12 Best Things to Do in North Yorkshire, England for a Charming Getaway

by Jen
Best Things to Do in North Yorkshire, England
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Ready for an adventure in North Yorkshire? Our guide is your ticket to the best North Yorkshire attractions, from the historic charm of York to the breathtaking landscapes of the North York Moors. Get ready for a journey filled with unforgettable experiences and a deep dive into the rich culture of this remarkable English region!

Welcome to my ultimate guide on the coolest things to do in North Yorkshire, one of the most beautiful places in England! Having roamed through the rolling hills and historic streets myself, I’m thrilled to share with you the gems of this stunning region.

Imagine strolling through the quaint lanes of York, each corner brimming with stories centuries old. Or picture yourself hiking across the breathtaking landscapes of the North York Moors, where nature’s beauty is at its finest. My adventures here have shown me that North Yorkshire is as rich in history as it is in natural splendor, making it one of the top places to live and visit in the UK.

From the charming market towns to the majestic ruins of ancient abbeys, there’s an experience for every traveler. As we embark on this journey through North Yorkshire’s must-visit spots, I’ll be your guide to discovering the places that make this area truly a gem in North of England. Ready to dive into North Yorkshire’s most beautiful places?

The top places to visit in North Yorkshire, England right now

Beautiful Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Ready to explore the diverse wonders of North Yorkshire? From the historic streets of York to the sprawling beauty of the North York Moors, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do in this part of England.

Whether you’re uncovering ancient ruins, riding through the dales on a vintage steam train, or enjoying the coastal charm of Whitby, there’s an adventure for every kind of traveler. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best activities in North Yorkshire, a must-stay destination in England.

1. Explore the City of York

York, a city where history comes alive at every corner, is a must-visit for anyone exploring North Yorkshire, England. Walking through its cobbled streets, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Trust me, the charm of York is irresistible!

Start at the iconic York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. The stunning architecture and stained-glass windows are a sight to behold. Climbing to the top gives you a breathtaking view of the city. It’s a workout, but totally worth it!

Next, delve into the snickelways and hidden alleys, each with its own story. The Shambles, a narrow medieval street, feels like a scene from a Harry Potter movie. It’s perfect for quirky shopping and grabbing a bite of delicious local fare.

Don’t miss the Jorvik Viking Centre, where you can experience the Viking-age city brought to life. It’s a unique blend of history and technology that’s both educational and fun.

For a touch of greenery, the Museum Gardens offer a peaceful escape. It’s a lovely spot for a picnic or just to relax and soak in the surroundings.

In the evening, I recommend a ghost walk. York is known as the most haunted city in Europe, and these tours are both spooky and fascinating. It’s a fun way to learn about the city’s darker history.

York is an incredible blend of history, culture, and gastronomy. It’s one of the best places to visit in North Yorkshire that you’ll want to return to again and again.

Exploring the city of York is one of the best things to do in North Yorkshire.
Explore the captivating charm of York, a historic city where every corner breathes with history.

2. Discover the North York Moors National Park

The North York Moors National Park is a breathtaking canvas of rolling hills, heather moorland, and serene woodlands. It’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts and one of the most beautiful places in North Yorkshire for those who love the great outdoors.

Begin your adventure in the charming village of Hutton-le-Hole, where sheep roam freely and quaint cottages dot the landscape. From here, numerous trails lead into the heart of the moors. I recommend taking the path to the Rievaulx Abbey ruins. The walk is as mesmerizing as the destination itself.

For a truly magical experience, visit during late summer when the moors are ablaze with purple heather. It’s a photographer’s dream! The panoramic views from Sutton Bank are also not to be missed – on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Yorkshire Dales.

If you’re into cycling, the park offers some fantastic routes. The ride from Dalby Forest to Whitby is both challenging and rewarding, with stunning vistas along the way.

Don’t forget to explore some of the park’s charming villages. Goathland, famous as the setting for the TV series ‘Heartbeat’, is a delightful stop. Grab a cup of tea here and just soak in the timeless atmosphere.

The North York Moors National Park is a place where you can disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature. If you’re hiking, cycling, or simply enjoying the views, it’s a place that rejuvenates the soul. Don’t miss it!

