Best Things to Do in Yorkshire

Best Things to Do in Yorkshire

Yorkshire boasts an incredible wealth of things to do. The largest county in England, it is swathed in stunning scenery that flows from moorland to countryside to coast. Peppered with all kinds of amazing places to visit and activities to enjoy, it appeals to the wanderers, the adventurers and the solitude seekers alike.

For the dreamiest dive into Yorkshire escapism, take a look through some of the best things to do just waiting around the corner.

Go for a Hike in the Howardian Hills

Rolling green fields of the Howardian Hills in Yorkshire

The Howardian Hills in North Yorkshire encompasses an area of nearly eighty square miles. Set between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds, and the Vale of York, it is formed of Jurassic limestone and renowned for its striking natural landscapes. To really immerse yourself in the beauty of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, one of the most rewarding ways is to explore on foot. Woven with a plethora of great routes, the area offers gorgeous walks throughout the year. One of the best, a four and a half mile walk cuts through the iconic Castle Howard estate, home of the Howard family after whom the hills were named. Settle into a gentle rhythm as your feet fall into step along well-worn paths and enjoy spectacular views of the estate’s castle, lake, temple, and countryside beyond.

Explore the Forest of Bowland on Two Wheels

One of the mountain bike trails of Gisburn Forest in Yorkshire

The Forest of Bowland National Landscape is graced with a huge number of cycle routes following both smooth roads and tracks through verdant countryside. Whether you are a committed roadie or seasoned mountain biker, these weaving trails beckon for exhilarating moments and invite for a truly different perspective of the area. For off-road adventures, Gisburn Forest within the National Landscape is particularly enticing. A mecca for mountain bikers, it is crisscrossed with trails of varying difficulty, from entry-level routes to black-grade sections that zip over passes, through gullies and betwixt magical woodland knotted with evergreen trees.

Hear the Thunder of Aysgarth Falls

The Aysgarth falls in Yorkshire

Beckoning for woodland wanders, there are a number of brilliant walking trails that lead you to the thundering falls of Aysgarth. Some of the best walks in Yorkshire, these paths flow through enchanting woodland and follow the banks of the River Ure, and can be extended to include local highlights including Bolton Castle and Mill Gill Force. Pop into Aysgarth Falls Park Visitor Centre and café in Wensleydale and pick up a map to plot your favourite, before heading off in the direction of Aysgarth’s three falls. With something for everyone, its trails include a miles without stiles route, laid with a smooth, aggregate path ideal for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the majestic wildlife who reside in the woods, including adorable roe deer.

Be Inspired at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A sculpture on loan from the Henry Moore Foundation at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

An incredible artscape set within captivating Yorkshire scenery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton is a magnet for art-lovers. A registered charity, it comprises 500 acres of eighteenth century conservation land interspersed with artworks. Open throughout the year, it encourages visitors to interact with its landscapes and creative masterpieces and relish its idyllic setting. Venture down to the mirror-topped lake for moments of reflection, soak up unique frames of the sky at James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace, and look out for temporary and permanent sculptures by the country’s leading artists, including Damien Hirst. Once you’re ready to repose, make way to one of the park’s cafés for a freshly ground coffee and indulgent slice of cake.

Take a Ride on the Settle to Carlisle Railway

A bird's eye view of the 400-meter-long Ribblehead Viaduct in Yorkshire

One of the top things to do in Settle, a peaceful passage on the Settle to Carlisle railway affords stunning vistas across the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. Recognised as England’s most scenic railway and one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world, it was first constructed in 1876 and travels 73 miles across the county. Crossing over several famous landmarks, including fourteen tunnels and twenty viaducts, its most famous highlight is its passage over the Grade II* listed Ribblehead Viaduct. 32 metres high, the imposing Ribblehead Viaduct spans 400 metres across a low lying valley and boasts views for miles over the sweeping moorland and dramatic ridges of the Dales. Make sure you cosy up in a window-side seat for this one.

Discover Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden

The old abbey remains of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire in winter

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site revealing two moments in history. The home of ancient Cistercian abbey ruins and a preserved Georgian water garden, it merges Medieval architecture and institution with eighteenth century horticultural escapism and eccentricity. Set within a mile of each other in the outer reaches of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, these two unique attractions can be visited on foot via a short walk from each other or by car. Spend time meandering around the abbey remains and strolling the manicured grounds and deer park to uncover a landscape full of striking beauty and experience a fairytale journey through time.

See the Animals at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

A beautiful tiger walking through greenery at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

A centre for conservation and welfare, the Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a place of pure marvel. Home to nearly 500 animals across sixty different species, the park aims to foster a centre of biodiversity and create a safe haven for animals, many of which are rescued. If you’ve never been before, this 260-acre site should be atop your list of wildlife adventures in Yorkshire. Book your day pass and journey around the world, from the emerald banks of the Amazon to the sun-kissed savannas of Africa to the ice-strewn tundra of the Arctic. Among the many beautiful faces you can expect to see are polar bears, lions, rhinos, tigers, baboons and sea lions. For the full experience, you can also look forward to ranger talks, animal experiences and themed events, as well as dedicated play areas for children.

