From exploring Yorkshire's spectacular countryside - encompassing the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales National Parks and many inspiring National Trust sites - to spending a relaxing day at the spa, there are lots of things to see and do during a visit to Yorkshire.
We have compiled lots of useful information into this comprehensive guide to help you easily find the very best things to do during your next Yorkshire staycation.
👉 Things to do in the great outdoors
👉 Inspiring and relaxing ideas
👉 Days out for everyone
👉 Suggestions for specific locations
Things to do in the great outdoors
With a landscape that includes heather-clad moorland, wildflower meadows, rugged peaks and a long stretch of beautiful heritage coastline, there is much to explore in the great outdoors of Yorkshire. Here are some of the best things to do:
Cycling in Yorkshire
Cycling in Yorkshire is an activity that’s accessible to all, with everything from gentle traffic-free trails to challenging mountain bike routes available to try. Follow in the bike tracks of the annual Tour de Yorkshire race or look for an easy-going route such as the peaceful roads of the Moor to Sea network or the valley-bottom Swale Trail, which was designed for families to use.
A guide to the best Yorkshire walks
What better way to get some fresh air and exercise than in the glorious Yorkshire countryside? There are so many walking routes around the Moors, Dales and Coast that it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we have listed all the best ones to try, split between the various Yorkshire regions, with both a difficulty rating and the length of the route.
Discover Dalby Forest
Located on the southern slopes of the North York Moors National Park, Dalby Forest combines wildlife-rich woodland, glacial lakes and rugged terrain. Follow a series of walking trails through the forest, allow the kids to let off some steam at an adventure play area, or swing through the trees Tarzan-style on a fun-filled Go Ape course. Dalby Forest is also a perfect place for a picnic or stargazing in the dark night sky if you are looking for a more peaceful forest activity.
Seek out a pretty waterfall
Dotted around the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales countryside are a series of pretty waterfalls that range from the dramatic 100-foot drop of Hardraw Force to the gentler cascades of Aysgarth Falls, which are perfect for dogs and children to paddle in. Spending time at a Yorkshire waterfall is a wonderful thing to do at any age, and we have listed the best ones to seek out during your next visit to Yorkshire.
Inspiring and relaxing things to do
From exploring some of Yorkshire’s history and heritage to spending time at a luxurious spa, here are some of the most relaxing and inspiring things to do in Yorkshire:
Explore a National Trust site
There is an assortment of places dotted around Yorkshire where kids can tick some things off the National Trust’s list of 50 things to do before you're 11 ¾. Yorkshire sites that are managed by the National Trust include:
- Brimham Rocks - a collection of strange prehistoric rock formations that kids can clamber over and hide behind.
- Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Park - sprawling monastery ruins and a Georgian water park that holds UNESCO World Heritage status.
- The Old Coastguard Station - a museum in Robin Hood’s Bay that tells the story of the North York Moors coastline.
Visit a historic house
You can look around sumptuously restored rooms and explore gorgeous grounds and gardens at some of the UK’s grandest stately homes, including Castle Howard, Harewood House and Burton Agnes Hall. Historic houses in Yorkshire feature Baroque, Georgian and Elizabethan architecture, with woodland walks, tranquil lakes, miniature railways and giant garden games.
Take a film and TV tour of Yorkshire
Yorkshire has been the setting for a number of films and TV shows over the years and there are various places where you can follow in the footsteps of famous actors and find yourself in some very familiar surroundings. For example, Kevin Costner ended up in the water of Aysgarth Falls during a memorable scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Yorkshire Dales village of Kettlewell became Knapley for Calendar Girls, and Grassington was turned into Darrowby for the recent series of All Creatures Great and Small.
Enjoy a day of relaxation at the spa
If you fancy a relaxing day at the spa, Yorkshire is home to some seriously good ones complete with fluffy robes, soothing treatments and revitalising pools. One of the most historic spa venues in the area is Harrogate’s Turkish Baths, which has been around for more than 120 years and still contains many of the intricate Moorish original features. Rudding Park features a wonderful rooftop spa garden with various thermal and hydrotherapy experiences, and Swinton Country Club and Spa is set within a 20,000-acre Yorkshire Dales estate with a selection of sumptuous five-star facilities.
