The 10 best beaches in Yorkshire, from seaside resorts to hidden bays

runswick bay, yorkshire - the best beaches in yorkshire
Discover the best beaches in Yorkshire - getty

Yorkshire’s coast is often thought of as bracing, and indeed the North Sea is a little cooler than the waters off the south coast. But thousands of families return year after year to cheerfully rush into the briny. Scarborough, for one, could claim to be the UK’s oldest seaside resort – visitors first came for its spa waters in the 17th century. But it’s the mix of jolly seaside towns with their bucket-and-spade beaches, ice cream parlours and amusement arcades, with picture-perfect fishing villages of cobbled-street charm and cute tea-shops, that make the north-east shoreline a winner.

With cliff-top walks, surfing waves, beach games and rock-pooling a-plenty, there’s a beach to suit all tastes, here we reveal the best.

For further inspiration, see our holiday guide to Yorkshire and the best hotels, restaurants, pubs and things to do in the area.


If you block out the cars, you could imagine yourself in a Victorian seaside town. Pin-neat public gardens are overlooked by a sweeping terrace of handsome buildings, while below a poker-straight pier with a small amusement arcade strikes out to sea. Linking upper and lower promenades is Britain’s oldest surviving water-balanced funicular (built in 1884), while stretching the five miles to Redcar, a broad stretch of sand, nestled below jolly-coloured beach-huts, is a playground for everyone from sunbathers to surfers. Facing the full force of the North Sea, Saltburn is one of the UK's top surf spots. Yet the beach is protected from winds by the bulk of Huntcliffe at the eastern end.

Getting there: From the main A171 coast road, take the A173 and follow signs to Saltburn. There’s a car park on the lower promenade, plus free on-street parking elsewhere.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Yorkshire
Saltburn-by-the-Sea is home to the UK's oldest surviving funicular lift - daverhead/daverhead


Possibly Yorkshire’s most charming seaside village, gaily coloured houses tumble down its steep ravine to a sheltered curve of sand cupped by cliffs, while fishing boats are hauled up in the harbour. You can see why it has long attracted artists. For the active there are rock pools and cliff walks, wildlife-watching and fishing trips, while the happily idle can browse the arty shops – try the Arts and Crafts Centre, or linger on the small promenade with an ice cream. The Cod & Lobster, overlooking the harbour, does a good line in seafood and pub classics while Dotty’s Tearoom is a colourful vintage affair with homemade cakes and eye-poppingly large scones.

Getting there: Take the A174 north from Whitby to the Staithes turn-off. Park in the car park at the top of the hill as no visitor cars are allowed in the village.

Staithes, Yorkshire
Despite some stiff competition, Staithes could well claim to be the prettiest village in Yorkshire - getty

Runswick Bay

If you want a long stretch of beach in a pretty setting but without any seaside razzamatazz, this is the one for you. The tiny, former fishing village - a stack of red pantile roofed cottages that clings to the cliffs - gazes over a sand and shingle beach that stretches a mile-and-a-half east to Kettleness headland. Here you make your own entertainment, whether building sandcastles, paddle-boarding, investigating rock-pools or taking a walk along the sands or cliffs. Tides Coffee Bar and Beach Shop, which sits directly above the slipway and has a small terrace, sells a simple selection of snacks, ice creams and barista coffee, as well as buckets and fishing-nets. And that’s about it. Perfect.

Getting there: Take the A174 north from Whitby; Runswick Bay is a mile down a narrow road with a car park in the village.

runswick bay, Yorkshire
For pure seaside simplicity, few stretches of Yorkshire coastline can match the sandy sweep of Runswick Bay - ©2020 R A Kearton/Photos by R A Kearton

Robin Hood's Bay

The beach of this popular, picturesque village that totters steeply down the cliff-side to its eponymous bay is a magnet for fossil-hunters and rock-poolers. This stretch of shore is part of Yorkshire's Jurassic Coast, with cliffs yielding quantities of belemnites and ammonites that gradually work their way onto the beach. And at low tide, the exposed rocks are perfect for examining with nets and buckets: all fishy creatures to be returned to the water, of course. It's a beach for getting wet and messy rather than to sit with a book and picnic hamper. The Bay Hotel, above the dock, offers good pub food and cracking views, or try The Cove for lighter snacks and a sheltered terrace.

Getting there: From the A174 between Whitby and Scarborough, take the B1447 to the village. Park in the car park at the top of the hill as no visitor cars are allowed in the village.

robin hoods bay, Yorkshire
Robin Hood's Bay is part of Yorkshire's Jurassic Coast, where the cliffs yielding quantities of fossils - Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann/Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann


The best approach to this beach is from the north: the road drops and twists steeply through woodland, pops out above the coast and, suddenly, a glorious stretch of sand and shingle spreads out all the way to Whitby Abbey on the horizon. This lovely, flat, safe beach has some of the cleanest bathing water on the coast. It’s also popular with walkers who make the five-mile circuit from Whitby, though high tide means a detour to the cliff-path at the Whitby end. Refresh with mesmerising views at the popular Sandside Café, a wooden chalet perched above the beach and famed for its Sandsend Smokey – smoked haddock in a cheese and egg sauce – Whitby crab sandwiches and whopping cakes.

