21 April 2022
Yorkshire is peppered with chocolate-box villages, from its wonderful coastline on the east to the dramatic Dales to the west. You can’t go more than a few miles in this wonderful place without stumbling upon one.
But which ones in particular are worth making that extra bit of effort to seek out and enjoy? We’ve cherry-picked just 10 of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire below, but there are dozens more which could be on the list, including pretty villages near Whitby and Nidderdale's pretty villages. The county is also home to some of the prettiest waterfalls in the UK.
If you fancy checking out some of these villages yourself take a look at some of the Gorgeous Yorkshire Holiday Cottages that you can stay in for a weekend break or holiday.
Ten of the prettiest villages in North Yorkshire
1. Hutton-le-Hole – North York Moors
This beautiful village sits in a peaceful valley in the North York Moors National Park; it couldn’t be more idyllic. Picture-postcard cottages sit contentedly on either side of a babbling beck while sheep wander about the village keeping the grass neat and tidy.
- The village green is the perfect spot for a picnic - especially as you can enjoy a paddle in the beck before you eat.
- The Forge Tea Rooms is a great choice for refreshments and you get a range of delicious home-made ice creams that you can take away to enjoy on the green
The excellent (and dog-friendly) Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole is an outdoor museum where you can learn about the history and heritage of the North York Moors through a collection of historic buildings and traditional workshops. Buildings range from an Iron Age roundhouse through to a 1950s style village shop.
2. West Burton – Yorkshire Dales
Just off the beaten track from Wensleydale to Bishopdale, West Burton is another one of those villages which just define the word pretty. A large village green flanked with old stone cottages is the centre point, with a waterfall and packhorse bridge to finish the scene. The stunning Jervaulx Abbey is just a hop, skip and a jump away too.
- Cauldron Falls lies on the edge of West Burton and it’s one of the most tranquil Yorkshire waterfalls to visit with the tumbling water surrounded by woodland and the sound of birdsong.
- You can take a scenic walk along the Leyburn Shawl from West Burton to Leyburn and enjoy wonderful views over Wensleydale from this limestone escarpment which is said to be where Mary Queen of Scots dropped her shawl as she escaped from nearby Bolton Castle.
Make sure to seek out the beautiful Burton Fall waterfall which is just a short walk from the centre of West Burton and was once sketched by the artist J. M. Turner. West Burton is also just 2 miles from one of Yorkshire's most famous waterfalls, Aysgarth Falls. The dramatic triple falls here were featured in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
3. Osmotherley – North York Moors
Nestled between the glorious Cleveland Hills to the north and the Hambleton Hills to the south, Osmotherley occupies an enviable location on the western cusp of the moors. Something of a tourist hot spot these days, it retains an old world charm without succumbing to the twee.
- There are several lovely cafes and pubs to enjoy in and around Osmotherley and the village is flanked by some of the finest scenery in the moors.
- The well-preserved remains of the 14th-century Mount Grace Priory lie just a 3-mile walk from Osmotherley and this National Trust also features a medieval manor house
Osmotherley is a perfect base for a walking holiday - it's located on the 119 mile Cleveland Way which is one of England's National Trails and turned 50 in 2019. A short walk to try is the 3-mile route from Osmotherley to nearby Mount Grace Priory - it's one of only nine Carthusian priories in the country.
4. Middleham – Yorkshire Dales
Technically not a village – it’s supposedly the smallest town in the Dales – Middleham in Wensleydale packs a weighty punch in terms of visitor attractions with a historic castle and a fantastical folly amongst the places to explore. It also boasts not one but two market squares which are packed with pubs, antique shops and beautiful historic buildings and stunning views of the surrounding Yorkshire Dales countryside.
- Middleham is the epicentre of racehorse training in the North and you can watch the horses being led through the village each day on their way to the nearby gallops. There’s also an annual open day each Good Friday where you can tour the various racing stables.
- Forbidden Corner lies on the edge of Middleham and is one of the most popular family-friendly attractions in Yorkshire. Nothing is quite what it seems in this magical Wensleydale folly with hidden surprises lurking around every corner.
Exploring the remains of the medieval Middleham Castle, a 12th century fortress that was once the childhood home of Richard III. There's lots of history to discover amongst the remains which include an on-site exhibition, a replica of the 15th century Middleham Jewel and a viewing platform so that you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding Wensleydale countryside.
5. Muker – Yorkshire Dales
Originally a Norse settlement, Muker is a charming cluster of houses set on the banks of the River Swale. As one of the more remote villages in the northern Yorkshire Dales it has a certain secluded appeal. Some lovely walks from here including the famous circular route around Kisdon Hill taking in the beautiful meadows and waterfalls Swaledale is famous for.
- You’ll find a village shop and tea rooms, craft shop / art gallery and an excellent pub, The Farmer’s Arms, which has its own microbrewery and is a top choice for a Sunday roast.
- It’s well worth exploring the famous Muker meadows which is one of the best places in the country to see upland hay meadows. The carpets of wildflowers and buttercups in the spring are so lovely they are specially protected.
