leeds canal

15 Amazing Places to Visit in North England – Is it Underrated?

What are the first places to visit in North England that come to your mind? Maybe it’s Manchester or Liverpool, but there are so many other great northern cities.

When I used to think about England, I always thought about the multicultural and unique city of London, and I believe for you too. 

London is one of the most cosmopolitan and cool cities in the world, however, England has other less explored places that are worth visiting.

I’ve been living in Northern England for nearly 5 years and there are many cities and towns that are special and charming. I sometimes believe that the north is a bit underrated and I’m sure that it’ll surprise you!

One of the best things is green spaces such as national parks, farms and city parks. 

Northern England, and especially Yorkshire, has beautiful hiking areas where you can see formations, lakes, hills, different types of flowers and sheep. It’s the perfect place if you love the countryside!

On top of this, many Yorkshire towns have a beautiful market town where you’ll find local products and handmade unique crafts.

When you think about the British coast, the north is not as well known as the south (Cornwall, Bournemouth, Brighton, etc.) 

However, if you visit the northeast of England, you can enjoy beautiful sandy beaches in Scarborough and Whitby or visit the incredible Holy Island in the Northumberland.

As you can guess, you can find a bit of everything!

So if you’re wondering what to do in Northern England, I’ve created this bucket list where you can find the best places in Northern England and what they are best for.

Places to visit in Northern England

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15 Beautiful Places To Visit In North England

Leeds

Best for stunning parks, restaurants and shopping centres.

leeds sunrise

Who said I would fall in love with this city? I’ve been living in Leeds for nearly five years now. The city has its charm and it’s bigger than you expect. 

However, it’s very accessible and you can visit the main attractions by walking – Leeds City Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, Corn Exchange, etc.

It has a bit of everything: shopping centres, restaurants and bars, art and museums and a beautiful dock!

I could write pages and pages about Leeds, however, I’ve collected all the must-see places and hidden gems in this article.

York

York Minster view

Best for history, culture and museums.

York is one of the most visited cities in Northern England, and you’ll realise why as soon as you arrive. It’s one of the most beautiful places in England!

The city is full of medieval history, culture and beautiful green spaces. Something that makes it unique is the fact that York is surrounded by walls where you can get incredible city views such as views of York Minster. 

If you love history, you can learn a lot about Medieval British history by visiting the JORVIK Viking Centre and York Dungeon. Also, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll love the city too! 

It’s believed that some locations like the Shambles, a group of beautiful traditional shopping streets with timber-framed buildings, were the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films.

York is also a great base to explore other beautiful destinations as there are many incredible day trips you can do from York by car or public transport.

If you want to know more about this charming city, discover the best things to do in York.

📌 Related blog: 15+ Top Free Things To Do In York

Manchester

Best for street art and cool and quirky cafes.

Manchester library hall

Manchester , located in the North West of England, is one of the most famous cities in the UK, and it’s a lively city where there are always great events going on.

Every time I visit Manchester, I love going back to the same places and these are two places you can’t miss:

  • Northern Quarter. Impressive street art and great cafes to enjoy a delicious brunch.
  • The John Rylands Library. A stunning library that will amaze you with its old and big bookshelves, beautiful columns and main glass.

If you’re looking for things to do in Manchester, check this post.

Liverpool

Liverpool angel street art

Best for Beatles fans and dockside.

Liverpool is a city that you want to visit when it’s sunny because it makes your experience better! However, this isn’t always possible and Liverpool can be very windy too!

It’s a city that has different things to offer, but you definitely must visit the famous and lively dock area. People enjoy walking on the dock, having a meal in one of the restaurants, looking at the little shops or markets, etc.

It’s a paradise for Beatles fans! Everything is Beatles related and you can take a picture with the statues of these stars.

If you want a tour of the Beatles Story museum, book it here

Last but not least, explore the creative Liverpool’s street art in the Baltic Triangle district.

Harrogate

Harrogate town in yorkshire

Best for tea and Turkish baths.

I’ve always described Harrogate as a posh little town located in North Yorkshire. This is a must destination if you love afternoon tea and relaxing experiences.

Start your visit with delicious tea and cakes from the famous Betty’s Café Tea Rooms

Then head to the Valley Gardens to enjoy walking around the gardens, looking at historical buildings or relaxing. 

From there, visit the Turkish baths and enjoy a massage! The decoration inside the baths is quite impressive, and it’s the perfect place to disconnect.

📌 Related blog post: 8 Great Things To Do In Harrogate In A Day

Halifax

Best for iconic buildings and green spaces.

The Piece Hall view

Nestled in the borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, this town has been an important commercial place.

It’s known for being home to two big British brands – Rolo and Quality Street.

