Things to Do in Scarborough: The Ultimate Guide

8 months ago   •   12 min read

By More Yorkshire
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Things To Do In Scarborough

Discover the wonders of Scarborough, a coastal treasure in North Yorkshire, England.

From its captivating history and stunning landscapes to a plethora of activities that cater to every interest, Scarborough offers endless opportunities for exploration and enjoyment. Wander through the cobbled streets of Old Town, where history comes alive, relax on sun-kissed beaches, or seek out thrilling adventures at Alpamare waterpark and the North Bay Railway.

With its charming shops, cafes, and traditional pubs, plus breathtaking views from Scarborough Castle, this vibrant destination promises unforgettable experiences for your next getaway.

Historical Attractions

Scarborough Castle

Discover the beauty and history of Scarborough Castle, perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea. Explore the castle ruins and learn about its rich past, from the Roman signal station to its role in the English Civil War. As you wander through the grounds, take in the stunning views of the coastline and the town below.

Old Town Exploration

Immerse yourself in the charm of Scarborough's Old Town, where cobbled streets and historic buildings abound. Use the Old Town Trail itinerary to guide you through landmarks such as the Town Hall, Trinity House, and the Grand Hotel. As you explore, step back in time and appreciate the rich heritage of this lovely seaside town.

Gristhorpe Man Discovery

Unearth the fascinating history of the Gristhorpe Man, one of the oldest and most complete Bronze Age skeletons ever found in Britain. Discovered in 1834, this ancient warrior's remains provide a glimpse into life during the Bronze Age. Visit the Rotunda Museum, where the Gristhorpe Man is housed, to delve deeper into this intriguing archaeological discovery.

Anne Brontë's Influence

Follow in the footsteps of literary icon Anne Brontë, who lived and wrote in Scarborough. Take a walk to her final resting place in St. Mary's Church graveyard and reflect on the impact she had on English literature. Explore the town that inspired her works, and gain a sense of the atmosphere that fuelled her creativity. Admire the church's stunning architecture and delve into the stories behind its stained-glass windows.

Natural Wonders and Beaches

North Bay Experience

If you're looking for things to do in Scarborough on a sunny day? You can discover the picturesque North Bay with its stunning coastal views, golden sands and crashing waves.

With a more relaxed atmosphere compared to its southern counterpart, the North Bay is the ideal location for you to unwind and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Take a leisurely stroll along the beach or enjoy a fun-filled day exploring the nearby attractions. Don't forget to visit the historic Water Chute and embark on the North Bay Railway for a unique experience - you won't be disappointed!

Scarborough South Bay Excursion

Venture to South Bay for a livelier atmosphere, offering up a quaint harbour and a vibrant seafront. It's home to Scarborough's main beach and a bustling amusement arcade, promising endless entertainment for visitors of all ages. Whilst you're there, make sure to explore the surrounding shops, restaurants and the elegant Scarborough Spa, dating back to the 18th century.

Rock Pool Adventure

Bring out your inner explorer with an exciting rock pool adventure along Scarborough's coastline. Both North Bay and South Bay beaches are a treasure trove of fascinating marine life, nestled within enchanting rock pools. Armed with a bucket and a net, embark on a journey to uncover hidden gems such as crabs, shrimps, and colourful anemones. This activity not only offers a delightful and educational experience but also lets you get up close and personal with Scarborough's diverse coastal habitats.

Coastal Walks

Embrace the beauty of the Yorkshire Coast by embarking on scenic coastal walks, offering magnificent sea views and captivating natural wonders. Explore well-trodden paths like the renowned Cleveland Way, which takes you on an unforgettable journey from the breathtaking cliffs of Flamborough Headland to the enchanting village of Robin Hood's Bay. Along the way, you'll not only be treated to awe-inspiring vistas and diverse landscapes but also have the chance to uncover the rich history and wildlife unique to this picturesque coastal region.

Parks and Gardens

Peasholm Park Tour

Peasholm Park is a beautiful public park in Scarborough, known for its stunning flowers and serene atmosphere. As you explore the park, you'll notice the meticulous landscaping and attention to detail. The array of colourful flowers serves as a perfect backdrop for photos or a leisurely stroll.

Within the park, you can also participate in various activities, such as boating or attending a live performance in the open-air theatre. There are plenty of seating areas for your comfort as well.

Oriental influence in 1912.

Italian Gardens Visit

The South Cliff Italian Gardens are another must-visit spot in Scarborough. Designed in a classic Italian style, these gardens are a treat for the eyes. While exploring, take a moment to admire the ornate Lily Pond, as well as the statue of Mercury that graces the centre.

Wandering through the Italian Gardens, you will be reminded of the craftsmanship that went into creating this masterpiece. Settle onto a bench to take a breather and simply absorb the tranquillity and beauty of the surroundings. Additionally, as the gardens are located on the South Cliff, you can also enjoy stunning views of Scarborough and the coastline from certain points within the garden.

