Set on a headland high over the popular seaside town, Whitby Abbey is one of the most romantic and atmospheric ruins in Britain.
Whitby's famous 199 steps, or Church Stairs, will lead you steeply up to the imposing gothic ruins of the Benedictine abbey.
Since its founding by St Hilda around 657AD, it's been a bustling settlement, a kings’ burial place, the meeting place of Celtic and Roman clerics to set the date for Easter still used today, the home of saints including the poet Caedmon, and inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Discover the long history of the Abbey and the daily life of the monks who once lived here in the interactive visitor centre with its dramatic digital reconstructions. Visit the museum to delve into thousands of years of the abbey’s history from the early Bronze Age through medieval times to the occupation by the Cholmley family in late 17th century.
You can also find out how the abbey has inspired artists, novelists and poets over the centuries. For instance, you’ll discover how Bram Stoker imagined his character Dracula leaping ashore from a wrecked ship and up the 199 steps. JMW Turner, JRR Tolkien and Lewis Carroll have all also been inspired by Whitby and its famous abbey
Outside, the courtyard area houses a tree-lined avenue, new seating and green spaces planted with herbs. You’ll also find a cosy coffee shop near the entrance to the abbey.
Enjoy The Ammonite Quest. Guided by an ammonite, a map and information via the free downloadable Live Beacon app, you and your family or group can explore the site and discover Whitby Abbey’s hidden history through some of the objects and lost buildings that people once used.
For mystery and imagination, Whitby Abbey is one of the best visitor attractions and family day trips out in Yorkshire.
From the Whitby harbour area, the abbey can only be directly reached on foot via the 199 Steps. Alternatively, a well-signposted road leads from the town outskirts to the cliff-top abbey.
Disabled access (south entrance parking, charged). Toilets situated in the car park are not operated by English Heritage.