Despite its commercial side, Halifax is one of those lovely towns you want to add to your list.

There are plenty of activities you can do in a day – visiting The Piece Hall, an 18th-century Grade II building that hosts independent shops and cafes, exploring the historic house of Shibden Hall or enjoying the splendid lakeside views at Ogden Water Country Park.

📌 Related blog: 11 Best Things to Do in Halifax, England

Carlisle

Carlisle city view

Best for historical buildings.

Carlisle, located in the county of Cumbria, is the perfect city for those who love visiting museums and historical buildings.

Carlisle’s main attractions are Carlisle Castle and Carlisle Cathedral. This medieval castle is over 900 years old, and walking through the castle rooms gives you a sense of what life used to be there.

Carlisle Cathedral is truly a gem you can’t miss on your trip to Carlisle. The cathedral has one of the most impressive stained glass windows in England. Also, you can contemplate a unique blue ceiling decorated with stars and angels.

This northern city is also a perfect place to visit nearby destinations such as Lake District and Gretna Green, a hidden gem in the South of Scotland.

Chester

Chester city view

Best for medieval buildings.

White and black half-timbered facades, medieval walls and beautiful riverside. Chester is one of the best North West England cities. 

There are great things to do in Chester for all ages. From walking around the beautiful city walls and exploring Chester Castle to relaxing by the riverside and visiting the popular Chester Zoo.

It’s one of those places that raises your curiosity and you’d love to go back. 

Is Chester on your bucket list? Read more about these 10 must-see attractions in Chester.

Knaresborough

Best for relaxing along the river.

Things to do in Knaresborough River view

Knaresborough is the perfect day trip to relax and enjoy its lovely riverside walk. 

Whether you want to sit and order some food in one of the little restaurants or cafes, ride a bike or hire a rowing boat along the beautiful River Nidd.

It’s a cute and small town where you can experience calmness and buy from local shops. I was surprised that there aren’t many high street shops, but I was pleased with it because this way tourists and locals support the local economy.

Interested in visiting this magical town? Discover 8 things do to do Knaresborough.

Saltaire

8 Things To Do In Saltaire

Best for independent shops and beautiful architecture.

At only 6 kilometres from Bradford, this tiny village is a hidden gem – its impressive architecture and friendly atmosphere will impress you.

Saltaire main attraction is Salts Mill, a former textile mill that has been transformed into a cultural and leisure place.

Inside Salts Mills, you’ll find an impressive art gallery, a great restaurant and cafe as well as a unique home shop.

Apart from this historic and cultural building, walking by the canal and visiting Roberts Park are two activities you need to include in your list. 

📌 Related blog: 8 Things To Do In Saltaire

Wakefield

Wakefield park view

Best for green spaces and farms.

Wakefield, located in West Yorkshire, is actually very close to Leeds, so you can visit both if you wanted to! What I love about Wakefield is that you can easily connect with nature.

There are lovely green spaces such as the Rhubarb farm, Pugneys Watersports Centre and Country Park and Lofthouse Park.

Apart from this, Wakefield is a great place if you like art and sculpture. The Hepworth Wakefield is an art gallery with beautiful exhibitions and it’s surrounded by a garden and the river. 

Also, you can’t miss Yorkshire Sculpture Park located 7 miles from Wakefield.

Whitby

Best for the seaside and fish and chips.

Whitby Northern England

Whitby is a little town on the North East coast of England, and I was surprised to hear the link between this town and Dracula stories. 

Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula’s novel, was inspired by Whitby and there are little bits of Whitby to be found throughout the novel, for example, the famous 199 steps to the Whitby Abbey.

It really surprised me as there are many incredible attractions in Whitby.

It’s the perfect place to spend a day exploring streets and history as well as relaxing on the beach.

Here’s a summary of why you should visit Whitby:

  • The beautiful Whitby Abbey.
  • The views from the 199 steps (I must warn you that your legs will ache)
  • The yummy fish and chips.

Newcastle

Places to visit in north england - Newcastle riverview

Best for nightlife and art lovers. 

The first thing that people think of is parties! And, yes Newcastle is very well-known for its nightlife. But if you’re like, who doesn’t like partying much, there are much more than clubs.

Newcastle is in northeast England and it’s home to the River Tyne. This vibrant city has many bridges where you can get different views of the river and the city.

It has a good variety of restaurants, free entry museums like the Discovery museum and great galleries like Ouseburn Valley too.

Last but not least, one of the best things to do near Newcastle is to visit Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 73 miles wall that crosses over East to West of northern England cutting through Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and Cumbria.

Scarborough

Summer houses in Scarborough

Best for the seaside and amusement arcades.

The first time I visited Scarborough was in February, and it was windy and freezing cold. I learnt from that and I visited it again in May and it was a different experience.

