Yorkshire has many beautiful little towns and cities that you can’t miss. You may have heard of Leeds, York or even Bradford because they’re the most popular.
However, there are fewer touristy small towns that are hidden gems and this is the case of Knaresborough. There are unique things to do in Knaresborough that will make you want to go back.
It’s an authentic British small and cute town where you can find traditional pubs and independent shops.
The houses are impressive and, unlike the grey buildings in the cities, they’re colourful and have well-decorated gardens.It won’t take you long to see Knaresborough but it’s worth going for a day.
In this post, you’ll discover places that you must visit on a day trip to Knaresborough, where to eat, and where to sleep, in case you decide to spend longer than a day and other tips to plan your trip to this North Yorkshire town.
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Things to Do in Knaresborough
Visit Knaresborough Castle
Located on a clifftop, you’ll see the stunning Knaresborough Castle with amazing views of the River Nidd and the viaduct across the Nidd Gorge.
The castle was largely destroyed during the Civil War, and this is why we can only contemplate the ruins and part of the castle.
If you’re up for a history adventure, visit the castle to discover the dungeon, ancient graffiti and special secret tunnel.
You can explore the castle independently or join a tour to discover the medieval history behind this building.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to go inside the castle, you can always enjoy contemplating the ruins outside or relaxing in the garden next to it.
Adults – £3.20
Students – £2.10
Children – £1.25
Monday to Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm
📍 Location: Castle Yard, Knaresborough HG5 8AS
Walk along the riverside
At the foot of the castle, the riverside walk is unique!
Surrounded by trees, the river and cute independent cafes and restaurants but it’s the viaduct that makes this scene even more magical.
It has also many things to offer. You can get a boat, have some Yorkshire tea and cakes in the cafes or traditional scampi and chips or fish finger sandwiches in the restaurants, cycle and much more.
Row boating gives you a different perspective of the town and it’s fun. Get your friends, boyfriend or even dog and enjoy a have a different experience!
You can hire Knaresborough boats here, but be aware that they’re only available from March to October due to weather conditions.
TIP: Go to the Marigold cafe to enjoy a delicious lunch with a view. They have the best ice cream in Yorkshire too!
📍 Location: 23A Waterside, Knaresborough HG5 8DE
Explore Mother Shipton’s Cave
Mother Shipton’s Cave, England’s oldest tourist attraction is a must-see. It’s the perfect place to enjoy nature and learn about mysterious stories.
As you walk along the woodlands, you’ll be able to see an incredible waterfall, a cave (it’s all about Mother Shipton) and the famous Petrifying Well.
Not only that, because you’ll learn about the history behind it. It was believed that the water turned objects to stone.
This place is mysterious and full of superstition. You’ll get the feeling as you’re in and it’s the perfect place to get ready for Halloween (there is even a spooky Halloween event for the youngest ones).
But whenever you’re planning to visit this place, have a look at their website for other events such as Christmas, etc.
It’s a peaceful and interesting place. At the end of it, you have the opportunity to buy some weird and mysterious things at the shop like the wishing wall water taken from the magic well!
Pedestrian entry – £10
Car admission (max up to 5 people) – £30
Weekdays 10 am to 4:30 pm (last admission 3 pm)
Weekends 9:30 am to 5:30 pm (last admission 3 pm)
Relax at Bebra Gardens
A small garden with incredible trees, plants and a non-deep swimming pool. It’s a great place to relax or take pictures of beautiful trees and flowers.
The good thing is that you don’t need to go far to visit this garden because it’s next to Knaresborough Castle.
From Bebra Gardens, you can go for a 7 minutes walk and visit The House in the Rock tourist attraction and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag.
Every day 24 hours
📍 Location: Brewerton St, Knaresborough HG5 8AZ
See St. John the Baptist Church
It’s the largest church in the town and it’s located very close to the viaduct. The church has an impressive structure.
