A driving holiday in Yorkshire might not be the first place that springs to mind when you consider a road trip in England, but you can rest assured that this beautiful northern county is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.
You will be able to visit medieval castles, stately homes and beautiful Yorkshire villages and towns and immerse yourself in the Yorkshire national parks, some of the most beautiful areas of countryside in the UK.
And let’s not forget the stunning coastal walks and sandy beaches in Yorkshire that are a magnet for locals and tourists in the warmer months – there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Without a doubt, Yorkshire is a fabulous destination to explore on one of the best road trips in the UK.
This post will help you to plan your Yorkshire road trip itinerary. It follows my driving route and includes where I stayed in Yorkshire and the Yorkshire attractions I visited. Depending on your schedule, it can be tweaked for you to spend either more or fewer days in Yorkshire.
Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.
Planning a Trip to Yorkshire
Epic 6-night / 7-Day Yorkshire Road Trip Itinerary
If you want to spend longer in Yorkshire, I suggest adding another day in Whitby and York.
Whitby – one night
Howardian Hills – two nights
York – one night
Harrogate – two nights
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Drive time from London to Whitby is approximately five hours, depending on traffic.
Yorkshire is England’s largest county with a population bigger than Scotland.
We started our week-long Yorkshire road trip itinerary in Whitby and arrived in the early evening. I chose Whitby as the first stop on my itinerary as I had always wanted to see the famous Whitby Abbey and follow in Dracula’s footsteps.
Yes, you have read that correctly! Bram Stoker created Dracula after he spent time in Whitby, and the 199 steps leading from the harbour to the abbey are featured in the Dracula novel.
Supposedly, this is one of Whitby’s most popular tourist attractions, and I have to say there were plenty of people walking up and down the steps when I visited.
Of course, there are many things to do in Whitby besides vampire hunting, but Whitby Abbey is undoubtedly one of the most famous attractions in Yorkshire.
One night in Whitby at The Resolution Hotel
We spent our first night in Yorkshire at The Resolution Hotel. The hotel offers en-suite accommodation in the heart of Whitby and is home to the renowned Vault restaurant and Main Deck bar.
Our room at the Resolution had impressive views over the town’s rooftops to Whitby Abbey.
Whitby is 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.
Spend Day One in Whitby and the Yorkshire Moors
There are so many attractions in Whitby, but the gothic ruins of the Benedictine monastery Whitby Abbey, are the most impressive.
Perched high on a hill above the town, the views across Whitby harbour are fabulous. Wander around the ruins, look inside the museum and visit St Mary’s church, where you will find Dracula’s grave!
Once you’ve finished exploring the abbey ruins, visit the Captain Cook Museum and learn all about the famous captain who departed Whitby to sail around the world and eventually discovered Australia!
A photo spot in Whitby is by the whalebone arch on the hill opposite Whitby Abbey. It attests to the town’s past importance in the whaling trade.
Thankfully whaling stopped a while back, but fishing in Whitby is still important to the local economy. A stroll along the pier will give you information on Whitby’s past and present maritime history.
Back in town, wander along the cobbled streets and dip into some of Whitby’s jewellery shops to see the black jet made famous as mourning jewellery by Queen Victoria. You may even find a piece to take home as a souvenir.
If you are an English Heritage membership holder, entry to Whitby Abbey is free.
Activities in Whitby
Drive time from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay is 15 minutes
North York Moors National Park
The North York Moors is one of three national parks in Yorkshire. The other two are the Yorkshire Dales National Park and parts of the Peak District National Park.
The North York Moors have some of the most breathtaking landscapes in England, giving Yorkshire the accolade of being ‘God’s Own County’.
The North York Moors also contains one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the United Kingdom. Our first day in Yorkshire was spent driving to these different locations within the National Park.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay has a colourful history of smugglers and ghosts, and this sleepy fishing village on the Yorkshire coast is a delight to explore. If you have ever visited Rye in East Sussex, it will give you some idea of what Robin Hood’s Bay is like.
All along the cobbled lanes, you can see quaint cottages with brightly coloured flowers clinging to their facades.
The charm continues with independent shops, art galleries, and old-world pubs peeping out from their precarious positions along the steep hill that leads down to the beach.
The large sandy beach is picture-perfect, with fishing boats bobbing on the water and children scouring rock pools for signs of sea creatures.
I bought ice cream from local favourite “Dollies sweet shop” before paddling in the sea and enjoying the calming views.
There are two walking routes in the area to explore. One is part of “The Cleveland Way” and is an iconic seven mile-track from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby.
The second walk is a shorter 1.5-mile trail from Robin Hood’s Bay to Fylinghall and is part of the longer “The Cinder Track“. This disused railway track has incredible views of Yorkshire’s countryside and coastline.
Drive Time from Robin Hood’s Bay to Rosedale is 45 minutes
A stunning Yorkshire scenic drive is through the moors and down the winding country lanes in Rosedale en route to the charming Dale Head Farm Tea Garden.
Home-baked cakes, many made to ancient Yorkshire recipes, will have your mouth-watering. Order from the counter, take a seat in the picturesque garden and relax!
Afterwards, head to Rosedale Bank Top Kilns in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park for incredible views. Bring a picnic, follow the steep road from Rosedale and park the car by Bank Top Kilns.
You will get the most stunning views of the Yorkshire countryside from here, with only sheep for company!
Walkers might like to follow the Rosedale Trail and discover how this sleepy area was once a hub of industry in the Iron Age.
In the late afternoon, head to the Howardian Hills for your next two nights in Yorkshire.
Drive Time from Rosedale to the Howardian Hills – 40 minutes
Two nights’ accommodation at The Librarians Cottage on the Castle Howard Estate
Spend Day Two in the Howardian Hills
Drive Time from the Howardian Hills to Rievaulx Abbey – 20 minutes
Rievaulx Abbey dates back to 1132AD and remains one of the most complete of England’s abbey ruins. The ruins are spectacular, and the site is a pleasant place to relax and enjoy a picnic or refreshments from the cafe.
There is a popular scenic 7-mile circular walking route from Helmsley Castle to Rievaulx Abbey for keen walkers.
Parking for Rievaulx Abbey can be found on-site or in the nearby privately-owned field. There is a small parking fee for both locations.
How to find Rievaulx Abbey: Rievaulx, Nr Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5LB
If you are an English Heritage membership holder, entry to Rievaulx Abbey is free.
Richmond is an elegant market town in the Yorkshire Dales, is 950 years old and was the first location in the world to be given the place name Richmond.
It also holds the title of having the best-preserved Norman castle in England, so with credentials like those, you will want to add this historic town to your Yorkshire road trip itinerary.
Like many Yorkshire towns, its central hub is the cobbled marketplace lined with Georgian and Victorian architecture and home to quite a few pubs from what I saw!
There are several walks in Richmond and numerous hiking trails to discover in the surrounding Yorkshire Dales.
One takes you through the town and down to the small waterfalls in the local park. Watch out in summer as this area becomes a magnet for teenagers!
If you want to see the ruins of Easby Abbey, you can walk the mile-long route alongside the River Swale. The ruins date back to the 12th century and are maintained by English Heritage.
When it’s time for refreshments, head to The Station, a converted Victorian railway station by the local leisure centre’s car park. It has a cafe and ice-cream parlour, some art and craft exhibits and if you fancy watching a film, it even has a cinema.
Drive Time from Richmond to Wensleydale is 45 minutes
Fans of Wallace and Gromit will know that Wensleydale is the home of these animated characters.
It is a typical Yorkshire village, with its main tourist attraction being the Wensleydale Creamery, where Cistercian monks first started making Wensleydale cheese in 1150.
There are several pubs in Wensleydale if you want to stop for lunch and a pint.
Drive Time from Wensleydale to Castle Bolton – 20 minutes
Bolton Castle is a spectacular medieval fortress preserved in outstanding condition. It is situated in the heart of Wensleydale, inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The castle was built in the 14th century as one of England’s finest and most luxurious homes.
Visitors to the castle can see the medieval Mary Garden (Catholic Garden), herb garden, vineyard & maze, rose gardens & falconry displays. The adult entry fee for the castle and gardens is £12.50
How to find Bolton Castle: Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 4ET
In the late afternoon, head back to the Howardian Hills.
Spend Day Three in the Howardian Hills
From the Librarian’s Cottage, it was a quick 5-minute drive to the magnificent Castle Howard stately home and grounds.
Castle Howard is one of Britain’s most beautiful privately-owned stately homes and one of the grand palaces of Europe. The sprawling estate covers over and has been home to the Howard family for the last 300 years and is a must-visit on a Yorkshire road trip.
Fans of the Netflix series Bridgerton might spot that parts of the series were filmed in this location.
The estate comprises a manor house, extensive grounds, mesmerising lakes, a walled garden, folly temples and a wooded area.
There is an adventure playground for younger family members, and for refreshments, there are several eateries and a fantastic farm shop selling local Yorkshire products.
Castle Howard should be on every Yorkshire itinerary as it is a jewel in Yorkshire’s crown.
We spent around 5 hours at Castle Howard. This time included going inside the house, wandering around the grounds, having lunch and relaxing by the lake.
How to find Castle Howard: Castle Howard Estate, York, YO60 7DA
Drive Time from Castle Howard to Yorkshire Lavender – 10 minutes
I love visiting England’s most beautiful lavender farms, and Yorkshire Lavender was no exception. The owners have put a lot of thought into how they have planted their lavender, creating a beautiful setting with the backdrop of rolling Yorkshire hills.
A gift shop selling everything you can think of relating to lavender is sure to impress. I ended up buying up half the shop myself, but then I do love lavender!
A small cafe selling light bites, ice creams and drinks is also on-site.
How to find Yorkshire Lavender: Terrington, York, YO60 6PB
Spend Day Four in York
Head to York
Drive Time from Howardian Hills to York – 30 minutes
One night accommodation in York at the Travelodge Mickelgate
Travelodge at Micklegate Hotel was a 10-minute walk from the famous York landmarks.
We chose a travel lodge for our night in York because it had free on-site parking. This is a massive bonus in York, as parking spots are hard to find. We arrived well before our check-in time and were able to park the car at the hotel and go out to explore York.
Explore the City of York
No Yorkshire road trip would be complete without visiting York, one of England’s favourite cities and one of the most amazing places in the UK, for a one-night break.
It is steeped in history, and there are so many things to do in York, from exploring the famous city walls and the must-see York Minster Cathedral to visiting York Castle Museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre and the York Dungeons.
For Harry Potter fans, a guided tour along The Shambles and a look at the HP shops will be on every muggle’s bucket list.
While taking an evening ghost tour or themed witches tour around Britain’s most haunted city is a must for all visitors to York. You won’t believe how many ghosts and ghouls wander around this medieval city!
We spent the day in York and enjoyed walking the city walls, looking in the shops, visiting York Minster Cathedral and enjoying lunch and a glass of wine at Merchants Adventurers Hall.
We booked a ghost tour in the evening and then had one of York’s famous Yorkshire pudding roast dinners.
When in York you just have to try this famous dish!
Activities in York
Spend Day Five In York
We had a few hours to kill this morning and so headed back into York city centre for breakfast/brunch.
We chose to eat at Brew and Brownie as it had such good reviews – it turned out too good as we had to queue for a table! I have to say it was very good and worth the accolade of York’s best breakfast restaurant.
Afterwards, we went to York Castle Gardens to see the ruins and walk along the river.
It is a peaceful spot in an otherwise very busy city. And before leaving York, I had to pop into one of the most beautiful shops in York – The Yorkshire Soap Company – to buy some of their beauty products.
We didn’t make it to Betty’s Tea Rooms as our time in York had come to an end. However, do visit there if you have more time to spare.
Head to Harrogate
Drive Time from York to Harrogate – 45 minutes
Two nights’ accommodation in Harrogate at Rudding Park Hotel
Visitors can find Harrogate accommodation availability and pricing here on Booking.com
Spend Day Six in Harrogate
Harrogate is home to some of the best attractions in Yorkshire and a firm favourite for visitors to North Yorkshire. The Victorian spa town is a good spot for shoppers with a good range of independent and 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.
Harrogate is best known as a spa town 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 are rich in historical sites, from medieval castles to stately homes and not forgetting Fountains Abbey, Britain’s best-preserved monastic abbey ruins, only a short drive away.
Spend Day Seven in the Yorkshire Dales
Check out of your Harrogate hotel and continue your Yorkshire road trip to Pateley Bridge.
Drive Time from Harrogate to Pateley Bridge – 30 minutes
Pateley Bridge is a small market town in Nidderdale near Harrogate. It is just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is so pretty you can’t help but like it.
Comprising one main road lined with several independent shops, the first is the oldest sweet shop in England, dating back to the 17th century. Follow the Pateley Bridge Heritage Trail and find some other fascinating locations in the town.
Walk from the car park to the top of the road, and you will come across Cocoa Joe’s, the chocolate drinks specialist. You can choose the origin of chocolate that you want your chocolate drink made from ( I chose Venezuela), and it was delicious.
A walk through the Pateley Bridge park and along the river is a relaxing way to spend a while or follow the hour-long Bewerley walking trail to Fishpond wood.
And before you leave this charming town, grab a bite to eat at The Bridge Inn, located by the bridge and river.
Drive Time from Pateley Bridge to Haworth – 60 minutes
Haworth and the Bronte Waterfall Walk
Haworth is a beautiful village in West Yorkshire and famous for being the home of the Bronte sisters.
The number one Haworth attraction is the Bronte Parsonage Museum, a look at the Bronte family’s lives in the early 1900s.
The rough and rugged Yorkshire landscape around the village inspired the setting of Wuthering Heights.
Haworth Railway Station is another great place to visit on a Yorkshire road trip 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.
Stroll through Bronte Country
For walkers, there are plenty of chances to enjoy the Yorkshire landscape.
Top Withens Walk is a popular Yorkshire Dales 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.
Bronte Waterfall Walk is another charming walk to do and does not entail the climb up to Top Withens (I chose this as the easier option)
It takes you through the beautiful countryside and finishes with a small bridge and waterfall. Along the waterfall route, there is uneven terrain that is only suitable for walkers who are steady on their feet.
To reach the waterfall, the walk is 45 minutes from Haworth High Street or a 30-minute walk from Penistone Country Park, where you can park your car.
Following our final walk in Yorkshire, we climbed back into the car and started our journey home. Yorkshire has been a real eye-opener and one of the best UK road trips I have experienced.
Drive Time from Haworth to London – 4 hours and 30 minutes
Are you looking for Yorkshire accommodation?
Please read my post: Best Yorkshire Accommodation for a 7-night Road Trip.
Are you interested in visiting other towns and villages in Yorkshire?
Please read my post: 13 Most Stunning Places to visit in Yorkshire
Or why not head to Leeds or Sheffield to explore the urban sights in two of Yorkshire’s most famous cities?
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