Scarborough Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing

(Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England, UK)

Summer photo of the beachfrontThe beaches of Scarborough are the town's top tourist attractions, and rightly so. Many of the other attractions have been designed to accompany and further improve the appeal of the beachfront, such as funfairs, funicular railways, Victorian promenades and cliff top gardens, which are known for their colourful springtime bulbs and summer bedding plants.

Tourists will find that the South Bay is where a sizeable proportion of the main attractions reside, such as the Fantasy Forest, the Luna Park Funfair, Terror Tower and the Futurist Theatre. Sited alongside Scarborough's North Bay is the Sealife and Marine Sanctuary, Peasholm Park, the Atlantis Water Park and of course the North Bay Miniature Railway.

North Bay Miniature Railway view

North Bay Miniature Railway

Address: North Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO12 6PF, England, UK
Tel: +44 01723 368791
The North Bay Miniature Railway dates back to 1931 and runs for roughly 1.2 km / 0.75 miles, travelling between Peasholm Park and Scalby Mills, through tunnels and over bridges. Featuring vintage steam locomotives, such as the original 'Neptune' steam train, the railway line offers excellent views across the North Bay and runs on a 500-mm / 20-inch track. In 2008, the facilities at the North Bay Miniature Railway were upgraded, with the opening of a new Peasholm Park Station and the 'Glass House' bistro, which has already gained quite a reputation in the area for its fine dining.
Open hours: April to October - daily, November to March - Saturday and Sunday, seasonal variations
Admission: charge, discounts for children under 15 years old, children three years old and under are free, return tickets and seasonal passes are available

Funicular Railway photograph

Funicular Railways / Cliff Railways

Connecting the lower beaches to the elevated town centre, the cliff railways of Scarborough are some of the oldest in England. In total there are five cliff railways in Scarborough, although the two serving the North Bay have now been closed. Used since 1875, the South Cliff Lift (87 metres / 285 feet in length) is the oldest and longest, and was powered by gas until 1879, steam until 1947, and now electricity, and this railway in currently fully automated. The Central Tramway (71 metres / 233 feet in length) opened in 1880, at which time it was powered by steam, being subsequently converted to electric in 1910. Located just across from the Royal Hotel is the St. Nicholas Cliff Railway (31 metres / 102 feet in length), which opened in 1929 and originally had no lower station, simply dropping passengers off directly on the pavement.
Open hours: seasonal variations
Admission: nominal charge

Image of bridge leading to the harbour

Walking Tours, Cruises and Bus Tours

The Esplanade is a popular place to partake of a seaside stroll, leading to the South Bay's Italian Gardens and boasts some wonderful coastal views. Another good walk takes in the cobblestone street passing the Futurist Theatre on the Foreshore Road, while a walk to the town's famous castle sees panoramas of both the North and South Bay, whilst affording the opportunity to see the grave of Anne Bronte at the churchyard of St. Mary's.

Located directly above the Scarborough Spa Complex, the South Cliff Promenade overlooks the South Bay and the historic Old Town area, and is lined by a series of Victorian and Regency buildings. In the past, this beautiful part of town once regularly featured in the ITV drama 'The Royal'.

Harbourside photo, with the castle in the backgroundOf particular interest, look out for the enormous Scarborough Star Disk and its astronomical map of 42 bright stars and constellations. For something a little different, you may like to join a ghost tour around the town, commencing each Thursday evening (also Mondays in July and August) outside of the Golden Ball at Sandside.

If you are wishing to sightsee without the effort, then the open-top double decker tourist buses will be just the ticket, running along Marine Drive and the entire length of the seafront. For unbeatable views, consider a relaxing pleasure cruise around the South Bay onboard the Hispaniola, a recreation of an old pirate ship, which departs from the West Pier Harbour. From here you can also book for fishing trips and seal spotting cruises.
Open hours: seasonal variations
Admission: charge for guided tours and cruises

