10 awesome things to do when visiting Harrogate

26 August 2022

Harrogate is more than a typical English spa town. It’s a prosperous town, which is why it won’t come as a surprise that this North Yorkshire town also makes for a perfect day trip or weekend away.

Harrogate is filled with quaint streets, stunning architecture and tons of nearby options to venture out into nature. The Yorkshire Dales National Park is located only a stone’s throw from the town, with many options for hiking and enjoying the beauty of Yorkshire.

If you’re not sure how to make the most of your time in Harrogate, this guide has got you covered. Keep this itinerary on hand and you’ll be sure not to miss out on any of the highlights in this beautiful town. Let’s take a look.

Bathe in the Turkish Baths

Known to be a famous spa town, Harrogate is home to the Turkish Baths. The Turkish Baths that stand today used to be a part of the bigger Royal Baths Complex, which dates back to 1897. It is one of only seven Victorian Turkish Baths from the 19th century that’s still standing today.

Even though the baths are quite old, they have been fully restored to welcome visitors. The decorations are stunning, including Islamic arches, terrazzo floors and arabesque-painted ceilings.

There are multiple luxurious spa treatments available, but a dip in the Turkish Baths can be booked separately. Seeing it’s one of the most famous places in Harrogate, you don’t want to miss out!

Things to do near Harrogate

Visit the Valley Gardens

Only a short walk from the Turkish Bathhouse, the Valley Gardens are located. Since Harrogate is a spa town, you may wonder where they got the water from? In the Valley Gardens, you can find 36 of the town’s mineral springs.

But that’s not all. This beautiful park stretches over 17 acres and is an English heritage grade II listed parkland. It includes floral displays, pinewoods, a Japanese garden and more. All in the centre of Harrogate!

The park is free to visit and is open 24 hours a day. If you visit between the months of April and September, you can also find a café inside. Here, you can enjoy a piece of cake alongside a cup of tea while watching this beautiful Harrogate gem.

Go to the Royal Pump Room Museum

Harrogate’s water is the oldest bottled water in England. And since it’s fame spread all across the world, a Royal Pump Room was built in 1842. It was used for affluent visitors as they came to get some of this famous water. These visitors even included Russian royalty.

While the Royal Pump Room now acts as a museum, it’s still a fantastic place to visit, whether you’re Russian royalty or not. Inside, you can learn about the history of Harrogate and its different types of mineral waters.

There is a small entry fee, but it’s more than worth it.

See some art in the Mercer Art Gallery

If you like art and culture, the Mercer Art Gallery cannot be missed from your Harrogate itinerary. Being one of Yorkshire’s best galleries, it hosts a large collection of 19th and 20th century fine art.

Have afternoon tea in Bettys Café

Betty’s luxury afternoon tea is yet another staple of the town of Harrogate. The cafe opened in 1919, gaining over a hundred years’ worth of experience serving the very best teas, snacks and afternoon teas.

The cafe now has multiple locations across the UK, including one in York, but visiting the original place where it all started is a must. Betty’s is best known for its afternoon teas, serving a large selection of fine and rare teas and a seasonal menu with the very best items.

As you can imagine, the place is very popular. To avoid disappointment and long queues, I’d advise you to book ahead!

Things to do near Harrogate

Go antique shopping in the Montpellier Quarter

As with many cities, it’s the independent stores and vendors that make it much more unique. If we wanted to shop at H&M or Zara, we could’ve stayed home. Well, the Montpellier Quarter is the place for shopping in Harrogate.

Home to over 50 independent shops, bars and cafes, Montpellier Quarter will fulfil all your shopping needs. But apart from the incredible variety of shops here, the cobbled streets and hanging baskets will give you that feeling of being in a real English town.

Visit Ripley Castle

If you’re looking for some half-day or day trips to add to your Harrogate itinerary, Ripley Castle should be one to consider. It’s located three miles from the north of Harrogate and pretty easy to get to.

This Grade-I listed country house dates back to the 14th century. This stunning house has seen a lot of history and visiting it almost feels like stepping into a fairytale book. There are castle tours available, showing you around some of the most important rooms inside.

Near the building itself, you can also find a beautiful garden and deer park. Make sure to plan in some time to walk through it.

Walk through the RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Another great place to visit near Harrogate is the RHS Garden Harlow Carr. It’s a short 10-minute drive from Harrogate and makes for a perfect trip for nature lovers.

The park includes 58 acres of gardens, meadows, streams and more. You could easily spend a full day here without getting bored – best to check the weather forecast beforehand though.

Take a day trip to Knaresborough

You can find Knaresborough only five miles from Harrogate. York is known for its picturesque towns and Knaresborough has definitely helped with this reputation. It hosts a stunning viaduct, a magical well and castle ruins.

While you could easily spend a full day in Knaresborough, even a half-day will give you more than enough time to check out some of its highlights.

You can visit Knaresborough Castle, find some of the best views of Knaresborough’s viaduct, rent a boat to row down the River Nidd and visit Mother Shipton’s Cave.

Explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park

And, of course, being located so closely to the Yorkshire Dale National Park, visiting Harrogate gives you the perfect opportunity to venture out into this beautiful piece of nature.

If you’re visiting Harrogate with public transport, this option may not be as good for you. Getting to the Yorkshire Dales National Park is much easier by car.

However, it is one of the best hiking places in the country. Especially with Yorkshire’s beauty, Yorkshire Dales National Park is the place to go for nature lovers.

Things to do near Harrogate