11 of the best places to stay in Yorkshire

Days out

Posted by Clare Willcocks on 9th December 2021

There are few places in the UK where you can enjoy traditional beach days, climb craggy peaks, ramble through romantic moorland, hit the shops and visit some of the best attractions all in the space of a single holiday, but Yorkshire is one of them! There are well-trodden paths and hidden gems, charming cities and thrilling events, all vying for your attention.

Bronte Country’s atmospheric moorland villages contrast with characterful coastal towns like Whitby and Scarborough. Elegance and heritage are served up by Harrogate and York, while the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors offer mile-upon-mile of scenic walking territory.

With so many fabulous destinations to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down the best places to stay in Yorkshire. We take a look at 11 of our favourites to help you decide on that one special destination for your Yorkshire holiday.

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Scarborough - best for family attractions

When you picture a traditional seaside holiday, it’s sure to be a jolly and happening place like Scarborough. With glorious beaches, heaps of exciting family attractions and more amusements, ice cream and fish and chips than you can shake a stick at, it’s a town where memories are made and new family traditions are discovered.

For history-based fun, hit the Rotunda Museum of Geology and Scarborough Castle, and for outdoor thrills, go boating in Peasholm Park, take a ride on the miniature railway or don your swimsuit for a day at the waterpark at Alpamare. Get to know some exotic and aquatic creatures at Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary and bring out your own inner animal at Skytrail Adventure.

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Flamborough – best for cliff-top walks

Picturesque white cliffs provide a photogenic setting for the welcoming little village of Flamborough. One of the best places to stay in Yorkshire if you’re planning on coastal walks and nature-spotting, the landscape around Flamborough is ripe for all sorts of outdoor activities. Hike around Flamborough Head to take in the ancient lighthouses and breathtaking views afforded from the dizzying cliffs.

At the foot of the cliffs, either side of the headland, North Landing and South Landing are good spots for beach days, rock pooling and water sports before retiring to the village of Flamborough for a hearty pub meal and a pint. Nearby Bempton Cliffs, too, is a cliff-top haven, and with over 200,000 sea birds, you’ll want to have your binoculars on hand to see how many you can identify.

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St Ives

Pickering – best for steam train journeys

Pickering is perhaps most well known as the beginning (or end!) of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, along whose scenic route chuff a magnificent fleet of steam engines, all the way to Whitby via some of Yorkshire’s most charming rural villages. Pretty Pickering Station is one of the town’s most loved attractions, and a freshly baked treat from the traditional tearoom inside is not to be missed. This is a great option for a rainy day activity with the kids.

There is so much to see in the town: a traditional market every Monday; brooding castle ruins; fascinating Beck Isle Museum and the elegant spire of the Church of St Peter and St Paul which can be seen across Pickering. On the edge of the town, Newbridge Park is the place to head for mountain biking, woodland walks and picnics, while Flamingo Land park and zoo (4.1 miles) is a must for families. Beyond the edges of the town and its attractions lie the North York Moors, where awe-inspiring moorland landscapes are studded with ancient architecture and picturesque villages.

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Thirsk – best for exploring the countryside

This pretty little town exudes country charm, with an attractive cobbled market square, original shop fronts and welcoming pubs. Time has stood still in Thirsk, making it one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for a real taste of Yorkshire. With a prime location between the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, it’s a good choice of destination if you’re looking to experience some of the county’s best scenery on foot. And if you're bringing your four-legged friend along, make sure you read about our top dog-friendly cottages in Yorkshire.

Cycle through the expanses of lavender-covered moorland or glide over the iconic Kilburn White Horse. Or for those wanting to kick back and relax, there are many gentle walks available throughout the pretty town with cute and quirky shops and cafes from which to sit and watch the world go by.

Head out in either direction and you’ll find enchanting landscapes of rolling hills and magical valleys, punctuated with quaint villages and ancient castles which still seem to resound with the echoes of Yorkshire’s ancestors. Famous vet and author, James Herriot, hailed from the village of Thirsk and The World of James Herriot Museum is dedicated to his life and works. Cricket fans will also be interested to know that the village was the home of Thomas Lord, founder of Lord's cricket ground.

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Skipton – best for history

Skipton is a treasure trove for lovers of history and one of the best places to visit in Yorkshire if you’re looking for a mix of scenery and heritage during your holiday. Iconic Skipton Castle looms at the top of the high street, with foreboding twin towers and a colourful history, while romantic Bolton Abbey is just 6.5 miles away.

Hop onboard a steam train on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway for a picturesque journey through the Yorkshire Dales, or you can enjoy an aerial view of the scenery and attractions on a peaceful hot air balloon ride. Back on the ground, take time to wander the historic streets of Skipton, dipping in and out of its eclectic mix of independent shops and galleries, and pausing for a cuppa and homemade cake in one of the local tearooms or restaurants. The famous market sets up in the high street four days a week, selling a wide variety of products, from food and clothes to gifts and crafts.

