North Yorkshire is England’s largest county, it hosts two of our National Parks, has an attractive coastline and plenty to see and do in its towns and cities. It is easily accessible by road, rail and air. Whether you looking for a rugged outdoor break a luxury hotel stay you won’t be disappointed.
The leading tourist towns include;
Harrogate, a former spa town, it is now a popular commuter town for Leeds businessmen. It is an important tourist destination and has large conference and exhibition facilities. Many of the grand hotels date back to its spa days. There are also modern chain establishments. Harrogate is a rich town with housing on the South side of the town at similar price levels to London. The town centre is delightful with award winning gardens attractive buildings. The Stray is a protected open area of around 200 acres. Not surprisingly you can find plenty of up market restaurants and shops including a branch of Betty’s, Tea Rooms. Valley Gardens is one of the best examples of a municipal park and for gardening fans, the Royal Horticultural Society has its northern outpost at nearby Harlow Carr.
Skipton promotes itself as the “Gateway to the Dales” it is an attractive Market Town just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is a popular base for Dales visitors with many shops, restaurants, tea rooms and shops.
Purists will argue that York is not in North Yorkshire, which is the case. It is though surrounded by the county and is an ideal base to explore from, you can find more about York in our dedicated guide.
Scarborough is the leading coastal resort, it has two separate bays, with quite different characters. The headland separating the bays is topped with an ancient ruined castle.
Top attractions include the new open air theatre, seating over 6000, it is the largest in Europe. Peasholm park is a grand municipal park which hosts naval re-enactments and concerts in the Summer. Alan Ayckbourn premiers his plays at the famous Stephen Joseph Theatre. The Rotunda Museum is one of the oldest museums in the UK, it is home to the skeleton of a Bronze Age man. The Grade II listed Spa complex houses Summer concerts performed by its own orchestra as well as Jazz and other musical events. The Grand Hotel when built was among the largest in the world, when built, trivia experts will know, it had 12 floors representing months, four towers representing the seasons, 52 chimneys for the weeks and 365 rooms!
Whitby situation further north up the coast is a former fishing town and port, today it is a somewhat quirky tourist resort successfully competing with its larger neighbour. The iconic Abbey overlooks the town and is famous for its connections with Bram Stoker of Dracula fame. Fishing continues with the dock and market in the centre of the town. Not surprising there are plenty of places to sample their efforts. The Magpie café overlooking the harbour is probably the most famous and well worth queuing for. Click for our Whitby guide.
Discover Yorkshire Coast
Hawes is near the centre of the Yorkshire Dales. It is an attractive market town catering predominantly for the outdoor lover and for day visitors. There are plenty of shops, place to eat and the Dales Countryside Museum located in the old station. The Wensleydale Creamery is the home to genuine Wensleydale Cheese, you can watch it being made, sample and buy it in the shop and have a meal in the restaurant.
Pickering is similarly centrally located in Yorkshires other National Park, The North York Moors. It is well set up to cater for the modern tourist with a wide range of shops and eateries. It is also the southern terminus of the North York Moors Railway, a leading preserved steam railway.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
As the name suggests, the landscape is made up of a number of deep sided valleys or dales. The park contains some of the finest limestone scenery in the country. The stone can be seen everywhere, drystone walls, shepherd’s barns, houses, inns and as gravel on tracks. It is one of the most popular areas for hiking it is crossed by major paths such as the Pennine Way and the Coast to Coast walk.
The landscape can be bleak particularly in poor weather, but it is this, that attracts many to the place. This aspect is demonstrated in one of the most iconic views of the dales, the Ribblehead Viaduct with the outline of the Three Peak hills behind. Thankfully the railway line is still operates, known as the Settle Carlisle, it is in many people’s opinion England’s finest railway journey. Forget looking for chain hotels here, accommodation is mainly at inns (ranging from basic to luxury) and farms. Camping and caravanning are both popular and there is a wide choice of rental property.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
North York Moors National Park
Comprising of a large expanse of heather moorland, the park is an area for walking and unwinding. It lacks the dramatic valleys of its neighbouring park, but makes up for this in its natural beauty. There are few towns and few main roads, it is a place to get away from the rat race and relax. Several long distance walks and the preserved North York Moors railway already mentioned cross the park. Attractions include the ruined abbeys at Byland and Rivaulx, Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisted fame (just outside the park) and Helmsley Castle. Small hotels in small towns such as Harome and Helmsley offer luxury accommodation. There are many smaller hotels, inns and farms offering accommodation catering for different budgets and many camping and caravanning sites.
North Yorkshire Moors National Park