly), great for families who want to be right beside the Blue Flag beach. A short walk from here is the Sea Life Centre, where visitors can see penguins, otters and seals, as well as fifty other marine life displays.

Hop on the narrow-gauge railway at Scalby Mills and enjoy a scenic journey back along the bay to Peasholm Park, or stop for refreshments at The Glass House Café.

The recently opened Alpamare Waterpark provides indoor and outdoor family fun and quiet space to relax and unwind.

Scarborough is a great destination for surfers, with the quieter North Bay beach proving to be very popular. Home to a surf shop, ice cream parlour and diner, this is California – Yorkshire style! Golfers are well catered for too with the North Cliff Golf Club, where visitors can buy temporary membership for this picturesque cliff-top course.

North Cliff

History and culture are on your doorstep when you stay in North Cliff. Nearby is the iconic 12th century Scarborough Castle, with its panoramic views over the north and south bays. The fortress played a pivotal role throughout the centuries and survived a bombing campaign during the First World War. Visitors can enjoy an interactive tour as well as a varied programme of live events. (Check the English Heritage website for current details.) Close by is St Mary’s church, site of Anne Bronte’s grave. Watch out for the Blue Plaque outside The Grand Hotel, built on the site of the lodging house where she and her sister, Charlotte, stayed.

The town centre is a short walk from North Cliff, where art-lovers can visit the Scarborough Art Gallery, which hosts permanent and touring exhibitions. Theatre-goers are also well-catered for with the Stephen Joseph Theatre, famous for its connection with Alan Ayckbourn.

In need of retail therapy? Scarborough has plenty to offer, from famous high street names to quirky independents. Browse the department stores in the Brunswick Shopping Centre then head to Huntriss Row for unique shops and boutiques. Also worth a visit is the Market Hall, a traditional Yorkshire indoor market, while the Market Vault is the place to browse for art and antiques. And if you’ve worked up an appetite you’re in luck – the North Cliff is within walking distance of all the town centre restaurants, from Greek to Chinese to good old fish and chips.

Old Town

Scarborough’s Old Town is a labyrinth of cobbled streets and traditional fishermen’s cottages, only a stones’ throw from the shore. Our properties are ideally positioned, within walking distance of all the delights of the foreshore but secluded enough to provide a retreat from the crowds.

Close to the popular South Bay beach, it’s easy to enjoy all the entertainment the seafront has to offer. Donkeys, deck chairs, buckets and spades – this is the classic British seaside experience. Take your pick of refreshments, from fresh, locally-caught cockles and whelks to sticky clouds of candy floss. If you’ve still got room for ice cream, head over to the famous Harbour Bar. Opened in 1945, this is the place for Knickerbocker Glory’s, ice cream sundaes and banana splits. The interior is a retro homage to the 1950’s and the heyday of rock n’ roll.

The harbour area is also home to Scarborough Lighthouse, open every day throughout the summer season. Visitors can climb the stairs and enjoy the spectacular view from the top. If you fancy an alternative view of the shore, why not head out on one of the pleasure cruisers leaving from the harbour. The Regal Lady and Coronia take passengers on sight-seeing tours of the Yorkshire coast, heading south towards Cayton Bay and Filey before returning back to Scarborough. Evening cruises are available during the summer.

South Cliff

Rest and relaxation were the order of the day when Scarborough rose to prominence in the 18th century. The current Spa complex (constructed in 1880) was designed to host entertainment for the tourists – a tradition it continues today with comedy, ballet, classical music and theatrical performances. Fashionistas should keep an eye out for the popular vintage fairs, the perfect place to pick up that unique item of retro clothing.

The South Cliff’s past is reflected in the architecture on the Esplanade, with houses built as holiday homes for wealthy Victorian visitors. Fans of The Royal will recognise Red Court Apartments as St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital. The cliffs below are home to the terraced Italian Gardens, built in the nineteenth century, while the Clock Tower, putting- and bowing-greens are nearby. The Clock Café is a short walk through the gardens, open daily for tea, coffee and light snacks.

Astronomers will enjoy the view of the Star Disk from the cliff-top, the largest illuminated star map in the UK. Built on the site of the former open air swimming pool, the map shows all the major constellations visible from Scarborough.

Nearby, Ramshill has all the amenities you might need, including a delicatessen, fishmonger and butcher. Just the place to pick up the ingredients for a hearty breakfast! Here you’ll also find a branch of Sainsbury’s Local, open 7 – 11 daily, as well as a chemist, post office and several ATM’s. There are takeaways and restaurants in Ramshill itself, or it’s only a short walk into the town centre.

South Side

Secluded Cayton Bay is an escape from the crowds, a two-mile-long stretch of beach, backed by dramatic cliffs. Quieter than the popular North and South bays, Cayton Bay has recently become synonymous with surfing. Boards and suits are available for hire from the nearby surf shop, which also provides tuition for beginners.

If you’d rather watch the action than take part, the beach is the perfect spot to unpack a picnic. Enjoy an ice cream from the refreshment hut and spend the afternoon peering into rock pools. The National Trust has designated the area as a Site of Special Scientific Interest – if you look closely enough you might find a fossil or two, relics from the coast’s Jurassic past.

The path along the cliff top forms part of the 109-mile Cleveland Way, which runs between Helmsley and Filey. Properties in this area are ideally positioned for walkers who want to complete part of the way. The path is well signposted and suitable for dogs.
Those who prefer a walk with a golf club in hand are welcome at the South Cliff Golf club, positioned just off Filey Road with wide-reaching views over the Yorkshire coastline. A full 18-hole course, day rates are available for non-members – check their website for up-to-date prices.

Topped with the imposing war memorial, nearby Oliver’s Mount has panoramic views of the Yorkshire coast and countryside. Refreshments are available at the hill top café; motorcycle enthusiasts will also enjoy the quarterly road races, when the road leading up to the Mount is transformed into the UK’s only street-racing circuit.

Seamer Village

Seamer is located just three miles outside Scarborough and enjoys excellent transport links, with a regular bus service and its own train station. Beat the traffic by hopping on the train for a day out in historic York, where you can visit the world-famous York Minster and walk the 12th century city walls.

In the village itself there are three pubs, a local supermarket, general store and post office. Scarborough is a short hop on the bus or by car, making this an ideal base to explore the town whilst escaping the crowds. Further afield are the towns of Filey and Whitby, as well as the North York Moors national park.

Cayton Village

A silver award-winner of the ‘Britain in Bloom’ prize, Cayton is a pretty village located a mile or so inland. Nearby Cayton Bay is a beach-lovers paradise and there’s no need to stray from the village if want to spend a few days relaxing. With local pubs serving traditional ales, a fish and chip shop, and a general store and post office, you can give the car a holiday too. Regular buses run into Scarborough.

Further afield are the seaside towns of Filey and Whitby, as well as the North York Moors national park.


Filey first grew as a holiday resort in the 19th century, when tourists to Scarborough began to look further afield in search of places to unwind. The Royal Crescent was built to house this influx of visitors, who enjoyed strolling along Filey’s beautiful seafront promenade.

The town has all the amenities needed to make your stay comfortable – pubs and restaurants cater for your refreshment needs while the local supermarket and shops are close by, as well as chemists and several branches of high street banks.

Just outside the town are the dramatic cliffs at Flamborough Head. Designated as a Special Area of Conservation, the cliffs are home to thousands of gannets, kittiwakes and puffins. Atop the sheer chalk faces are two lighthouses – one of which is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the British Isles (built 1674).

Written by H-J-R.

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