Yorkshire Holiday Planning Guide
The largest of the 39 historic counties of England, Yorkshire is often called "God's Own Country” by its whimsical residents. The sprawling county is divided up into four separate regions, each with its own cultural identity, thriving urban centers, and historic market towns that can fill a variety of holiday itineraries. The countryside, featuring green valleys and gently rolling hills, has long attracted tourists from around the globe. Well connected to all other parts of the country by an extensive railway network, Yorkshire is a prime region for outdoor activities, with stunning scenery that includes three national parks. As part of your itinerary, explore the region’s numerous historical sites, but don’t miss meeting the colorful locals, who are known for being proud, industrious, and extremely opinionated about almost every subject under the sun.
Places to Visit in YorkshireYork
: A thriving city for over 2,000 years, Yorkshire's traditional capital city of York abounds with historical sites, many of which can be found within its 13th-century walls. Whitby
: Home to a lively fishing port and sandy beaches filled with Yorkshire holiday-makers, Whitby represents a quintessential seaside town made all the more interesting by its historical buildings and the striking ruins of an abbey. Sheffield
: Made famous by its now-extinct steel industry, Sheffield is a surprisingly green city, rich in open spaces and cultural centers. Leeds
: Manchester's fiercest competitor for the title "Capital of the North," Leed's serves as Yorkshire's go-to destination for shopping, nightlife, and culture.Kingston-upon-Hull
: The gritty industrial town of Kingston-upon-Hull has undergone an intensive renewal project and though you'll find few tourists here, its museums and excellent aquarium make it a worthwhile stop on your Yorkshire vacation. Harrogate
: A pretty Victorian spa town, Harrogate charms its plentiful visitors with fine architecture, colorful flower shows, and numerous tea rooms. Scarborough
: Yorkshire's largest and best known seaside resort, Scarborough has been a tourism hotspot since the 17th century. Wakefield
: A historical market town and the site of an important War of the Roses battle, Wakefield boasts an assortment of top Yorkshire attractions, including Pontefract Castle and an exciting new art gallery. Bradford
: Once an important part of England's textile trade, Bradford attracted a large number migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh who make up a significant part of the city's cultural scene. Doncaster
: A little off the beaten path, Doncaster is a traditional Yorkshire market town, full of friendly locals and a heritage walk that reveals much of the county's past.
Things to Do in Yorkshire
Popular Yorkshire Tourist AttractionsNational Railway Museum
: Providing an engaging insight into the history of trains and the profound way in which they've affected Britain, the National Railway Museum showcases 100 locomotives, including a Royal carriage and Japanese bullet train. York Minster
: Widely regarded as one of the world's finest Gothic cathedrals, York Minster boasts huge expanses of medieval stained glass.York Shambles
: A narrow, cobblestoned street packed full of timber-framed buildings, The Shambles is arguably Britain's most atmospheric street. Yorkshire Wildlife Park
: The award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park provides a safe home for a variety of wildlife, including endangered species, while giving visitors the opportunity to observe these creatures. York Castle Museum
Set in the prisons of York Castle, the York Castle Museum allows visitors to experience life in Victorian and Edwardian England through recreated scenes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Whitby Abbey
: Now a set of haunting ruins, Whitby Abbey dates back to 657 CE and was regularly used until its partial destruction by King Henry VIII's forces in 1538. Flamingo Land ltd
: Home to roller coasters, golf courses, spas, and a zoo, the Flamingo Land complex caters to all tastes and ages.York City Walls
: The well-preserved York City Walls have existed since Roman times and though little from that period remains, the medieval gates make for an impressive spectacle. The Deep
: Not just a striking Hull landmark, The Deep aquarium hosts seven species sharks, tropical fish, rays, and more.
