Leeds has plenty of activities to offer – from visiting art galleries and museums and sipping a cup of tea or coffee at one of its independent cafes to shopping and relaxing in its beautiful green parks and spaces.
However, Leeds is also a great base to travel to other nearby towns as it’s very well connected by public transport, and if you drive, roads are in good condition too.
If you’re ready to explore beyond the city of Leeds, keep reading this guide to discover incredible short day trips from Leeds.
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The best day trips from Leeds
Day trips to big cities
Distance: 41.8 km
Time: 40 min
York is one of the best day trips from Leeds. Not only because it is close, but it has many historical and cultural things to do. If you like visiting medieval cities, you will love exploring York.
Some of York’s main attractions include York Minster, York City Walls, the Shambles and several museums including the popular JORVIK Viking Centre.
There is no visit to York without visiting York Minster. It’s one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in England and Europe. Not only is it impressive from the outside, but the inside too.
If you love Harry Potter and quirky shops, head to The Shambles, York’s oldest street that is home to half-timbered buildings. Here you’ll find The Shop That Must Not Be Named!
Another great way to explore the city is walking on York City Walls. If you love a good view, like me, you’ll enjoy seeing different parts of the city from a panoramic point of view.
Distance: 60.6 km
Time: 50 min
Sheffield is one of these cities that you can explore at your own pace. There aren’t too many places to visit in Sheffield city centre, but there are enough to visit in a day.
When you visit Sheffield, you must go to Millennium Gallery, a beautiful gallery home to permanent and temporary exhibitions and a lovely shop where you can find interesting books and souvenirs from Yorkshire.
From the gallery, you can access Winter Gardens, a beautiful indoor garden with palm trees and different types of plants. Have a hot drink in the cafe or sit on one of the benches to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.
Other places that are worth visiting in Sheffield are Graves Gallery (I loved seeing the Comfort Blanket by Grayson Perry, an 8 metres blanket that has elements and ideas that represent Great Britain’s identity and class), and Sheffield Cathedral.
Distance: 71.8 km
Time: 1 hour
If you want a day trip to a bigger city than Leeds, then Manchester is always a good option. Manchester is one of the most famous UK cities after London, and it’s well-known for its industrial beginnings, great coffee shops and football.
There are many things to do in Manchester in one day, so a day trip there guarantees you a full-day packed with activities.
First head to the Northern Quarter to enjoy a good cup of coffee and breakfast of your choice in Feel Good Club. Then wander this neighbourhood to see incredible street art.
If you love art, Manchester Art Gallery is a must-see attraction. They have more than two floors with beautiful landscape paintings among other impressive pieces of art.
Another unmissable place is John Rylands Library, walking through this library is a unique experience as it feels like you’re inside a castle. Here you can find the oldest known piece of the New Testament among other world-class collections.
Manchester is also a great city for football fans. If you love Manchester City or Manchester United, check out the stadium tours or go to the National Football Museum next to the Printworks.
With a good range of activities, there’s no doubt why Manchester is one of the most popular weekend trips from Leeds.
Distance: 119.2 km
Time: 1 hour and 25 min
The Beatles is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone mentions Liverpool, right?
Liverpool is a vibrant city to explore, and of course, if you love The Beatles, you must visit the city. Go to The Beatles Story on the Albert Dock, go to the famous Cavern Club, take a photo with The Beatles statues and go on a city tour.
Apart from The Beatles, there are other things to do in Liverpool. The Albert Dock is a lovely place to visit, enjoy the views, eat, window-shop or enjoy the markets and live events that take place, and go to the Maritime Museum.
Distance: 131.3 km
Time: 1 hour and 40 min
Medieval half-timbered buildings and ruins, city walls and Welsh influence, Chester is the perfect day trip for history and culture lovers.
There are many activities you can do in Chester in one day, so this guarantees you a great day out.
