Planning a trip to the gorgeous Yorkshire village of Robin Hoods Bay? Keep reading and uncover the best things to do in Robin Hoods Bay for the perfect day out in Yorkshire.
From smugglers and fishing heaven to one of the prettiest villages in England, Robin Hoods Bay is a must-see in Northern England. Clinging to the sea cliffs of the Yorkshire Coast, this quaint little town of stone houses and orange roofs is shrouded in folklore and mystery. The pretty little alleyways beg to be photographed and the traditional inns are perfect for learning more about the village’s past.
Keep reading to find out the best things to do in Robin Hood Bay and in the local area. Prepare yourself for a classic English day out on the coast with this Robin Hoods Bay guide. Fish and chips anyone?
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Read more: Our Whitby Travel Guide
A Short History of Robin Hoods Bay
Robin Hoods Bay and the nearby parish of Fylingdales date back to the Bronze Age some 3000 years ago but the first settlers here were the Saxons and Norsemen. They survived in the area thriving on farming and fishing.
The village later grew through the centuries until the 16th Century when it has outgrown Whitby in size and importance.
Robin Hoods Bay was an important town for fishing and smuggling over the centuries. Smuggling was financed by many in and out of the village and many were willing to take part in the smuggling operations. Contraband was hidden just about anywhere from inn basements to hidden underground passages in houses. There were several fierce battles between smugglers and authorities through the centuries.
To this day Robin Hoods Bay still has a small but tight-knit community that lives off tourism and local businesses.
You might be wondering how Robin Hoods Bay came to get its name? Does it really have a connection with Robin Hood, the outlaw himself?
There isn’t much evidence to suggest that Robin Hood actually visited Yorkshire. He could have, but does anyone really know for sure?
The name of the town would have most likely originated from local history and folklore. Robin Hood was also the name of an ancient forest spirit, much like Robin Goodfellow. These elves or spirits were widespread across the country and the name may have originated from this.
How to Get to Robin Hoods Bay
So, where is Robin Hoods Bay? Robin Hood’s Bay is a small village located on the North Coast of England in the county of Yorkshire. It lies 6 miles south of another lovely Yorkshire coastal town, Whitby.
Robins Hood Bay is easy to get to from most places in England, although it can be a little time-consuming if you’re coming from London or the South. If you’re coming from London, I suggest coming up to this area for more than one day and checking out other places to visit near Robin Hoods Bay too.
Probably the best way to get to Robin Hood’s Bay is by car. If you have your own car this will be the most efficient and probably most cost-effective way.
From London and the south, it’s best to take the M1 north getting off just after Leeds, onto the A64, past York, and up to Scarborough. From there you can take the coastal A171 north to Robin Hood’s Bay. If you want to take the scenic route you can head to York and then proceed to drive through the country roads of the North York Moors National Park. From London, driving times to Whitby are about 5.5 hours.
From Manchester or the North, make your way across to the Yorkshire coast along the A64 towards Scarborough where you can also take the A171 straight up to Robin Hood Bay.
When making your way to Robin Hoods Bay by car, I highly recommend using an app like Google Maps or Waze for directions and the latest traffic updates.
Driving is definitely the best way to get to Robin Hoods Bay and if you don’t have a car, I highly recommend renting one.
I always use Discover Cars to find the cheapest rates for car rental in the UK. They generally have the best service, policies and deals. Click here to check rates for your dates with Discover Cars.
Parking in Robin Hoods Bay is located at the top of the hill. There is a car park right opposite the Victoria Hotel byt the roundabout but it is small so make sure to arrive early. You’ll find alternative parking at the Station Car Park a little further north.
By Public Transportation
There is no train line to Robin Hood’s Bay. If you want to take the train you’ll need to take a train operated by Northern Trains to Whitby and then take the X93 bus from Whitby Station to Robin Hoods Bay.
You can also take a train from London’s Kings Cross to Longbeck, and then take a local bus from there to Robin Hoods Bay.
A similar situation is also the case with buses. There are no direct buses from London to Robin Hood’s Bay and you’ll need to change in Leeds and again in Whitby. Buses take around 8 hours depending on connection times. A bus is a good option however if you’re visiting from nearby cities like York, Manchester or Leeds.
To compare bus and rail tickets you can use Omio– it’s my preferred platform to research and buy bus and rail tickets in the UK and Europe. Check bus and rail connections to Whitby using Omio here.
Top Things to do in Robin Hoods Bay
Explore the Village and its Alleyways
Robin Hood’s Bay is a village that clings closely to the cliffs of the Yorkshire Coast. It’s a small web of narrow passageways, snaking alleys, steep steps, and crooked houses that together form a picturesque yet disordered jigsaw puzzle.
One of the best ways to get to know the village and experience its ordered chaos is simply by exploring and wandering the alleys and ginnels. As you walk you’ll notice steep streets, crooked stairs, cobblestone passageways as well as beautiful cottages with colored doorways.
Robin Hood’s Bay is incredibly picturesque and I promise, you’ll have your camera out pretty much the whole time.
Some of my favorite corners of Robin Hoods Bay include the tiny alley right by the Piano Tuner Scarborough, New Road as it curves by the harbor and the hilly green right by Robin Hoods Bay Museum.