Planning a Yorkshire Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Yorkshire with Kids
Boasting wide-open spaces, fun family resorts, and immersive museums, Yorkshire serves as a fun vacation destination to enjoy with kids. The historic city of York
is an obvious choice for those who want to teach their children about Britain's rich and diverse history, as it offers ancient sites and education centers where you can learn all about them. If you're interested in a more outdoorsy holiday with the little ones, include the Yorkshire Dales National Park
in your Yorkshire itinerary. This picturesque area encompasses a number of friendly villages that can serve as a base, with easy access to walking and cycling routes alongside a number of enchanting castles. The county's seaside resorts, such as Scarborough
have been popular family holiday destinations for centuries, and with good reason. Their sandy beaches are accompanied by donkey rides, Punch and Judy puppet shows, and lots of cream stands offering a fun and budget-friendly way to spend the day.
Things to Do in Yorkshire with Kids
Wherever you decide to visit on your Yorkshire vacation, you're likely to encounter a variety of top-rated attractions filled with kid friendly activities. For an educational day with younger children, visit Eureka! The National Children's Museum
. This expansive center has been designed to stimulate the minds of kids age 11 and younger through 400+ interactive displays spread across six themed galleries. Based primarily indoors, this museum makes for a great rainy day activity. If the sun is shining, make a trip to one of Yorkshire's nature reserves or farms. The popular York Bird of Prey Centre
grants children the opportunity to engage with and touch hand-reared birds in a safe environment, while Hesketh Farm Park
includes a petting area and playground. Older children will enjoy the thrill of Go Ape
, a forest adventure complex equipped with ziplines, Tarzan swings, and a segway course. The /i:attractionLink>Wentworth Castle Gardens
are set against a magnificent 17th-century mansion and will delight the whole family with its local wildlife, play area, and maze.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Yorkshire
If you're planning on including some more rural destinations on your Yorkshire family vacation, consider renting a car for the trip. Local public transportation is infrequent and difficult to navigate outside of cities and major towns in the county. Moreover, the cost of tickets can quickly mount up for families with a few kids in tow. If you do use public transport on your Yorkshire holiday, make sure to ask about child discounts and GroupSave tickets to save a some money. Many attractions also offer discounted entrance fees for kids and students, with kids under five occasionally enjoying free tickets. If your child looks older than they are, it's a good idea to bring some identification along.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Yorkshire
Cuisine of Yorkshire
Packed full of rich and filling ingredients, Yorkshire's cuisine is known to be hearty and warming. Yorkshire puddings are perhaps the county's best-known cultural export and they accompany traditional roast dinners throughout the nation. This dish is savory and very unlike a pudding in America. Yorkshire puddings are made from batter and should resemble a sort of bowl--in some cases they are large enough to fill the plate, and the roast dinner will be served inside them, but more often they are small and simply filled with gravy.
The county has also given birth to a number of famed food items. Though now made in creameries across the UK, Wensleydale cheese originates from the town of Wensleydale in North Yorkshire
and is best enjoyed in its historic homeland. The cheese is crumbly and often paired with sweet fruits (most commonly cranberries), or eaten with fruitcake around Christmastime. Visit the century-old Wensleydale Creamery
on your Yorkshire holiday to try a variety of traditionally crafted cheeses and learn about the history of cheese-making in the area.
Like much the UK, the cuisine of Yorkshire has been influenced by the years of the British Empire and its long-standing migrant population, particularly from Asia. Bradford
is home to more than 200 Asian restaurants and has been named Britain's "Curry Capital" for several years running.
Shopping in Yorkshire
The county of Yorkshire offers a diverse array of shopping experiences to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Those interested in a more upscale experience and picking up some designer goods on their Yorkshire trip should visit Leeds' Victoria Leeds
, where brands such as Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith can be found in a 1900s-era building. For a more low-key but charming retail experience, seek out some of Yorkshire's market towns. Historic Bedale
hosts a variety of independent stores along with a weekly food market of locally sourced produce, while Helmsley
is a heaven for specialist food stores. Halifax
boasts one of northern England's best markets, an award-winning affair of about 125 market stalls that are open six days a week.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Yorkshire
History of Yorkshire
Celtic tribes were some of the earliest inhabitants of Yorkshire, but much of the region's development did not begin until the Romans conquered Britain in 43 CE. York
, then known as Eboracum, was named the capital of Britannia Inferior and the joint capital of all of Roman Britain. The significance of the city was confirmed when Constantine the Great was proclaimed emperor of Rome in the center. You can visit a Bronze statue of Constantine on your Yorkshire vacation outside York Minster
very near the spot where we was granted his title in 306 CE. The Yorkshire Museum
displays an original marble head of Constantine discovered underneath Stonegate
By the 5th century, the Roman Empire was in serious decline and Roman rule of Britain collapsed. Small Celtic kingdoms arose in Yorkshire again, but it was not long until a new foreign invader arrived. In 866, Danish Vikings conquered the region, changing York
to Jovrik and making it the capital city of a new Danish Kingdom of the same name. It was the only true Viking territory on mainland Britain to ever be established; it prospered for 100 years.
