12 Best Things to Do in Yorkshire, England

by Maria
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Yorkshire awaits with its mix of historic charm and breathtaking landscapes. From the ancient streets of York to the vibrant atmosphere of Leeds’ music scene, we’re diving into it all. Get ready for an unforgettable journey through Yorkshire’s best things to do!

Let me introduce you to Yorkshire, a place that’s close to my heart. It’s in the north of England and, honestly, it’s like stepping into a whole new world. Have you ever thought about what to do in Yorkshire? Well, let me tell you, it’s a place where every corner has a story.

Picture yourself strolling through York, with its old-world charm, then hiking across the stunning landscapes of the dales and moors. Yorkshire offers a mix of history, nature, and some seriously good food. It’s perfect for anyone who loves a bit of adventure and discovery.

In this guide, I’m going to share with you the best places in Yorkshire that I absolutely love. Each one is special in its own way and I’m sure you’ll make some amazing memories there. Are you ready to explore Yorkshire with me? Let’s go!

Discover the best things to do in Yorkshire, England
Discover the historic charm and breathtaking landscapes of Yorkshire, England

Yorkshire’s Best Attractions & Sights

Ready to dive into Yorkshire’s best places? From the timeless streets of York to the sweeping landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, this guide covers it all. We’ll explore all the coolest things to do in Yorkshire, discovering both renowned attractions and hidden treasures.

Whether you’re a fan of historic sites, outdoor adventures, or just in for some unique cultural experiences, Yorkshire’s varied offerings are sure to enchant you. So, gear up for an exciting journey through Yorkshire’s finest, starting with the historic city of York!

1. Explore the Historic City of York

If you’re in Yorkshire, you simply can’t miss York. This city is a living history book. Start with York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. I recommend climbing the Central Tower for an unbeatable view of the city. It’s a workout, but totally worth it!

Next, take a stroll along the Shambles, arguably one of the most picturesque streets in England. With its overhanging timber-framed buildings, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Fun fact: It’s said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series!

Don’t forget to walk the ancient city walls. They offer a unique perspective of York and a glimpse into its past. For a taste of the local scene, I recommend checking out York’s historic pubs. Ye Olde Starre Inne is one of the best pubs in York, and the atmosphere is fantastic. 

For a deep dive into York’s Viking roots, the Jorvik Viking Centre is your go-to. It’s an interactive trip back to Viking-age York. You’ll feel like you’ve time-traveled!

One of the best places to visit in Yorkshire, York is a city that’s easy to love. It’s full of history, but it’s the little details and hidden corners that really make it special. Take your time here – there’s a lot to uncover.

York Minster: One of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe
Explore the rich history of York Minster, one of Northern Europe’s largest cathedrals, at the heart of York City.

2. Hike in the Yorkshire Dales

When you think of the best Yorkshire attractions, the Yorkshire Dales are right up there. This national park is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. My top pick? The Three Peaks Challenge. It’s a thrilling 24-mile route covering Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough. Not for the faint-hearted, but the views are out of this world!

For something a bit more laid-back, try the Malham Cove walk. The limestone pavement at the top is a natural wonder, and you might recognize it from the Harry Potter films. The area around Malham is full of scenic trails, each offering its own unique charm.

Don’t miss out on the quaint villages dotted around the Dales. Places like Grassington and Hawes are full of cozy cafes and local shops. In Hawes, make sure to visit the Wensleydale Creamery – their cheese tasting is a real treat!

The Yorkshire Dales are not just about hiking. They’re about immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature. If you’re trekking up rugged hills or wandering through peaceful valleys, you’ll find that perfect spot for a memorable day out.

The scenic Yorkshire Dales—definitely a must-not-miss experience for hikers!
Experience the unmatched beauty of the Yorkshire Dales—a must-add to every hiker’s bucket list!

3. Discover the North York Moors National Park

If you’re wondering where to go in Yorkshire for a day trip, head to the North York Moors National Park. This vast expanse of heather moorland and deep valleys is breathtaking. For a truly unforgettable experience, I suggest visiting during late summer when the heather is in full bloom – the moorland turns into a sea of purple.

One of my favorite spots in the Moors is the charming village of Goathland. It’s famously known as the setting for Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films. The steam trains chugging into the station add to the magical feel. Plus, there are plenty of walking trails around the village that offer stunning views and a peaceful escape.