Visit the Old Coastguard Station
Follow New Road down to the harbor and you’ll soon find yourself just outside Robin Hoods Bay Old Coastguard Station. It’s a National Trust Visitor’s Center located right on the harbor on the edge of the bay.
The Old Coastguard Station has certainly witnessed a lot in its time. In the 1800s it was a public house and at the height of Robin Hoods Bay’s smuggling days, a coastguard was installed there to control the arrival of contraband.
Throughout the years it also served as an inn and a laboratory for Yorkshire University. Now, it’s owned by the National Trust which have converted it into a visitors center where you can learn more about the history of Robin Hoods Bay and even check out a replica of the old smuggler’s house.
Spend some time on Robin Hoods Bay Beach
Visit Robin Hood’s Bay at low tide and you’ll see the harbor give way to a glorious, dark sand beach. It’s not your ordinary beach, however. As Robin Hoods Bay beach is a tidal beach, it gets completely covered at high tide meaning that it’s a complete paradise for marine life.
Walk along the beach and you come across scuttling crabs, rock pools full of small marine creatures, seaweed, and more. It’s heaven for those interested in the local marine life or those that love a good beach walk. You’ll see many others coming here for a stop of rock pooling too.
Just make sure to be careful on your way down as the slipway can be a little slippery. It’s also a good idea to check the Robin Hood Bay tide times so you don’t make the same mistake we did and arrive at high tide.
For those that prefer to admire the beach from a distance, head up the staircase and round the back of the Old Coastguards Station and you’ll get to a lovely public terrace where you can enjoy the beach without getting your feet wet. The coastal views from here are also stellar.
Hike the Cleveland Way
There are many Robin Hoods Bay walks that you’ll encounter during your time in the village.
The Cleveland Way National Trail is a 109-mile walking trail that runs from Helmsley in North Yorkshire to Saltburn-by-the-Sea and then follows the coast down to Filey. We don’t suggest you walk the entire route but as the trail passes right through Robin Hoods Bay, it’s a great opportunity to get out and make the most of it.
You can walk the 7- mile path from Robin Hoods Bay to Whitby which is spectacular. You can also walk part of the Cleveland Way southwards to Boggle Hole or even further. Whichever way you decide to go, the coastal views are just breathtaking.
The Cinder Track is another great alternative to the Cleveland Way. The Cinder Track is a walking path that follows a disused railway line. It winds its way through the North York Moors from Whitby to Scarborough and you can easily join the trail at Robin Hoods Bay.
You can walk in whichever direction you like. The Cinder Track is a great alternative to the Cleveland Way if you’d like to see more inland areas of Yorkshire. Hayburn Wyke is a particularly attractive point on the route.
Enjoying one of the many Robin Hoods Bay walks is one of the top free things to do in Robin Hoods Bay.
Visit Robin Hoods Bay Museum
To learn more about Robin Hoods Bay and its riveting past, make sure to stop by the Robin Hoods Bay Museum. Located in a former mortuary, the small museum contains a lot of interesting displays connected with the Robin Hoods Bay fishing community and smuggling heritage.
You’ll find artifacts from the last lifeboat that was stationed in the harbor, information about who smuggled what during the village’s colorful past, and other interesting items.
The museum is small and visiting won’t take more than 30 minutes. It’s well worth popping in while exploring all the other things to do in Robin Hoods Bay.
Visit Old Stephen’s Church
St. Stephen’s Church is Robin Hood Bay’s main church and a symbol of the town and its community and history. Built in 1821, the church sits on a hilltop overlooking the Yorkshire Coast and the rolling hills of the Yorkshire countryside.
Take a walk around the churchyard, where you’ll find memorials to shipwrecked sailors and those who went out to save them.
Pop Over to Whitby
Just 6 miles up the coast you’ll find the glorious town of Whitby, home to delicious fish and chips, Dracula, and Captain Cook. Whitby is filled with culture and history and there are many things to do, see and learn about.
Start at Whitby Abbey, the ruined hilltop Abbey where Bram Stoker got the inspiration for Dracula before walking up or down the iconic 199 Steps for views of the harbor.
St. Mary’s Church is another iconic spot on the hill and you can also spend the afternoon exploring Whitby’s sandy beaches.
For the perfect day out on the Yorkshire coast why not spend the morning in Robin Hoods Bay before popping over to Whitby in the afternoon for the rest of the day?
Read more: Top Things to do in Whitby UK
Explore the local Shops and Cafes
Robin Hoods Bay might not be big but it certainly does have its fair share of lovely local shops and cosy cafes. There are quite a few different independent stores in Robin Hoods Bay from souvenirs to books. Not only will you be supporting the local community with your purchases you’ll also be able to take back some unique and pretty items.
Some of my favourite stores in Robin Hoods Bay were Robin Hood’s Bay Book Shop ( I love a good read), Berties for all the plants and aesthetic homeware, and Jet Black for unique jewelry made with the local Whitby Jet, a semi-precious, organic gemstone.
When it comes to cafes make sure not to miss Tea, Toast and Post for coffee with splendid views of the harbor and The Cove, a delightful place for coffee and cake in a converted chapel.