Around the church, you’ll be able to see many gravestones which I find scary since they aren’t in great condition.
For example, in Spain, my home country, you’ll never see gravestones near churches because they’re in the cemeteries which are normally hidden.
But, apart from that side, the area is lovely and you’ll be able to see cute squirrels running around during autumn.
📍 Location: Vicarage Ln, Knaresborough HG5 9AE
Go to Knaresborough Square
This is a cute but small square in the town centre where you can find some important monuments such as the Market Cross and Mother Shipton and Blind Jack statues.
If you visit Knaresborough, it’s essential to learn about Mother Shipton.
She was a witch born in a cave near the River Nidd (this explains the current Mother Shipton’s Cave attraction.) She was so important because people believed that had superpowers.
For example, locals used to believe that she predicted the Spanish Armada and the plague that killed 68,000 Londoners in 1665.
Knaresborough has lots of history and mystery behind that it’ll make you even more curious about the town.
If you like buying or collecting objects, I didn’t see many places to buy souvenirs. Having said so, there’s a traditional souvenir and cafe shop in the square.
You can find gifts from cups, and jewellery to sweets and marmalades.
📍 Location: 6 Market Pl, Knaresborough HG5 8AG
Check out Knaresborough Windows
When you’re walking around Knaresborough town centre, keep your eyes open and look up to admire the town’s architecture and find “Knaresborough Windows”, a collection of public art that showcase characters and events from the town’s history.
Visit the Art in the Mill gallery
Located in the Green Dragon Yard, Art in the Mill is the perfect place to contemplate unique collections of paintings, sculptures and ceramics produced by local artists.
There are three floors to explore, and you can sometimes see exhibitions showcasing the stunning work made in this region.
Not only is it impressive to see all the art inside the gallery, but the building has history too. It was built in 1808 and was Knaresborough’s old flax mill that was well-known for producing “the finest cloths”.
📍 Location: Green Dragon Yard, Knaresborough HG5 8AU
Buy local products at Knaresborough Market
If you love local ingredients, seasonal fruits and vintage things, Knaresborough has a market every Wednesday.
You can find a good variety of Yorkshire products: fresh meat and fish, beers, cheeses, bread and, last but not least, traditional Yorkshire pies!
The market is located in the centre of Knaresborough, in the town’s square so there is no way you can miss it.
📍 Location: 6 Market Pl, Knaresborough HG5 8AG
📌 Related blog: 15 Amazing Places to Visit in North England
Go on Nidderdale Greenway
Knaresborough is a popular place for cycling, so if you love scenic bike rides, you need to check Nidderdale Greenway.
This 4-mile route connects Bilton, North Harrogate, and Knaresborough with Ripley. Along this ride, you’ll contemplate the stunning North Yorkshire countryside.
The ride is about 21 to 25 minutes, but you can do it as a walk too. The walk is about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag
Situated in an old quarry on Abbey Road, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag is a Grade I Listed Building that was dedicated to St Mary.
This small medieval chapel was carved from a cliff by Johnson the Mason around 1400 who was granted permission by King Henry IV. It’s believed that was built as a shrine for pilgrims walking between Knaresborough and the Priory.
The chapel is temporarily closed, and it was closed when I visited Knaresborough so I only saw it from far away.
My advice is to look for the chapel on Google Maps because you can easily miss it if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings when walking along the Nidd Gorge.
📍 Location: Abbey Road, Knaresborough HG5 8HY
Discover Allerton Castle
A 12 minute drive from Knaresborough, you’ll find the incredible Allerton Castle, a hidden gem in North Yorkshire.
The castle is truly impressive from the outside, but it’s even more inside. Its architecture is the perfect representation of the Gothic in England, and it has a long heritage.
In addition to this, it’s surrounded by 200 acres of beautiful grounds to wander and contemplate the castle view.
This is a must-go place for anyone who loves discovering more about England’s history, delicate antiques and castles.
