Yorkshire is one of England’s greatest treasures. Yorkshire is known as ‘God’s own country’ due to its spectacular scenery. Alex is from Yorkshire and his love for this county has led him to show me many beautiful sites. Almost every summer for several years we would explore this truly magnificent place.
Here is the ultimate bucket list for planning a perfect trip to Yorkshire. This comprehensive guide for things to do and see to Yorkshire will help you find many gems. Will you want to visit the sleepy abbeys such as Jervaulx Abbey and Bolton Abbey? Will you want to discover pretty waterfalls in Ingleton or see the remains of a gigantic ancient waterfall in Malham? Are you an avid hiker who would enjoy strolling across the wild moors or if you fancy a harder hike would you take on the Three Peaks Challenge? There are many wonderful walks to choose from or grab a bike if you would rather explore on two wheels. The annual Tour de Yorkshire attracts thousands of keen cyclists.
The guide will also show you how to spot the plentiful wildlife such as peregrines and the diverse flora such as the late summertime heather which covers the moorland in a deep purple hue.
Last but not least, you cannot forget the hardy Yorkshire men themselves. You’ll find these welcoming folks in beautiful stone cottages dotted around the county. The people of Yorkshire are proud of their county and rightly so.
This guide is for first-time visitors to Yorkshire as well as seasoned experts who are looking at exploring delights they may not of heard of yet. All of the sites below were recommended by Alex who is a local.
Without further a due here are 50 things to see and do in Yorkshire, UK.
Alex spent of many of his childhood summers paddling in the fresh waters of the river Wharfe at Appletree Wick. A popular place for locals, Appletree wick is a tiny village tucked away in Wharfedale. Local families bring picnics and set up camp for the day by the shallow waters. There is a rope swing for children to play off and a small island which the more adventurous ones wade over to. Visit on a sunny day and bring your swimsuit.
2. Aysgarth Falls
Visit after or during wet weather to witness thousands of gallons of water cascade down the flight of waterfalls at Aysgarth Falls. Spread over an almost one-mile stretch and surrounded by forest the falls of Aysgarth are a must visit for any waterfall fan.
3. Bolton Abbey
Technically this Abbey is actually called Bolton Priory and the village is called Bolton Abbey. However, most people call this Augustine monastery Bolton Abbey. This 12th-century Augustinian priory is a little smaller than Fountains Abbey but the real attraction here are the stepping stones. Are you brave enough to cross the raging, icy waters of the river Wharfe? There is also a footbridge for the less courageous amongst us. Embrace your inner child and build dams out of stones, play in the river, climb over the ruins and jump over the stepping stones.
4. Brimham Rocks
Whether you visit on a sunny or a misty or a snowy day Brimham rock will not fair to leave you mystified by its unique landscape. Odd rocks dotted on top of a hill seem to defy gravity as they have precariously balanced for millions of years. These carefully balanced rocks have fantastic names such as the anvil, the crow and the smiling bear. Indeed, everyone is smiling in what is advertised as nature’s natural playground. Brimham Rocks is a great place for young and old alike to explore. The site is free to enter and is situated just above the quaint village of Summerbridge.
5. Go Camping
There is something wonderful about sleeping outdoors and where better to do so than in magnificent Yorkshire. You could camp by the beach and see the cliffs turn pink in the evening at Filey. Or would you brave a campsite in the wild and windy Yorkshire moors for a more rugged experience? Camping is a great way to really appreciate the Yorkshire landscape as well as not break the bank on accommodation costs!
Check out Veggie Vagabonds 49 Things That Should Always Be on Your Camping Packing List for the ultimate packing guide!
6. Coniston Limestone Pavement
Whilst the dry-stone paving on top of Malham Tarn can be hard to compete with, its cousin over by Coniston is far quieter. Whilst Malham is a popular honey pot in the dales Coniston’s dry-stone paving remains almost completely unknown. A visitor does not even know it exists until they climb onto the stoney ridge and discover the vast stone landscape for themselves. Venture onto the ridge and stay a while. Enjoy your discovery as other walkers cannot even see you are hiding up there. You have discovered one of the dales best kept geographical secrets. Take a picnic and enjoy your secret hideout.
