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Pretty Staithes is a picturesque Yorkshire fishing village with a haphazard cluster of whitewashed red-roofed cottages tucked in a ravine between two towering headlands in the highest cliffs in England.
The cliffs (Penny Nab and Cowbar Nab) shelter the small harbour and Staithes village, while a characterful maze of narrow cobbled streets, winding steps and tiny alleys meander through the hamlet to the sheltered beach area.
Famed for its scenic location on Yorkshire’s “Dinosaur Coast” and its connection to Captain Cook, Staithes is a real hotspot for visitors. But is Staithes worth visiting? I would definitely say YES, it is!
Is Staithes Worth Visiting?
Coming from someone who lives in North Yorkshire and visits Staithes often, I have to say a hearty YES! Staithes is worth visiting – with kids, dogs, and anyone else! It’s one of the best places to visit near me in beautiful North Yorkshire.
With plenty of things to see and do, freshly landed seafood to try, and the cutest cottages to stay in, Staithes is a great place, whether you’re exploring solo, with a loved one or with kids.
If you’re looking for exclusive hotels, lots of shopping arcades and busy nightlife, Staithes is NOT the right place for you!
While many beaches along the North Yorkshire Coast offer vast expanses of sand, perfect for long (often bracing) walks, Staithes combines a pretty, sheltered cove with excellent clifftop walks, fascinating history and fabulous places to eat and stay.
Staithes in Yorkshire is wonderfully unspoilt and well worth visiting.
When the tide is low, there’s always a quiet spot for rock pooling, enjoying a picnic, or relaxing with the latest page-turning beach read – even on the busiest summer days.
In this guide to visiting Staithes in Yorkshire, you’ll find everything you need to know about this beautiful area of the UK, from how to get there and where to park to things to do, places to stay and where to photograph the most beautiful views.
11 Best Things to Do in Staithes Yorkshire
1. Potter around the maze of higgledy-piggledy streets
Wandering through the maze of cobbled streets and ginnels is one of the best things to do in Staithes. There are chocolate box pretty cottages to fill your camera and coastal views to swoon over.
The area around the Staithes Beck footbridge is beautiful, and you’ll see traditional coble boats moored up.
Top Tip: Arrive early if you love photography – Staithes is simply gorgeous as the sun rises (and before anyone else – other than the fishermen) is around.
2. Discover the Narrowest Street in the World
Many streets across the country claim to be the narrowest, but Dog Loup (or Dog Laup) in Staithes claims to be the narrowest alley in the world!
At just 45.7cm wide (18 inches), Dog Loup is a ginnel (Northern English for a narrow passage) off the west side of Church Street. See if you can squeeze between the buildings!
3. Go Rockpooling on Staithes Beach
The sandy and protected little beach at Staithes is excellent for rock pooling at low tide. Look out for crabs, anemones, periwinkles and limpets in the rock pools
Afterwards, why not relax with a beach picnic?
Bring your own picnic hamper or – if you don’t want to lug a picnic down the steep hill from the car park – pick up a few tasty snacks (and maybe a chilled bottle of wine) from The Kessen Bowl convenience store in Staithes High Street on your way to the beach 🙂
But don’t go for a dip – as the water in the bay has long been affected by farm sewage draining into it from Staithes Beck!
4. Learn the Staithes Story
At the Staithes Heritage Centre, you can discover the fascinating life of Captain James Cook, who moved to Staithes aged 16 to serve as an apprentice at William Sanderson’s draper’s shop.
The UK had no rail network then, and roads were abysmal, so most of the stock was shipped abroad. This connection with the sea ignited Captain Cook’s interest in sailing.
While Sanderson’s shop is long gone, the Staithes Museum has an excellent recreation of what the storefront and village looked like in 1745 and has lots of well-presented information about Captain Cook’s voyages around the world.
While Captain Cook is hailed as one of the greatest sailors of all time, his explorations were also responsible for spreading deadly diseases to tribes in the Pacific.
This is a modest museum set over two floors. Still, it’s definitely worth visiting to learn about the surprising history of Staithes. It’s also free to visit, and there’s plenty to engage older children.
5. Photograph Staithes Harbour at Sunrise
6. Marvel at the Highest Cliffs in Eastern England
The spectacular cliffs around Staithes are the highest point on England’s East Coast, offering fabulous views on fine days and many outstanding walking trails.
Even if you don’t fancy a clifftop walk, you can admire the cliffs and the colonies of kittiwakes that nest on shallow rock ledges – from the safety of the harbour!
Take care along the cliffs, and stay away from the edge! Keep children under close supervision and dogs on a short lead.
7. Capture the Most Iconic Shot of Staithes
It’s a lung-busting steep uphill walk to capture the most sought-after shot of Staithes, but it’s definitely worth it!