The North York Moors National Park offers stunning landscapes and is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
The North York Moors National Park offers stunning landscapes and is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

3. Visit Whitby and its Abbey

One of my favorite places to go in North Yorkshire is Whitby. This picturesque seaside town offers a wonderful blend of maritime heritage and Gothic allure. Hands down, it’s one of the best towns in North Yorkshire, England.

Whilst you’re here, you can’t miss Whitby Abbey. Perched high on a cliff, the Abbey’s ruins are a sight to behold, especially at sunset. It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker found inspiration here for his novel ‘Dracula’. The climb up the 199 steps to the Abbey is a bit of a trek, but the views of the town and sea are spectacular.

Down in the town, wander through the cobbled streets and bustling harbor. The local fish and chips are a must-try – they’re some of the best in England! For a unique experience, check out the Whitby Jet stores, where you can find jewelry made from fossilized wood.

Don’t miss the chance to take a boat trip from the harbor. It’s a fantastic way to see the coastline and learn about Whitby’s whaling history. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some marine wildlife!

For a bit of fun, explore the town’s connection to Dracula. The Dracula Experience is a quirky attraction that brings the story to life.

Whitby is a town that perfectly captures the spirit of the Yorkshire coast – it’s a mix of history, mystery, and seaside charm. Believe me, Whitby is a place that stays with you long after you leave. A visit here is one of the best North Yorkshire things to do.

Whitby, a captivating seaside town, combines maritime heritage with Gothic charm.
Whitby, a captivating seaside town, combines maritime heritage with Gothic charm.

4. Ride the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

All aboard for a nostalgic journey on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway! This heritage railway is a window to the past and one of the fun things to do in North Yorkshire for history lovers and families alike.

Your adventure begins at the charming station of Pickering. Here, you’re greeted by vintage carriages and steam engines that hark back to a bygone era. As the train chugs through the heart of the moors, each turn offers a new, breathtaking view. Make sure your camera is ready!

I recommend stopping at Goathland Station, famously known as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films. The station’s 1920s charm is enchanting, and the surrounding village is a delight to explore.

For a truly immersive experience, check out the railway’s themed events. From wartime reenactments to Santa specials, there’s always something exciting happening.

The journey is all about reliving the golden age of rail travel. The sound of the steam whistle, the rhythm of the tracks, and the stunning moorland scenery make this more than just a train ride – it’s a journey through the heart of Yorkshire’s history.

Experience nostalgia on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, a historical journey appealing to all.
Experience nostalgia on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, a historical journey appealing to all.

5. Explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park

The North Yorkshire Dales National Park is a landscape of dreams for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Here, you’ll find some of the most amazing things to do in North Yorkshire, England.

I recommend beginning your exploration in the quaint village of Grassington, a perfect gateway to the Dales. The village itself, with its stone cottages and local shops, is a charm to wander around. From here, numerous trails wind through the scenic countryside.

A must-visit is Malham Cove, a striking limestone formation with breathtaking views from the top. The walk up can be a bit challenging, but it’s absolutely rewarding. Nearby, the magical Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss waterfall offer more stunning natural sights.

For a taste of local culture, visit the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. Here, you can sample the famous Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese. Trust me, it’s a delight for any cheese lover!

Cycling enthusiasts will find the Dales a paradise with its challenging routes and scenic roads. The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway is a great way to see the best of the park.

What’s more, the North Yorkshire Dales National Park is conveniently accessible. Located within an easy drive from major North Yorkshire cities like York and Leeds, it’s the perfect day trip destination.

Discover the stunning North Yorkshire Dales National Park, a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike.
Discover the stunning North Yorkshire Dales National Park, a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike.

6. Visit the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden

Welcome to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful places to visit in North Yorkshire, England.

This majestic estate is a symphony of historic architecture and landscaped gardens. Start your visit at the incredible ruins of Fountains Abbey, one of the largest and best-preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. As you wander among its towering walls and arches, you can’t help but feel transported back to the 12th century.

Just a stone’s throw away, the Studley Royal Water Garden awaits. It’s a masterpiece of Georgian water garden design. Strolling through this ornate garden, with its elegant ponds, cascades, and classical temples, is like walking through a living painting.

Don’t miss the chance to climb the Surprise View tower. From here, you’ll get a panoramic view of the entire estate – it’s absolutely breathtaking.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the estate’s deer park is a must-visit. Home to Red, Fallow, and Sika deer, it’s a wonderful place for a peaceful walk and wildlife spotting.