7. The Druid’s Temple
Forget the crowds of Stonehenge and see a hidden replica tucked away in the forest. Whilst the Druid’s Temple is a folly, built during hard times to give the farmers a way of earning an income, it is still a magical place. Unlike Stonehenge, the Druid’s Temple is free to enter. Furthermore, visitors are able to touch and climb the rocks making it an ideal visit for adults and children alike. It serene forest setting creates a sense of peace amongst the gentle giants. Although there is a worrying sacrificial altar… I wonder when that was last used…
8. Follow the footsteps of the Bronte sisters in Howarth
Haworth is a little town close to Bradford. Famous for its connection with the Bronte sisters, who wrote most of their famous works while living at the Haworth Parsonage which you can now visit. The parsonage is now a museum dedicated to the lives and works of these famous sisters. Any Bronte fan must visit Howarth during their trip to Yorkshire!
9. Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey is simply beautiful. It is impossible not to be impressed by this abbey. In medieval times Fountains Abbey was one of the largest and wealthiest abbeys in England due to its extensive wool trade. There is so much to explore in the ruins of the abbey and in the grounds surrounding it. You can happily spend the whole day there looking at the abbey, the mill, Fountains Hall, the deer park, the woodland pathways and the lake. Bring a picnic and enjoy this grand abbey.
10. Grassington Bridge
The quaint village of Grassington is a wonderful place to start a gentle hike. The most spectacular feature of Grassington is the lovely old Grassington bridge. There has been on a bridge on this spot for centuries, but the latest alterations were made in 1824 when it was substantially rebuilt. The alterations were necessary due to the large numbers of pack-horses from the lead mines which crossed the river here on the route to Skipton and Gargrave. Walk down to the riverside to admire the beautiful stone bridge standing proudly above you.
11. Harewood House
A particularly grand day out can be spent at Harewood house. The house is full of grand stately rooms and spectacular chandeliers. The grounds and gardens are vast, indeed there are over 100 acres of gardens at Harewood. There are many different parts of the garden to explore and the most exotic part is the Himalayan garden. So vast are the grounds and plentiful are the trees that apparently more than 30 tons of leaves are collected by the garden staff every year in autumn time! Harewood house is easy to get to by car or bus from both Leeds and Harrogate.
Consistently voted as “the happiest place to live” in Britain since 2013, Harrogate is a lovely place to visit. Another spa town full of grand Victorian features such as the Royal Pump Rooms and the Montpellier Quarter. Visit on a sunny day to stroll along the Strid and Valley Gardens and finish your day with a perfect pot of Yorkshire tea in Bettys Tea Rooms.
13. Hike the Yorkshire 3 Peaks
For the hardy walkers out there take on the Yorkshire 3 peak challenge. The challenge requires hikers to take on Ingleborough, Pen-Y-Ghent and Great Whernside in just one day. Choose a sunny day, start early and enjoy a nice cold beer when you have finished!
14. Hole of Horcum
The Hole of Horcum is essentially a giant hole in the Yorkshire Moors near Pickering. The hole is 120 m deep and about 1.2 km across. Its size makes it difficult to take a photo which encapsulates the scale of this interesting geographic feature. Legend has it that this Devil’s Punchbowl was created by Wade the Giant. During an argument with his wife, he scooped up a handful of earth to throw at her. You can now walk through this bowl, just watch out for giants.
15. Get wet and go caving at How Stean Gorge
How Stean Gorge is an incredible hidden gem in Yorkshire. A wet and dark adventure await budget explorers as you are armed with a hard hat, torch and courage for just £7 (£6 concession). Gingerly climb into the icy waters and carefully enter the gorge. The water gurgles up to your knees as you enter the pitch-black cave. After you have dried off, or if you did not fancy getting wet, walk to Tom Taylor’s Cave and see if you can spot the many bats fast asleep on the ceiling.
16. The Kilburn White Horse
The Kilburn White Horse is huge. He is almost 100 m long and 67m high. The horse is pure white and lies proudly on the hill. The Kilburn White Horse is the most northerly hill figure in England and was created by removing topsoil and exposing the underlying white limestone. White limestone chips have also been added to protect and beautify the stallion.