Getting there: Take the A174 from either Whitby or Staithes; there are two car parks plus on-street display parking.

sandsend, yorkshire
Sandsend boasts some of the cleanest seawater on the Yorkshire coast - getty

Scarborough South Bay

This is the archetypal British seaside resort: donkey rides, amusement arcades, novelty rock and bingo. It's also blessed with a huge sweep of pancake-flat sand that accommodates everyone from bucket-and-spade families to dog-walkers. There are deckchairs, windbreaks and beach chalets to hire, fishing trips and 'pirate boat' adventures, fairground rides and bowling alleys and, in the summer season, the enchanting Spa Orchestra playing popular classics in the Scarborough Spa's open-air Suncourt Enclosure. The only other things you need are fish and chips at the Golden Grid and a knickerbocker glory at the Fifties diner-style Harbour Bar

Getting there: Take the A170 or A64 from inland, or the A171 coast road from the north. There are car parks, limited-time street parking and a Park and Ride. Scarborough station is on a direct line from Leeds and York.

scarborough, Yorkshire
Scarborough is a great example of a traditional English seaside resort - getty

Cayton Bay

It’s easy to miss this beach, even though it's only a couple of minutes from the main road, as there’s no sign to show you the way. But if you're a surf-junkie, you'll want to find it. The wide, sandy beach at the bottom of a steep path is surfer heaven and, as the site of the Scarborough Surf School, perfect for beginners. It's also popular with swimmers and wind-surfers, and as the clifftop paths form part of the Cleveland Way, it makes a good stopping point for walkers. There are some basic changing huts at the surf shop, plus lifeguards and a simple snack-bar, Lucy's Beach Shack – with warming Horlick's and bacon rolls.

Getting there: Five miles south of Scarborough, on the A165, look for signs to Cayton Bay holiday park, and take the turn opposite. There's a car park plus limited parking on the track.

cayton bay, Yorkshire
It's not so great for sunbathers, but Cayton Bay is enduringly popular on the local surf scene - getty


Pancake flat and stretching several hundred yards out to sea at low tide, and backed by a long wide promenade with beach chalets, crazy golf and a paddling pool, the beach at Filey has a classic seaside holiday feel. There are deckchairs to hire, elegant pleasure gardens with a bandstand hosting Sunday concerts in the summer season, a smattering of neat cafés and a well-behaved amusement arcade. It’s like raucous Scarborough’s demure and sensible sibling. For a traditional and down-to-earth meal try Inghams Fish Restaurant – a firm locals’ favourite – or for tea and cakes with a view, Angela’s Tearooms, below the bandstand.

Getting there: Take the A165 south from Scarborough and then the A1039 turn-off. There’s a choice of car parks, or on-street pay-and-display parking. By train, Filey is on the Scarborough-Hull line or via Seamer for trains from York and Leeds.

filey, yorkshire
Backed by a long wide promenade, the beach at Filey has a classic seaside holiday feel - ©2017 R A Kearton/Photos by R A Kearton

North Landing, Flamborough Head

On the north side of the massive bulk of Flamborough Head's chalk headland, cupped by sheer cliffs, this tiny sand and pebble beach is for explorers rather than beach bums. There are rock-pools and caves to investigate, bird life to spot – the headland is home to gannets, kittiwakes and puffins, amongst others – snorkelling possibilities and, in season, fishing trips and sea wildlife expeditions. There are no facilities other than loos, an ice cream van and the cheery Boathouse Burger and Grill takeaway serving burgers, baked potatoes, soup and crab sandwiches. It's a steep walk down, but that all adds to the adventure and keeps the crowds away.

Getting there: From the A165 just north of Bridlington, take the B1255 to Flamborough village and follow signs to North Landing. There's paid car parking.

North Landing, Flamborough Head, Yorkshire
Small and remote, North Landing is better suited to adventurers than it is to swimmers and sunbathers - getty


A seaside town of two halves: choose South Bay for smooth sand and quiet style, or North Bay for traditional shrieks and fun. The former stretches away to Hornsea, 12 miles away, and is ideal for bucket-and-spade pleasures or peaceful walks. There’s a wide prom, a cute little Land Train, beach chalets, and windbreaks (a necessity) for hire. Bridlington Spa's breezy café is a handy place for simple snacks or well-priced lunches. For more action, head round the harbour – where you can book fishing trips and sea wildlife cruises – to North Bay’s amusement arcades and fairground rides. The beach below, a mix of sand and shingle, has views to the spectacular white chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head.  

Getting there: Take the A165 south from Scarborough. There’s a choice of car parks, on-street paid parking, and park and ride. Trains come in from York and Leeds or from Hull.

bridlington, Yorkshire
Bridlington is a traditional sort of seaside resort, those seeking to escape the amusements can do so at the town's quieter southern beach - istock

How we choose

Every attraction and activity in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from world-class museums to family-friendly theme parks – to best suit every type of traveller. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest openings and provide up to date recommendations.