Days out for everyone
There are days out for everyone in Yorkshire, whether you are travelling with kids, dogs, solo, or with that one special someone.
Family days out in Yorkshire
From meeting the meerkats at Thorp Perrow Arboretum near Bedale to getting lost amongst a labyrinth of secret passageways at The Forbidden Corner in Middleham, there are lots of fun-filled Yorkshire days out to keep children happy during your short break or holiday. Favourite family-friendly things to do include riding a state-of-the-art time capsule into the past at Jorvik Viking Centre in York, exploring an enchanted forest at Stockeld Park near Harrogate, and splashing around the Alpamare water park in Scarborough.
Dog-friendly days out
Four-legged friends will always be made welcome on a visit to Yorkshire, and there are plenty of dog-friendly things to do that are bound to get their tails wagging. The Yorkshire Coast is always a popular choice thanks to an array of dog-friendly beaches, and there are also plenty of gorgeous gardens and sprawling castle grounds in Yorkshire where pet pooches can sniff out some adventures. Another great option for a dog-friendly day out is exploring Ryedale Folk Museum, a fascinating outdoor attraction in Hutton-le-Hole, and then catching a vintage NYMR steam train from nearby Pickering and whistling through the North York Moors countryside to Whitby.
Romantic days out
There’s much to do on a grown-up Yorkshire getaway, from sitting down to a seriously good meal at a Michelin starred restaurant to picking up the freshest local produce at a Yorkshire market town like Malton. You can spend time exploring places along the Yorkshire Coast like romantic Robin Hood’s Bay, have an adrenaline-fuelled outdoor adventure in the Dales, or decide on cocktails and shopping on a sophisticated city jaunt to York or Leeds.
Visit some of Yorkshire’s prettiest villages
You’ll find pretty villages dotted all around Yorkshire, and seeking some of these rural idylls and coastal coves is a lovely thing to do during your short break or holiday. You can paddle in a gentle stream that runs right through the middle of the Hutton-le-Hole village green, watch the racehorses go past on their way to the gallops in Middleham, or wander along some wonderful wildflower meadows in Muker. There are also characterful country pubs to call in and lots of scenic walks to try in and around these picturesque Yorkshire villages.
The best things to do in Yorkshire
As well as suggesting a variety of different activities to try throughout Yorkshire, we have also handily compiled some location-based things to do guides that focus on some of the most popular holiday destinations throughout the region.
Whitby is one of the most popular seaside towns around, combining fascinating maritime history with a bustling fishing harbour and a characterfully cobbled old town. Whether you fancy following in the footsteps of Bram Stoker’s Dracula by climbing up 199 steps to Whitby Abbey or taking a relaxing boat trip to nearby Sandsend, you’ll find lots of things to see and do in Whitby.
Scarborough is Britain’s oldest seaside resort and makes a perfect choice for a traditional family holiday by the sea. Popular activities range from riding the waves at a thrilling water park to catching a Victorian cliff lift from the iconic Scarborough Spa town to the bustling South Bay beach, which is home to an array of classic amusement arcades and fish and chip shops.
The only market town that’s fully within the boundaries of the North York Moors National Park, Helmsley is not only a perfect destination for a walking holiday but also has lots of dog-friendly independent shops, tearooms and restaurants dotted around its pretty cobbled streets. What’s more, there’s a 900-year-old historic castle, an outdoor swimming pool and the beautiful Helmsley Walled Garden (featured in the 2020 film version of The Secret Garden) to visit during your getaway.
One of the UK’s best-loved spa towns, Harrogate has a wonderful location on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, with stylish shops and sophisticated cocktail bars surrounded by the rolling hills and lush green countryside of Nidderdale. Explore 27 acres of beautiful gardens at RHS Harlow Carr, tuck into an afternoon tea to remember at Bettys, and enjoy a pampering experience at the traditional frigidarium within Harrogate’s Victorian Turkish Baths.
Book a Yorkshire holiday cottage
Hopefully, you’ve found lots of inspiration for things to do during your next Yorkshire getaway. Whether you’re planning a romantic break, a dog-friendly holiday or want to spend quality time with the family, there are days out to keep everyone happy and lots of lovely Yorkshire cottages where you can rest your head.
Browse our full range of Yorkshire holiday cottages to find your perfect base for exploring this wonderful part of the world.
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.