Swaledale is also a perfect destination for cycling with tough climbs and the gentler Swale Trail - a valley bottom 12-mile route between Keld and Reeth, which are a couple of other pretty Yorkshire villages which are well worth visiting. Reeth is known for 360-degree views of the surrounding Dales that can be enjoyed from the village green.
6. Thornton-le-Dale – North York Moors
Said by some to be the prettiest village in Yorkshire, Thornton-Le-Dale is proper chocolate-box material. Quite literally in fact as images of the thatched cottage beside Dalby Beck are regularly used on biscuit tins and calendars. Other highlights of the village include a chocolate factory on the square and lush green surrounding woodland.
- 17th century almshouses and a small triangular village green complete the scene making this a lovely base from which to explore the North York Moors.
- Follow an accessible nature trail around the village to uncover storyboards, tree carvings and a wildlife-rich pond.
Dalby Forest has fantastic dark skies so is the perfect place to spend a romantic evening under the stars. The Milky Way can regularly be spotted and you may even catch a glimpse of the beautiful Northern Lights.
7. Sandsend – Yorkshire Coast
Sandsend is a very pretty little seaside village on the North York Moors coastline. With its handsome promenade, long stretch of beach, several excellent eating options and world-class day spa, you could happily spend a whole holiday here. The village backs onto the Mulgrave Estate where you’ll find lots of great walks and the gorgeously gothic Whitby is just a few miles away.
- Head away from the beach and you’ll find a gentle stream running through the sleepy Yorkshire Coast village which is a popular spot for paddling with dogs and kids.
- The dog-friendly Wits End Cafe is a casual beachfront eatery where you can stop for refreshments and take a stroll around their beautiful walled garden during the spring and summer months.
Take a stroll along the sandy beach to Whitby then walk up the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey. The gothic building was an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula and the views from here are incredible. Treat yourself to fish and chips from the popular Magpie Cafe then walk back to Sandsend along the cliff top Cleveland Way path.
Kettlewell is an enchanting collection of 17th and 18th century houses tucked away in a lush green valley in the Yorkshire Dales. There are several inns and tea rooms to refuel if you’re just passing through, but it’s worth stopping for a while to enjoy the slower pace of life here.
- Kettlewell is surrounded by some of the best walking in the Dales, from gentle strolls along the river to a serious hike up Coverhead Pass.
- There are a trio of good pubs in Kettlewell where you can relax with home-cooked food and local Yorkshire ales. There’s also an annual scarecrow festival each August where hundreds of quirky creations decorate the village.
Kettlewell was featured heavily in the Calendar Girls film where it doubled as the fictional village of Knapeley. It's worth watching the film before visiting Kettlewell so you can recognise the locations used including the village hall, garage, church and pub. Discover more famous Yorkshire filming locations.
9. Robin Hood's Bay
Venture just a few miles south of Whitby and you’ll find the gravity-defying picture-postcard village of Robin Hood’s Bay. Once home to the busiest smuggling trade on the Yorkshire coast, said to involve fisherman, clergy and gentry alike, today the village has adopted a much more sedate pace of life with a maze of streets and alleyways to mooch around during a visit.
- Take some time to enjoy the heavenly view at the top before venturing down the steep streets to the sandy bay below. There are plenty of pit stops to whet your whistle on the way down, as well as some quaint shops to distract you from the steep climb back up.
- You can still see traditional fishing boats in the harbour at Robin Hood’s Bay and the beautiful dog-friendly beach is ideal for fossil hunting or a bracing walk with four-legged friends.
Delve into the smuggling past of Robin Hood's Bay on an atmospheric ghost walk. You'll hear tales of local folklore, shipwrecks and mysterious spirits as you explore the maze of cobbled streets and alleys by lamplight. Afterwards you can call in a characterful Robin Hood's Bay pub like The Laurel to sooth your frazzled nerves!
10. Lockton and Levisham
Okay, so this is actually two villages, but there is no tearing them apart. This pair of attractive moorland villages are separated by a deep gorge with Levisham Beck running through it. The popular walk between the two is thoroughly pleasant; both villages feature traditional North Yorkshire inns so reward yourself with a pint of real ale along the way.
- Look out for the famous Hole of Horcum, a spectacular giant natural amphitheatre carved out of Levisham Moor which makes for a great view en-route.
- Both villages are mentioned in the Domesday book and the 13th-century church of St Giles in Lockton is well worth visiting and features a beautiful stained glass window.
Levisham Station is a calling point on the popular North York Moors Railway (or NYMR as it is more commonly known) and has been styled as a traditional Victorian waiting room. Hop on board a classic steam train and travel in style through scenic moorland on route to either Whitby or Pickering. It's the perfect romantic Yorkshire day out
Plan your getaway to Yorkshire
If this selection of pretty villages has inspired you to visit North Yorkshire for a short break or holiday, Gorgeous Cottages have a selection of hand-picked luxury cottages throughout the Moors, Dales, Coast and Wolds. Spend days exploring coastal villages and rural hamlets before returning to a characterful cottage that's brimming with original features or even a luxury Yorkshire lodge with a hot tub. You'll find lots of country pubs along the way too and we've put together our top 10 Yorkshire pubs to get you started.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.