Explore These Beauty Spots Within One-Hour Of Leeds City Centre

19 January 2022

Despite being the largest city in West Yorkshire, you’re never too far away from green space and historic attractions when you’re in Leeds. 

Another bonus is, thanks to an extensive public transport system, many of Yorkshire’s beautiful market towns, moorland trails, and stately homes are accessible via public transport. 

Here are eight wonderful day trips from Leeds to inspire your next weekend, all within a one-hour drive of the city.  

Knaresborough: Fabulous for photographers

A 40-minute drive or a 45-minute train ride from Leeds Station, Knaresborough is the perfect illustration of a North Yorkshire market town.

You’ll find picturesque architecture, crumbling ruins, and a beautifully eclectic tourist attraction.

Crane your neck at the Knaresborough Viaduct which soars over the River Nidd and rent a rowing boat to cruise your way below it if the weather is on your side. The clifftop ruins of Knaresborough Castle provide a glorious vantage point. 

You must also visit the old dwelling place of Ursula “Mother” Shipton, the nation’s oldest tourist attraction. 

Set within an ancient patch of woodland, Mother Shipton’s Cave is the setting for the enchanted waters of the Petrifying Well which are fabled to turn any object who touches them to stone. 

Otley: For those who love shopping and cycling

Otley sits 10 miles north of Leeds and provides a stepping-off point for the valleys and pastures of the Yorkshire Dales. 

As a thriving market town, a great time to plan your trip to Otley is a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday when around 100 vendors take to Market Square flogging everything from farm-fresh produce to winter woollies. 

Fans of the drama, Heartbeat, may recognise these cobbled streets as the backdrop of the police station. 

If you’re in the mood for a walk – or a bike ride – then head to the Otley Chevin, which watches over the town from the south. The Chevin Forest Park offers a multitude of hiking and biking trails that are suitable for all ages and levels of ability. 

Otley is a 30-minute drive northwest of Leeds and the X84 bus takes 40 minutes to reach the city. 

Haworth: A perfect retreat for literary lovers

A destination for romantics, book lovers, families, and train fanatics: there’s something very special about Haworth. 

Swaddled by the Pennines, part of the intrigue of the village is the ride there. The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (KWVR) runs several steam locomotives which evoke the nostalgia of industrial age travel. 

Once in town, stroll your way up Haworth Main Street where you can pour over second-hand books, pick up handmade soaps, and feast on tasty scones. 

Take a journey through literary history at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, the old abode of the legendary Brontë sisters, before walking to Top Withens to encounter the wild moorland that sparked Wuthering Heights.  

We recommend you factor in around an hour for getting to Haworth by train, where you’ll change trains and board a connection from Keighley Worth Valley Station. 

Prefer to drive? It should take you around 50 minutes.

Ilkley: Fancy a day of hiking?

Leafy promenades with smart Victorian townhouses and stretches of windswept moorland characterise this bonny West Yorkshire town. 

The gentle hike up to the White Wells isn’t too challenging and rewards you with warming drinks and delicious cakes in the cosy café. 

Adventurous souls can opt to continue following the paths further into the craggy wilderness, with trails taking you to the Tarn, the Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, and deeper into the landscape that forms the start of the Dales Way hike. 

Another option is to head to the nearby Cow and Calf Rocks for an afternoon of bouldering.

The other side of Ilkley’s charm lies in its spread of independent businesses. If you fancy turning your day trip into a full-blown weekend away, make a date at Ilkley Cinema, the arthouse picture house, and stock up on regional delights at Booths.  

Ilkley is a 40-minute drive northwest of Leeds and direct trains connect the two cities in 30 minutes. 

Harewood: A hub for seasonal events and fairs

The star attraction of one of North Yorkshire’s most affluent villages is the 18th-century residence, Harewood House. 

It’s adorned with neat gardens, an art gallery that rivals the Tate, and a collection of exotic birds and curious penguins. 

Check their event schedule ahead of your visit as they host seasonal events ranging from springtime wildlife walks, summer food festivals, and yuletide festive fairs.

Besides the stately home, you can roam through the woodland to visit the dishevelled ruins of Harewood Castle, a 20-minute walk from the main estate.

Often overlooked by visitors, the towers and surviving foundations of this 14th-century stone hall peek out from where they are buried among the overgrown foliage.

Bus number 36 connects Leeds to Harewood in 45 minutes while the drive can take as little as 20 minutes. 


Golden Acre Park: Day trip on a budget

Golden Acre Park is a city council-managed space located six miles north of the city centre consisting of woodland, orchards, meadows, and a lake all connected by walking tracks. 

With a terrain that’s flatter than a pancake, flawless paved routes, and no admission or parking charges, Golden Acre Park is a wonderful day trip from Leeds for families with young children as well as for runners and picnickers. 

Still somewhat under the radar, Golden Acre Park is a favourite among residents. Golden Acre Park is a 30-minute drive north of Leeds while the X84 and 84 bus routes take approximately 40 minutes from the centre.

Harrogate: Indulge in a spot of pampering

The posh spa town of Harrogate flourished during the 18th-century and continues to entice Leeds locals and day-trippers with its sophisticated atmosphere, reduced pace of life, and healing mineral waters. 

Check yourself into the Turkish Baths, one of the few surviving bathhouses from the Victorian era for some relaxation.

Besides the baths, you can potter around art galleries, stretch your legs at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr and order a Fat Rascal Scone at the iconic tearoom, Bettys.

Bus number 36 connects Leeds with Harrogate in 50 minutes while the drive takes approximately 40 minutes. 

You can extend your day out by adding on a trip to Ripley Castle, a ten-minute drive or 20-minute bus ride north of Harrogate.

Temple Newsam Park: One for the animal lovers

Last but not least, the Temple Newsam country estate comprises a stately Tudor-Jacobean house set among a working homestead. 

Committed to the conservation of native British animals, Home Farm is the habitat of such Rare Breeds as the Bagot Goat and Middle White pigs. 

As with Harewood House, Temple Newsam hosts a regular stream of seasonal events and activities that cater to families and adults alike.  

Bus numbers 19 and 19A connect the city centre to Temple Newsam in just under one hour, while those with a car can reach the grounds in 25 minutes. 

A quick escape from the city

Going on one of these wonderful day trips the next time you feel the need to escape the city streets.

Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can look forward to spotting seasonal blooms or baby animals, catching an event, or stumbling upon a newly-opened café.

No visit will ever be the same.