Explore the Beautiful Moors of Yorkshire

The heather-tufted moors and forests of the North York Moors in Yorkshire

Yorkshire is famous for its moors: great sweeping expanses of undulating hills and grassy plains tufted with the pretty yellow and purple flowers of heather and gorse. For ramblers and adventurers, there are no finer places to explore than these endlessly bewitching landscapes. And, fortunately, Yorkshire offers a huge amount of choice when it comes to moorland escapades. The county’s most famous, the North York Moors afford a huge array of things to do, as do the atmospheric Yorkshire Dales. Yorkshire is also home to a section of the North Pennines, which is known for its dramatic moorland and irresistible walking opportunities. For the best and safest experience, plot your route in advance, don a pair of sturdy boots, grab a map and a compass and follow the well-trodden trails of the moors. Upon your return, stop off at a traditional pub for well-deserved replenishment.

Dine in a Michelin Star Restaurant

Inside the regal interiors of Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall near Ripon in Yorkshire

Yorkshire is one of the UK’s leading foodie destinations, boasting more Michelin star restaurants than anywhere outside of London. Needless to say, for food-lovers, there’s nowhere better to sample delectable dishes and hearty plates crafted with the finest produce than the wonderful Michelin star eateries here. For dining decadence, a meal at the Michelin star Shaun Rankin at the seventeenth century Grantley Hall near Ripon promises a unique culinary journey showcasing locally grown and sourced ingredients. Meanwhile, the picture-postcard thatched Star Inn at Harome affords a refined Michelin star pub experience with cosy interiors and a menu of feel-good favourites.

Go Back in Time at Bolton Abbey

The beautiful ruins of Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire surrounded by trees and countryside

Bolton Abbey is a twelfth century Augustinian priory perched on the banks of the River Wharfe. The riverside priory’s ruins and church are open for exploration, set within bucolic countryside that imbues a transcending sense of peace and calm. Spend time exploring the site, before peeling away to explore the history-rich surroundings. From the priory, several walks branch off through fields and along riverbanks and lead to local beauty spots and historic sites. The longest, a fabulous walk of just over two miles, runs from the nearby Cavendish Pavilion to Barden Bridge, an attractive three-arched bridge spanning the Wharfe by Barden Tower and Priest House. Pack a picnic for your wander or pay a visit to Strid Wood tea rooms for a delicious reward.

Follow the Streets of the Capital

The old streets of York with a view of the world-famous York Minster in Yorkshire

York is one of the most famous cities in England, renowned for its fascinating past and timeless charm. Established by the Romans, its streets have grown with the passage of time and today represent a historical medley with stunning facades showcasing architecture throughout the centuries. Perhaps the most famous of its buildings, York Minster is the second biggest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, with construction first beginning in 1220. Enjoy a guided tour of the cathedral before switching direction ready to uncover The Shambles less than half a mile away. A Medieval shopping street lined with quirky shops and boutiques, The Shambles is believed to be the inspiration behind Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and simply exudes quixotic character. For cocktails, Evil Eye and Botanist on Stonegate and Dyls in Skeldergate Bridge are musts.

Head to the Coast at Robin Hood’s Bay

A view from Ravenscar of Robin Hood' Bay and beach on the coast in Yorkshire

Robin Hood's Bay is a dreamy fishing village on Yorkshire’s Heritage Coast, a heavenly stretch where the North York Moors meet the sea. A wonderful place for seaside sojourns for all generations, it features a family and dog-friendly sandy beach peppered with rock pools and fossils and overlooked by dramatic cliffs. A picture of winsome perfection, the village’s cobbled streets and alleyways keep one foot in the past and one in the present, blending contemporary comforts and amenities with tales of sailors, smugglers, Navy men, gangs and more. Follow the exhilarating scent of fresh sea air and luxuriate in slow moments browsing the village’s shops, pubs and eateries, before making way to the water’s edge and treading footsteps across the sand.

Take Tea at Betty’s

A cup of loose leaf tea being poured into a cup through a strainer, accompanied by sweet treats, at Betty's in Harrogate in Yorkshire

There’s something everyone must do at least once in Yorkshire and that’s take tea at Betty’s. One of the top things to do in Yorkshire, Betty’s was established in Harrogate by a Swiss baker and confectioner in 1919. Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious tea rooms in the UK, known far and wide for its delightful blends and sweet-toothed offerings. To savour contemplation and conversation with a cup of steaming tea in hand, book yourself a table at the original Betty’s in Harrogate or one of the new cafés in York, Harlow Carr, Northallerton, and Ilkley. Take tea for light refreshment or opt for the full afternoon tea to enjoy a lavish selection of sandwiches, cakes, bakes and scones while a live pianist plays a melodic soundtrack.

Looking forward to trying the top things to do in Yorkshire? Take a look at our luxury collection of cottages.


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