Sealife and Marine Sanctuary picture

Sealife and Marine Sanctuary

Address: Scalby Mills, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO12 6RP, England, UK
Tel: +44 01723 373414
One of the biggest family attractions present in North Yorkshire, the Scarborough Sealife and Marine Sanctuary contains all of the underwater creatures that you would expect, ranging from seals and star fish, to freshwater turtles and sharks. Visitors will be able to walk through a glass tunnel beneath the main tank and see the fish from an altogether different angle. Daily talks and feeding demonstrations about the resident otters, seals, penguins and turtles are worth looking out for, along with the successful onsite Seal Rescue Centre.
Open hours: March to early November, daily - 10:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children under 15 years old, students, families (two adults and two children) and seniors, children three years old and under are free

Picture showing the Stephen Joseph Theatre


Stephen Joseph Theatre
Address: Westborough, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1JW, England, UK
Tel: +44 01723 370541
Futurist Theatre
Address: Foreshore Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1NT, England, UK
Tel: +44 +01723 365789
YMCA Theatre
Address: St. Thomas Street, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1DY, England, UK
Tel: +44 01723 374227
The Stephen Joseph Theatre originates from the mid-1950s, although this current incarnation opened in the spring of 1996 and still has strong connections with prolific English playwright, Alan Ayckbourn. Various local and visiting productions are staged here each year, with performances held in either the 400-seater Round venue, or within its 165-seater McCarthy room, which often doubles as a function room or cinema. Dining is available at the onsite Peppers Restaurant and Bar, where pre-theatre packages are available. Considerably larger is the Futurist Theatre where audiences of more than 2,000 are treated to touring West End productions, musicals and comedy gigs. At the smaller YMCA Theatre, the summer show and seasonal pantomime are particular highlights.
Open hours: hours vary according to production
Admission: charge

Photo of the Peasholm Park and its Japanese-themed attractions

Parks and Gardens

Numerous pleasant green spaces are spread around Scarborough, with the Holbeck and South Cliff Gardens being packed with seasonal flowers and colour, and enchanted by its seafront backdrop. If you only have the time to visit one park, then Peasholm Park it should be. Landscaped some 100 years ago, Peasholm covers 14 hectares / 35 acres and is very much oriental in style, with a restored Japanese-style pagoda and half-moon bridge, waterfalls, bamboo, maples and a large lake with dragon boats. During the summer, regular brass band concerts are staged at the park, as well as lantern displays and fireworks.

At the Oliver's Mount Country Park at Weaponness Valley, the Scarborough Mere is a large natural lake sited next to the York and North Midland Railway line, which is currently used by fishermen and water skiers. At the Northstead Manor Gardens you will find a further lake with pedalos and one of England's oldest remaining water chutes. The town's main parks are as follows:Image of dragon boats at the Peasholm Park

Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Picture of the Atlantis Water Park next to the North Bay

Funfairs, Farmyards and Attractions for Children

Being essentially a seaside resort targeting families, it will come as no surprise that the Scarborough area is home to a wealth of attractions catering specifically for children of all ages. Ranging from farmyards with friendly animals and a funfair with dodgems, to birds of prey demonstrations and an open-air water park with fast slides and rapids, the town really does come alive during the summer tourism season. Located right next to the South Bay, the Fantasy Forest attraction is always popular and features ten-pin bowling, a shooting gallery, air soccer and amusements, while the harbourside Luna Park Funfair offers a 'Tiny Tots' roundabout, a big wheel and a tall Helter Skelter slide.

Open hours: seasonal variations
Admission: charge, discounts for children

Terror Tower

Address: 21 Foreshore Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1PB, England, UK
Tel: +44 01723 365373
The Terror Tower is a rather unexpected tourist attraction and comes with its own selection of haunted rooms, aliens, dinosaurs and monsters, all designed to scare its visitors. Using state-of-the-art equipment, animatronics, lighting effects and even live actors, the Terror Tower also has a psycho staircase, Dracula's castle, a jail for cannibals, a witches lair, an elevator to hell, and its very own chainsaw massacre recreation. This huge haunted house is spread across two buildings and three floors, and has been inspired by many of the most popular horror movies. Upon arrival, your journey will begin at the Bates Motel, where you can pay a visit to the shower scene and receive a personal message from 'mother'.
Open hours: April to June, October, daily - 10:00 to 18:00; July to September, daily - 10:00 to 21:00; November to March, Saturday and Sunday - 12:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge