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12 of the Most Beautiful Yorkshire Towns and Villages You Will Love

View across the rooftops and harbour at Staithes in Yorkshire and out to the sea

If you are thinking of heading to the North of England and stopping at the beautiful Yorkshire towns, you are in for a treat. The largest county in England and the UK’s largest region has some of the prettiest towns and villages in England.

Yorkshire’s beautiful towns are nestled in two of the best national parks in England – North York Moors National Park and Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is in these landmark locations that visitors will find the most picturesque countryside in the UK. Rolling hills and dales are scattered with babbling streams and brooks, while chocolate-box stone cottages and winding cobbled lanes are common in “God’s Own Country” – the fitting title given to Yorkshire.

If you’re planning on visiting Yorkshire for the first time, then a great place to visit in Yorkshire is the dramatic east coast. It is here visitors can find some of the most charming towns and villages in Yorkshire. From the fishing village of Staithes to the town of Whitby – famous for its connections to Bram Stoker and Dracula!

Yorkshire is the most historic county in England, and its deep-rooted English history makes Yorkshire unique. There are so many historical places of interest in Yorkshire, from medieval castles, churches, abbeys to stately houses, all offering a glimpse into the fascinating historical past of this stunning part of England.

With contributions from fellow travel bloggers, I have highlighted 12 of the most beautiful towns in Yorkshire. Which one of these quaint villages and towns in Yorkshire will be your favourite?

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Most Charming Towns in the Yorkshire Dales

Ingleton #1

Written by Sinead from Map Made Memories

Ingleton is a charming small town in Yorkshire lying on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Ingleton’s central location means the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a short, 30-minute drive away, plus The Lake District and The Forest of Bowland can easily be visited as a day trip. 

Most visitors use Ingleton as a base for enjoying adventurous outdoor activities in the local rural area such as cycling, climbing, hiking and caving. There are guided tours available in Ingleton for these activities, and also plenty of self-guided activities.

One of Yorkshire’s highest peaks, Ingleborough, lies on the Ingleton’s doorstep and is a popular hiking route for visitors. Don a hard hat and explore underground at the nearby Yorkshire showcaves Ingleborough Cave or White Scar Cave, the largest show cave in England. Enjoy a seasonal swim in Ingleton’s delightful open-air heated pool or wander along the banks of the River Doe and River Greta to view Ingleton’s impressive, historic viaduct. Visitors can have a go at climbing at the indoor climbing wall at Inglesport outdoors shop.

The highlight of Ingleton has to be the spectacular Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. This beautiful, privately-owned 7-kilometre trail is a riverside woodland trail that passes seven pretty waterfalls on route. My favourite waterfall, Thornton Falls, is idyllic. The path is not technically challenging but is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs, and sturdy footwear is recommended.

Sinead comments:

After a long day walking, reward yourself with a sweet treat from the enticing Seasons Bakery or a relaxing drink at the quirky microbar, The Old Post Office.

Grassington #2

Written by Helen from Inside Our Suitcase

Grassington is a lovely idyllic Yorkshire town located in the Craven district and the perfect base for exploring the nearby Yorkshire Dales – Wharfedale and Nidderdale. Grassington is one of the best small villages in the Yorkshire Dales and is the perfect place to park up and head out on a walk. Many circular walking routes start in the area and lead you around the wonderful Yorkshire countryside.

One of the most charming walks from Grassington is the Grassington to Conistone walk, leading up through the village to an old drove road, then returning on the Dales Way path. The walk is stunning, leading through endless fields, rivers, and back over banks overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Discovering the Delights of Grassington

Once you have explored the surrounding countryside, you can return to the village and head to one of the many country pubs in Grassington for lunch or find a place to stay in Grassington for longer.

If pub lunches aren’t your style, then you can visit one of the smaller cafes, tea rooms or the traditional fish and chip shop. The village is a great place to gather with friends for a weekend of fine food and even better views.

If you struggle to walk up hills, you may find reaching the fish and chip shop a struggle, but you can find more places to eat in the village’s main square.

One of my favourite things about Grassington is the unique shops selling homemade products from fresh produce to woollen items.