From the High Street, you’ll need to cross the footbridge over Staithes Beck (also known as Roxby Beck), then turn left onto Cowbar Bank Road and walk up the hill for a few minutes. It doesn’t sound challenging, but it is incredibly steep!
When you reach the top of the road, there’s a corner with some steps to the left. Keep the cottages on your right and climb the steps to the top.
Take a moment to catch your breath!
Your reward is a spectacular view from the top of the bank down the beck (river) and across the rooftops of Staithes towards the harbour – it’s gorgeous at sunrise and in the moonlight
8. Explore and Learn at The Staithes Art Gallery
The Staithes Art Gallery is a proper hidden gem, bursting with unique character and history.
The gallery showcases an impressive collection of original artwork created by established and up-and-coming artists from across the UK.
From intricate oil paintings to stunning watercolours, there’s something for everyone at this must-visit attraction, whether you’re a seasoned art collector or simply browsing.
9. See Where Old Jack’s Boat Was Set
CBBC’s “Old Jack’s Boat” captured the hearts of children across the UK with its delightful characters and heartwarming stories. But what many may not know is that this beloved show was filmed in Staithes.
Following the adventures of Old Jack (Bernard Cribbins) and his trusty dog Salty, this charming series was a real winner.
When you visit Staithes, you can enjoy looking out for familiar locations from the programme – especially if you are travelling with kids.
10. Follow the Painted Illusions Trail
World-famous Staithes resident artist Paul Czainski created the Painted Illusion Trail in Staithes in 2014, including mermaids with mirrors and a trompe l’oeil representation of Noah’s ark.
Ask for a leaflet in one of the shops on the High Street to discover the location of the eight “illusions” painted on buildings around the village. As if you needed any more encouragement to poke around this lovely hamlet!
11. Take a Whale And Dolphin Spotting Trip
Take a fins, feathers and fish boat trip with Real Staithes to see Minke whales, dolphins and porpoises off the Yorkshire coast!
12. Buy Traditional Sweets & Gifts at Betsy & Bo
Who can resist the lure of a traditional sweet shop?
Betsy & Bo is the quaintest little sweet and gift shop in the town centre, with plenty of little treasures – perfect if you’re looking for unique souvenirs or gifts to take home.
13. Go For A Bracing Walk
A short walk along the beach at Staithes is especially pretty at sunset when the golden light reflects off the sea and creates a magical orange hue.
As the Cleveland Way coastal walk passes through Staithes, you can also enjoy bracing clifftop walks with great views that are particularly popular with birdwatchers and keen photographers.
Plus, it’s dog-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged friend.
14. Hunt for Fossils
The cliffs around Staithes and Port Mulgrave are some of the most popular places in the UK for fossil hunting. It’s a popular activity for all ages – you have every chance of finding prehistoric treasures beneath the sand.
Always check tide times, and don’t hammer into any cliff faces in the hopes of finding fossils.
15. Explore Saltburn
You can’t visit Staithes without exploring the beautiful town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea to see the highly Instagrammable Victorian Cliff Lift.
Explore the town’s independent shops and boutiques, then stop for fish and chips on the seafront with a view out over the impressive Victorian pier.
Places to Stay in Staithes
A day trip might not be enough to explore this beautiful area – especially if you’ve travelled a fair distance, so why not stay a while?
⭐️ Rating 9.1/10
Steeped in history, the Royal George Staithes is the oldest fisherman’s pub in Staithes – just 100 yards from the sea.
Recognised as one of the “100 cosiest pubs in Britain”, you’ll find toasty coal fires, real ales, and comfortable guest rooms.
If you’re looking for Staithes pubs with rooms, this is perfect!
Top Tip: Try the crab sandwiches – and the amazing steak and ale pies!
⭐️ Rating 9.2/10
Quietly tucked away in an old, cobbled street at the heart of Staithes, the characterful Endeavour B&B is over 200 years old, with wood panelling, narrow staircases, and sash windows.
Four individually styled en-suite double rooms offer the perfect place to escape the rat race and relax.
Expect a hearty breakfast – pick a traditional Full English, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs or local Staithes Smoked Kippers. YUM!
Top Tip: Book early at the Endeavour B&B and ask for the guest room with panoramic views of the sea and harbour – it’s gorgeous!
Prefer a Self-Catering Staithes Cottage?
Fancy staying in Staithes accommodation with self-catering facilities? You’ll find the cutest little cottages to rent in Staithes – BUT you need to be quick!! Cottages in Staithes go like hotcakes – especially for the summer months 🏠
Places to Eat in Staithes
There are a couple of excellent value pubs and other places to eat in Staithes, including:
The Cod and Lobster Pub Staithes
The best-known of the pubs in Staithes, the Cod and Lobster has a fabulous harbourside location and a great menu.
I was in heaven with the cioppino with king prawns, scallops, mussels, clams and squid. The ever-hungry teenager loved the homemade lasagne with garlic bread, salad, and chips (he’s a growing boy!)
If you prefer a takeaway, grab the Cod and Lobster, Staithes menu, and order at the bar. You’ll be given a pager and can sit in the bar or on the terrace with a drink while you wait for your freshly cooked meal.
Fun Fact: In the great storm of 1953, the whole front of the Cod and Lobster was washed away – along with all the bottles of beer, much to the dismay of local fishermen!
The Cod and Lobster pub is gorgeous on a warm day but equally fabulous in the winter when you can cosy up to the roaring fire and watch the boats bobbing in the harbour through rain-lashed windows.
Dotty’s Vintage Tearoom
Trudie Ward’s vintage tearoom is a welcoming establishment, moments from the seafront in Staithes. Expect your tea and cakes to arrive in the prettiest china cups and plates, as she’s been collecting them for years!
The coffee is excellent, and the mahoosive, locally baked scones and cakes are delicious. You will be well satisfied after stopping at these lovely tea rooms!
Cobbles of Staithes serves tasty ice creams and sundaes, barista coffees and hot chocolate, and locally-made cakes and scones. Paninis are cooked to order, and there’s a popular pizza evening.
When is the best time to visit Staithes?
Like most British seaside towns, Staithes comes into its own during the summer, and it’s enjoyable from April until October, when the English weather is most likely to be warm (no guarantees, though!)
Don’t write Staithes off for a winter visit or break – the pubs and accommodations are cosy at this time, and the lowering skies and any storms are a photographer’s dream!
Places to visit near Staithes
A favourite seaside town for many Brits.
Pretty fishing port and home to Whitby Abbey
Robin Hood’s Bay
Possibly the prettiest place on the North Yorkshire coast
Where is Staithes in North Yorkshire?
Staithes is located in the largely rural county of North Yorkshire on England’s North East Coast, within the North York Moors National Park. It is close to the pretty coastal town of Saltburn on Sea, while the ancient city of York is the nearest city (58 miles).
Where to find Staithes and the North York Moors National Park
How to get to Staithes
Thanks to its rural location, it’s a bit of a trek to get to Staithes! But, once you’re there, it’s a fantastic location.
Staithes is around five hours from London; however, it’s a great day trip from Leeds (1 hour 45 minutes) or York (1 hour 20 minutes).
The village is reached via Staithes Lane, accessed via the A174, which winds through the incredibly scenic North York Moors National Park.
- If you’re travelling from the north. leave the A1(M) motorway and take the A19, then the A174.
- From London, Leeds or York, leave the A1(M) at Junction 49, take the A168 north to join the A19, and then follow the A174 to Staithes.
As Staithes Station was closed in the 1950s, the closest train station to Staithes is in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, but it will take a long time to get there! Trains to Saltburn-by-the-Sea travel from Leeds via York.
Once in Saltburn, you’ll need to catch a bus to Staithes.
There is no free parking or alternative visitor parking in the village – please don’t drive down the hill and expect to park – you will create havoc and annoy the residents! You will achieve automatic pariah status if you even attempt to drive a caravan or motohome down the hill…
Visitor parking for the village is the pay and display car park at the top of the hill down to Staithes village. It’s a steep 10-minute walk, which feels even steeper on the way back.
A Brief History of Staithes in Yorkshire
It’s incredible how much history there is to discover in one small fishing village – and what impact this little place has had on the world!
Staithes is a favourite place for geologists and fossil hunters to explore as fossils that are 56 million years old have been found on this stretch of the North Yorkshire Coast (also known as the “Dinosaur” Coast or the Jurassic Coast), including the rare fossil of a seagoing dinosaur.
Staithes is an ancient port. In fact, “Staithes” is a Viking word meaning “Landing Place”, suggesting that Vikings used this spot as a landing place for their longboats before raiding the English countryside.
When Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church, one of the consequences was that the existing supply of alum from Europe dried up: this was an essential ingredient in the process of “set” coloured dyes in fabric.
Coloured fabrics could not be manufactured again under the Tudor reign.
In the early 17th century, Michael Chaloner discovered that rocks on the Yorkshire Coast were ideal for alum production. It was mined from cliffs along the Yorkshire coast until 1871.
As a famous fishing port, Staithes brought a young James Cook to the village from his home in Middlesborough in the 18th century.
He was an apprentice draper at William Sanderson’s shop. Still, his time in Staithes inspired him to pursue a nautical career. He went on to become one of the world’s most famous navigators.
