If you’re planning a visit to Yorkshire, you’ll find that this vast county offers some of the most beautiful towns and villages in England. It’s proof that there’s much more to the UK than the well-known sights of London. You’ll want to add more than a few of these pretty places to your itinerary!
Did you know that Yorkshire is the UK’s biggest county? Often referred to as “God’s own country”, one of the reasons that almost 10 million visitors flock to Yorkshire every year is to see the region’s beautiful towns and villages. Some are ancient, dating back to the Iron Age, the times of the Romans, the Angles, and the Vikings. Others grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, when Yorkshire was one of the most important parts of the UK.
Venture outside of the big industrial cities of Leeds, Sheffield, and Bradford, and you’ll discover that Yorkshire is chock-full of picture-perfect towns and villages dotted along the wild and rugged North Sea coast, tucked away in sweeping national parks and nestling in verdant valleys.
Here are the 20 Prettiest Towns and Villages in Yorkshire
Whether you’re looking for rolling hills, quaint cottages made from mellow local stone, sweeping sunsets, incredible Victorian viaducts, tumbling waterfalls, or fields full of spring lambs, Yorkshire will charm you. Just don’t forget your camera or your appetite!
The Most Beautiful Towns in the Yorkshire Dales
Grassington is an old market town with a quaint cobbled market square, cosy little coffee shops, and some of Yorkshire’s finest countryside right on the doorstep. It’s the perfect base for exploring the nearby Yorkshire Dales (Wharfedale and Nidderdale). The Grassington Dickensian Festival and Christmas Market which is held on the first two weeks in December is a real treat, with shopkeepers, villagers and visitors dressed in Victorian costume.
As the birthplace of Wensleydale cheese, you can’t visit Hawes without a trip to the Wensleydale Creamery, to learn all about how this very popular English cheese is made. Another unmissable sight in Hawes is Hardraw Force, the highest single-drop waterfall in England.
Hutton le Hole and Lastingham
The pretty little village of Hutton le Hole is surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful countryside, and home to the fascinating Ryedale Folk Museum with its 20 reconstructed buildings including an Iron Age roundhouse, Tudor mansion, a Victorian thatched cottage, and a 1950s village shop and chemist.
Arts and craft-loving visitors flock to this beautiful Yorkshire village to see artisans at work on hand-made ceramics, prints, chocolates, and more. The Walkers picturesque ramble over to neighbouring Lastingham village is also a favourite for visiting walkers.
Middleham Castle was the childhood home of King Richard the Third. He went there to learn the skills of knighthood in 1462. Known as the “Windsor of the North”, Middleham was an important town in late Medieval Britain. Today, it’s famous for Middleham Park Racing.
Is Thornton le Dale the most beautiful village in Yorkshire? This picturesque village has won awards as one of the prettiest in Britain, with its the Grade II listed Beck Isle Cottage, regularly featured on calendars and chocolate boxes.
Explore further to find the old market cross and stocks in the centre of the village, nearby Dalby Forest for walking and cycling routes, and a pleasant stroll over to the nearby hamlet of Ellerburn to see its ancient Saxon church.
West Burton is a very pretty village in Lower Wensleydale, famous for its connection to the British landscape artist JMW Turner who sketched the nearby waterfall – the West Burton Cauldron Falls. This iconic Yorkshire village, which has been settled since the Iron Age village has a large village green, a packhorse bridge and it’s on the doorstep of the ruined Cistercian monastery Jervaulx Abbey.
Prettiest Towns in North Yorkshire (beyond the Dales)
The elegant Victorian spa town of Harrogate offers fascinating historic buildings including the exquisite Turkish Baths and Royal Pump Rooms plus glorious gardens from Valley Gardens in the town centre to the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr. Harrogate is the perfect base for discovering Yorkshire, thanks to its proximity to ancient castles, ruined abbeys, UNESCO World Heritage sites at Saltaire and Studley Royal, and multiple National Trust sites.
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Knaresborough is a charming town perched high above the River Nidd which provides pleasant walks beneath the soaring Victorian viaduct carrying trains from Leeds to York via Harrogate. Medieval houses and narrow winding streets cluster around the ruined castle which commands magnificent views over the Nidd Gorge.
The very epitome of quaint, Ripley is a tiny village with chocolate box pretty houses, a castle, rather good pubs, the best bluebell woods for miles, and “world-famous Ripley ice cream”. The popular Beryl Burton Cycle Way allows cyclists to ride between Harrogate, Ripley and Knaresborough by traffic-free routes.
Pretty little Victorian Saltburn is one of the most attractive UK seaside resorts in the UK, with the oldest water balanced funicular still working in Britain, linking the town with the only remaining pleasure pier on the whole Yorkshire coast. Ride down to the pier to watch surfers catching the waves, then wander through the Italian gardens in the ravine of the Skelton Beck. Stay for the sunset views of the coast from the top of the cliffs.
Medieval Skipton, the “Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales”, draws thousands of visitors every year to its quaint cobbled streets, bustling market and imposing 11th-century castle. One of the biggest cultural attractions for Shakespeare fans is the Craven Museum and Gallery which has one of only four of the playwright’s First Folios on display.
Visitors love to meander down to the scenic Leeds to Liverpool canal for ice-creams or a boat trip. Skipton’s also the perfect base for walking, cycling, and for driving to other stunning locations in the Yorkshire Dales. Skipton is a rather magical place.
Charming Towns in West Yorkshire
Famous as the 19th century home of the Bronte sisters, the village of Haworth attracts visitors from around the world to the Bronte Parsonage Museum. Other places of interest include the Black Bull pub (a regular haunt of Branwell Brontë), the fabulous Cabinet of Curiosities (the old apothecary shop), and the brooding Yorkshire Moors, which inspired Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Haworth’s steep cobbled main street has many interesting independent vintage, art, and craft shops selling locally produced works. There are very good independent coffee shops and eateries too. Arrive by steam train from nearby Oxenhope for the best experience and visit in May for the splendid Haworth 1940s weekend.
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British Airway’s High Life magazine called Hebden Bridge “one of the world’s funkiest towns” and it’s easy to see why. Home to many creative and artsy folk, this charming town has a cool and welcoming vibe, with a complete absence of the usual chain stores seen in British towns. Buying local is a way of life here.
Visit for the independent 1920s cinema, masses of cool cafes and bars, and stay for the thriving music scene. Featured in Ted Hughes’ poem The Stubbing Wharfe, literary fans also flock here to visit the grave of Hughes’ wife, Sylvia Plath in nearby Heptonstall.
Tiny Saltaire is a picture-perfect model village and UNESCO World Heritage site. Named after the River Aire that runs through it and woollen magnate Sir Titus Salt who built it, for his workforce in 1851, Saltaire is one of the prettiest small towns in Yorkshire.
Enjoy Salts Mill, the spectacular mill building which now houses the largest permanent collection of Bradford artist David Hockney’s work in the UK. Alternatively, wander along the Leeds-Liverpool canal, take the Shipley Glen Tramway through the surrounding woodland or browse the independent shops and cafés.
The Most Beautiful Towns in the North York Moors National Park
Lockton and Levisham
Numerous archaeological sites on Levisham Moor including burial mounds and dykes prove that these two villages date back to the Neolithic period.
Visit these two villages, to see the famous Hole of Horcum, a 400 feet deep, three-quarters of a mile wide natural amphitheatre carved out of Levisham Moor. According to local legend, Wade the Giant created the Hole of Horcum during an argument with his wife when he scooped up a handful of earth to throw at her!
Osmotherley has become a tourist haven, thanks to the winning combination of beautiful old buildings and picturesque surroundings, tucked in between the Cleveland Hills and Hambleton Hills. Lady Chapel is the best place to capture the outstanding views and Sheepwash is one of the most picturesque picnic spots in the country.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Visiting Robin Hood’s Bay, just south of Whitby, is rather like stepping back in time, to the 18th century when the village was the centre of Yorkshire’s smuggling trade. The cluster of red-roofed fishermen’s cottages, traditional shops and cosy inns spill down a steep cliff to the edge of the sea and the sandy beach.
Visit to feel the sand beneath your feet, explore rock pools, take a bracing coastal walk, or stopping at a historic inn for superb fish and chips.
Sandsend is a proper old-fashioned British seaside village, complete with a beautiful beach, a promenade and good places to eat. Visitors come to hunt for fossils on this Jurassic Coast, to walk for miles (Gothic Whitby is close by), or to have a go at surfing or paddleboarding at the nearby Whitby Surf School.
Once one of the largest ports on the North East Coast, Staithes still has a thriving fishing fleet today, but it’s the quaint jumble of pretty terraced cottages and winding cobbled streets that visitors cherish. Abundant fossils and rock pools are ready to be found on the beach and the breezy clifftop paths beg to be explored.
No roundup of the most beautiful towns in Yorkshire would be complete without mention of wonderful Whitby. A bustling fishing port nestling beneath towering cliffs that bear the magnificent Gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Whitby has long been regarded as the best place in the world for fish and chips. Unmissably, Whitby also holds a twice-yearly music festival for the gothic subculture.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of the 25 most beautiful towns and villages in Yorkshire!
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I would absolutely love to hear from you if you’ve been to Yorkshire. Which towns or villages did you rate as the most beautiful and why? Maybe you’re planning a trip? Which towns and villages will you include in your schedule? I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. If you have any questions, feel free to ask too.
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