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If you want some inspiration for incredible days out from Leeds in West Yorkshire, there is plenty to choose from. Vibrant, cosmopolitan Leeds was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and is a great place to visit if you love exploring. It’s also temptingly close to fascinating cities, the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the fresh air of the North Yorkshire coast.
I lived in this great city for almost three years, so I’ve taken a lot of day trips from Leeds. I know which are worthwhile and which not to recommend too.
This collection of the best day trips from Leeds will give you a taste of what you can discover in and around the great country of Yorkshire.
Most days out from Leeds recommended here are less than a 90-minute bus or train journey from the city. You can be confident you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your day trip from Leeds, and you’ll be using sustainable transport too.
Countryside Day Trips from Leeds
Yorkshire is blessed with the most incredibly rich and varied countryside that has inspired legions of poets, writers and artists. Here are some of the most accessible places to visit on day trips from Leeds
1. Yorkshire Dales National Park
The rolling green hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales draw outdoor-loving visitors from Leeds like bees to a honeypot. Harry Potter fans flock to Malham Cove, where Harry and Hermione camped on Malham’s Limestone Pavement in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
What to see and do in the Yorkshire Dales
✔️ Take the scenic Ingleton Waterfalls Walking Trail to experience one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful waterfalls
✔️ Hike 723m (2,372ft) up Ingleborough (one of the famous “Yorkshire 3 Peaks”) for the stupendous views from the top.
✔️ Ride the spectacular Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line to Ribblehead to explore the iconic Ribblehead viaduct.
✔️ Visit the Wensleydale Creamery, situated in the traditional Dales market town of Hawes, and taste some Wensleydale cheese – made famous by Wallace and Gromit.
2. Nidderdale AONB
Nidderdale is one of the most rural and beautiful places in Yorkshire. Visitors love the small town of Pateley Bridge, with its steep main street, art galleries and the Oldest Sweet Shop in the UK, while the surrounding area has historic sites a-plenty.
Brilliant City Days Out From Leeds
Leeds is ideally located for exploring, with excellent public transport connections across the UK. It’s also close to fantastic cities, making great days out! Here are my favourites:
The medieval city of York is the perfect day trip from Leeds by train. Recently voted the #1 city to visit in the UK, York will keep you busy on a day out or weekend trip and is only 30 minutes from Leeds by train.
Best things to see and do in York
✔️ Visitors love York’s splendid gothic cathedral, York Minster, to marvel at the famous 15th-century Rose Window and to climb the 275 narrow steps in the tower for the ultimate city view.
✔️ The narrow, winding Shambles is considered the best-preserved medieval street in the world, plus it’s said to be J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books! Expect cobbled streets, higgledy-piggledy buildings, treasure-trove book shops, quirky eateries, plus a shop where you can park your broomstick outside while you browse!
✔️ Delve into York’s Viking past at the Jorvik Viking Centre, while the FREE National Railway Museum, right next to the railway station, is chock-full of the history of rail travel. If you’re lucky, you might also see the famous Flying Scotsman.
✔️ End your day trip from Leeds at one of York’s fabulous individual pubs. Some of the most interesting include The Golden Fleece (the oldest pub in York), The House of the Trembling Madness and The Evil Eye!
The York City Pass is the easiest way to see multiple attractions in York on a single ticket, saving you time and money. ➡️ Click here to buy your York City Pass.
Where to stay in York
To extend your day trip from Leeds, the atmospheric and luxurious Judge’s Lodging in the middle of the city is a fabulous place to stay.
The 9th biggest city in the UK, Sheffield, is 45-minutes from Leeds by train, making it perfect for leisurely days out from Leeds. Sheffield is a buzzing, friendly city located on the doorstep of the UK’s largest national park – the Peak District.
Things to do in Sheffield
✔️ Take a scenic stroll around the Sheffield Winter Garden, the Botanical Garden, and the Peace Gardens.
✔️ Visit the Millennium Gallery – the premier destination for art, craft and design or the Graves Gallery with works by Cezanne, Turner, and Damien Hirst,
✔️ Check out Weston Park, which shares the story of Sheffield from prehistory to the present day, or visit the National Emergency Services Museum and discover Sheffield’s industrial past at Kelham Island Museum.
✔️ Browse the eclectic mix of boutiques and cafes in the Devonshire Quarter and the thriving stretch of shops, cafes and restaurants on Eccleshall Road, moments away from the Botanic Gardens.
✔️ Pop along to Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter for welcoming tea rooms, retro finds and quirky independent shops, or hop on a tram to the vast Meadowhall Shopping Centre – one of the biggest in the UK.
Where to stay in Sheffield
Extend your stay in Sheffield at the Scandi-chic Brocco on the Park Boutique Hotel.
Manchester is the UK’s second-largest city, with a rich and varied industrial heritage; it’s also bursting with independent art hubs and repurposed old buildings that teem with life. Just 60 minutes away from Leeds by train., Manchester is superb for day trips from Leeds.