If you’re into photography or just love a good view, head to the Rievaulx Abbey. The ruins of this 12th-century abbey, set against the backdrop of green hills, are a sight to behold. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic and some great photos.

For a bit of adventure, the Cleveland Way National Trail offers some of the best hiking in Yorkshire. It winds along the dramatic coastline and then heads inland across the moorland, offering diverse landscapes to explore.

The North York Moors are a place of tranquility and natural beauty. Whether you’re hiking, exploring quaint villages, or just soaking in the views, it’s an area that showcases the best of Yorkshire’s countryside.

Goathland, famously known for the Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter films | Image Source: RayJa / TripAdvisor
Step into the enchanting world of Harry Potter at Goathland, home to the iconic Hogsmeade Station. | Image Source: RayJa / TripAdvisor

4. Visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

For a unique blend of art and nature, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the most fun places to visit in Yorkshire. This open-air gallery in West Bretton showcases incredible works by renowned artists like Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

Strolling through the park, you’ll encounter sculptures that seem to grow out of the landscape. Each piece tells a story and changes with the seasons. I always find something new here, no matter how many times I visit.

Make sure to check out the indoor galleries. They host rotating exhibitions that are as thought-provoking as they are diverse. And the best part? The park is free to enter. It’s the perfect spot for anyone looking for free things to do in Yorkshire.

The park is a place to relax and reconnect with nature. The views over the lake are stunning, especially at sunset. Bring a picnic, find a quiet spot, and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, located just a short drive from Leeds and Wakefield, is an ideal spot for a day trip. It’s easily accessible by public transport or car, with plenty of parking available. After exploring the art, you can enjoy a meal at the on-site café, which offers a range of delicious local and seasonal dishes.

The incredible artwork of Henry Moore | Image Source: Yorkshire Sculpture Park / TripAdvisor
The incredible sculptures of Henry Moore at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. | Image Source: Yorkshire Sculpture Park / TripAdvisor

5. Attend a Race Day at York Racecourse

Experiencing a race day at York Racecourse is one of the most exciting things to do in Yorkshire. This prestigious venue, known for its friendly atmosphere and top-class racing, is a highlight for many visitors.

Located just a short distance from York City center, the racecourse is easily accessible by public transport or car. If you’re new to horse racing, don’t worry. The excitement of the races, the buzz of the crowd, and the elegance of the setting make for an unforgettable experience, even for first-timers.

I recommend dressing up for the occasion. It adds to the fun! The Ebor Festival in August is a standout event, featuring four days of racing and entertainment. Between races, you can enjoy a variety of food and drink options, from casual bites to fine dining experiences.

At York Racecourse, the excitement extends beyond the track. With its stunning views of the York skyline, it’s a perfect spot for a summer evening. Remember to book your tickets in advance, especially for big events like the Ebor Festival, to avoid missing out on this quintessential Yorkshire experience.

The exciting horse race at York Racecourse | Image Source: York Racecourse / TripAdvisor
Feel the adrenaline rush of the thrilling horse race at York Racecourse! | Image Source: York Racecourse / TripAdvisor

6. Ride the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Stepping aboard the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is like traveling back in time. This heritage railway offers a unique journey through the heart of the stunning North York Moors National Park. From the comfort of vintage carriages, you’ll witness some of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire.

The journey starts from the charming market town of Pickering, winding through quaint villages like Goathland (famed as Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter films) and ending at the historic seaside town of Whitby. Each stop has its own charm, inviting exploration and discovery.

For train enthusiasts, the railway hosts special events throughout the year. This includes steam galas and themed weekends. It’s a fantastic way to dive deeper into the world of heritage railways and meet fellow enthusiasts.

A ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is an experience that brings together history, stunning scenery, and a touch of magic. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Yorkshire, offering a unique perspective of the moors and a delightful day out for all ages.

Step back in time aboard vintage carriages on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Step back in time aboard vintage carriages on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

7. Climb Malham Cove

Malham Cove is a natural wonder that’s not to be missed. This massive limestone formation, with its iconic curved cliff face, offers one of the most dramatic landscapes in Yorkshire. The climb to the top might be a bit challenging, but the panoramic views of the Dales are absolutely worth it.