17. Jervaulx Abbey
Another amazing secret gem in Yorkshire is Jervaulx Abbey. This sleepy abbey does not receive the same attention or crowds as Whitby, Fountains or Bolton. Instead, it is full of locals relaxing in the sunshine with a book. A few photographers join us as they marvel at the romantic ruins. Sadly the abbey suffered cruelly under the dissolution of the monasteries, more so than some of its neighbours as the last abbot joined the pilgrimage of grace which was an uprising against the king. Enjoy what is left of this great abbey which is now a tranquil place to spend a couple of relaxing hours.
18. Visit the fantastic city of Leeds
Leeds is a fantastic city full of many wonderful sites. There signs of Leeds’ prosperous past through the many Victorian elements dotted across the city. There are lovely old bridges to wonder over and the magnificent town hall is a sight to behold. The gorgeous corn exchange full of wonderful independent boutiques is a must visit. Also, make sure you leave time to see the beautiful old markets in the Victoria Quarter. Culture fans will be spoilt for choice with the Royal Armoury, the art gallery, the city museum and many other museums which are free to visit. It is also nice to stumble across little secrets such as the Leeds library and the colourful rainbow in the gay quarter.
19. Malham Cove
You cannot prepare yourself for the sheer epic scale of Malham Cove. The cliffs are 70m high and are the remains of an ancient waterfall. On top of the cove are fascinating stone formations known as limestone paving. If you have seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, then you may recognise this as one of the places Harry camps. Although camping is not allowed you can still enjoy a wonderful couple of hours exploring the base and top of Malham Cove. Just be careful not to walk too close to the edge. Alex did so once and fell off! As I screamed and ran over to the edge, expecting to see a pile of blood 70m below, he had luckily fallen onto a ledge just below! Keep small children close by as there are no barriers.
20. Malham Tarn
One of the few bodies of water in the Yorkshire Dales national park and one of highest lakes in England is Malham Tarn. This tranquil pool is known as a tarn which is a mountain lake formed by a glacier. The Dales is predominately a limestone area, but Malham Tarn itself mainly lies on a bed of slate. The tarn is beautifully blue and is a lovely area to stroll around. Combine your visit to the tarn with a trip to Malham cove.
21. Visit England’s oldest sweet shop in Pateley bridge
Pateley Bridge is a lovely little village and home to England’s oldest sweet shop. Step back in time as you enter this quaint store at the top of the high street. Wander down the cobbled high street under the colourful bunting and explore the pretty little stores on either side of the cobbles. Spot the cycling paraphernalia adoring the grey stone walls. If you have time venture up the hilltop to the local church to enjoy gorgeous views of surrounding Nidderdale.
22. Wild Peregrines Sightings
Peregrine falcons are incredible creatures and you can see them in Yorkshire. Since the early 90ies, they have nested at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Time your visit right and there will be volunteers on hand with telescopes, so you can see these birds of prey for yourself. Volunteers are there from Thursday to Monday during the summer from 10:30 – 4:30. Admire these fast birds from the telescopes but keep your dogs close by. During our last visit, whilst I took a break from the telescopes I noticed a dog had helped himself to one of the volunteer’s sandwiches! I shouted out as everyone was looking up and had not noticed the cheeky collie!
23. Purple Heather
Upon the wild moors, one is impressed to see a lone tree battling the elements, often crooked from the relentless winds. One plant which thrives particularly well is a hardy shrub with deep purple hues. Three different types of heather grow up on the moorlands. These resilient purple plants have learnt how to cope as their thin stems protect them from losing too much water to the strong winds. The heather provides essential habitats for grouse and pheasants. If your visit to Yorkshire happens to fall in July or August you have a good chance of seeing purple as far as the eye can see on the Yorkshire moors.
24. The Hidden Trail to Two Stoops
Two Stoops is another wonderful hidden gem. Yorke’s Folly, known locally as Two Stoops, was built during a time of high unemployment. The wealthy Yorke Family commissioned the folly which originally consisted of 3 pillars to provide paid work to the local workers — the third pillar collapsed during a storm in 1893. The walk is easily accessible from the layby on Nought Moor close to Pateley Bridge. This trail is relatively unknown to outsiders and as such walkers can enjoy the peaceful views without crowds.