What to do in Manchester
✔️ Explore three historical libraries. Chetham’s Library is the oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world, Manchester Central Library with its incredible first-floor domed Whispering Gallery, and the breath-taking John Radcliffe Library with a collection of rare books from five millennia and the most incredible Hogwarts-like architecture!
✔️ Take your pick from the Science and Industry Museum, the Manchester Museum, where you can meet Stan, the fossilised Tyrannosaurus Rex and more than 20 Egyptian mummies, the People’s History Museum (the national museum of democracy), the Greater Manchester Police Museum where you can visit the old cells, charging room and magistrate’s court, and the Manchester Jewish Museum which tells the story of Jewish migration and settlement in the city.
✔️ Discover the 600-year-old Manchester Cathedral in the Medieval Quarter, or the Manchester Art Gallery, which has over 25,000 fine art, decorative art, and costume objects.
✔️ End your trip from Leeds with a mooch around the buzzing Northern Quarter to browse the independent stores, cafes and bars, or treat yourself to cocktails in one of the city’s rooftop bars. The most beautiful? The Ivy is gorgeous!
Manchester is a fabulous city – you’ll only scratch the surface with your day trips from Leeds, but it’s so accessible you can always visit again!
Where to stay in Manchester
If you want to experience more of Manchester than you can squeeze into a day trip, the grand Edwardian Midland Hotel is hard to beat. It also has a fabulous tearoom!
It would be a mistake not to recommend the historic city of Bradford as one of the best days out from Leeds – especially as it’s only 25 minutes from Leeds by train and will be Britain’s new City of Culture in 2025.
Best things to do in Bradford
✔️ Discover Bradford’s pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution at the Bradford Industrial Museum and discover what 19th-century policing was like at the Bradford Police Museum. The fabulous National Science and Media Museum is free to visit while you can step back in time at Bolling Hall to the English Civil War.
✔️ Check out the stunning Cartwright Hall, with its art gallery and ever-changing art exhibitions, including one celebrating the work of Bradford-born artist David Hockney is unmissable. Just one mile from central Bradford, Cartwright Hall is located in the vast Lister Park with botanical gardens, a lake and Mughal water gardens to stroll around.
✔️ Visit Bradford Cathedral, a 500-year-old beauty with early stained glass by William Morris, while the massive Bradford City Hall is worth visiting to see every single king and queen of England sculpted into the walls!
Recognised for years as the curry capital of Britain, Bradford has over 200 authentic curry houses to choose from. My absolute favourite is Mumtaz. For the perfect evening treat, take in a show at Bradford’s beautiful Alhambra Theatre.
Where to stay in Bradford
The luxurious 19th-century Great Victoria Hotel is a Bradford landmark and the perfect base for exploring the City centre bars, shops and attractions.
Scenic Yorkshire Towns for Day Trips from Leeds
If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, you’ll love these ideas for day trips from Leeds to charming towns that ooze character.
Impossibly picturesque, Knaresborough is instantly recognisable for the Victorian Viaduct that carries trains between Harrogate and York across the River Nidd. Even better, this day trip from Leeds will only take 40 minutes by train.
What to do in Knaresborough
✔️ From the station, wander the tangled maze of medieval streets and stone staircases down to the riverside or take in the splendid view from the medieval Knaresborough Castle. Look out for the crows with the Yorkshire accent here!
✔️ Explore the quaint historic marketplace in the centre of town. It’s full of picturesque Georgian buildings, with plenty of independent cafes to pop into for delicious home-cooked food and a brew.
✔️ One of the best free things to do is spot the cute trompe l’oeil Knaresborough Windows, all painted by local artists!
✔️ Don’t miss Mother Shipton’s Cave and the Petrifying Well – famed as England’s oldest tourist attraction! Mother Shipton is said to have been a mysterious soothsayer who made great prophecies.
Read more: 19 Best Things to do in Knaresborough
The elegant Victorian town of Harrogate is a mere 40-minute direct train journey away from Leeds.
Top Things to do in Harrogate
✔️ Book a treatment at the stunning original Turkish Baths and explore the Royal Pump Room Museum to discover Harrogate’s origin as a spa town. Explore the independent boutiques and antique shops in the upmarket Montpellier Quarter
✔️ Wander through the glorious Grade II listed Valley Gardens or visit the incredible Royal Horticultural Society garden at Harlow Carr. If you love art, drop into the Mercer Art Gallery to browse.
✔️ You can’t visit Harrogate without taking afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Rooms, but save room for dinner, as Harrogate is full of quality places to dine, including the Ivy and the beautiful William and Victoria on stylish Cold Bath Road.
Where to stay in Harrogate
Make a weekend of your trip with a stay at the White Hart Inn, just a short walk from the Turkish Baths, and dine in the atmospheric Fat Badger pub!
Read Next: Discover all the best places to stay in and around Harrogate.
Stunning Saltaire Village near Bradford is 45 minutes from Leeds by train, making it perfect for an easy day out.
Saltaire was founded by the Victorian textile magnate and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt, who built Salts Mill and the surrounding village to house and support his workers. Now preserved as a model village, Saltaire was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, and it’s a lovely place to visit for days out from Leeds.