Start your adventure in the quaint village of Malham. From there, a well-marked trail leads you to the base of the cove. As you ascend, keep an eye out for the unique limestone pavement at the top, a rare geological feature that’s both intriguing and beautiful.

For birdwatchers, Malham Cove is a paradise. Peregrine falcons are often spotted soaring above the cliffs, especially during spring and summer. It’s a thrilling sight for nature enthusiasts.

After the climb, the nearby Malham Tarn offers a serene spot for a relaxing walk or a picnic. This glacial lake is one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in Europe, making it a unique spot for wildlife and plant life.

Malham Cove is not only a climber’s delight but also a starting point for many other trails. The Pennine Way, one of England’s most famous long-distance walks, passes right by it. This makes Malham Cove a great addition to your list of places to go in Yorkshire, especially if you love hiking and exploring diverse landscapes.

Witness the awe-inspiring scenery of Malham Cove's beautiful landscapes
Witness the awe-inspiring scenery of Malham Cove’s beautiful landscapes.

8. Explore the Medieval Skipton Castle

One of the coolest things to do in Yorkshire for history lovers is explore Skipton Castle. Over 900 years old, this well-preserved medieval fortress offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. As you walk through its rooms and corridors, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

The castle is located in the heart of Skipton, often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Dales.’ Its robust history is evident in every nook and cranny, from the watchtower to the banqueting hall. Don’t miss the chance to explore the dungeon – it’s both eerie and intriguing.

Guided tours are available, offering insights into the castle’s rich history and its role in various historical events. The guides are knowledgeable and add an engaging narrative to your visit.

After touring Skipton Castle, don’t miss the local market in Skipton town, held four days a week. It’s a great place to pick up local crafts and treats. This mix of historical exploration and local culture shopping is what makes Skipton Castle and its surroundings some of the best things to do in Yorkshire for families.

Take a moment to glimpse the medieval marvel of Skipton Castle.
Take a moment to glimpse the medieval marvel of Skipton Castle | Image Source: Skipton Castle / TripAdvisor

9. Walk Along the Yorkshire Coast

There’s no shortage of scenic beauty and charming seaside towns on the Yorkshire coast. Believe me, the coastal regions of some of the most beautiful places to visit in Yorkshire. Start your coastal journey in Whitby, a picturesque town known for its historic abbey and connections to the Dracula legend. Whitby’s traditional fish and chips are a must-try – they’re some of the best in England!

Heading south, don’t miss the quaint village of Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s perfect for exploring tide pools and fossil hunting. The village’s narrow, winding streets are lined with unique shops and cafes, ideal for a leisurely afternoon.

For beach lovers, Scarborough offers sandy beaches, a lively seafront, and an iconic castle. The town has excellent facilities, including cafes, beach huts for rent, and amusement arcades. It’s a great spot for families or anyone looking to enjoy a classic British seaside experience.

If you’re into hiking, the Cleveland Way National Trail runs along the coast, offering stunning cliff-top walks and breathtaking views. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or an active adventure, the Yorkshire coast has something for everyone.

Explore the Yorkshire Coast, famed for its ancient abbey and links to the Dracula myth.
Explore the Yorkshire Coast, famed for its ancient abbey and links to the Dracula myth.

10. Visit Whitby and Whitby Abbey

Whitby is a must-visit on any Yorkshire itinerary. This charming seaside town is not only picturesque but also rich in history and culture. Whitby Abbey, perched high on a cliff, offers stunning views of the town and sea. I recommend visiting at sunset for a truly magical experience.

The town is famous for its seafood, and you’ll find some of the best fish and chips here. Don’t miss the opportunity to try them at one of the harborside restaurants. For a unique experience, take a boat tour from the harbor for a different view of Whitby and the coastline.

Whitby’s narrow, cobbled streets are lined with independent shops and boutiques, perfect for finding unique souvenirs. The town also has a strong literary connection, being the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Explore the Dracula Experience for a spooky yet fascinating insight into the town’s influence on the famous novel.

For those who love walking, the Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay walk is a scenic route along the coast. It’s about 7 miles and offers breathtaking views and a chance to explore the rugged coastline.

Adventure seekers should try the Whitby Ghost Walk for an eerie exploration of the town’s spooky history. It’s a fun and slightly chilling way to learn about Whitby’s past. This walk is just one of the many fun things to do in Yorkshire, perfect for those looking to add a bit of thrill to their trip.