Start the day by walking on Chester City Walls, the oldest, longest and best preserved in England. It’s hard to believe that some parts are almost 2000 years old!
Not only can you learn a lot about Chester’s history by reading the posters located across the walls but you can also admire the beautiful views of the city.
After visiting the walls, you may want to check out Chester Roman Amphitheatre and Chester Roman Gardens where you can see the ruins of what used to be an old spa.
Then head to the city centre to grab some food, window shop, take a photo of Eastgate Clock, a beautiful clock built during Victorian times, and visit Chester Cathedral.
Finally, I recommend going to the riverside. It’s a lovely part of the city to enjoy the beautiful views of the River Dee, eat delicious ice cream from one of the trucks, have some fun paddling a boat or go on a city cruise.
Day trips to quaint towns
Distance: 31.8 km
Time: 35 min
Halifax is an easy day trip from Leeds in which you can spend either half-day or the full day doing different activities across the town.
One of the most popular places in Halifax is The Piece Hall, a beautiful Grade I listed building which is also the only remaining Georgian cloth hall in the world.
Here you can sit down at one of the cafes and enjoy the atmosphere, buy from independent unique shops or take photos of the beautiful views of the hall and mountain background.
Another beautiful place to explore in Halifax is Shibden Hall located in the picturesque Shibden valley, the perfect place to enjoy a picnic on a warm spring or summer day. The museum takes you back to the lives of the people who lived and worked there.
Distance: 24.9 km
Time: 35 min
If you’re looking for a relaxing and pampering day trip, Harrogate is the best option for you. The tranquil atmosphere in Harrogate will make you love this place.
First, go to Bettys Café Tea Rooms for breakfast. The selection of hot dishes, cakes and pastries is amazing, and you’ll realise it’s a good place to have food because of the queues to sit down at Bettys.
Then walk around the town centre where you can find high-street brands as well as independent shops – including old-fashioned but cute shops where you can buy antiques and unique gifts.
After this, head to The Valley Gardens, beautiful English Heritage Grade II Listed gardens. Here you can see a great variety of plants, have a coffee or tea at the cafe (only open from April to September) and relax.
If you love spring, you want to visit these gardens as it’s beautiful to see the cherry blossom trees and other flowers blossom!
Another activity you may want to add to your list is visiting Turkish Baths Harrogate. Not only can you relax in the hot sauna and rooms but pamper yourself with special treatments or a massage.
Distance: 28.9 km
Time: 40 min
If you’re looking for charming and smaller destinations, you’ll love visiting Knaresborough, a small town near Harrogate.
It’s the perfect place to visit on a sunny day as most of the activities to do in Knaresborough are outdoors.
First, head to one of the independent cafes near the town centre to enjoy a hot drink and a piece of cake or breakfast. I really enjoyed a piece of Victoria sponge cake and hot chocolate at Honey Bee’s at Hannah’s.
Then, go to see Knaresborough Castle and contemplate the beautiful views of the river Nidd. Go down the stairs, and enjoy a walk at the riverside or rent a boat for a fun afternoon.
Another attraction in Knaresborough that is worth visiting is Mother Shipton’s Cave. Although there is an entry fee, it’s a great place to immerse yourself in nature and in learning more about the mysterious stories behind the place.
Distance: 23 km
Time: 40 min
Nestled in the county of Bradford, Saltaire is one of the most beautiful villages in Yorkshire. It’s so unique that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
Despite being a very small place, it is home to beautiful green spaces and important buildings like Salts Mills.
Saltaire’s main attraction, Salts Mills, is a historical building home to an art gallery, bookshop, home accessories shop, a few places to eat and a museum, so you can spend an hour or longer exploring the different floors.
After visiting Salts Mills, see Saltaire United Reformed Church, spend some time at Roberts Park or go on the Aire Sculpture Trail.
If you want to extend your day trip, spend the rest of your day exploring Bradford.