Outdoor Activities

Walking Tours

Scarborough offers a variety of walking tours for you to explore the charming town. You can enjoy the scenic views while strolling along the famous Cinder Track or delve into the history of Scarborough’s Old Town by wandering through its cobbled streets and alleys lined with quaint shops, cafés, and lovely pubs and inns.

Boat Trips

If you prefer unique things to do in Scarborough, you can experience a lot of beauty from the water. Scarborough has boat trips that give you the chance to witness the stunning coastline and enjoy a relaxing journey as you explore the surrounding area.

There are numerous options available, catering to various interests and preferences, such as fishing trips, sightseeing tours, and even wildlife spotting excursions.

Donkey Rides

No trip to the coast would be complete without experiencing the classic British seaside tradition of a donkey ride. Donkey rides are available on Scarborough Beach, providing a delightful, nostalgic, and fun activity for visitors of all ages.

Enjoy the leisurely pace of the ride as you take in the sights and sounds of the bustling beachfront, creating unforgettable memories during your stay in Scarborough.

If you choose to do this, please be kind to the donkeys.

Entertainment and Leisure

Open Air Theatre

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At the Open Air Theatre, you can enjoy a range of world-class acts and performances. This unique venue hosts various music concerts, comedy events, and theatrical productions throughout the summer months.

Steam Engines Exhibition

If you're a fan of steam engines, Scarborough offers an impressive Steam Engines Exhibition. Learn about the history of steam-powered locomotives, admire the beautifully restored engines, and even take a ride on one of these historic machines.

Bandstand Visits

Experience the sounds of the seaside with a visit to the Bandstand. Watch vibrant brass bands and talented orchestras perform live in this picturesque setting, adding a touch of nostalgia to your day.

Luna Park Fun

For some family-friendly entertainment, you can't go wrong with a visit to Luna Park. This amusement park offers a wide range of exciting attractions, including roller coasters, games, and classic fairground rides.

Scarborough Sealife Centre

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Explore the fascinating Sealife Centre in Scarborough where you can discover a variety of marine life, from colourful tropical fish to majestic sea creatures. Enjoy the interactive exhibits and learn about the importance of marine conservation.

Alpamare Waterpark

For an exhilarating aquatic adventure, head to Alpamare Scarborough, a popular waterpark. Here, you can splash around in the wave pool, speed down thrilling water slides, and relax in the spa area.

Olympia Leisure Experience

At Olympia Leisure, you'll find a wide range of activities to suit all ages. Challenge yourself with bowling, arcade games, and pool, or simply relax with a refreshing drink and delicious snack in the cafe.

Hispaniola Pirate Ship Ride

Take to the high seas aboard the Hispaniola Pirate Ship for an unforgettable adventure. This exciting ride offers stunning views of the Scarborough coast and is perfect for both kids and adults alike.

Museums and Exhibitions

Visit Rotunda Museum

During your trip to Scarborough, make sure to visit the Rotunda Museum, a fascinating geological museum that displays the rich history of the Jurassic Coast. On your visit, you can learn about the various fossils discovered in the area and gain a better understanding of the ancient life that once lived here.

While at the museum, be sure to check out the interactive displays which allow you to delve deeper into the changes in the local landscape over millions of years. Don't forget to admire the stunning architecture of the building itself, which is a marvel on its own.

Museum Exploration

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In Scarborough, museums and exhibitions are aplenty, so there is always an opportunity to expand your knowledge and immerse yourself in cultural experiences. A visit to the Scarborough Art Gallery gives you the chance to explore incredible visual art in a variety of mediums, reflecting both local and global perspectives.

For something a little different, consider visiting the Seal hospital at the Sea Life Centre, where you can see rescued seals being rehabilitated and cared for. This unique opportunity offers a glimpse into the crucial efforts being made to conserve marine life.

As you explore the museums and exhibitions, remember that each destination offers its own take on art, culture, and history, allowing you to gain a comprehensive understanding of Scarborough's vibrant identity.

Places to Eat and Drink

Scarborough offers a variety of delightful dining experiences for your enjoyment. In this section, we will explore some lovely spots for tea time and indulging in ice cream delights.

Tea Time

In Scarborough, you'll find a number of charming cafes and tearooms that serve delicious afternoon teas and a variety of hot beverages. Many places feature traditional, British-style treats, with scones, teacakes, and finger sandwiches on the menu. As you enjoy your cup of tea, take in the relaxing atmosphere and warm hospitality that Yorkshire is known for.

Some popular cafes for tea time include:

  • The Lifeboat Fish Bar: Known for its fantastic fish and chips, this cosy café also serves tasty tea and cakes. You'll love the seaside location and friendly staff.
  • Scholars Bar: A great spot to unwind, this traditional British pub also offers a selection of teas and light bites. The friendly staff will make sure you have an enjoyable experience.