Visit the Whitby Abbey for unrivaled vistas of the town and the sea beyond. | Image Source: Stuart B / TripAdvisor
Visit the Whitby Abbey for unrivaled vistas of the town and the sea beyond. | Image Source: Stuart B / TripAdvisor

11. Experience the Jorvik Viking Centre in York

Stepping into the Jorvik Viking Centre is like traveling back a thousand years. Located in the heart of York, this museum offers an immersive experience into Viking life. I was amazed by how they use actual archaeological findings to recreate a Viking village, complete with sights, sounds, and even smells!

The ride through the Viking village is a highlight. You’ll see lifelike figures, hear them speaking in Old Norse, and get a sense of daily life in a Viking city. The attention to detail is incredible. It’s a fun way to learn about York’s history.

Don’t skip the artifacts display. The items unearthed from the Coppergate dig give a fascinating insight into the Viking era. The museum also offers interactive exhibits, great for kids and adults alike.

If you’re visiting York, the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must. It’s not only one of the best Yorkshire things to do for history enthusiasts but also a unique experience for anyone curious about the past. Plus, it’s right in the city center, easy to fit into your York itinerary.

Discover the Viking way of life firsthand at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. | Image Source: Jorvik Viking Centre in York / TripAdvisor
Discover the Viking way of life firsthand at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York. | Image Source: Jorvik Viking Centre in York / TripAdvisor

12. Enjoy the Leeds Festival

Wrapping up our list of Yorkshire adventures is the Leeds Festival, an absolute must for music lovers. Held annually at Bramham Park, this festival is a celebration of music, art, and culture. I’ve been before and can say it’s an exhilarating experience, with a lineup that always includes big names and emerging artists.

Plan to arrive early to get a good spot, especially if you’re camping. The atmosphere is electric, with fans from all over coming together. Remember to pack for all weather – this is England, after all! Rain or shine, the festival goes on, and it’s always a blast.

Apart from the main stages, check out the smaller tents for some amazing performances. It’s a great way to discover new music. Food-wise, there’s a wide variety of options, from classic festival fare to international cuisine.

The Leeds Festival is a wonderful gathering of music enthusiasts and a highlight of the UK’s festival scene. It’s one of the best Yorkshire nightlife experiences, offering unforgettable memories and a chance to see your favorite bands live.

Seize the opportunity to make unforgettable memories at the iconic Leeds Festival.
Seize the opportunity to make unforgettable memories at the iconic Leeds Festival.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Yorkshire:

Are you still wondering where to go in Yorkshire? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Yorkshire.

Where can I go for a day out in Yorkshire?

For a fantastic day out in Yorkshire, I highly recommend the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a paradise for nature lovers with its stunning landscapes and charming villages. You can hike, visit historical sites, or just enjoy the scenic beauty. Another great option is the historic city of York. With its rich history, beautiful architecture, and unique shops, it’s perfect for a day of exploration and learning.

What is Yorkshire famous for?

Yorkshire is known for its diverse landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage. The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are famous for their natural beauty. Yorkshire is also famous for its contribution to literature, being the home of the Brontë sisters, and for its strong sporting culture, especially in cricket.

What is the most famous food in Yorkshire?

Yorkshire Pudding is the most iconic food from Yorkshire. Traditionally served with roast beef and gravy, it’s a staple of the classic British Sunday roast. But let’s not forget other delights like Wensleydale cheese, originating from the town of Hawes in the Dales, and the famous fish and chips, especially delicious in coastal towns like Whitby.

Where is the prettiest place in Yorkshire?

In my opinion, the prettiest place in Yorkshire has to be the North York Moors, especially during heather season when the moorland is a sea of purple. The quaint villages and rolling hills offer picturesque views at every turn. Another contender is the historic city of York, with its medieval streets and stunning architecture.

Which is the best seaside town in Yorkshire?

Whitby stands out as the best seaside town in Yorkshire. It’s not just the beautiful beaches but also the rich history, the Gothic Whitby Abbey, and the connection to Bram Stoker’s Dracula that make it unique. The town has a charming atmosphere, with great seafood, lovely shops, and the famous Whitby Jet jewelry.

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