Most beautiful places to visit in Yorkshire

Places to Go

Most beautiful places to visit in Yorkshire

Full to the ancient hedgerows with rolling fields and dramatic moors, it’s of little wonder that Yorkshire is such a large county – it needed the extra room for all its breathtaking panoramas! Known far and wide as ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire promises scenic shot after scenic shot, with some of the most beautiful sights in the UK waiting around every heather-strewn corner.

From picturesque vineyards that keep the local eateries in good supply to the gently sprawling Yorkshire Dales National Park that holds many fabulous things to do within its patchwork interior, Yorkshire promises an astounding variety of pretty scenes. Cobbled streets wind through ancient market towns, while deliciously cosy pubs offer a quiet place to sit and watch the world drift by.

Home to a staggering collection of incredible walks, one of the best ways to soak up these charming vistas is to head out on foot, camera in hand. After all, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in a place than standing in its centre, taking in every leaf, lake, and lofty mountain peak.

Ready to explore the very best this magical county has to offer? Here’s our round-up of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire to get your wanderlist started…

 

Landmarks

Whether you’re a literary fan or a nature lover, Yorkshire’s collection of beautiful sights and sites is ready to fill up your camera roll.

 

Whitby Abbey

The impressive ruins of Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire

Combining classic literature with a jaw-dropping setting, this ruinous attraction has been inspiring visitors for centuries. Encouraging Bram Stoker to put pen to paper and create everyone’s favourite fanged figure, Dracula, Whitby Abbey is known far and wide for its incredible gothic countenance, which blends beauty with drama for a spectacular showstopper.

A revamped museum offers a fascinating insight into the abbey’s past, perfect for those who want to uncover a history full of Vikings, Saxons, and vampires. Yorkshire has a pretty impressive collection of abbeys for the historical aficionados out there, including Fountains Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey, and Byland Abbey.

 

Dalby Forest, North York Moors

A snowy scene at Dalby Forest in Yorkshire

Dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves in summer, russet and burnt orange hues in autumn, and glassy lakes holding a mirror up to snow-capped trees in winter, Dalby Forest makes for a beautiful visit at any time of year.

A series of winding paths wend their way through the trees, perfect for walkers and cyclists alike, while the little ones will love exploring the treetops with the GoApe courses. Dalby Forest is also a Dark Skies Discovery Site, offering an opportunity to experience the stunning space in a whole new light. Head to nearby The Fox and The Rabbit Inn for a glorious roast dinner after your scenic explorations, the perfect end to any day out in Yorkshire.

 

Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire Dales

Looking through the trees at Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire

The Yorkshire Dales is full of beautiful scenes, from rolling countryside to charming market towns. One of the most famously captivating sights in the Dales is the tumbling magic of Aysgarth Falls, which has inspired countless people, from poets to filmmakers. Forming three tiered steps, the famous Yorkshire falls are a popular staple for any visit to the National Park, with a selection of paths ensuring easy access to the landmark.

The eagle eyed among you will recognise the falls from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, where it provided a dramatic setting to Robin Hood’s first calamitous encounter with Little John. Head to the nearby visitor’s centre for more information on the famous falls and to discover other stunning spots to visit while exploring the meandering Dales.

 

Castle Howard, York

The impressive exterior of Castle Howard in Yorkshire

Blending stately elegance with idyllic gardens, Castle Howard certainly comes up trumps when it comes to beautiful sights. The house boasts some incredible architecture, while the grounds promise endless hidden gems to discover.

Wind your way through the walled garden for perfectly manicured displays, uncover the many fabulous temples, statues, and follies dotted across the grounds, and finish up your breathtaking explorations with a visit to Ray Wood, which houses a collection of botanical delights.

 

North York Moors National Park

Heather-topped moorland and woods at North York Moors in Yorkshire

From the dramatic heights of the Falling Foss waterfall to the magical appeal of Goathland Station (known to most as Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter films), the North York Moors offers a wide variety of must-visit locations that promise wildly beautiful scenes.

One of the most iconic sights in Yorkshire, the White Horse near Thirsk stands proud at 220ft tall and 318ft wide, making it the largest hill figure in England, while the aromatic delights of Yorkshire Lavender promise a vibrant sweep of colour. Of course, you don’t need to head to one of the many attractions to get an eyeful. With the rugged and heather-topped moors reaching out around you, simply pick a direction and set off for a staggeringly beautiful trek.

