Regularly topping the listings for most desirable place to live in the UK, Harrogate is an incredibly handsome town. Close to the Dales, the Moors and the cities of York and Leeds, it is has gorgeous cafes, restaurants and antique shops in abundance, making it the perfect location for a holiday in Yorkshire.
Gorgeous things to see and do in Harrogate…
Take a bath
The fabulous Turkish Baths are a must on any break to Harrogate. Subject to a recent refurb, the ornate interior has been lovingly restored to its Moorish best, with grand Islamic archways and high painted ceilings. Work your way up through the increasingly hot chambers of the Tepidarium, Calidarium and Laconium, punctuated with bracing dips in the ice cold plunge pool. The positive effect on the skin and psyche is palpable.
With galleries and art dealers aplenty, it’s worth taking some time out to appreciate the finer things in life. The Mercer Gallery on Swan Road is housed in one of the original Spa buildings from the early 1800s. Home to one of the biggest fine art collections in the region, it runs a regular program of exhibitions throughout the year. The Walker Galleries in Montpellier Gardens are amongst others in this area well worth an afternoon’s browsing. Just out of town near the charming market town of Ripon, Newby Hall & Gardens is an exquisite example of 18th Century interior design. There are aesthetic delights within and perfectly manicured gardens outside.
There’s more to Harrogate than antique shops, and with such a neat town centre it’s easy to find your way around in an afternoon. Start off in the Montpellier Quarter – good for antiques, art and jewellery you can also re-charge at one of the charming cafes en route before heading up Parliament Street into the town centre. You’ll find all of the high street biggies dotted around as well as some delightful independents including Morgan Claire – a sort of mini Harvey Nics, Billie & Gruff – cashmere comforts and cute baby wear, Rasmus – interior shop extraordinare and Rhodes-Wood – the quintessential English tailor…Suits you Sir!
Although it’s packed with locals and tourists at almost every hour of the day, Betty’s Cafe is worth joining the queue for. Serving up cream teas and all things delicious for almost a century, this Yorkshire institution is a real must. Other gorgeous foodie options include Weetons Deli – an on the pulse organic deli with an excellent cafe in store, The Drum & Monkey – a fantastic seafood restaurant in the Montpellier Quarter, Van Zellers – an upmarket stylish affair, and William and Victoria – a comforting family run restaurant and buzzing bistro.
Dales day trip
Perched on the cusp of Nidderdale and Wensleydale, just a few miles drive from central Harrogate will take you into some seriously stunning countryside. Designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, upper Nidderdale is a patchwork quilt of rolling meadows and dry stone walls. At its centre is the quaint old village of Pateley bridge, around 20 minutes drive from Harrogate. Home to the oldest sweet shop in Britain, it makes a good base from which to start your tour of the area. Try to catch the bizarrely formed Brimham rocks if you have time. Wensleydale has equal amounts of charm, with its sweeping meadows and lazy rivers winding through a host of pretty villages and towns. Leyburn, West Burton and Middleham are all great stop off points for a taste of Yorkshire country life. If you want to see the famous cheese being made, head for the town of Hawes. The creamery is open for visitors most days.