13 Best Things To Do In Harrogate Yorkshire

Harrogate is a beautiful spa town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales that brims with history, upmarket boutiques and great places to eat. Just 30 minutes from Leeds and 45 minutes from York, Harrogate is an enticing place for a day trip or a relaxing weekend break.

Surrounded by some of Yorkshire’s most beautiful towns including Skipton, Knaresborough, and Boroughbridge, Harrogate is a lovely town to explore and the perfect base for you to discover the wider attractions of the Yorkshire Dales.

Voted “Best Place to Live in the UK” several times, Harrogate is also a very dog-friendly town – perfect if you’re visiting with your four-legged friend.

This travel guide shares all the best things to do in Harrogate town and in the local area.

Things to do in Harrogate Yorkshire
Beautifully landscaped Montpellier Gardens in Harrogate

About Harrogate Spa Town

Harrogate has welcomed well-heeled visitors and European royalty since Victorian times, thanks to the town’s natural spring waters. Visiting Harrogate’s impeccable tearoom, acres of superb parks, and open green spaces are just some of the things to do in Harrogate.

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

Charles Dickens
"The historic Royal Pump Rooms are one of the best things to see in Harrogate, UK | Harrogate Yorkshire | Yorkshire Town
The lovely cobbled street beside the Royal Pump Room in Harrogate

The Best Things to Do in Harrogate

Put your comfy walking shoes on and get set to explore, as today will include a healthy mix of walking and relaxing! You might be surprised how much you can see in Harrogate in a day!

1. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at Bettys Café and Tea Rooms

Bettys Harrogate
Bettys – a Harrogate landmark since 1919

First opened in 1919, Bettys is a Yorkshire institution. Afternoon tea here is a treat and definitely one of the best things to do in Harrogate. Think starched white linens, immaculately dressed waiting staff and the most scrumptious cakes.

Add in silver service tea or coffee from a vast choice of blends or a cheeky glass of fizz and sit back to relax. Ask for a window seat overlooking Montpellier Street – it’s the best location for people-watching!.

Macarons at Bettys Harrogate
Mouth-watering macarons at Bettys!

There’s ALWAYS a queue, but it’s worth it for the food and the experience.

Top Tip: On a tight budget? Forget about eating in the tea room! Pick up a fat rascal (like a huge fruit-filled scone) from the bakery and a cuppa from Caffe Nero to enjoy in Montpellier Gardens (opposite Bettys).

Location: 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate and at Harlow Carr

2. Relax at Harrogate Turkish Baths (the best spa in Harrogate)

One of the best things to do in Harrogate is to visit the spectacular Turkish Baths
Beautifully tiled interior at the Harrogate Turkish Baths

The Victorian Turkish Baths is one of the most iconic attractions in Harrogate, with the only complete fully working Victorian Baths in Britain. This is so much more than a luxury spa in Harrogate.

Set aside at least two hours if you plan to try the baths out (recommended) or visit early for the inexpensive 45-minute guided tour! Prepare to be wowed by the fabulous Moorish architecture.

Location: Parliament St, Harrogate HG1 2WH

Related Post: Everything you need to know about Harrogate Turkish Baths, plus how to book your visit!

3. Visit the Royal Pump Room Museum

Royal Pump Room Harrogate
The Royal Pump Room Museum, Harrogate

The Royal Pump Room was where people came to drink from Europe’s strongest sulphur spring, known as the Old Sulphur Well. It was also a place to meet and to be seen, as it offered protection from Harrogate’s changeable weather!

Inside you can discover Harrogate’s connection to Russian royalty, see displays of old-fashioned shops, explore life in a bygone era. and learn why the Harrogate spas became so popular.

Smell the waters for yourself on a tour of the well (but don’t drink them – the water is vile!)

Location: Crown Place, Harrogate HG1 2RY

4. Amble Through the RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr

Harlow Carr Harrogate North Yorkshire 1
The RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr Image © Claire at Adobe

The 68-acre 19th-century gardens of Harlow Carr were taken over by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2000, and they have transformed the gardens into an oasis of delight for garden lovers.

Highlights include the Edwardian garden which celebrates the gardening skills of Gertrude Jekyll, the kitchen garden, and the sensory delights of the scented garden – best seen in summer when billowing roses and summer-flowering perennials scent the air. After your visit, nip into Bettys for top-notch refreshments.

Tip: It’s a very pleasant 1.3-mile stroll to Harlow Carr from the Valley Gardens, through the pine woodlands of Harlow Hill (approx 1 hour). Alternatively, take the bus from Harrogate Train and Bus station – it’s a 10-minute journey.

Pop into Harrogate Tourist Information Centre on Crescent Road for a map and a discounted entry ticket for Harlow Carr.

Location: Crag Lane, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate HG3 1QB

5. Go Gin Tasting at Spirit of Harrogate

Visiting this superb independent gin distillery is consistently rated #1 of the best things to do in Harrogate, on TripAdvisor.