It was a sunny day with a slight breeze and it was lovely walking around Scarborough Castle. Not only you can learn a bit more about this town, but you get amazing views of both sides of the coastline.

Also, if you’re looking for some entertainment, there’s so much to do! From theatres like Scarborough Open Air Theatre and museums to amusement arcades.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Ingleton peak view

Best for hiking and beautiful landscapes.

The Yorkshire Dales is one of the gems of Yorkshire, from beautiful landscapes to impressive rock formations. There are over 15 different dales and all are worth visiting.

The first time I went to the Yorkshire Dales was four years ago and I was impressed by it. 

I visited Malham Cove that it’s actually one of the most visited places in this national park. Malham Cove is a 70m high rock with spectacular views from the top.

There are many steps to get to the top, but I’m telling you it’s so worth it! It isn’t the best place for you if you’re afraid of heights, but you can still see it downhill.

Apart from the stunning nature, you can’t miss the little towns across the Yorkshire Dales. 

Grassington is one of these little towns that are picturesque. I love the cobbled houses and the small market square offering lovely handmade crafts and gifts as well as local products. 

Yorkshire Dales is beautiful and you’ll love it, but if you want to enjoy a dry and sunny day, it’s better to visit it during the spring months from March to June!

Other National Parks you may want to check are Lake District and Peak District National Park.

The good thing about these destinations is that they are all accessible via public transport: coaches and trains. Having said so, you can find it a bit more difficult to travel to the Yorkshire Dales, but that’s it!


As you can see, there are plenty of incredible, lesser-known and unique places to visit in the north of England that are worth adding to your bucket list.

If you’re travelling from outside the UK, you’ll need to know that the best times to travel to the UK are spring and summer. Although it still rains during these seasons, there are more chances for dry and sunny days plus you can enjoy longer days.

If you aren’t sure about what to pack, check these travel essentials for the UK.

Do you know any other places to visit in North England that should be on my list? Let me know in the comments.

Enjoy your trips!

Cristina xx

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Frequently asked questions about visiting Northern England

What is Northern England famous for?

Northern England is best known for its beautiful countryside that includes two of the UK’s best national parks – The Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District National Park.

Which city is most visited in Northern England?

York is the most visited city in Northern England. Its rich cultural heritage and lively atmosphere make it a special place.

Which is better Chester or York?

Both medieval cities have different things to offer and are worth visiting. However, York’s architecture and the atmosphere are better than Chesters.

Is Whitby worth visiting?

Whitby is one of my favourite coastal towns in the north of England. The town is very picturesque and pretty. There are also many things to do in Whitby, including visiting the outstanding Whitby Abbey.

Helpful resources to plan your North England trip

  • Check out bus and train fares with Omio.
  • Look at free walking tours on GuruWalk.
  • Book an activity with Get Your Guide. My go-to for tours and fun experiences around the world.

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51 Comments

  1. Love this. I would love to visit Scarbourough and Leeds since there are still so many places in Northern England I need to visit. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      You are welcome, Kelly! They are great cities to visit 🙂

  2. You just made me discover so many cities! The National Park in Yorkshire Dales looks beautiful!

    1. madhu sharma says:

      Wow that’s an awesome list of beautiful places from North England..each of them look so amazing . I would love plan a tour of Northern England sometime. Thanks for sharing 😊

      1. Cristina Reina says:

        That’s amazing! I hope you do a tour soon 🙂

    2. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m happy to hear you’ve discovered new places in this blog 🙂 and I agree, the Yorkshire Dales is very beautiful.

  3. Great post, I am from the North of England but currently living in Seville, Spain.
    Newcastle and Manchester are among some of my favourite cities in the UK. Reading this felt like being back home.
    If you ever head back up north again, go to the Lake District, that’s where I am from.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am from Málaga, near Sevilla 🙂 It’s great to meet expats!
      I’m very happy to hear reading this blog felt like you were back home. I also love Newcastle, and I really want to visit the Lake District. It looks amazing!

  4. Vanessa Shields says:

    All of these towns look so beautiful and charming! I’ve been to England but not in northern part. This makes me want to go back and see many of these especially Manchester and Chester!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I think you’ll love visiting the north 🙂

  5. Alexandra Booze says:

    Omg those colourful houses in Scarborough look so cute! I have seen them on Instagram and love them. This is such a great guide that I think I’ll consider Northern England when I visit again!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Yes, I love the colourful houses too! Scarborough is a cool place to visit during the summer 🙂

  6. So many places I have yet to visit in the UK. I love the sound of Chester, looks very nice and charming. I have been to the top 5 on your list so need to do the rest now once we can travel again.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Chester really surprised me and I think you’ll love it too 🙂

  7. Cindy Scott says:

    Leeds, Whitby, and Yorkshire Dales National Park all look like they need to be added to my bucket list stat! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      You are welcome, Cindy 🙂

  8. Rosh Patel says:

    would love to visit the yorkshire dales and go hiking there

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      It sounds a very good plan! You’ll love it 🙂

  9. England is one of my favourite travel destinations. There is so much to see and explore and my wish list grows bigger with every blog post like yours! Highly recommend visiting Chester – it’s a real gem!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      It’s great to hear that, Viktoria 🙂 And I agree that Chester is a real gem, I love it!