25. Robin Hood’s Bay
The wonderfully named fishing village is a perfect smugglers’ haunt. Whilst it is doubtful whether Robin Hood ever did battle pirates in the bay and return the loot to the inhabitants there is plenty of evidence to support the village’s smuggling past. Rumour has it that there are tunnels under the houses so that the smugglers could easily hide their takings! Nowadays Robin Hood’s Bay is a sleepy village full of pretty jewellery shops selling black Whitby jet. Walk down the cobbled street to the lovely seafront and admire the wonderful surroundings.
The town of Skipton was voted by the 2018 Sunday Times to be one of the Best Places to Live in northern England. It is not hard to see why with its lovely cobbled high street full of quaint cafes, gentle canal and impressive 900-year-old castle overlooking the town. Nicknamed ‘the gateway to the dales’ you will probably pass through here when you are heading to the Yorkshire Dales. You should stop and linger a while at this very picturesque market town.
27. Top Withens
Battle the elements of the harsh moorland near the village of Howarth. Bronte fans from around the world hike to the icon spot of Top Withins. Perched on the hill is a ruined farmhouse which many believe was Emily Bronte’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Contrary to popular belief, there is a plaque upon the ruin stating that this farmstead bore no resemblance to the farm described in Emily Bronte’s work the moorland setting may have been in her mind as she was writing. Whether this is or is not the farm in Wuthering Heights its wild moorland setting would certainly have most of our imaginations thinking up some cruel tale. Indeed, the farm was struck by tragedy as it was hit by lightning in 1893. Hike up to Top Withins and bring your literary geek with you.
28. Coniston Dib
Conistone Dib is a dry limestone gorge. Walk up the stony steps of an ancient waterfall. Hard to imagine rushing water running over them now. Enter at the narrowest part of the Dib through Gurling Trough. There is a gravel path was walled by stony cliffs on either side. There are no sounds of the wider world within the Dib as the cliffs engulf you, simply the sound of your feet on the gravel. It becomes even narrower as the path is only wide enough for one person at a time. It is a little slippy therefore, I would advise caution in wetter weather. We passed an elderly couple struggling on this section. The lady exclaimed that she would not have come this way had she known about the scramble! It is easier to walk up than walk down the Conistone Dib!
29. Ingleton Waterfalls Trail
This wonderful 4-mile route is one of the most delightful trails in the dales. Pass through lush woodland full of green moss and stumble across incredible waterfalls. The waterfalls have lovely names such as Hollybush Spout but the most magnificent has an equally grand name to match it. Thornton Force is the tallest waterfall as it stumbles 14m from the limestone cliff. The bravest can even walk behind the tumbling waters!
For more details on the walk, check out Yorkshire Dales Waterfalls Walk.
30. Yorkshire Lavender Fields
Lilac buds sway gently in the Vale of York. Up on a hillside in the Howardian Hills, a lavender farm is run by a family. The family started the lavender farm, lavender gardens and specialist plant nursery over 20 years ago. There are hundreds of different lavender and herbs to buy at their tea room and gift shop. There is also a deer and sculpture park. Oh and the view is not too bad either. Immerse yourself in the wonderful heady scents of lavender at Yorkshire lavender fields.
31. Sheffield Peddler Market
Sheffield is an interesting city, which has produced the likes of Sean Bean and Michael Palin. In fact, Sheffield even has its own Hollywood-style star walk of fame. Yet my favourite part of Sheffield is Kelham island. This part of the town is cool, hipster and has an incredible vibe. Significant transformation has occurred in recent years and become one of the most exciting parts of the city. Old steel and cutlery factories house indie shops, breweries and most importantly, the Peddler Market. The Peddler market is a feast for the senses with street food, live music, craft beers, cocktails, art and DJs.
For another quintessentially unique Sheffield experience check out Queen Beady’s Experience of Tramlines Festival.
32. Spot lambs and sheep
Just because there are so many sheep in Yorkshire.
