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What to See and Do in Scarborough

scarborough castle

Scarborough’s Captivating History

Scarborough, a coastal town in North Yorkshire, boasts a rich and vibrant history spanning over a thousand years. From its humble beginnings as a small Viking settlement called Skarthaborg (meaning ‘stronghold of the rock’) to its transformation into a bustling seaside resort, Scarborough has evolved through numerous stages, each leaving its mark on the town’s character and identity.

scarborough castle 3

The medieval Scarborough Castle, built in the 12th century by King Henry II, symbolized royal power and played a crucial role in defending the town against invasions and conflicts. During the Tudor period, Scarborough became a bustling port and market town with a thriving economy driven by trade in wool, grain, and other commodities.

By the 19th century, Scarborough had emerged as a fashionable seaside resort, attracting wealthy visitors seeking relaxation and entertainment. The town’s golden sands and picturesque cliffs became a magnet for tourists, while the development of elegant promenades, gardens, and spa facilities added to its allure.

Exploring Scarborough’s Attractions

Historic Landmarks

One of Scarborough’s most prominent landmarks is Scarborough Castle, perched dramatically atop a headland overlooking the North Sea. This medieval fortress offers breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline and the town below. Visitors can explore the castle’s ruins, learn about its fascinating history through interactive exhibits, and enjoy guided tours.

scarborough castle 2

History buffs will find plenty to explore in Scarborough’s old town, with its narrow cobbled streets and historic buildings dating back centuries. The Old Town Trail offers a glimpse into the town’s medieval past, taking visitors on a journey through landmarks such as St Mary’s Church, the Old Custom House, and the Merchant’s Row.

Natural Wonders and Parks

For those interested in the natural world, Scarborough boasts the Rotunda Museum, dedicated to geology and archaeology. Housed in a distinctive circular building, the museum showcases fossils, minerals, and artefacts, including prehistoric creatures’ remains.

rotunda museum

Outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of opportunities to explore Scarborough’s stunning natural surroundings. The Cleveland Way, a long-distance footpath stretching 110 miles along the North Yorkshire coast, passes through Scarborough and offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and rolling countryside. The nearby North York Moors National Park provides further opportunities for hiking, cycling, and wildlife spotting in a pristine natural setting.

beachfront transport

Seafront Attractions and Entertainment

Scarborough’s picturesque seafront is a hub of activity, offering many attractions and entertainment options. With its golden sands and bustling promenade, the South Bay beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or leisurely stroll along the seafront. Families will delight in the traditional amusement arcades, ice cream parlors, and donkey rides that line the beach, while thrill-seekers can take a spin on the historic cliff tramway or enjoy exhilarating water sports such as surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.


For a taste of Victorian elegance, visitors can wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens of Peasholm Park. This tranquil oasis features ornamental lakes, exotic plants, winding pathways, and a replica naval battle reenactment performed on the park’s boating lake during the summer months.

peasholm park

Arts and Culture

Scarborough is also home to a vibrant arts and cultural scene. The Stephen Joseph Theatre, founded by renowned playwright Alan Ayckbourn, showcases a diverse program of drama, comedy, and musical performances year-round. Meanwhile, the Scarborough Art Gallery features an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by local and international artists.

Savoring Scarborough’s Culinary Delights

Seafood Specialties

Scarborough’s location on the North Yorkshire coast ensures a steady supply of fresh fish and shellfish, expertly prepared and served at numerous establishments along the seafront. Visitors can indulge in classic dishes such as fish and chips, battered haddock, and seafood platters piled high with prawns, crab, and mussels. Recommended spots include the Golden Grid and the Clock Café.

seafood platter

For high-end seafood fare, Clark’s Restaurant is a favorite, focusing on local produce from North Yorkshire’s coast and countryside.

International Flavors

Those searching for international flavors will find plenty to tantalize their taste buds in Scarborough. The town’s diverse culinary scene features cuisines worldwide, including Italian, Indian, Thai, and more. For authentic Italian fare, diners can head to Tuscany Too, a cozy trattoria known for its wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta, and hearty meat dishes.

the plough

Cafés and Sweet Treats

Scarborough is also home to a thriving cafe culture, with numerous charming coffee shops and bakeries dotted throughout the town. Favorites include Eat Me Café, known for its delicious homemade cakes and pastries, and the Sea View Café, offering stunning views of the bay alongside its selection of freshly brewed coffees and teas.


No visit to Scarborough would be complete without sampling some of the town’s famous sweets and treats. Local shops and stalls offer an array of tempting goodies, from traditional seaside rock and fudge to handmade chocolates and artisanal ice cream. Be sure to stop by the Harbour Bar, serving mouthwatering ice cream sundaes and milkshakes since 1945.


As Scarborough looks to the future, it remains true to its roots as a place of natural beauty, history, and hospitality. Whether strolling along its sandy beaches, exploring its historic landmarks, or indulging in its culinary delights, visitors to Scarborough are sure to find a warm welcome and a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered.

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