The Spirit of Gin package will help you learn the fascinating history of gin, including the original styles of gin, the misery of the London gin craze and how gin has developed today.

Alternatively, the fabulous Master Distiller experience offers a guided tasting session to find your preferred style of gin – one you’ll make in the session.

If you love gin, you’ll relish the chance to select your own botanicals, distil on your own mini copper still and take your personally labelled creation home. You’ll also get to try different gins from the Slingsby range, including their fabulous Yorkshire rhubarb gin and the incredible marmalade gin!

Location: 5-7 Montpellier Parade, Harrogate

Read Next: A Sensational Gin Distillery Tour in North Yorkshire

Best Free Things to Do in Harrogate

6. Discover the Stray (the “Two Hundred Acres”)

The Stray is a 200 acre park moments from the bustle of Harrogate town centre. It’s been the place for the people of Harrogate to relax since it was created in 1778 from the forest of Knaresborough.

Read Next: 17 Lovely Things to Do in Knaresborough – A Beautiful Little Town

Nothing can be purer than the air at Harrogate

Granville’s Spas of England, 1841

Over the years the Stray has been used to graze livestock, turned into allotments and wheat fields during WWII, and it’s even been used as an airfield for light aircraft. Protected by an Act of Parliament, today it’s open grassland, crisscrossed by tree-lined paths.

The Stray in Harrogate in Spring with cherry blossom
The Stray in Springtime

In early Spring you’ll be treated to a carpet of purple as millions of crocus peep through the frozen ground. Weeks later, these fade and give way to nodding golden daffodils before the long lines of cherry trees burst into life to show off their iconic pink blossom in May.

Location: 16 West Park, Harrogate HG1 1BJ

Related Post: 8 Beautiful Places to Enjoy Beautiful Cherry Blossoms

7. Join Harry’s FREE Walking Tour

Harrogate, North Yorkshire, town centre
Harrogate Town Centre.

Take a gentle stroll with Harry whose 80-minute tour of Harrogate town centre will entertain and inform you. You’ll also discover the role that Harrogate played in defeating the Axis forces during WWII.

There’s no need to book for this gentle introduction to Harrogate spa town, but do be generous with your tip if you enjoy the experience.

Location: War Memorial, Opposite Bettys Tea Room. Tours run at 10.30, 12.00 and 13.30 from Friday to Sunday.

8. Browse the Stores at Montpellier Quarter

Montpellier Street Harrogate
Montpellier Street

Once known as the “Antiques and Art Centre of the North“, today the Montpellier Quarter is home to over 50 exclusive, independent shops, health and beauty salons, pavement cafes, bars and award-winning restaurants.

Revel in the stylish surroundings, beautiful gardens, charming lamp posts, floral hanging baskets and cobbled streets. Pick one of the quaint street cafes for a bite to eat, or take your credit card for a serious shopping mission!

Location: Montpellier St, Harrogate HG1 2TQ

Read Next: The Best Dog-Friendly Restaurant, Bars and Cafes in Harrogate

9. Relax at Valley Gardens

Valley Gardens is a relaxing and captivating place to visit, with differing styles of gardens and interesting garden buildings.

Visiting the Valley Gardens is one of the best things to do in Harrogate, Yorkshire
The Boating Lake at Valley Gardens, Harrogate

These colourful gardens are open 24 hours a day, all year round.

Valley Gardens Harrogate 3

Check out the benches here (and throughout Harrogate) which feature cast iron serpents as the uprights. The town wanted an emblem to signify that it was a health spa – they chose serpents as they entwine the staff of Aesculapius (Greek God of Health)!

The Art Deco pavilion at Harrogate's Valley Gardens.
The Art Deco pavilion at Harrogate’s Valley Gardens

The part of the gardens known as Bogs Field is where 36 different mineral wells were discovered – more mineral springs than any other known place!

Most footpaths are suitable for manual and electric wheelchair users and there are disabled toilets.

Location: Between Valley Drive and Cornwall Road, Harrogate

Things to Do Near Harrogate

In addition to all of the attractions in Harrogate town centre, you might like to to get out and explore the glorious Yorkshire Dales. It’s the ideal location to combine urban sightseeing with an afternoon of “get away from it all” hiking, walking, cycling, or climbing.

Harrogate really does offer the best of both worlds, with plenty of places to visit around Harrogate in the wider North Yorkshire area.

10. Take the Train to Pretty Knaresborough

The beautiful Victorian Aqueduct over the River Nidd, at Knaresborough, UK
Knaresborough Viaduct

For some of the best views in the area (and a pretty stunning sunset if you time it right) take the train to the pretty town of Knaresborough. The journey lasts only a few minutes and offers a superb view of the town’s iconic Victorian Viaduct high above the River Nidd.

Related Post: Discover 17 Lovely Things to do in Knaresborough

11. Explore Ripley Castle and Village

Ripley Castle Yorkshire
Ripley Castle Yard North Yorkshire

The charming mellow-stoned village of Ripley is one of the easiest places to visit near Harrogate and it’s lovely! There’s a 14th-century country house known as Ripley Castle, super boutique shops, a friendly pub (The Boar’s Head) and “The World’s Best Ice Cream”!

You may also like: Visiting Ripley Castle and Gardens

12. Check Out Harewood House – Home of the “Yorkshire Princess”

View of Harewood House on day trips from York
The beautiful gardens at Harewood House

The stunning English country house where some of the scenes from the Downton Abbey movie were filmed is only 10 minutes from Harrogate by bus. Harewood Castle is a real hidden gem to discover here too!

Read Next: How to See Harewood House Leeds – What to See and Do

13. Stroll Along the Nidd Gorge & the Nidderdale Greenway

Amble back to Harrogate along the leafy traffic-free Nidderdale Greenway through the splendid Nidd Gorge along a dismantled railway line for a distance of about 4 miles. You’ll cross the Nidd Viaduct over the River Nidd surrounded by ancient woodland and a wide variety of wildlife.

You can also check out what’s on at the Royal Hall or Harrogate Theatre, or relax in a comfortable pub. Look out for the Fat Badger, Hales Bar or Major Tom’s Social – an excellent café, beer bar and pizzeria!

Where to Stay in Harrogate

West Park Hotel

If top drawer quality and a convenient central location, combined with a buzzing pavement café/bar are what you’re looking for, the West Park Hotel is an excellent, vibrant choice.

Check availability and rates here.

Hotel du Vin

A lovely hotel that combines French style with Yorkshire hospitality. Hotel du Vin is very popular with locals and visitors and right on the doorstep of the best things to do in Harrogate.

The comfortable rooms are beautiful and there’s a pretty courtyard that’s perfect for al fresco drinks. You’ll definitely want to check out the excellent food (especially the very popular Sunday lunch) in the hotel’s bistro.

Check availability and rates here.

Conclusion

I can’t recommend a visit to Harrogate highly enough. Even with just one or two days to spare, you will have enough time to explore the the best things to do in Harrogate, experience some great restaurants and see some of the most beautiful places near Harrogate too.

For more information and articles about things to do near Harrogate please see below.

  • Coldstones Cut: Take a trip deep into the Yorkshire Dales, to discover Britain’s largest public artwork
  • Whittaker’s Distillery: Take a fascinating tasting tour of this award-winning craft gin distillery in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales
  • Ripon: Discover the best things to do in Ripon – Britain’s oldest and third smallest city.

Pin the Best Things to Do in Harrogate for later

Have you ever been to Harrogate? What did you love most about the Harrogate spa town? If someone asked you “is Harrogate worth visiting?” what would you say? Maybe you’ve got a trip to England planned – which of the Harrogate things to do would you really enjoy? Do let me know! I’d love to hear from you x

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Coralie Thornton

Coralie is an over 50s travel writer based in Yorkshire in the UK who writes engaging travel tips, destination guides, and detailed itineraries about the UK, Europe and beyond to inspire boomer travel. When she's not travelling, she's either planning a new trip, exploring locally in the UK, visiting castles and cathedrals, or finding somewhere new to enjoy afternoon tea.

20 thoughts on “13 Best Things To Do In Harrogate Yorkshire”

    • Thanks Justine! I’m a huge reader of blogs too – so much fascinating first-hand experience to learn from. I totally agree too that spas and holidays are the perfect partnership!

      Best
      Coralie x

      Reply
  1. I have never heard of this place before, but it looks quite charming. Seems like it would be a nice place to spend a few days as there is plenty to do here!

    Reply
    • Thanks Jenn
      I may be a tad biased as Harrogate is my home town (for now!) but there is plenty to see and do, and the freshest air you can imagine. It’s a lovely place to visit – highly recommended 🙂

      Reply
  2. I live in the UK & although I have heard that Harrogate is lovely, I have never visited. However, seeing your photos & reading about the town makes me very keen to visit…& then you mentioned gin 😉 Looks lovely & while we are not allowed to travel overseas, Harrogate is looking very tempting. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. I like travelling to England – yet, I’ve never been to Yorkshire. Harrogate looks very pretty and cozy – I would love to visit. I’m sure it’s a great place to relax a little 🙂

    Reply
  4. I never heard of Harrogate but it really looks worth visiting as it is very green and having beautiful flowers too. Good to know that it is one of your favourite towns in England. Montpellier Quarter looks amazing and it truly is the art and antics center. I really loved the vibes of this city.

    Reply
  5. I had no idea there was a Turkish Bath in Harrogate. Sounds like an excellent activity to build a weekend away around. We go to Turkish baths Quite frequently in Turkey So it would be good to go here to see how it compares

    Reply

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