The Best Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
Consider yourself a burgeoning Brontë? Explore the sisters' Yorkshire stomping grounds with our guide.
While we can’t be sure of the exact difference between a moor and a dale, we can tell you this: North Yorkshire is brimming with the things. This bucolic part of the country is known for its misty, hilly areas of natural beauty, much traversed by the Brontë sisters. We’ve no doubt that this picturesque landscape will encourage you to write that novel you’ve been meaning to start. Will it be as impactful and impressive as Charlotte’s Jane Eyre or Emily’s Wuthering Heights? We have every faith it will be, and would be very surprised if it doesn’t go down in history as a literary behemoth.
What were we talking about? Ah yes, places to visit in North Yorkshire. Let’s not forget the dazzling cities, with Leeds and that famous Harvey Nichols department store that everyone seems to love, and York. The latter is one of England’s most regal and historic cities, with every nook and cranny looking like it’s come straight out of Harry Potter (including the very street that Diagon Alley was based on). Check out the Plum Guide take on the best places to visit in North Yorkshire.
Yes, we were just going on about York above, weren’t we? So, here’s some more. That street that influenced Harry Potter is called The Shambles. Here, awnings and old-world windows in timber frames of eccentric boutiques and pubs jut out and hang over the cobbled lane. Walk through the historic centre, taking the time to admire all the vintage décor and preserved architecture from bygone times. Reach the York Minster; you’ll know when you’ve found it, because it’s absolutely massive. One of the largest of its type in Northern Europe, it dates back to the 15th century and is adorned with gothic features. After the church, it’s only fair to take the kids to York’s Chocolate Story to stuff their faces. Then, bring their sugar-filled minds to explore the exhibits of the JORVIK Viking Centre. Oh, and see the railway museum: everyone loves the railway museum, Clifford’s Tower and the York City Walls.
Just a short drive or train ride west is Leeds, which is like the younger brother who could never compete with York for historic treasures, so set about inventing its own cooler, trendier style. If visiting a bustling city is on your list of things to do in North Yorkshire, Leeds is the place for you (though technically, it's in West Yorkshire). It’s a university city, with several colleges; so you might be here visiting your kids (they’re no longer kids though, are they? How fast they grow – use this emotion and sense of loss for inspiration for that book you’re writing). While they’re studying (or graduating), take the time to explore the shops of the city centre, climbing gradually up the floors of the Harvey Nichols, which is basically the Harrods of the north. See Harewood House, the Royal Armouries Museum and Kirkstall Abbey, before going to one of the nightclubs with your kiddos. What a cool parent you are.
Get confused between dales and moors
You can't miss the dales and moors when it comes to places to visit in North Yorkshire. What are dales and moors, you ask? They're both sort of posh words to describe areas with leafy hills and valleys. There’s a certain romance, of course, about this particular bucolic wonderland, because it served as a setting in many of the writings of the Brontë sisters. Rummage through the Yorkshire Dales and stop off at the quaint villages of Settle and Hawes. In Masham, you’ll find the Black Bull in Paradise Visitor Centre, where you can drop in for some Yorkshire tea or Yorkshire ale (perhaps a Yorkshire pudding to wash it all down with afterwards). Pick out your favourite candy from the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World in Pateley Bridge. Back in the countryside, study the ruins of castles and old vestiges in the grassy mounds, as you pass by various barns, hills and lakes. After all that, you can put your feet up in Plum Guide's Yorkshire home, Daisy Chain.
Now try the North York Dales for a similar-but-different set of peaks and troughs, with the Whitby Abbey among the highlights. This set of ruins inspired the setting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, so that’ll explain your feverish desire for blood. Set your family on board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to see the moors and dales in style. If you really want to live out your dream of being a Brontë sister, you can even stay in our very own Wuthering Heights lodging. It's not in Yorkshire, but it's worth the drive.
Hit up the coast
All this talk of hills and valleys could make you forget that North Yorkshire touches the sea. Scarborough has various sandy beaches overlooking the North Sea. Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair is about the medieval market here, although the song predates both of their lives. Visit the Grand Hotel and climb to the top of the cliff for Scarborough Castle.
Now you know the best places to visit in North Yorkshire, why not check out the rest of the surrounding county? Check out our list of the best things to do in Yorkshire. While you're at it, have a browse of Plum Guide's inventory of gorgeous rental homes in England. Our fastidious home critics have tried and tested every lodging, so you're guaranteed a good night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.