Visiting Bempton Cliffs – One of The Best Places to See Puffins In The UK

visiting Bempton Cliffs

As a wildlife enthusiast, I have many a creature on my “must-see in the wild” bucket list from turtles to jaguars, orcas and giraffes, rhinos, whales, lions, puffins… oh goodness this list could go on and on. When you live in England seeing a lot of these involves travelling abroad but we are lucky enough to have particular spots around the coast where some on my list do either pass through or choose as their breeding ground and after seeing Bempton Cliffs on a wildlife show last year, we immediately set our sights on this as a destination for 2024. Hailed as one of the best places to see puffins along with other fantastic sea birds such as gannets, kittiwakes and razorbills, Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire is a wildlife haven and this is our experience of visiting.

About Bempton Cliffs

Bempton Cliffs is an RSPB site located along the North Yorkshire coast. The huge white chalk cliffs are impressive at any time of year, but visit between April and July, and you’ll find them transformed into England’s largest seabird city with over 1/2 million birds coming here to nest and breed.

Up on firm ground, the grasslands and scrub within this landscape are also home to Corn Buntings, Skylarks and Linnets during the spring/summer months and in the skies above Kestrel and Barn Owls are often seen. This is the ideal place for the avid birdwatcher. On top of this, the North Sea can often have other visitors such as dolphins and seals.


Bempton Cliffs,
Cliff Lane,
East Riding of Yorkshire,
YO15 1JF


Free parking which includes 74 spaces, 11 Blue Badge spaces and 2 coach bays. No height restrictions, no overnight parking.


RSPB Members – free

Adult Summer – £8

Adult Winter – £6

Children Summer (5-17) – £4

Children Winter (5-17) – £2

*First child per party is free

Under 5 – Free

Student Summer (with valid ID) – £6

Student Winter (with valid ID) – £3

Carer – Free

**Prices correct at time of writing June 2024


  • Visitor centre open 9:30am – 5pm. Welcoming staff at outdoor point on arrival, cafe inside which is open 9:30 – 4pm, gift shop, education centre, toilets (accessible and baby change included).
  • Wheelchair and pushchair friendly. Bempton is one of the most accessible seabird colonies in Europe.
  • All cliff edges are safe with fencing running all along so this is perfectly fine for even young children to visit.
  • Binocular hire. Also for sale in the shop.
  • Tour guides available.
large puffin at Bempton Cliffs visitor centre


As with all of Yorkshire, dogs are very much welcomed. Just keep them on a lead and under control.

Visiting Bempton Cliffs

We visited Bempton Cliffs in May half term and its popularity must have soared because on first arrival we were actually turned away due to a lack of parking spaces. We spoke to a lovely staff member who said they had been very busy all week and to try again around 2-3pm. So, we went off to Flamborough Outer Headland to see the seals and returned to Bempton a little later on when we did have success and managed to park.

First Impressions

Once the amazing staff helped us in the car park, we were greeted by more friendly faces. We were welcomed, asked if we had been before, told all about the area and facilities, and shown what wildlife had been spotted lately. Customer service at it’s highest!

list of seabirds spotted at Bempton Cliffs

To The Cliffs

I can’t even describe to you how excited I was for this day. Our whole Yorkshire trip was built because we saw Bempton Cliffs on TV and we had waited until the end of our break (mostly due to weather) to visit so my anticipation levels had just crept up and up and I knew this was my only chance to see the puffins as we were going home the following day – not too much pressure then!

As we walked across to the first viewpoint, I could see lots of people crowded around, excitedly looking through their binoculars. I never dreamed I would wander up and immediately see a puffin, but I did! Even without my binoculars, I could make out the distinctive colourful beak and bright orange feet. It was just unbelievable and being surrounded by other wildlife lovers all feeling the same way just added to the overall experience.

children looking out at seabirds at Bempton Cliffs

Unfortunately, puffins are very small and I only had my phone on me for photo taking and even with zooming all the way in and trying to film, I couldn’t get a decent clear picture to share here. But my friend Sarah from Play at Home Babies on Instagram went the same week and captured this amazing photo:

a puffin at Bempton Cliffs

Now, when they say they have 1/2 million birds here, your brain can’t really comprehend that… until you see it. And even then it is very hard at first to take it all in. I had no idea that seeing all these birds, all their activity, all their hard work to feed their young literally over your head and right in front of you would have such an affect on me but it truly did move me to tears. As somebody who cares an awful lot for our planet, the environment and the impact we as humans have on the natural world, to stand in a place where we were vastly outnumbered, to witness all of these seabirds do what we regularly see on the wildlife shows whilst looking out at the great North Sea just completely stopped me in my tracks. The world is full of such wonders and here humans are (well not all of us) taking it for granted, having a massive negative impact, taking too much and not giving enough back. I had to take some moments to really absorb what I was seeing and feeling.

Bempto Cliffs

Once I composed myself we moved onto more and more viewpoints – there are 6 altogether – and in this time we saw Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Puffins, Gannets, Crows, Herring gulls and probably much more but identifying them without a better lens was too tricky.

Gannets at Bempton Cliffs

We wandered up and then down the coastline and I think we all said wow more times that we can remember, even the children were absolutely blown away (mostly by the Gannets that were often very close to us). This was by far my favourite day of our whole Yorkshire trip and I am so glad we made the long drive up to visit Bempton Cliffs.

birds at Bempton Cliffs

Inside the Visitor Centre

We did a quick wander around the visitor centre to use the toilets, grab a snack and look at the wonderful goodies in the shop (and there were some fab ones) but as we didn’t want to eat into our time too much we headed back out to the cliffs for one final look. Again, I have to say the staff were all so friendly and fun in here.

What to Take

I would recommend taking:

  • Binoculars
  • A good camera or additional phone camera lens
  • Waterproofs
  • Layers of clothing (it was very changeable the day we went)
  • Hat (even if sunny it can be windy)
  • Hair ties for long hair (again for the wind)
  • Good/comfortable walking shoes
  • Dog poo bags
  • Sunglasses and sun cream
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Picnic if you don’t want to spend too much
sea birds at Bempton Cliffs

Overall Thoughts

Shall I just end this with wow?! It seems fitting. No, but seriously, if you are into your wildlife and/or bird watching, if you have some of these birds on your must-see list I would highly recommend visiting Bempton Cliffs, especially during these breeding months. I will most definitely be going again in the future… And taking a far better camera next time!

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