With stunning sandy beaches, lively arcades and quaint Victorian fairgrounds, they just don’t make holiday resorts like Scarborough any more
Scarborough’s natural attractions – its pretty Yorkshire coastline, impeccable beaches and panoramic views of the North Sea – have drawn centuries of visitors. This traditional holiday destination was a favourite of the Victorians, who constructed the grand Scarborough Spa – a half-mile long strip of entertainment venues – as well as its old-fashioned arcades and even a pioneering dinosaur museum. Nowadays, it’s lost none of its appeal to holiday makers, but manages to pull in festivals and cultural heavyweights for those looking to do more than build sandcastles.
What are the best attractions in Scarborough?
With its prime position on a rocky headland boasting a panoramic of the North Sea and dramatic Yorkshire coastline, the stunning Scarborough Castle is a good starting point for any visitor. You can see this 3,000-year old structure, play in its grounds and climb the battlements where lookouts of old have spotted medieval armies and German naval bombers during the Second World War. The Rotunda Museum looks further back still. This unusual circular building, one of the first purpose-built museums in the country, is focused on Scarborough’s extensive Jurassic finds. Fossils, skeletons and dinosaur-related artefacts found on the north coastline are all housed here, and given fascinating historical contexts. The Scarborough Fair is also a bucket list destination – come here to ride on old-fashioned bumper cars and retro carousels, and see a fabulous collection of old steam trains, vintage cars and a splendid Wurlitzer organ.
Peasholm Park is one of the pastoral treasures of the UK – a magical place of landscaped lakes, meadows, wildlife reserves, boating, picnicking and a recently rebuilt pagoda island that visitors can row out to. The Scarborough Spa is an example of Victorian ambition at its best – a vast network of grandly designed entertainment halls perched on the cliff-top. Nowadays, it hosts the likes of Jools Holland for performances, and in summer, has a spectacular open-air theatre where you can watch Shakespeare in the sunshine.
What are the best beaches in and near Scarborough?
Of course, Scarborough’s most famous and best-loved attractions are its beaches – Scarborough beach has an old-fashioned promenade with ice cream shops and arcades, meaning sunbathers are well-served with amenities, while Cayton beach rewards those intrepid enough to take the steep path there with a clean sweep of sand and beautiful scenery.
When is the best time to visit Scarborough?
If you plan to take advantage of the famous beaches here, high summer will give you the best chance of sunshine. High season is a fun time to visit, with streets filled with strollers and beaches dotted with families enjoying the pleasant coastline and pristine beaches. Scarborough waterpark is busier during the school holidays, but is open 365 days a year if you’d prefer a quieter visit.
But there is something to be said for seeing Scarborough at its most buzzy. In July, the town hosts Seafest, an annual festival at the town’s West Pier and around the harbour. It celebrates Scarborough’s fishing history and attracts folk bands and artists from all over the world, as well as fun fishy-themed events like cooking demonstrations with seafood on the harbour.
The Scarborough Cricket Festival has been held in Scarborough since 1876. It is an end of season series of cricket matches based around the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, at the ground at North Marine Road, and is consistently popular with holiday makers and cricket pilgrims from across the country. It typically takes place in the second week of August.
In autumn, culture rather than paddling becomes the focus of the town, as the Scarborough Jazz Festival pitches up in late September. This is a renowned gathering of Britain’s best jazz performers, from rousing big bands to obscure and experimental soloists. Autumn also sees the Stephen Joseph Theatre put on its biggest plays of the year, and interesting special seasons – look at its website in advance to find out what the programme has in store. Autumn is also the best time to see Peasholm Park change from green to golden – its beautiful landscaped gardens are spectacular in October.
What’s the best way to get to Scarborough?
By road, the town is well connected to the northern cities of Leeds and York via the A64, which runs right into Scarborough town centre. Scarborough railway station is centrally located, and connects visitors from York, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.
Check out our hotels in Scarborough and indulge in all the seaside frolics that you can handle.