The charming cobblestone streets of Grassington create the stunning foreground to many beautiful pictures and is a perfect place to sit, paint, draw or enjoy the scenery. You may also spot some famous film scenes within the picturesque town from Wuthering Heights and Dolittle.

Helen comments:

Grassington is a very authentic Yorkshire town and is a great place for visitors to stop and explore.

Grassington town square with a green pump with a bucket beneath as a focal point and surrounded by colourful flowers. Cars are parked nearby and stone built Yorkshire buildings surround the area.

Malham #3

Written by Josh from Veggie Vagabonds

For a perfectly traditional Yorkshire town with an absolutely stunning surrounding landscape, Malham should be at the top of your bucket list. 

You’ll find Malham tucked away in the south of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, nestled in between rolling hills, rich meadows and towering limestone gorges. Though the town is pretty tiny, you’ve got enough amenities to make a stay of it, with several campsites, B&Bs, pubs and food options. 

It’s as quintessential as you’ll get for the region, filled with friendly local grazing animals and picture-postcard views.

Outdoor Activities in Malham

For most, a trip to Malham is driven by a passion for getting into the surrounding hills – it’s got some of the best walking trails in the UK. There are plenty of local trails for beginners, all the way to multi-day epics, which can take you through the national park.

And it’s not just hiking. Malham is also home to some of the UK’s toughest and most famous sport climbing routes. The towering walls of Malham Cove bring climbers in from all around the world, and it’s a marvel to see. Malham Tarn Archeological Walk offers hikers the chance to check out archaeological ruins in the area around the reserve.

If you’re visiting, check out Janet’s Foss, a stunning waterfall and natural pool that is right in the town. Another incredible natural wonder is Goredale Scar: an imposing limestone gorge with a powerful waterfall coming down. For the adventurous, you can even scrabble up it’s face to the valley top!

Josh Comments:

We love a long day hiking or climbing, finished off with a beer on one of their local pub greens.

Most Beautiful Towns in North Yorkshire

Harrogate #4

Written by Angie

The beautiful Yorkshire town of Harrogate is is home to some of the best attractions in Yorkshire and a firm favourite for visitors to North Yorkshire. The Victorian spa town of Harrogate is a good spot for shoppers with a mix of independent and quirky shops alongside high street chain stores.

Betty’s Cafe Tearooms is a destination in its own right and began its story in Harrogate in 1919. The cafe started by selling Yorkshire’s famous ‘Fat Rascal’ scones before evolving into Harrogate’s must-visit attraction.

As a spa town, Harrogate is best known for its Victorian Turkish Spa Baths, dating back to 1897 and fully restored to their former glory. Spend some time relaxing in the warm baths before indulging in a full body massage – heaven!

Harrogate and its surrounding area is rich is historical sites from medieval castles to stately homes and not forgetting Fountains Abbey, Britains best preserved monastic abbey ruins, only a short drive away.

Of course, no visit is complete without a walk around the Valley Gardens Harrogate. The English Heritage Grade II Listed gardens sit along with 17 acres of woodland, known as The Pinewoods.

With plenty of places to stay in Harrogate you will be spoilt for choice however my personal favourite is Rudding Park Hotel and Spa for a truly indulgent stay.

Harrogate is the queerest place with the strangest people in it, leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining.

Charles Dickens
Beautiful Yorkshire Gardens in Harrogate with a pergola covered in vines and formal lawns leading to steps covered with white flowers.

Helmsley #5

Written by Sophie from We Dream Of Travel

Helmsley is one of the prettiest towns in Yorkshire and the only market town in the North York Moors National Park. Set around the market square are several charming tea rooms, small independent shops and boutique galleries. Take time to amble around and enjoy the views of the 900-year-old ruins of Helmsley Castle towering over the town.

Don’t miss Helmsley Walled Gardens; these are (in our opinion) the star attraction of the town. Within the gardens, you’ll find yourself immersed in a kaleidoscope of floral colours against the backdrop of the castle ruins. They provide the best views of the castle by far, and if you only book one attraction in Helmsley, it should be the Walled Gardens.