 

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Looking out over rolling fields at Yorkshire Dales National Park in Yorkshire

A Dark Sky Reserve and home to the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Yorkshire Dales National Park comprises a myriad of incredible landscapes whatever the season (or time of day). Undulating hills create an idyllic backdrop to quiet villages, while the wilder throws of the Dales offer walkers windswept vistas worthy of a novel or two - the Dales are a wonderfully romantic corner of Yorkshire to be sure.

There are multiple hills you can climb to admire the reaching views, while a series of waterfalls beckon for magical moments, from Janet’s Foss to Gordale Scar. You’ll also find some remarkable limestone features, including the almost patchwork-like formations at Malham Cove, Southerscales Nature Reserve, and Scar Close. Tilting more towards the dramatic, the likes of Ribblehead Viaduct, Bolton Castle, and Fountains Abbey are all worth a scenic stop as they offer a truly memorable visage, with photo opportunities aplenty.

 

York Minster

A bird's eye view of York Minster cathedral in York

Magnificent, spectacular, and breath-taking are all justly magnanimous words to describe this stunning cathedral in York. Famed for its intricate stained glass windows and carvings, there is beauty to be found in every corner, nave, and apse at York Minster.

With your ticket, join one of the free tours to gain a deeper understanding of the cathedral’s rich history or head into the undercroft museum for even more fascinating facts. You can also book onto a tower trip, which takes you up the central tower for jaw-dropping panoramic views.

 

Beaches

Ruggedly dramatic in places, oh-so-beautiful in others, Yorkshire’s coast has you covered whichever backdrop you seek, from golden beaches to chalk-white cliffs.

 

Runswick Bay

Looking across the rocks and sand of Runswick Bay at the beautiful village in Yorkshire

A beautiful semi-circle beach backed with sloping, tree-topped cliffs, Runswick bay is often mentioned among Yorkshire’s prettiest places. The golden sand is perfect for building sandcastles and the rocks that are revealed at low tide have been known to hide fossils within.

On the northern end of the beach, the oh-so-pretty, former fishing village of Runswick sits overlooking the bay. Carless and with lots of postcard-ready cottages, it’s well worth a wander as you look for a cosy café after a stomp along the Cleveland Way. The beach is dog-friendly all year round so the whole pack can enjoy the great sweep of sand during your visit.

 

Robin Hood’s Bay

Looking across the golden sands at the headland at Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire

Another of Yorkshire’s beautiful beaches to boast a pretty village atop it, Robin Hood’s Bay promises a glorious mix of dramatic cliffs and whitewashed cottages topped with russet roofs.

The honey-hued sands, stunning coastline, and rockpools uncovered at low tide make the beach a firm favourite with photographers, while fossil hunters love scouring the bay for long-forgotten remnants of the past. Another of Yorkshire’s dog friendly beaches, Robin Hood’s Bay is a wonderful choice for families looking for adventure.

 

Filey Beach

People walking across Filey Beach with the cliffs in the background

Providing a traditional seaside holiday feel, Filey Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand perfect for families. With 5 miles of golden beach to play with, there is plenty of space for every beach-going activity, from kite-flying to horseback riding.

Sprawl across the sun-warmed sand or stroll along the promenade with an ice cream in hand, looking out for the stunning art installations as you go. At the southern end of the beach, an RSPB nature reserve makes for another excellent spot for some birdwatching.

 

North Landing Beach, Flamborough

Looking down on the beautiful North Landing Beach in Yorkshire, backed by chalk white cliffs

Backed by striking chalk cliffs and grassy hills, North Landing paints a rather spectacular picture. Proving once and for all that the best things come in small, sometimes sandy, packages, this pocket-sized cove promises a truly special backdrop for your beach day.

Rockpools are revealed at low tide, providing the perfect place for little ones to explore, while the nearby landmark of Flamborough Head makes for a superb walking destination. The waters are a favourite with snorkellers, with local marine wildlife making the cove a great place for a bird watching too – puffins, razorbills, and kittiwakes are just some of the species you can look out for.

 

West Cliff, Whitby

Looking down over grassy cliffs at colourful beach huts and the sea at West Cliff beach in Whitby

Lined with a series of kaleidoscopic beach huts, West Cliff in Whitby is the poster child for beachy fun. Children will love the kid’s paddling pool and donkey rides, while the whole family will enjoy the beautiful sand perfect for sandcastles and snoozing.

For a truly traditional day at the beach, we recommend getting yourselves a portion of the town’s famous fish and chips to enjoy on the beautiful beach. On the eastern side of Whitby, you’ll find a second smaller beach, which offers a picturesque harbour backed with copper-coloured houses and the town’s famous landmark, Whitby Abbey.