  10. I’m from Nottingham so always grew up travelling north rather than south. Love seeing places like this getting shared, I have so many great memories in places like Scarborough and Whitby

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I love Nottingham and I forgot to include it on the list! Scarborough and Whitby are great places and I do have good memories there too 🙂

  11. I’ve never been to Leeds, but I’m all for walkable places and pretty parks! It’d be awesome to get to go visit someday! I’d love to go to Yorkshire Dales National Park too!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Those are great choices 🙂 I hope you visit them soon!

  12. Jiayi Wang says:

    Thanks for helping me discover so many places I’ve never heard of, despite living in the UK for the past 4 years! Would love to see Chester especially 🙂

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m very happy to hear this blog has helped you discover new places to visit. I think you’ll love Chester 🙂

  13. Francesca says:

    I haven’t seen much of Northern England which is terrible! I love Chester for its Medieval architecture and Manchester is such a fun city.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Yes, Chester is definitely one of my favourites 🙂

  14. Miriam Menkarius says:

    I have lived in Birmingham and only visited Liverpool for a conference! So much to see up north!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I haven’t been to Birmingham, but I wanted to go for the Christmas Market 🙂 I heard it’s great. Also, I agree there are so many places to visit!

  15. Disha Smith says:

    All of these places look so lovely and quaint. I love the views from the Yorkshire Dale National Park.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m glad you like them! The Yorkshire Dales is amazing 🙂

  16. Jennifer Rankin says:

    I had to cancel my trip to London due to the virus. I can’t wait to reschedule! I think I may explore northern England in addition to London.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m sorry to hear that! I know how cancelling a trip feels like, I had to cancel my trip to Bali. But, I hope you can visit it soon and you explore the north too 🙂

  17. Ah now I totally need to travel back to England and go to the north. I’ve only been to London, Bath and the Cotswolds. I would love to visit a lot of the cities and towns you mention on here, especially near York. Your photos are also so beautiful! 🙂

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, Taylor 🙂 The north has amazing places like these ones, but I want to visit the south. I would love to visit Bath and the Cotswolds.

  18. These places are amazing! I have been in the Lake District but haven’t seen any of these incredible towns! You make me want to go back asap!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I haven’t been to the Lake District, but I really want to go when this quarantine is over 🙂 Also, I hope you come back to England soon!

  19. World of Lina says:

    I’ve heard great things of Manchester and Liverpool. But I’d also love to visit some of the other places you mentioned that I didn’t know before like Whitby 🙂

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Whitby is a great place to visit 🙂 I think you’ll like it.

  20. Katherine Driscoll says:

    There are so many places on this list that I would loooovee to visit!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I hope you visit them 🙂

  21. Ellis James Designs says:

    Putting these places in the bucket list!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I’m very happy to hear that! I hope you visit them one day 🙂

  22. As a northern, I will say that up here is 100% underrated! You’ve picked out so many great spots (even some I haven’t been to!) I was pleasantly surprised to see my local city Chester on the list, this beautiful city rarely makes any lists, but it s a beautiful and manageable city to explore.

  23. Zara Aitken says:

    I’ll definitely be adding some of these places to my UK bucket list as I think it’s unlikely I will be travelling abroad very much in 2021 so will explore more of the UK instead! So much to see in the north.

  24. Fabulous post!
    I am always so sad when people visit the UK, but just stay around London – the North has soooo much to offer. I also agree, you have some of the best hiking up North! I’d love to spend more time in the Yorkshire Dales (and in the Lake District!) I love that this might widen people’s bucket lists.

  25. I think the north is definitely underrated. My grandparents live there so I’ve been to quite a few places and they are so beautiful. I love this list you’ve put together!

  26. Great post! I lived in London for 2 1/2 years and found Liverpool to be one of my favorite cities in the UK.

  27. Lauren Allen says:

    Ahhh, I totally agree with you on this post! Having lived in Manchester my whole life, I’ve been to almost all of these places!

  28. Cracking list here! I’m originally from Manchester and there’s even a few places you’ve mentioned which I haven’t seen yet! It’s nice to have an article just on the north as you’re right, everyone sticks to the south 🙂

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