Distance: 47.1 km
Time: 50 min
If you’re looking for hidden gem destinations in Yorkshire, Hebden Bridge is the best day trip for you. This small town, not very from Halifax, is a peaceful place to visit and explore.
It isn’t the type of place where you’ll find many attractions, but if you love nature, walking, and just being outdoors really, you’ll enjoy visiting Hebden Bridge.
Walk in the canal area, go to the town centre to enjoy a meal or hot drink in one of the many small independent cafes, and window shop.
After this, get ready to go a steep hike to Heptonstall, a small village next to Hebden Bridge. This hike isn’t suitable for everyone as it is very hilly and there are also many steps to take to reach the village.
Heptonstall feels like a ghost town, at least when I visited, but it is beautiful in its unique way and you can get beautiful views of Hebden Bridge too.
Distance: 42.8 km
Time: 55 min
Nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, Skipton is a lovely town that can be easily visited in a day.
An unmissable attraction is Skipton Castle, one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Yorkshire. It’s over 900 years old but you won’t be able to tell that because there are some parts of the castle that look intact.
It’s a great place to discover more about English history and wander its beautiful green surroundings.
After visiting the castle and its surroundings, wander around the town centre to grab some food or go shopping, there are many lovely shops in the area.
Last but not least, go on a river cruise to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and a different perspective of Skipton. There are some cruises that include afternoon tea!
Distance: 32.1 km
Time: 1 hour
Another beautiful village that is worth visiting in Yorkshire is Haworth. This day trip from Leeds is perfect for anyone who loves literature and photography as its buildings and landscape are very picturesque.
Haworth is well-known for being home to the famous Brontë sisters, and it’s here where you can visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum to see the impressive Brontë collections that are considered the most important and largest in the world.
Apart from visiting the museum, there’s no visit to Haworth without walking its main street. This quaint cobbled street offers breathtaking views of the village and countryside, and it’s a good place to buy unique gifts and grab a pastry.
Other places to check out in Haworth are the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and Central Park.
Day trips for hikes
Otley Chevin Forest Park
Distance: 14.6 km
Time: 25 min
One of the best activities near Leeds for outdoor lovers is going on a hike to Otley Chevin Forest Park.
This forest park offers breathtaking views of the market town of Otley and is considered a nature reserve. Walking in The Chevin is a great experience, and it’s a good place for families too as there are clear footpaths and bridlepaths.
The best way to access the park is by car, but you also need to know that there are different parking spots and routes to walk in Otley Chevin Forest, so it’s worth checking out the route before heading there.
Peak District National Park
Distance: 51.5 km
Time: 45 min
The Peak District National Park is another incredible national park near Leeds.
The park covers the counties of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire, so if you go for a day you won’t be able to see half of it, and this is why is important you do your research before visiting it.
Choose the activities you want to do in the park, and then look for the best place for them.
The things you can do in the Peak District are endless – from visiting the quaint villages like Bakewell and going on a spectacular hiking trail to rock climbing and horse riding.
If you do have time, spend more than a day in this park to get the most out of it.
Yorkshire Dales National Park
Distance: 37.7 km
Time: 50 min
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks near Leeds.
Walk in meadows, climb cliffs, see incredible rock formations and limestone features, observe sheep and small lambs, and visit the quaint towns and villages among other activities.
It’s the perfect place to connect with nature, and if you love going on a hike, there are plenty of hiking trails for all levels and ages.
Other activities you may want to check out are stargazing, geocaching and mountain biking.
However, if you want to see historical places, you can also do so by visiting several castles and abbeys such as Ripley Castle, Fountains Abbey and Skipton Castle.
The Yorkshire Dales is definitely one of the best day trips from Leeds by car as it gives you the freedom to explore different parts of the park.
TIP: Do your research before visiting the Yorkshire Dales as the activities you want to do will likely determine where you need to go.
Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs
Distance: 116.2 km
Time: 1 hour 40 min
If you’re ready for a day of walks and nature, you need to go to Flamborough. In this area, you can enjoy amazing walks where you’ll see some of the best coastal views in the Northeast of England.
Bempton Cliffs is a must-see attraction in Flamborough as it’s home to the UK’s largest seabird colony! Keep your eyes open to see herring, gulls and puffins. The latter ones make their home here between April to July.
On top of spotting wildlife, it’s a great place to go on a hike. The most popular hiking trail is Bempton Cliffs to Flamborough Head Walk which takes about 5 hours, but you will enjoy the breathtaking coastal views along the trail.
TIP: Get some binoculars for this trip as birds are often far away and can be difficult to see. Also, if you love photography, make sure to bring a good lens with you!
Day trips to the coast
Distance: 113.1 km
Time: 1 hour and 30 min
Scarborough is a popular beach trip from Leeds and Yorkshire. If you want a day packed with fun, you’ll love visiting Scarborough for the day.
Although going to the beach is one of the main things to do in this coastal city, there is plenty of entertainment for families and children – mini-golf courses, amusement parks, events, and aquariums.
If you’re looking for a cultural experience, head to Scarborough Castle, a former Royal fortress located on the top of a hill overlooking the beautiful coastline. This castle has over 3000 years of history!
No matter what type of activity you choose to do in Scarborough, there is no visit to this place without eating the British traditional fish and chips. You’ll eat one of the best fish and chips in the UK.
And if you have a sweet tooth, I must admit ice creams are really good here too!
Distance: 122.1 km
Time: 1 hour and 35 min
Mysterious stories about Dracula, a beautiful abbey, a lovely seafront and fish and chips are some of the highlights of this charming town.
Whitby is an excellent summer day out from Leeds. Walking through cobbled streets is an experience. Stop by independent shops, grab fish and chips or the popular scampi and just enjoy the lively atmosphere.
If you’re looking for cultural activities, head to Whitby Abbey. You’ll need to climb 199 steps that lead to St Mary’s Churchyard and from there, go to the abbey. Climbing the stairs is a challenge but the views and place are worth the effort.
A great way to learn more about the interesting stories and legends of Whitby is by taking a self-guided audio tour.
Other great day trips
Distance: 13.9 km
Time: 20 min
One of the easiest and most accessible trips from Leeds is Harewood House. You can either drive or take a bus from Leeds bus station, and you’ll be there in no time.
Harewood House is located on the outskirts of Leeds, and it’s an incredible place to visit if you like visiting country houses and being surrounded by nature.
Visiting Harewood house is a true experience because you’ll feel like royalty walking across the different rooms, learning about the house and glancing at the luxurious and quaint details in every room.
Here you’ll find some of the most important art collections in England too.
After visiting the house, explore the surroundings (the small farm, beautiful lake and gardens) as well as grab something to eat at The Courtyard Café.
It’s important to know that although you don’t need to pay to enter Harewood, there is an entry fee to visit the house.
TIP: Check out Harewood House events before planning a trip there. There are incredible events like Great British Food Festival and Christmas at Harewood, a magical event that I highly recommend attending.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Distance: 32.2 km
Time: 25 min
If you’re into art and sculpture, you must visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), home to incredible big sculptures you won’t find anywhere else.
What makes this place special is the fact that around 100 sculptures are outdoors, so it offers a different experience than the traditional art gallery.
Walk in the countryside, observe and take photos of the sculptures and grab some food from the cafe or restaurant to finish your visit.
TIP: Book your tickets online in advance to ensure entry to YSP regardless of accessing the park by car, foot or cycle.
As you’ve seen, there are plenty of great day trips from Leeds for all types of travellers, and for those who don’t own a car and rely on public transport.
If you have any questions about visiting Leeds or any of the destinations I’ve mentioned in this post, you can always reach me via email or Instagram. I’m happy to help!
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Helpful resources to plan your day trip from Leeds