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Richmond – best for photography

Set on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, Richmond is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring this romantic part of the county. The Georgian town features attractive architecture, not least foreboding Richmond Castle which offers glorious views from the heights of its keep. Visit The Station, which now houses a cafe, bar and restaurant, cinema and art gallery. The River Swale, too, provides photogenic vistas aplenty, with picturesque Richmond Falls sure to have you reaching for your camera.

Walking in the Northern Dales reveals yet more photo opportunities, with the wooded valleys of the River Swale and landscapes studded with ancient ruins offering a mix of subjects to capture on film. Take a trip to Kiplin Hall and Gardens, just over 8 miles away, to admire the elegant Jacobean house and wander through the peaceful gardens, taking in far-reaching views.

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Swaledale – best for walking in the Dales

Swaledale is a lush, green landscape of rolling hills, mountains and moorland. Put your best foot forward in any direction and you’ll find your path awash with panoramic views, beautiful flowers, hidden waterfalls and abundant wildlife. It’s no surprise that Swaledale has been a magnet for artists throughout the centuries, and you’re sure to find yourself snapping away to capture some of the views yourself.

If you’re into hill bagging, Blea Barf and Rogan’s Seat are two scenic peaks to tick off, while the dramatic Keld Waterfalls make for a memorable walk. Pick up sections of the 80-mile Swale Way to explore the attractions and landscapes along the River Swale, or set off into the hills to spot all manner of wildlife, including curlews, sandpipers and wild hares.

Home to rare species of animals and plants, you can spend your days hiding in the countryside spotting anything from peregrine falcons to red squirrels. For keen hikers, there are plenty of guided walks to take part in, or instead, if you wish to take to the hills without a guide, you can access an array of Yorkshire Dales audio trails here.

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Kirkbymoorside – best for art lovers

One of the best places to stay in Yorkshire if you’re looking for an arty escape, Kirkbymoorside is awash with antique shops, galleries and art studios. Every two weeks, the Ryedale Auctions sell a tantalising collection of antiques, and the Ryedale Folk Museum is the place to head for an insight into the town’s rural past. If you’re lucky enough, you may witness the talents of Kirkbymoorside’s very own 200-year-old brass band.

Lining the market square is a selection of independent shops and you can pick up a range of items from the weekly market. In nearby Hutton-le-Hole (3 miles) are Greenwood Crafts gallery and shop, and The Chocolate Factory: good destinations for a pleasant afternoon out. Back in Kirkbymoorside, Bils & Rye gallery is there for all your sculpture, ceramic and art needs, with a programme of thought-provoking exhibitions throughout the year.

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Malton – best for foodies

Malton has put itself on the map as one of the best places to stay in Yorkshire if you’re planning to eat your way through your next holiday! Its popular Food Lovers Festival is a testament to its dedication to all things culinary, and the fabulous food shops, bars, restaurants and food tours all contribute to its foodie image. If you’re looking to hone your own skills, book in for a workshop at The Talbot Malton, or if you’re more into liquid recipes, sign yourself up to the Rare Bird Distillery’s Gin School.

A plethora of eateries awaits to dazzle your taste buds, from artisan bakers to a vegan deli! The Malton Food Tour is the best way to discover all the gastronomic delights on offer in the town, satisfying your stomach with delectable tastings over the course of 3 hours. You may wish to venture out into the North York Moors to walk off your foodie forays, and Castle Howard (6.5 miles) makes for a glorious day trip.

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Whitby – best for fish and chips

The town of Whitby, on the coast of North Yorkshire, has a character like no other. Overlooked by the stunning gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey, its maze of narrow streets winding down to the harbour is a treat to explore. Synonymous with the town is Whitby’s most well-known dish – Whitby fish and chips. The unmistakable smell wafts from numerous seafood restaurants throughout the town, and nothing beats perching on the harbourside, tucking into a fresh portion from the paper to the sounds of the seagulls wheeling overhead.

Wash down your meal with a drink in one of the welcoming pubs and walk it off by climbing the 199 steps up to the abbey. You can spend hours browsing Whitby’s boutiques, deciding on the perfect piece of Whitby jet jewellery to take home to remind you of your travels.

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York - best for chocolate lovers

York is where the old meets the new and has a unique charm that not many other cities can claim. Enclosed by the beautifully preserved walls, this city is rich with heritage, right through from the magnificent York Minster Cathedral to the ancient paths leading to The Shambles. 

Built upon chocolate, York has been making the good stuff for over 300 years. Confectionary connoisseurs Rowntree and Terrys reside here and the city produces millions of Kit Kats each year, as well as being the birthplace of the renowned Chocolate Orange and Smarties.

There are many other attractions throughout the city too, where you can travel back in time and take a look into the city’s interesting past - visit York Castle Museum, JORVIK Viking Centre or DIG: An Archaeological Adventure for fun trips out. Coupled with the chic boutiques and quaint cafes, York is a great holiday destination for couples, families and groups alike.

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Stay with us in Yorkshire

If you’ve already picked out your preferred Yorkshire destination, take a look at our Yorkshire cottages and start looking forward to an unforgettable holiday. Our collection includes cute cottages, family homes, group abodes and more in Yorkshire, as well as lots of lovely places to stay across the whole of the North of England.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.