Located just a few miles west of Ripon and about 30 miles north of Leeds, it’s an easy drive from major cities in North Yorkshire, England. The entry fee is a small price for the wealth of experience it offers. With family tickets available and free entry for National Trust members, it’s an affordable day out for everyone. The site is open year-round, but I recommend checking the opening times before your visit, as they can vary with the seasons.

Discover Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring historic ruins and scenic gardens.
Discover Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring historic ruins and scenic gardens.

7. Go Caving in Ingleborough Cave or White Scar Cave

Get ready for a thrilling journey beneath the earth in North Yorkshire! Ingleborough Cave and White Scar Cave are not just any caves. They’re nature’s own art galleries, hidden deep beneath the rolling hills. As one of the most fun places to visit in North Yorkshire, these caves offer an adventure that’s both educational and exhilarating.

Ingleborough Cave, located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, offers guided tours through its illuminated walkways. As you venture deeper, marvel at the stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites, each telling a story millions of years old. The cave is easily accessible from the village of Clapham, just a short and scenic nature trail walk away.

Not far from Ingleborough, White Scar Cave claims the title of the longest show cave in Britain. Its highlight, the Battlefield Cavern, is a vast, awe-inspiring chamber adorned with thousands of delicate formations. The cave is situated near the town of Ingleton. It’s a convenient stop for those exploring the Dales.

Both caves offer affordable entry fees, with family tickets available for a budget-friendly adventure. They’re open throughout the year, but it’s always wise to check for seasonal timings. Whether you’re a seasoned caver or a first-timer, these caves provide a safe and enchanting journey into the depths of North Yorkshire’s geological wonders.

Discover Ingleborough and White Scar Caves, offering thrilling underground adventures.
Discover Ingleborough and White Scar Caves, offering thrilling underground adventures.

8. Experience the Coastal Beauty of Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay, on the Yorkshire coast, is a hidden gem in England that I personally find enchanting. This quaint fishing village, with its narrow, winding streets and picturesque cottages, is steeped in history and folklore. It’s one of the coolest places to go in North Yorkshire, offering a delightful mix of scenic beauty and charming tales.

Start your visit with a stroll through the village’s snaking alleys. You’ll discover quirky shops, cozy pubs, and cafes that seem to have sprung from a storybook. The bay’s beach is a treasure trove for fossil hunters and a serene spot for those looking to relax by the sea.

For history enthusiasts, the local folklore of smugglers and seafarers adds a layer of mystery to the village. The Robin Hood’s Bay Museum, a small but fascinating place, offers insights into the village’s intriguing past.

Located just a short drive from Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay is easily accessible and makes for a perfect day trip or a peaceful retreat. While there’s no entry fee to explore the village, parking in the main car park does have a small charge. It’s a small price for the wealth of experiences waiting in this charming coastal village.

Discover Robin Hood’s Bay, a charming village, blending scenic beauty with enchanting tales.
Discover Robin Hood’s Bay, a charming village, blending scenic beauty with enchanting tales.

9. Climb Malham Cove

Malham Cove is a breathtaking limestone formation, offering some of the most spectacular views in North Yorkshire, England. It’s a place that I always recommend to anyone seeking a blend of adventure and natural beauty.

The Cove, with its imposing limestone cliff, is a sight to behold. The climb to the top might be challenging, but the panoramic views of the Dales are a rewarding payoff. The limestone pavement at the top is a unique geological feature, not to be missed.

For bird watchers, keep an eye out for peregrine falcons soaring above. The area is also a haven for other wildlife, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts.

Located near the village of Malham, the Cove is easily accessible by car or on foot from the village center. There’s no entry fee, making it perfect for hikers and families searching for free things to do in North Yorkshire. Remember to wear sturdy shoes and bring water – the climb is worth it, but it’s always best to be prepared!

Malham Cove is a breathtaking limestone formation providing spectacular views and adventure.
Malham Cove is a breathtaking limestone formation providing spectacular views and adventure.

10. Visit the Jorvik Viking Centre in York

Ever wondered where to go in North Yorkshire for a time-travel experience? The Jorvik Viking Centre in York is your ticket to an extraordinary journey back to the Viking Age. This world-renowned attraction is a time machine that transports you to the streets of 10th-century York.

As you step into the Centre, you’re immediately immersed in the sights, sounds, and even smells of a Viking city. The state-of-the-art exhibits and lifelike animatronics make history come alive around you. It’s an interactive experience that’s both educational and incredibly fun.