Ice Cream Delights

When craving something sweet and refreshing on a sunny day in Scarborough, you'll find a wealth of ice cream parlours to choose from. Many of these establishments serve handmade, locally-produced ice cream, ensuring that you'll enjoy a delectable treat made with care and expertise.

Some popular spots for ice cream lovers include:

  • Harbour Bar: With its nostalgic 1950s décor and a mouthwatering array of ice cream flavours, Harbour Bar is a lovely place to indulge your sweet tooth.
  • Alonzi's Ice Cream Parlour: Feel like a child again as you savour the delightful range of ice cream flavours available at this family-run establishment. You'll find options to satisfy everyone in your party, including traditional favourites and more adventurous creations.

As you enjoy your visit to Scarborough, be sure to experience the fantastic local food scene, treating yourself to both traditional British delights and mouthwatering desserts.

Local Events

Scarborough Fair

Scarborough Fair is a popular event that brings the nostalgia and charm of traditional fairs to the town. It's a perfect opportunity for you to experience the history and heritage of Scarborough, with various attractions, stalls, and entertainers showcasing the vibrant culture of the town. The Scarborough Fair Collection boasts an assortment of vintage fairground rides, steam engines, and other magnificent pieces of machinery from the bygone era.

Vintage Fairground Rides

Step back in time and marvel at the beautifully restored vintage fairground rides available during Scarborough Fair. You can enjoy classic favourites like carousels, helter-skelters, and chair-o-planes while taking in the incredible attention to detail in the restoration and maintenance of these rides. The atmosphere is further enhanced by the sound of traditional fairground music, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in this nostalgic experience.

Visiting these local events in Scarborough is an exceptional way to explore the rich history and captivating atmosphere of a classic British seaside resort. So, don't miss the chance to experience the charm and excitement of Scarborough Fair and its vintage fairground rides during your visit.


The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel is a classic choice when visiting Scarborough. This magnificent hotel offers breathtaking views and impressive architecture. With its prime location, you can easily explore Scarborough's attractions like the castle, Alpamare Waterpark, and Sealife Scarborough.

Types of Accommodation

When planning your visit to Scarborough, you have a wide selection of accommodations to choose from, catering to various types of trips and budgets:

Hotels: Apart from the Grand Hotel, several other hotels provide comfortable lodging in Scarborough, such as The Royal Hotel. These establishments offer a range of room types and amenities tailored to your stay.

Guest Houses: For a personal touch and the comfort of home, guest houses are an excellent option. Many of these are located within walking distance to popular spots in Scarborough, making your stay convenient and enjoyable.

Cottages and Apartments: If you prefer self-catering facilities and a more private space, consider renting a cottage or an apartment. This type of accommodation is perfect for a family getaway or a group trip, allowing you to relax and unwind in a home-like environment.

Holiday Parks: For a fun-filled family experience, holiday parks provide an array of facilities, including play areas, swimming pools, and entertainment options. This type of accommodation ensures a memorable stay that the whole family will enjoy.

To make the most of your visit to Scarborough, don't forget to explore its car parks and convenient Park & Ride sites. With the right accommodation choice and the perfect mix of activities, your trip to Scarborough will undoubtedly be a delightful experience.


How do I spend a day in Scarborough?
Explore sun-kissed beaches, ancient castle ruins, and indoor museums. Enjoy sailing, wave braving, or a steam train ride through the North York Moors.

Is Scarborough worth visiting?
Yes, Scarborough offers a perfect mix of modern comforts and historical charm, including pristine beaches and traditional fish and chips.

What is Scarborough famous for?
Scarborough is renowned for its cliffs, iconic castle views, award-winning beaches, lively town center, and warm Yorkshire hospitality.

What day is market day in Scarborough?
Market day runs from Monday to Saturday at Scarborough Market Hall, where a variety of stalls and stores are open.

Is Scarborough better than Whitby?
Both offer unique experiences, with Scarborough having 21 beaches and Whitby 20, catering to different beach preferences.

Is Scarborough good for a night out?
Scarborough boasts a vibrant nightlife with cozy pubs, lively clubs, and live music venues.

Does Scarborough have a town centre?
Yes, Scarborough’s town center features a pedestrian-friendly shopping area with major brands and local boutiques, plus cafes and eateries.

Does Scarborough have a sea wall?
Yes, Robin Hood's Bay features a massive sea wall protecting 40 historical homes from coastal erosion.

Which is better, North or South beach Scarborough?
Both are unique; North Bay offers a tranquil beach experience, while South Bay is bustling with arcades, eateries, and shops.

Is there a promenade in Scarborough?
Yes, Scarborough's Victorian-era promenade is lined with fish and chip stalls and penny arcades.

Why is Scarborough popular?
Its majestic castle, exquisite Victorian architecture, and panoramic coastal views make it a popular tourist destination.

Can you swim in the sea in Scarborough?
Currently, it's advised to avoid swimming in the sea due to subpar water quality.

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