33. Tour de Yorkshire
Tour de Yorkshire is an annual cycling event which takes place in early summer. Following the significant success of the visit of the 2014 Tour de France to Yorkshire, many were keen to have a legacy event which in 2018 was extended to a 4-day cycle across the beautiful county. If you time your visit right expect to see Yorkshire in full cycling fever! Just check when and where the event is as travel can be more difficult as the roads are taken over by cycling professionals.
34. Step back in time at the Ryedale folk museum
Ryedale folk museum proudly boasts 4000 years of history and its charming open-air museum. Located in Hutton-Le-Hole there are 20 buildings which tell the story of the people of Ryedale from the Iron Age to the 20th century. Ryedale Folk Museum is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours for old and young alike. Particularly popular is the little sweet shop and the beautiful thatched buildings. There are also old games to play and for those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the old days, costumes to try on. Time your visit right and you might get to see the blacksmith at work or one of the many other workshops at Ryedale Folk Museum.
35. See Yorkshire’s highest and largest public art piece
Cold Stone Cut is a working quarry, but also home to Yorkshire’s highest and largest public art piece. Designed in part to admire the landscape of Nidderdale juxtaposed against the industrial quarry and in part as “an interpretive medium for the surrounding landscape, its industrial heritage and its relationship with the quarry”. It is certainly impressive and free to visit. There is also a giant bike next to the quarry to celebrate the 2014 Tour de Yorkshire which I don’t think you are allowed to climb but want to all the same.
36. Unleash your inner explorer on Roseberry Topping
Roseberry Topping is a wonderfully shaped hill rising over one thousand feet in the North Yorkshire Moors. It has long drawn interest from nearby inhabitants but one particular fellow whom it would inspire was the explorer James Cook. His family moved to a nearby farm and when James had spare time he would venture up Roseberry Topping. Some believe these hikes inspired his famous wanderlust and this taste for adventure and exploration stayed with him for life.
37. Drink Yorkshire Tea
It is always recommended to try local delicacies when visiting a certain area. One particular drink that you must try during any trip to Yorkshire is Yorkshire Tea. Yorkshire Tea is actually a blend of black teas from Asia and Africa. Whilst it is not England’s oldest tea as it was first blended in the 1970s, it is certainly one of its favourites. It is particularly delicious in Yorkshire as the formula was created specifically to match the mineral content of Yorkshire water. Make sure you enjoy a proper cuppa of Yorkshire tea during your visit to Yorkshire.
38. Learn the local lingo
“Now then” means hello in Yorkshire. You do not really say the letter ‘h’ in words or words such as ‘the’ and ‘to’. On the other hand, ‘a’ is a very important sound and is elongated and exaggerated in words such as ‘cake’. For example: “I’m goin up t’ ‘ouse t’ get caaake.” If you can, see if a local can give you a quick lesson. Yorkshiremen are very proud of their county and will gladly initiate you into their local ways.
Filey is the perfect beach resort, in fact in the 50ies the local tourist board advertised Filey as the Riviera of the north. Whilst it lacks the excitement of Scarborough and the gothic feel of Whitby it makes up for with beautiful sandy beaches. Many happy childhood memories have been made on Filey beach. There are incredible cliffs that shield the world from the guests on the beach as you are immersed by sand and sea. The little town is full of quaint whitewashed cottages and pretty fields full of wildflowers. Filey is simply idyllic.
40. Stroll along the heritage art trail on Otley Chevin
The Otley Chevin is a dramatic ridge which towers over the town of Otley, home to the Chippendale brothers. The Chevin is a lovely place to walk and to admire the views of the surrounding countryside. In more recent years, interesting pieces of art work have been installed throughout the forests. They form part of the heritage time trail. There are nine striking timber sculptures along a 2.5km route. The timber sculptures are beautiful and are a nice addition to the pleasant woodland walk.
41. Rowing in Knaresborough
Knaresborough is a beautiful town in Yorkshire with many wonderful sites. The gorgeous rail bridge which spans the valley is a lovely sight to behold. Carry on down to the river Nidd which snakes through the valley and hire a rowing boat. Row at a leisurely pace and admire Knaresborough and the incredible Knaresborough viaduct from your watery mode of transport.