One of the highlights is the ride through a reconstructed Viking village. Here, you’ll see how the Vikings lived, worked, and played. The attention to detail is astounding – from the chattering villagers to the market stalls selling goods.

The Jorvik Viking Centre is situated in the heart of York. It’s easily accessible and a must-visit for history buffs and families. There’s an admission fee, but it’s worth every penny for the immersive experience it offers. Plus, it’s close to other York attractions, making it a convenient stop on your city exploration.

Experience time travel at the Jorvik Viking Centre, transporting you to the streets of 10th-century York.
Experience time travel at the Jorvik Viking Centre, transporting you to the streets of 10th-century York.

11. Walk the Cleveland Way National Trail

The Cleveland Way National Trail is an absolute must-do! Believe me, a visit here is an adventure that ranks high among the best hikes in North Yorkshire, England.

Starting in the charming town of Helmsley, this 109-mile trail weaves through the breathtaking North York Moors and along the rugged coastline. Every step offers a new, awe-inspiring view. Trust me, the vistas from the clifftops are something you’ll never forget.

For those who love a good coastal walk, the stretch near Whitby is my personal favorite. You’ll get to see the majestic Whitby Abbey from a whole new perspective. And the sea air? It’s invigorating!

The trail is perfect for both seasoned hikers and casual walkers. There’s something for everyone, from challenging moorland treks to leisurely coastal paths. And the best part? It’s free to explore. Just lace up your boots, pack some snacks, and you’re good to go.

Don't miss the Cleveland Way National Trail, a top adventure among the county's best hikes.
Don’t miss the Cleveland Way National Trail, a top adventure among the county’s best hikes.

12. Wander through Peasholm Park

One of the best things to do in North Yorkshire with kids is visit Peasholm Park. In Scarborough, this place is a tranquil oasis that’s a world away from the usual hustle and bustle. It’s a beautifully crafted landscape, complete with a lake, gardens, and even a waterfall.

One of the highlights here is the unique naval warfare battle, a miniature sea battle reenacted on the lake. It’s both entertaining and surprisingly educational, perfect for families or anyone who enjoys a good show in a stunning setting.

Stroll around the park’s pathways, and you’ll find peaceful spots to relax, charming bridges, and an array of plant life. The park is beautifully maintained. It’s especially beautiful in the spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom.

Located in the heart of Scarborough, Peasholm Park is easily accessible and free to enter, making it an Instagrammable spot in the UK. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon, whether you’re picnicking by the lake, enjoying a boat ride, or simply soaking in the serene atmosphere.

Experience Peasholm Park, a serene oasis featuring picturesque landscapes and a waterfall.
Experience Peasholm Park, a serene oasis featuring picturesque landscapes and a waterfall.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best North Yorkshire Attractions:

Looking for more content on what to do in North Yorkshire? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to North Yorkshire, England.

What is the main town in North Yorkshire?

The biggest city in North Yorkshire is York. It’s a vibrant city steeped in history and culture. Walking through York is like stepping back in time, with its well-preserved medieval architecture, including the iconic York Minster. York is bustling with shops, cafes, and a lively atmosphere that makes it a must-visit destination in the region.

What is North Yorkshire known for?

North Yorkshire is famous for three things: breathtaking nature, rich history, and charming towns. The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are a hiker’s dream. Plus, there’s York with its medieval charm, and coastal gems like Whitby.

Spring evening in Yorkshire.
Spring evening in Yorkshire.

Where is the nicest place to live in North Yorkshire?

This is a tough one, as North Yorkshire is full of charming places! But if I had to pick, Harrogate would be high on the list. It’s got Victorian elegance, beautiful gardens, and a chilled vibe. It’s like living in a park with great cafes and culture, making it one of the most beautiful places in the UK.

What is the foodie capital of North Yorkshire?

For food enthusiasts, Malton is the place to be. Dubbed the “Food Capital of North Yorkshire,” this charming market town is a paradise for gourmets and a beautiful spot in Europe. With its monthly food markets, annual food festivals, and a plethora of artisanal shops and eateries, Malton is a buzzing hub of culinary delights. It’s a town where local produce is celebrated, and you can savor everything from handcrafted chocolates to locally brewed ales.

The top things to do in North Yorkshire, England for all types of travelers
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