 

Towns and villages

Scattered across the landscape, Yorkshire’s chocolate-box villages and towns promise thatched cottages, winding streets, and charm and character aplenty – not to mention a traditional inn or two.

 

Thornton-le-Dale

A beautiful thatched cottage next to a river in Thornton-le-Dale in Yorkshire

Thought to be one, if not the, prettiest village in Yorkshire, Thornton-le-Dale (also known as Thornton Dale) in North Yorkshire boasts a veritable cornucopia of picturesque scenes. One of the most famous sights in this oh-so-lovely village is a thatched cottage that resides next to Dalby Beck.

This charming image, with its gently trickling waters and overhanging trees, is so quintessential that it’s found an everlasting home on biscuit tins. A nature trail wends its way around the village, providing the perfect route to marvel at the many biscuit-tin-worthy settings.

 

Hebden Bridge

A pretty pub by the water in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire

A market town in West Yorkshire, Hebden Bridge is another perfect example of beautiful waterways. With the flowing delights of the River Calder and Hebden Water adding a shimmering backdrop to the town, there are many wonderful spots to stop and watch the currents ripple by.

Nearby Hardcastle Crags offers a stunning waterfront locale, with lots of charming independent shops offering a spot of retail therapy. You’ll find a variety of striking architecture throughout the town thanks to its industrial past, alongside a wonderfully vibrant and creative atmosphere.

 

Hawes

The cascading waters of Cotter Force waterfall near Hawes in Yorkshire

Tucked away amidst a patchwork of fields in the Yorkshire Dales, Hawes should be on everyone’s to-visit list. The most well-known string in the town’s enviable bow is that it was the culinary birthplace of Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese. Oh yes, Hawes is the home of Wensleydale, which is still made to this day at Wensleydale Creamery.

It’s also home to the highest single-drop waterfall in England, Hardraw Force, providing you with every excuse to visit the ancient stone houses, cobbled streets, and surrounding landscape.

 

Malton

The beautiful town of Malton in Yorkshire with colourful buildings

Pretty as a picture and known far and wide as Yorkshire’s food capital, Malton promises an eye-catching and lip-smacking visit. Hosting a monthly food market and annual Food Lovers Festival under the watchful gaze of the beautiful St Michael’s Church, you can feast on farm-to-fork treats as you explore the pretty town.

Head to Market Street for a vibrant display of boutiques and cafés, Talbot Yard for a red-bricked backdrop to your artisan feed, or Saville Street for crumbly patisseries and towering architectural displays. With so many mouth-watering spots to refuel and the surrounding countryside calling, Malton is the perfect base for a walking holiday.

 

Haworth

Looking down the steep cobbled street of Haworth with the fields of Yorkshire behind.

Known far and wide by literary fans as the home of the Brontë sisters, Haworth is a mecca for history and nature lovers alike. Not only will you find the Brontë sisters’ home-turned-literary-museum, but you’ll be able to explore the very moorland that inspired Wuthering Heights.

The town itself is a gem in its own right, with frozen-in-time buildings and glorious views from the steep high street that have earned Haworth a spot in three iterations of The Railway Children on the small and silver screen

 

Staithes

The beautiful village of Staithes nestled in the cliffs in Yorkshire

We’ll admit, we’re fools for a fishing village. There’s just something about the tranquillity and almost time-capsule-like visage that instils a sense of calm, and that goes double for the coastal haven of Staithes. Historic streets lined with chocolate-box cottages and flower pots claim the interior of the village, while the harbour looks out over what used to be one of the largest ports in North East England.

One look at this waterside village and you’ll understand why Captain James Cook fell in love with sailing here. With the North York Moors at your back and a series of fossil-strewn rockpools in front, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful days out amongst nature.

 

Helmsley

The ruins of Helmsley Castle in Yorkshire

Boasting honey-dipped houses and a collection of historic sites to explore, Helmsley is the place to visit for some of Yorkshire’s prettiest hidden gems. The market town makes for a rather lovely day out, with beautiful stone cottages lining the crisscross of streets.

Nearby in the equally pretty village of Harome, you’ll find one of Yorkshire’s incredible Michelin star restaurants, the Star Inn, which boasts a picture-perfect thatched roof and ever-so-warming interiors. For the historians amongst you, the trio of Helmsley Castle, Helmsley Walled Gardens, and Rievaulx Abbey are a must-visit. The abbey might be left in ruins, but it still holds its own within the backdrop of the stunning valley.

 

Excited to plan your picture-perfect adventure in God’s Own Country? Explore our beautiful holiday cottages in Yorkshire for a welcoming base to your stay.

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