The National Bird of Prey Centre in Helmsley provides another wonderful activity and is a great option if exploring with the family. They have 2-3 flight displays per day with different birds and have an indoor area if the weather is bad.

Nearby, you’ll also find Rievaulx Abbey dating back to 1132. It remains one of the most complete of England’s abbey ruins. There is a popular scenic 7-mile circular walking route from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey for keen walkers.

There are plenty of places to stay in Helmsley and it makes the perfect base to explore the beautiful Yorkshire towns and countryside. Helmsley is also the start of the Cleveland Way National Trail, so numerous walks and hikes start from this point.

If you are staying in York, Helmsley should definitely be on your list of things to do near York as it is only a 40-minute drive away.

Sophie comments:

You’ll discover plenty to do in this quaint little town.

Knaresborough #6

Written by Rachel from Average Lives

Located only 4 miles from Harrogate and 17 miles from York lies Knaresborough, a historic, charming town with medieval characteristics. The grand Knaresborough viaduct takes centre stage over the River Nidd and today has become a landmark of Knaresborough. The historic town has become increasingly popular because of the rowing boats with the 1851 viaduct and rocky gorge as a backdrop. 

Some of the best things to do in Knaresborough include visiting Knaresborough Castle, built-in 1100 in the Norman period, learning at the museum, appreciating the Bebra Gardens, and exploring Knaresborough Square. Also, you can walk along the riverside next to the River Nedd, admire the St John the Baptist Church and explore the independent shops in the town.

One of the most popular activities is to hire a rowing boat and take pictures with the viaduct’s arches. Just remember that this activity is only open from March to October because of the great British weather. Luckily, the Knaresborough Visitor Centre has a knowledgeable staff that can help you plan more activities (if you need them) and help you find suitable accommodation.  

I believe a visit to Knaresborough is unforgettable, especially if you visit the 15th-century Mother Shipton Inn, where you can have delicious local food overlooking the River Nidd. There is so much character to the pub that you can have a quintessentially British experience, and the staff are always helpful and accommodating.

Rachel comments:

Knaresborough is magical, and there is no denying that it is one of the most beautiful towns in Yorkshire.

Knaresborough Viaduct with its mammoth arches across the river with people in rowing boats cruising on the water beneath it on a summers day.

Richmond #7

Written by Isobel from The Gap Decaders

Surrounded by the rolling beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, Richmond is an elegant market town and a must-see for anyone road-tripping in Yorkshire. This gem of a town in the county of North Yorkshire was founded by the Normans in 1071, around the “riche-mont” or strong hill, that gives the town its name.

First of the Richmonds!

The Richmond in Yorkshire was the first location in the world given the place name Richmond – many have since followed!

Today, the town is dominated by the huge Norman castle, which stands proudly on the skyline overlooking the River Swale, and celebrates its 950th anniversary this year. Recognised as the best-preserved Norman castle in England, Richmond castle has a rich history through the ages and is a highlight of any visit to the town.

With its fabulous position in Swaledale, Richmond is often called “the gateway to the Dales”, and there is much to see and do in the town and local area. Explore the Georgian and Victorian architecture around the lively cobbled marketplace before taking a wander along the rushing Swale river to see the local waterfalls. If you fancy a longer walk, go east along the river for a mile to reach the pretty ruins of Easby Abbey, which dates from 1152.

Around the town, there are fabulous hiking and rambling routes through the Dales or head out with your camera for moody skies, isolated stone barns that characterise the area and lush green patchwork fields. Or check out The Station, a gorgeous Victorian railway station that has been restored and filled with local art and craft exhibits and heritage, an in-house cinema and even an ice-cream parlour!

Izzy comments:

Those in the know head to Mocha for the best coffee and hot chocolate in town.

Idyllic Towns in West Yorkshire

Haworth #8

Written by Angie

Haworth is a beautiful village in West Yorkshire with its cobbled main street lined by pretty independent stores is known by visitors for being the home of the Bronte sisters, authors of Wuthering Heights. Its rugged and rough and landscape was the inspiration for the novel and is now what makes it a magnet for walkers.

