Nestled in the east of the Yorkshire Dales, this spa town is the perfect location to spend a day or a relaxing weekend.
Harrogate is surrounded by numerous unique and pretty market towns such as Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Masham and Pateley Bridge. This makes Harrogate a great base to start a small road trip in North Yorkshire.
If you’re planning to visit this lovely town, in this travel guide you’ll find incredible things to do in Harrogate and its surroundings.
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Incredible Things To Do In Harrogate Town Centre
Have afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Room
Bettys Café Tea Rooms are the most popular tea rooms in Yorkshire, and there is no visit to Harrogate without stopping at Betty’s.
Bettys Tea Rooms have been open since 1919 when a Swiss baker and confectioner left his home country to move to England and establish his own business. He didn’t know much English, but he had great knowledge of baking.
Bettys cakes, chocolates and tea have been very popular since then. Afternoon tea at Betty’s is an experience – the friendly staff, tranquil and elegant atmosphere, and, of course, the food.
It’s often busy, especially at weekends, and you’ll see people queueing outside, so the best thing to do is to go as early as possible.
Wander the Montpellier Quarter
The Montpellier Quarter is, located a few minutes from Betty’s Tea Room, home to over 50 unique and independent shops, pavement cafes and bars, and award-winning restaurants.
It’s the perfect place to wander and windowshop as well as sit in one of its cafes and enjoy the beautiful surroundings while having a cup of tea.
The quaint quarter makes you feel like you’re in a traditional British town – cobbled streets, floral hanging baskets, and traditional shops (including the famous Farrah’s shop that sells delicious toffee).
Visit the Royal Pump Room Museum
Opposite Harrogate Valley Gardens, you’ll find the Royal Pump Room Museum. This museum is home to the strongest sulphur well in Europe.
When visiting Royal Pump Room Museum, you’ll learn about the connection between Harrogate and Russian royalty, and how it used to attract so many visitors from all over the world.
Nowadays, the museum has temporary exhibitions as well as permanent displays of Harrogate’s spa history.
The adult admission price is £3.50.
Have a picnic at the Valley Gardens
The Valley Gardens Harrogate is a Grade II Listed garden situated a few minutes from the town centre. Mineral springs, sculptures, beautiful green spaces, and tennis courts are some of the many things you can find in these gardens.
No matter when you visit these gardens, you’ll be surprised by their green spaces, trees and different variety of flowers, and the beautiful Sun Pavillion. All these features make it a lovely spot for those who love nature photography.
The gardens also have a cafe, open from April to September, where you can grab a coffee or tea, and a piece of cake while enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of the gardens.
The park has a bit of everything for everyone, it’s open 24 hours a day, and it’s completely free, therefore, it’s a must-see attraction in Harrogate.
Visit the Mercer Art Gallery
This art gallery is home to a large collection of 19th and 20th-century fine art from local artists. In addition to this, it also hosts temporary exhibitions of painting, photography, sculpture and crafts.
Mercer Art Gallery opens Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm.
Relax at the Crescent Gardens
The Crescent Gardens is a great place to relax and contemplate the views of Harrogate Turkish Baths and its surroundings.
The gardens are brought to life in spring when all the colourful flowers blossom.
In Crescent Gardens, you’ll also find the statues of Cupid and Psyche under an impressive glass dome.
Pamper yourself at Harrogate Turkish Baths
If you want a pampering and relaxing session, Harrogate Turkish Baths are the best place to do so. These Turkish baths are England’s most fully restored Victorian Turkish Baths, and not only is it a good place to unwind but admire beautiful and detailed decoration.
Its architecture is influenced by the Moorish, and this can be seen in the Islamic arches and screens, the arabesque painted ceilings and other historic features.
Here you can also enjoy different body treatments such as Turkish spa body ritual, Himalayan salt massage and facial lift massage.
The baths tend to get busy, so the best thing is to book in advance through their website to avoid disappointment. Also, if you want to save some money, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are considerably cheaper than the rest of the days.
See the Royal Hall
Another important building in Harrogate is the Royal Hall, a Grade II* listed Edwardian performance hall situated a few footsteps from Harrogate Town Centre.
Not only does the Royal Hall look beautiful outside, but inside too. It has incredible decor and it can welcome over 950 people.
The Royal Hall was reopened by Prince Charles in 2008 after an expensive restoration.
Before visiting Harrogate, I highly recommend checking the events happening in the Royal Hall.