Places to stay in Knaresborough
Dower House Hotel & Spa
This three-star hotel is located on the outskirts of Knaresborough, and it has 29 beautifully decorated bedrooms for every type of traveller.
Each room is equipped with an en-suite bathroom, flatscreen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi and other amenities.
All rooms are beautiful and have unique touches, however, if you want a different experience, you can book “the cottage”, a separate self-contained room in the gardens.
The hotel has a great restaurant and bar where you can enjoy a la carte and Yorkshire comfort food. In addition to this, you can also relax at their spa or treat yourself to a treatment.
Places to eat in Knaresborough
- Marigolds Cafe & Boating – Enjoy a traditional English breakfast with a stunning view of the River Nidd and viaduct.
- Thomas the Baker – If you fancy a pastry or a sweet treat, this bakery, located in Market Place, is a must-visit.
- The Tannin Level – This restaurant serves delicious dishes made with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. They also have England’s favourites such as fish and chips and Sunday roast.
How to get to Knaresborough
Knaresborough is in North Yorkshire, only 40 min by car from Leeds, so if you’re planning to travel to Leeds or anywhere in Yorkshire, you should visit it.
- Train. If you’re travelling from Leeds, travelling by train it’ll take you approximately 40-50 minutes. The train station is in the middle of the town near Knaresborough Castle so it’s a perfect location to arrive at.
- Car. Driving from Leeds to Knaresborough is only 40 minutes. If you’re worried about parking, I highly recommend parking near the Eastgate surgery.
It’s cheaper and it’s only 10 minute walk from Knaresborough Castle. There is another parking next to the bridge but it gets busier and it’s more expensive.
- Bus. You can get the 36 bus to Harrogate from Leeds and get another bus from Harrogate to Knaresborough.
- Plane. The closest airport to Knaresborough is Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) which is 30 minute drive. You can either get a taxi or rent a car to drive to Knaresborough.
The best time to visit Knaresborough
The best time to visit this enchanting town is late spring/summer and autumn.
You should go in late spring or summer if you want to enjoy long days, boat rides and mild or warm temperatures.
You should visit Knaresborough in autumn if you enjoy seeing piles of fallen brown, yellow and red leaves in parks, peaceful walks and a hot drink.
You can also visit it in winter but the British winter is very dark (sunset is around 4 pm) and rainy. However, if you love the cold weather you may be lucky and see the snow!
Whenever you go, get an umbrella or raincoat with you if you don’t want to get soaked. It can be the sunniest day ever but it can rain later on. I used to fall into this trap but not anymore since I’ve been living here for a while.
Conclusion of things to do in Knaresborough
Knaresborough is small but you have different activities to cover in a day. In addition, due to its location, you can visit other beautiful towns in Yorkshire such as Ripon, Masham or Harrogate. The truth is that there are plenty of interesting things to do in Yorkshire.
You won’t regret visiting this enchanting town and I’m sure you’ll want to go back to Knaresborough and Yorkshire.
If you have any questions about what to do in Knaresborough or other destinations in Yorkshire, you can always reach me via email or Instagram. I’m happy to help!
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Helpful resources to plan your trip to Knaresborough
- Flying to Leeds Bradford Airport? Have a look at the best flight fares with Skyscanner.
- Check out train and bus fares with Omio.
- Book your hotel with Booking.com
- Discover the most traditional British foods you can try in Knaresborough in this guide.
- Get travel insurance for your trip, this is a must for any trip!
Frequently asked questions about Knaresborough
Is Knaresborough worth visiting?
Yes, it is worth visiting. If you love less explored but beautiful towns, Knaresborough is definitely a good place to add to your travel list. Although you won’t find as many attractions as other places in Yorkshire, you’ll enjoy Knaresborough’s unique places.
What’s Knaresborough famous for?
Knaresborough is famous for its beautiful views of the River Nidd and viaduct, Knaresborough Castle and England’s oldest attractions – Mother Shipton’s Cave.