For book-lovers, Haworth village is really special as it is where Emily Bronte brought to life Cathy and Heathcliff, the lovers from Wuthering Heights. There are many things to do in Haworth, and number one is to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum, a look at the Bronte family’s lives in the early 1900s.

Haworth Railway Station is another great place to visit and was the location for the iconic 1970s film ‘The Railway Children‘. Watch the steam trains chugging past on their route through the Yorkshire countryside.  

Walk through Bronte Country

For walkers, there are plenty of chances of enjoying the landscape. Top Withens Walk is a popular Yorkshire walk and takes you out of Haworth along signposted pathways to the moorland that inspired the Brontes to write their epic novels.  The Railway Children was also filmed in Haworth and visitors can find a walking route map following locations from the film here.

There are plenty of charming places to stay in Haworth. A suggestion if you are looking for something cute and traditional is The Snug. A delightful, stone-built, terraced cottage with original ceiling beams, a feature fireplace and a wood-burning stove. The perfect bolthole for a weekend getaway in Yorkshire.

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same

Emily bronte – Wuthering Heights

Hebden Bridge #9

Written by Rebecca from Almost Ginger

Hebden Bridge is one of the liveliest artistic communities in Yorkshire, and for a town with only 4,500 living there year-round, there are plenty of things to do. It is a beautiful old Yorkshire market town, lovingly referred to as the UK’s “lesbian capital” due to being an LGBTQ+ friendly town since the 1970s. Hebden Bridge sits directly between Leeds and Manchester, making it the perfect place for a Northern day trip or weekend getaway.

Visitors to Hebden Bridge can enjoy a stroll in Calder Holmes Park, where on sunny days, they can find a cafe selling Northern Bloc ice cream (a Leeds favourite). And those looking for a gorgeous view over the town and more places to explore can walk up the hill to Heptonstall, a small charming village which seems like it has not changed in the last 200 years.

Hebden Bridge Arts Scene

Music fans should check out the Trades Club listings, a Hebden Bridge institution offering live music, drinks at reasonable prices (unheard of for a gigs venue), and friendly staff. Check out the Hebden Bridge Picture House. One of the few one-screen Art Deco cinemas left in the UK showing the latest arthouse and independent releases.

Hebden Bridge has an incredible cafe scene. Mooch Cafe-Bar, the Lovegrows Tearooms and The Art Cafe all offer great coffee with a relaxed, friendly vibe. Those wanting a cosy sit-down meal can head to Aya Sophia or the Old Gate Bar & Restaurant for more traditional pub fare.

The jewel in Hebden Bridge’s crown, however, is Vocation & Co. Brewery. Vocation’s beers are available nationwide, but it all started right here in Hebden Bridge. Vocation’s well-stocked bar will assure you of a good welcome, just like in the rest of the town.

Hebden Bridge has been voted as the “fourth funkiest town in the world”, the best small market town in the UK, and “the greatest town in Europe”.

VisitCalderdale.com

Prettiest Towns in East Yorkshire

Robin Hood’s Bay #10

Written by Maja from Away With Maja

One of the most charming villages in Yorkshire is Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire coast, in the North York Moors National Park. If you are looking for a seaside getaway, this is the perfect place. With a fascinating history of smuggling—back in its heyday in the 18th century, virtually everyone in the town was involved in the smuggling industry.

With the cutest cottages and cobblestone roads, you can easily spend a day wandering in the narrow, winding streets. The town is divided into an upper part, where the main car park is, and a lower part, with the majority of the shops, pubs, and cute streets are located.

You can also visit the Robin Hood’s Bay Museum or the Old Coastguard Station (run by National Trust). Stretch your legs on the short walk (approximately 1 mile) to Boggle Hole. If you prefer a longer walk, Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay along the Cleveland Way (approximately 6-7 miles) is one of the best hikes in Yorkshire. The views over the coast are stunning! It’s possible to walk one-way and then travel from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby by bus.

Robin Hood’s Bay is also the endpoint for the 182-mile multi-day Coast to Coast walk across the country. Whether you’re hiking to Robin Hood’s Bay or just wanting to relax, enjoy a pint with seaside views at the Bay Hotel in the lower part of the town.