Within the village, you’ll want to explore the world-class art displayed at Salts Mill with its vast collections of David Hockney art, then admire the splendid architecture of Victoria Hall. Check out the massive stone lions sculpted by Thomas Milnes of London that guard the entrance to Victoria Hall.
Local legend has it that the lions were initially designed to sit at the foot of Nelson’s Column in London’s Trafalgar Square and that the lions visit the River Aire after dark for a drink!
One unmissable experience is the Shipley Glen Tramway – a unique tramway that was built in 1895 and operates narrow-gauge cable-hauled trams. The short quarter-mile journey takes you through scenic woodland, up to the Shipley Glen country park.
Saltaire is a fantastic place to get out and explore the great outdoors. Wandering the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, with its canalside buildings reminiscent of the Speicherstadt in Hamburg, is a firm favourite of photographers. At the same time, with its restored Victorian bandstand, Roberts Park is a good place for a scenic riverside stroll.
A regular fixture in lists of the best places to live in the UK, Skipton is a picture-perfect town in rural North Yorkshire, just 45 minutes by train from Leeds.
✔️ The biggest attraction in the town is the 900-year-old Skipton Castle. Standing proudly at the top of Skipton’s bustling High Street, the castle survived a three-year siege during the English Civil War before being captured and “slighted” (on the orders of Oliver Cromwell).
✔️ Skipton Castle Woods is perfect for a stroll down the Springs Branch Canal.
✔️ Browse the bustling Skipton Market dates back to medieval times. Ever-changing independent stalls line the cobbled high street – you’ll find local food, crafts, plants and clothes.
✔️ Visit the Craven Museum, as it houses one of only four Shakespeare first folios in the world! You might also like to see the old waterwheel at High Corn Mill, which dates back to the 14th century.
✔️ Don’t miss: Taking a boat trip on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which runs through the centre of the town, is one of the best things to do in Skipton.
After your trip, stop at Bizzie Lizzie’s for the most fabulous fish and chips before your journey back to Leeds, or check into Herriots Hotel for the finest Yorkshire hospitality.
Cultural Days Out from Leeds
While Leeds is packed with cultural gems, the countryside around the city is blessed with exciting attractions to tempt you out of the city.
11. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden (+ Ripon)
Visiting Fountains Abbey and the Studley Royal Water Gardens is worth every minute of the 1-hour 45-minute train and bus journey from Leeds. This UNESCO World Heritage site includes the ruins of the largest Cistercian monastery in the United Kingdom, splendid Georgian formal water gardens, and a medieval deer park.
Your day trip from Leeds to Fountains Abbey will take you through the city of Ripon, where you’ll change buses, so you may want to explore this ancient city too.
If you prefer to drive, Fountains Abbey is one of the best day trips from Leeds by car.
You can reach pretty little Haworth by train and “BronteBus” in 1 hour and 20 minutes from Leeds, making it perfect for an easy day out. Most famous as the home of the Bronte Sisters, you’ll want to visit the Bronte Parsonage and Museum, the church where the Bronte family worshipped – and where most of them are buried – St Michael and All Angels is very atmospheric.
The village of Haworth is also very scenic, with plenty of inviting coffee shops, restaurants and independent shops to browse too.
13. Harewood House
One of Britain’s most beautiful stately homes, Harewood House is a real treat to visit, whether you want to see the impressive State Rooms, the Art Collection, or the fabulous Kitchens and Servants Quarters.
After a tour of the house, Afternoon Tea on the Terrace is a very pleasant way to enjoy the view before exploring the Parterre, Deer Park, and the incredible Kitchen Gardens.
Harewood is just a 45-minute direct bus journey away from Leeds, making it one of the most accessible trips from Leeds.
Don’t miss the chance to discover Harewood Castle – a real hidden gem!
14. Bolton Abbey
Visiting Bolton Abbey in the Yorkshire Dales is one of the best day trips from Leeds and one of the most scenic. While it’s a 75-minute direct bus journey from Leeds, it is through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.
Bolton Abbey Highlights
✔️ Explore the Priory Church and the ruins of the 12th-century Augustinian Priory in its stunning riverside setting
✔️ Walk to the Aqueduct – a turreted bridge over the River Wharfe and the ruined hunting lodge – Barden Tower.
✔️ Cross the river on the 60 Stepping Stones and explore the Valley of Desolation and Simon’s Seat, but take great care near the Strid as it’s reputed to be the most dangerous stretch of river in the world!
15. Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is set within the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. It’s the largest sculpture park in Europe and the only place in Europe to see Barbara Hepworth’s ‘The Family of Man’ work. You can also see bronzes by Henry Moore and fascinating sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and James Turrell.
Wrap Up – The Best Day Trips from Leeds
The biggest problem when choosing the best days out from Leeds is narrowing down your choices.
Do you want an easily accessible city location where you can also make the most of a city break, or would you prefer an off-the-beaten-path location? Are you keen to explore the location’s history, or is visiting movie locations more your thing? All of these are possible with the best day trips from Leeds by train.
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