Saltaire is a little beautiful Victorian village located in Shipley, which is part of the district of Bradford, in West Yorkshire, England.
Interestingly, the village was built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a famous industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. Saltaire’s name is a combination of the founder’s surname and the name of the river.
The village has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001 and you may be wondering why you should visit this place.
Despite being small, Saltaire has many things to offer – from beautiful architecture and lush green spaces to independent shops and authentic local cuisine offered in restaurants and food establishments.
You’ll be surprised to hear that Saltaire has been a location for films and TV series too.
It’s definitely the perfect day trip if you love discovering hidden gems and exploring less touristy places.
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8 Best Things To Do In Saltaire
Visit Salts Mill & 1853 Gallery
Next to the train station, it’s the stunning building Salts Mill. This is the first place you need to visit and probably where you’ll spend a considerable amount of time.
Before visiting it, I thought that there weren’t many things to do inside the building, but I was completely wrong!
The building consists of three spacious floors. On the ground floor, you’ll find the art gallery, home of one of the largest collections of David Hockney’s art. The gallery is quite impressive as there are paintings, etchings, and drawings. Also, it’s an art paradise as you can buy art materials and art books.
On the first floor, it’s the book shop. As a book lover, I loved wandering around and checking the variety of books you can buy. I was surprised that there were some crafts and Christmas decorations to buy too!
On this floor, you can also make your way to Salts Diner and stop for a quick espresso or a three-course meal. Although I haven’t had food here, I’ve read it’s a good option and I’d love to try it once.
But there is even more on this floor!
You can do some home accessories and furniture shopping at “The Home” store. It isn’t just the typical home store like Ikea or The Range because you’ll find anything from classic to modernist furniture as well as more personalised and unique brands.
The third floor hosts The Saltaire History Exhibition where you learn a lot about the industrial Saltaire and its people. There are plenty of small and large objects to contemplate in the exhibition – clothing machinery, Sir Titus’s original boardroom furniture and much more.
Apart from this excellent exhibition, you’ll find Salts Mill’s hidden cafe, Café in to the Opera. There you can eat your lunch under David Hockney’s huge hand-painted mural. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a light bite or a cafe while enjoying the art and views of Saltaire.
*The entry to Salts Mills is free.
📍 Location: Victoria Rd, Saltaire, Shipley BD18 3LA
Contemplate Saltaire United Reformed Church
A minute walk from Salts Mill, you’ll find Saltaire United Reformed Church. I can’t tell you how it is inside as it was not open, but it’s beautiful from the outside. Its Victorian architecture makes it a Grade 1 Listed Building.
The church is a unique example of Italianate religious architecture and it was commissioned and paid for by Sir Titus Salt.
📍 Location: Victoria Road, Saltaire BD18 3LF
Relax at Robert’s Park
Robert’s Park is definitely the best place to be on a sunny day.
The park has over 12 acres of lush green spaces where you can have a picnic, listen to the music of bands that play during the summer months in the beautiful bandstand located in the middle of the park or enjoy watching a cricket game.
One of my favourite things to do was to sit on the lawn near the river and contemplate what used to be a boathouse. Nowadays, it’s a lovely pub with delicious food and good views.
Not very far from Saltaire, you can do the Shipley Glen walk where you’ll discover the famous Shipley Glen Tramway, a historic funicular tramway.
Support local shops
Unlikely cities, villages like Saltaire offer a good variety of local shops where you find unique and special presents. This is amazing because I am all in to support small businesses that sell beautiful and good quality products.
One of the most popular shops is The Saltaire Vintage Shop, where you can buy all vintage, antiques and hand-crafted items.
I also recommend going to Radstudio!, located near the train station, as you’ll find great small gifts and decorations for home.
Treat yourself at Salts Village Bakery
Do you fancy a pastry or a delicious cake? You don’t need to go further.
Salts Village Bakery is located on Victoria Road, just opposite Salts Mills, and it’s a very busy bakery. I visited it on a Sunday and I felt lucky as there wasn’t a queue when I went, however, a couple of minutes later, there was a big queue outside.
They have a good selection of traditional pastries, sandwiches and baguettes and, of course, cakes. They also offer vegetarian options.
📍 Location: 8 Victoria Rd, Saltaire, Shipley BD18 3LA
Go on a relaxing boat trip
A different way to explore Saltaire is going on an incredible 30-minute cruise along a beautiful stretch of the historic Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The good thing is that you don’t need to book in advance and the fare is quite affordable – only £4.00 per passenger.
It’s the perfect activity for a relaxing afternoon with views or for those who want to take pictures from a different perspective.
Do The Aire Sculpture Trail
One of the things that I enjoyed the most during my trip to Saltaire was actually walking The Aire Sculpture trail.
The trail starts from the bridge on Victoria Road and ends in Baildon bridge. The walk lasts approximately 30 to 40 minutes and it has 15 hidden stops to contemplate pieces of artwork. My favourite one is the octopus located at the very beginning of this walk.
It’s a peaceful path where you’ll find a few locals riding a bike or enjoying an afternoon walk too.
📍 Location: Brighton St, Shipley BD17 7EB
Admire Saltaire’s housing architecture
The houses in Saltaire have beautiful Victorian architecture and this is because of Sir Titus Salt. He wanted to build homes with good living conditions for his workers as they had lived in really bad conditions in Bradford.
Worker houses in Bradford were very small and overcrowded, so families needed to share toilets and there wasn’t much ventilation. Sir Titus Salt improved his worker’s lifestyle as he considered that it was important that workers were healthy and happy.
Today you can see that every street in Saltaire was named after Sir Titus’s family and the majority of the houses built during that period of time are still standing.
I absolutely loved wandering around and seeing how beautiful the houses are. Also, it’s a great spot to take some pictures.
Other nearby small destinations you need to add to your list are Shipley, Halifax, Knaresborough, Ilkley and Skipton. However, if you prefer to visit bigger locations, you can check my travel guides on Leeds and Manchester or my Northern England travel bucket list.
Do you know any other things to do in Saltaire? Let me know in the comments!
If you have any questions about Saltaire or where to go in Yorkshire, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram.
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Frequently asked questions about Saltaire
Is Saltaire worth visiting?
Yes, Saltaire is a unique village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. Despite its size, there are many things to do in Saltaire. Also, this Victorian village it’s full of hidden gems and important buildings such as Salts Mills.
Why is Saltaire famous?
Saltaire was home to the most important textile factory in Yorkshire. This factory was created by Sir Titus Salt, who founded the village of Saltaire.
Is Saltaire a nice place to live?
If you’re looking for a tranquil and cosy atmosphere, Saltaire is the village you want to live in. The village is well-connected by local transport, and it’s accessible by car.
In addition to this, you won’t be far from bigger cities such as Bradford and Leeds.