42. Mother Shipton’s Cave
Mother Shipton’s cave is a magical place, just be careful you are not petrified during your visit! Mother Shipton’s cave has the ability to turn objects to stone! The petrifying well uses the trickling waters to slowly petrify objects. You will spot Mother Shipton herself in a cave. Born as Ursula Southill she was reportedly very ugly and could predict future events. Enjoy this mysterious place during your trip to Knaresborough.
Yorkshire’s largest holiday resort is located in the town of Scarborough. This well-known tourist town has been attracting visitors since the discovery of spa waters in 1626. Although the rolling bathing machines have now left, Scarborough still delights tourists with its lovely sandy beaches, impressive clifftop castle, myriad of arcades and pleasant atmosphere. Alex was born in Scarborough making him a true Scarborian.
44. Proper chippy chips with scraps
Chips, those thickly cut potatoes, are a wonderful English delicacy best enjoyed by the seafront. Yet did you know that the Yorkshiremen have devised a way to make these delicious carbs taste even better? How you ask, with scraps. Scraps are little bits of batter which are sprinkled over the chips. Ask for scraps when you order your chips and they will add a healthy amount to your order. Normally the scraps vegan, just double check when you order.
45. Visit a TV set
Nestled in deep in the wild Yorkshire Moors is a very recognisable village. Sites from this hamlet have featured in Harry Potter films and more famously in the Heartbeat TV series. Known as Aidensfield in Heatbeat, diehard fans can see the pub, garage and stores which feature in the TV Series. The railway station may be recognisable to Harry Potter fans if the current Goathland sign was replaced with a Hogsmeade sign. To truly appreciate this railway, Harry Potter fans will appreciate this information about the Harry Potter train on xuy and beyond‘s blog.
46. Walk by the River Wharfe
The River Wharfe divides West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire for much of its course. It is a beautiful river to walk alongside and is flanked by many beautiful bridges. One particularly beautiful stretch is by Grassington as the riverside path takes you over lush green fields, blossom groves and leafy woods. A less welcoming stretch of the river is known as the deadly Strid. The Strid is a series of deep rapids caused by the dramatic narrowing of the River Wharfe. Whilst the Strid looks peaceful appearances can be deceiving. This narrow part of the river is especially dangerous as both banks are undercut, and it has been the scene of a number of fatalities making it one of the most dangerous rivers in the world. Respect this river and know which parts you can paddle in and which parts you should not dare enter!
47. Whitby Abbey
This gothic Abbey is situated in a harsh landscape. Its cliff top position means the atmosphere is windy and wild due to the harassing sea gales. Whitby Abbey was founded in the 7th Century and changed the religion in Northern England forever. Whitby Abbey played a pivotal role in changing Celtic traditions to Roman Catholicism. Whitby Abbey certainly does not disappoint by providing amble dramatic history alongside its rugged beauty.
Whitby is a sleepy harbour town with a dark history. Walk up the 199 steps mentioned in Bran stoker’s novel on a dark moonlit night and tell ghost stories up here if you dare. Dracula was said to have arrived in the port and the abbey perched on the hill certainly has a sinister feel. Even the seagulls are evil as they will stop at nothing to take your freshly cooked chips straight from under your nose. Yet the seaside town is not all vampires and evil gulls. One celebrated son in Whitby is Captain Cook who learnt his craft here.
For more inspiration on beautiful towns to visit in Yorkshire see Stacy’s post on whatstacydid.com.
49. Spot the Yorkshire flag
Yorkshiremen are immensely proud of their heritage and county. This is further evident through the many white roses on blue flags. See if you can spot the Yorkshire white rose during your trip. If your trip coincides with Tour de France it will be hard not to spot the Yorkshire flag!
York. A city with a long history is one of the UK’s most beautiful places. Romans and Vikings invaded, followed by the spread of Christianity embodied in the 13th-century Gothic cathedral. The city walls which are delightful to stroll along today allude towards its violent past. Indeed, there are 30 museums to inform you of York’s long history. It is also a city of festivals as there is one for each month of the year. As the city which gives the area its namesake, you must visit York at some point during your trip!
There is so much to see and do in the Yorkshire Dales and much beauty to discover. If you are planning a trip to Europe I highly recommend adding Yorkshire to your itinerary.
I hope you found this list useful. Let me know in the comments below which ones you would like to visit and add to your bucket list!