If you are looking for accommodation in Robin Hood’s Bay, The Bramblewick is located a stone’s throw from the beach and is reasonably priced.

Maja comments:

On a nice day, stroll along the beach and take in the sea breeze.

Staithes #11

Written by Angie

The seaside village of Staithes is a popular place to visit in North Yorkshire and was once one of the largest fishing ports in the North East of England.

The charming 18th-century cottages and narrow cobbled streets in Staithes are reminders of a bygone era in this sleepy village. Staithes harbour is as picturesque as any visitor could wish for, with colourful flat-bottomed fishing boats called “cobles” bobbing around on the water. Fishing is still the main industry in Staithes, so you must visit Cod and Lobster for a freshly-caught fish meal. 

For nature lovers, explore the funky named “Dinosaur Coast“, and try fossil-hunting and pool-dipping. Several popular coastal trails in Staithes allow walkers to explore the surrounding area, complete with dramatic clifftop views. A popular walking route is Staithes to Port Mulgrave – a circular walk passing along The Cleveland Way.

The village of Staithes also has a fabulous claim to fame as being where Captain Cook lived and worked and first realised his love of the sea. Visitors can see a complete replica of the shop he worked in, and the adjoining museum will allow a glimpse into Cook’s life before and during his voyages.

The old village of Staithes has some great places to stay, from charming cottages and BandB’s to the old police station called Peelers Rest!

Staithes means ‘landing place’ in Old English

Wikipedia
Staithes harbour in Yorkshire. seven coloured fishing boats are tethered in the water and cottages sit either side.

Whitby #12

Written by Shobna from Epic England Travel

A round-up of the best towns in Yorkshire wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the famous coastal town of Whitby best known for Whitby Abbey, the ruins of a Benedictine monastery, which looms over the town below. 

Run by English Heritage, Whitby Abbey was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Take the 199 steps from the Abbey to the sea and walk in Dracula’s footsteps as detailed in the Dracula novel. There are lots of Goth-related paraphernalia in the town thanks to this connection with Dracula. Moreover, Whitby hosts the biggest Goth Weekend in Europe every year.

In addition to Whitby Abbey, the old town was a famous Victorian seaside resort. It was known for producing Jet jewellery (made from black Jet stone) which Queen Victoria made famous for mourning wear. The beach is wide and sandy. In summer, the water is probably not freezing! You can take tourist boats that give you a view of the beach and harbour from a different perspective. 

Famous Maritime Connections

Before tourism, Whitby had a long maritime tradition. Famous explorer Captain James Cook, famed for discovering New Zealand and Australia, lived in nearby Staithes and learned his trade in Whitby. The whalebone arch on the hill opposite Whitby Abbey also attests to its importance in the whaling trade. Fishing in Whitby is still important to the local economy.

Whitby is also the UK’s number one destination for lovers of the quintessential British seaside meal. Make sure to check out the best fish and chip shops in Whitby on your visit. Also, there are lots of quirky small restaurants and cafes and a couple of well-known fine dining establishments.

With so many things to see and do in Whitby, you may want to stay overnight, and there are plenty of places to stay in Whitby. We stayed in a rental house right in the heart of the old town, which made walking everywhere convenient. There are parking lots near the old town, but it is best explored on foot as it is a rabbit warren of old narrow streets and some are for pedestrians only. Bigger hotels, like the Dolphin Hotel or Rathwaite Sandsend, are a mile or two outside of Whitby’s historic centre.

We learn from failure not from success

Bram Stoker – Dracula
A view across Whitby Abbey showing boats, red-bricked houses and then on top of the hill the ruins of Whitby Abbey.

Conclusion

I hope this post has shown you the wonders that Yorkshire can offer and will encourage you to visit the county if you haven’t been before.

Of course, there are also some impressive cities in Yorkshire to visit including York – the capital of Yorkshire, Ripon, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Wakefield and Kingston-upon-Hull.

Collectively they are known as the 7 cities of Yorkshire, and you may like to add one of them to your Yorkshire Travel itinerary as a comparison to Yorkshire’s beautiful small towns.

Pinterest Graphic showing four towns in Yorkshire

About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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