Watch a live performance at Harrogate Theatre
Whether you go to Harrogate for the day or the weekend, it’s worth checking if there are any performances at Harrogate Theatre.
This theatre hosts all sorts of performances – from comedies and musicals to dramas and children’s productions – all year round.
Unlike theatres in London, Harrogate Theatre is much more affordable, and its Victorian-style interior is beautiful too.
Things to do near Harrogate
If you’re staying in Harrogate longer than a day or you’d like to combine Harrogate with other nearby locations, here are a list of things you can easily add to your Harrogate itinerary:
Explore RHS Garden Harlow Carr
At only 10 minute drive from Harrogate town centre, you’ll find RHS Garden Harlow Carr. This is a paradise for any nature lover – woodland, wildflower meadows, streams and much more.
The adult admission price is £13.50 which includes a gift aid to fund the garden’s charitable work.
Visit Knaresborough Castle
Knaresborough is only 15 minutes drive from Harrogate, and this market town has a few things to do that you can’t miss.
One of Knaresborough’s main attractions is Knaresborough Castle. The castle is located on a clifftop with outstanding views of the River Nidd and the viaduct across the Nidd Gorge.
The vast majority of the castle was destroyed during the Civil War, however, you can still enjoy exploring the ruins, dungeon and secret tunnel.
It’s definitely a great place to visit if you love learning about medieval history.
📌 Related blog post: 8 Things to Do in Knaresborough – An Enchanting Town in Yorkshire
Discover Ripley Castle
Situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and at 5 kilometres from Harrogate, Ripley Castle is a must-see attraction in the area.
This 14th-century beautiful country house makes you feel like in a fairytale – its outstanding architecture, ivies and surroundings.
There is no visit to Ripley Castle without wandering the deer park where you can find a wide range of animals – squirrels, woodpeckers and wigeons among others.
You can usually book a castle tour where you see 6 of the castle rooms – including the library and tower room. Unfortunately, these tours aren’t always available, so make sure to have a look at their website before going to the castle.
The adult admission ticket for Ripley Castle is £5, children enter for free.
Go for a hike in Brimham Rocks
Brimham Rocks is a collection of natural rock formations on Brimham Moor in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Although you can walk through Brimham Rocks freely, guided walks are also available. In these guided walks you can learn about the geology of these rock formations and the wildlife in Brimham.
Visiting Brimham Rocks is free, however, if you travel by car you must pay for parking (£6 for 4 hours or £9 per day.)
If you’re travelling to Brimham Rocks by public transport, the best way to do so is getting the 24 bus from Harrogate to Pateley Bridge that passes Summerbridge which is a 2 km walk to Brimham Rocks.
Where to stay in Harrogate
The Yorkshire Hotel
The Yorkshire Hotel is a four-star hotel that is perfect for a short or weekend stay. The hotel is located a few minutes from Harrogate attractions such as Bettys Tea Room, the town centre and the gardens.
It has 81 rooms with different styles, but what makes them special is the small touches of Yorkshire culture – for example, in the king rooms you can find pillows with traditional Yorkshire words.
Each room has essential amenities such as comfortable beds, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities, toiletries and Wi-Fi.
Hotel du Vin and Bistro Harrogate
If you want a different experience, Hotel du Vin is a four-star hotel that combines the elegant French style with Yorkshire hospitality.
The hotel includes 4 beautiful suites and 48 styled bedrooms. Each room includes luxurious elements such as fine Egyptian linen, deep baths, flat-screen TVs and drenched showers.
If you love French food, you must eat at their restaurant where they serve traditional French dishes such as Moules marinière, crêpes and crème brûlée.
Which Harrogate attractions are you adding to your list? Let me know in the comments below.
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Helpful resources to plan your day trip to Harrogate
- Book train tickets with Trainline here.
- Check out bus 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.
Frequently asked questions about visiting Harrogate
How do I spend a day in Harrogate?
You’ll find many attractions in Harrogate and its surroundings, so it’s easy to plan a day out in the area – from having afternoon tea at the popular Bettys Tea Room and relaxing at Harrogate Turkish Baths to exploring the gardens or visiting the nearby Knaresborough castle.
Is Harrogate worth visiting?
Yes, Harrogate town and area are worth visiting because of the wide range of activities you can do, especially activities for nature lovers due to the proximity to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
What can you do for free in Harrogate?
Visiting the gardens (Valley Gardens and Crescent Gardens), contemplating the local art at Mercer Gallery, going to Brimham Rocks, and other nature-related activities.