The first lifeboat station was built at Cowbar Nab in 1875 to help fishing boats attempt to land in stormy weather.
The Staithes Group
Scenic Staithes has attracted artists and painters of all kinds for years, and in 1894 around forty local artists set up “The Staithes Group”, using the village and coast as focal points for their work.
The Fishing Heyday
The fishing trade peaked in the early 20th century when around 80 vessels were anchored in the tiny harbour. This made it one of the most popular ports in the area, and you’d find plenty of the traditional wooden Yorkshire coble fishing boats. You can still catch a glimpse of these boats today, moored up in the harbour or on their way to catch more fresh fish!
Staithes is also famous for the Boulby Potash Mine, one of the deepest in the UK, which can produce over a million tonnes of potash a year!
You may also recognise this picturesque village as the setting for the Cbeebies TV programme Old Jack’s Boat! Due to its quirkiness and natural beauty, Staithes was also filming location for the 2017 film “Phantom Thread“, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
FAQs: Is Staithes Worth Visiting
How far is Staithes in Yorkshire from Whitby?
Staithes is almost 11 miles (22 minutes) from Whitby, along the A174.
How do locals pronounce Staithes?
The local pronunciation for Staithes is “Steers”.
What is Staithes famous for?
Staithes is famous for is connections to Captain Cook and for the dinosaur skeleton discovered in the nearby cliffs on the “Dinosaur Coast”.
What is filmed in Staithes?
The children’s BBC series “Old Jack’s Boat“, was filmed in Staithes, as were scenes from 2017 film “Phantom Thread“, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
Can you drive down to Staithes?
You can drive to the car park at Bank Top in Staithes, but not down the narrow Staithes Lane into Staithes High Street.
How much does it cost to park at Staithes?
For private cars, the parking charge for 6 hours in 2023 is £5 (£4.40 for 4 hours) or £6 for 24 hours.
Where do you park when visiting Staithes in Yorkshire?
The closest visitor parking to the beach and village is Bank Top car park, with a steep walk down to the village.
Does Staithes have a beach?
Yes, there is a very pretty beach in Staithes.
Is Staithes very hilly?
YES! The village is built in a deep river valley, with a very steep hill from the village to the parking area.
What is the closest station to Staithes?
The nearest train station to Staithes is in Saltburn-by-the-Sea. There is also a station in the town of Whitby, just a little further along the coast, to the south of Staithes. Bus services connect Staithes to Whitby and to Saltburn.
Is Staithes Beach clean?
The beach at Staithes is clean; however, the water is affected by agricultural runoff and is not suitable for swimming.
Is Runswick Bay worth visiting?
Runswick Bay is a very pretty beach on the North Yorkshire coast, within easy walking distance of Staithes. It’s a safe place to swim and enjoy watersports.
What is the narrow street in Staithes?
The famous narrow street in Staithes in Yorkshire – known as Dog Loup – is just 18 inches wide!
Can you catch a bus from Whitby to Staithes?
Yes! The X4 bus runs regularly from Whitby to Staithes, with a journey time of 30 minutes.
Are there public toilets in the village?
Yes, the Bank Top car park has clean, well-maintained public toilets.
Is Staithes dog-friendly?
Dogs can roam free along the entire stretch of the beach without restrictions. It’s a fantastic place to visit with your furry friends!
Are there lifeguards in Staithes?
While there is a lifeboat station at Staithes, there are no lifeguards, so extra care is needed, particularly when the tide is going out. Lifeguards operate at nearby Runswick Bay.
Where is Staithes Harbour?
Staithes Harbour is in the small village of Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast, between the towns of Saltburn-by-the-sea and Whitby.
Does Staithes get busy?
While Staithes gets busy during the summer school holiday break, it never feels too crowded. There’s room for everyone visiting this popular spot.
What is the beach like in Staithes?
The attractive beach in Staithes is sandy and sheltered, with rockpools to explore at low tide. It’s not, however, suitable for swimming.
Conclusion: Is Staithes Worth Visiting
Staithes is one of Yorkshire’s most attractive coastal towns. It’s an amazing place that’s definitely worth seeing.
Once a busy fishing community, the jumble of whitewashed, pan-tile roofed cottages crowded beneath towering shale cliffs, the quaint high Street and the pretty harbour make Staithes a must for your UK bucket list (in the warmer summer months).
Staithes Yorkshire pubs are cosy and serve good food. At the same time, the village offers a great selection of quaint cottages and B&Bs to stay in, should you decide to stay for a few days (and you really should!)
Want to explore more of the surrounding area in Yorkshire? Please have a read of my Yorkshire travel guide.