The year 1066 was a defining moment for Yorkshire and the rest of England, marking the Norman conquest of the land. The people of the North rebelled against the Normans in 1069 and attempted to regain control of York
, but the Normans burned the city before they could. In a response to the unrest in the areas, William the Conqueror ordered The Harrying of the North. The vicious campaign involved the torching of crops, domestic animals, farm tools, and even villages in Yorkshire.
In 1399, Yorkist King Richard II was overthrown and tensions arose between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, both branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The two houses came to fight a series of dynastic civil wars in competition for the throne--a conflict commonly known as War of the Roses in reference to the houses’ emblems. Henry Tudor, sympathiser to the House of Lancaster, killed Richard III in battle and ended the wars. The white rose remains the emblem of Yorkshire county and a number of gardens include white rose bushes, such as those found in Newby Hall and Gardens
Britain's Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries brought profound changes in Yorkshire society. Industries involving coal, textiles, and steel exploded, particularly in Sheffield
, and West Riding grew to become the second-most important manufacturing region of the United Kingdom. In modern times, British manufacturing has been significantly scaled back and Yorkshire's economy has subsequently been hit hard. Make a stop at the National Coal Mining Museum for England
to learn more about what was once one of Yorkshire's most important industries and a major local employer.
In 1939, the United Kingdom proclaimed war against Germany and World War II commenced. During the war, Yorkshire served as a significant base for the RAF Bomber Command, thrusting the county into the forefront of the UK's war effort. You’ll find more about Yorkshire's role in the war at Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial
Landscape of Yorkshire
With the nickname "God's Own Country," it’s no surprise that Yorkshire is home to some of the England's most breathtaking scenery. The county encompasses areas that are considered by many to be among the most verdant in the country, including the vast unspoiled rurality of the Yorkshire Dales
and North York Moors. Many of Yorkshire's cities are relatively green and open, including Sheffield
. Despite the city's history as an industrial powerhouse, it contains 250 parks, woodland areas, and gardens with an estimated 2 million trees, outnumbering its human population nearly four to one. Yorkshire also straddles the notoriously fierce North Sea and boasts 72 km (45 mi) of rugged coastline.
Holidays & Festivals in Yorkshire
Yorkshire observes the nation's major public holidays, many of which are significant dates on the Christian calendar. If your vacation overlaps with New Year's Day, Easter, or Christmas, be prepared for most businesses to be closed for one or two days. There is a big build-up to these holidays, and Christmas markets are a popular annual occurrence in Yorkshire, with Leeds
holding a beloved German-style market every year. Aside from national holidays, Yorkshire has a number of its own festivals that celebrate its heritage, industries, and much more. Avid history buffs might want to consider booking their Yorkshire trip to coincide with Richmond's
Georgian Festival held in August. This two-week celebration transports locals and visitors back in time to experience the town's rich Georgian history. If food is more your thing, head to Selby
for Food Festival to sample some of the region's finest dishes and drinks. Meanwhile, culture-vultures can immerse themselves in the world of contemporary art at the Great North Art Show.
Yorkshire Travel Tips
Climate of Yorkshire
In keeping with the most of the United Kingdom, Yorkshire experiences a temperate oceanic climate. Winters are generally mild and summers are warm, though rain is plentiful throughout the year. Temperatures are rarely extreme unless you venture into the Pennines mountain range, which border on a subarctic climate and receive ample snowfall. No matter what time of year you plan your Yorkshire vacation, it's a good idea to pack wet weather gear and a sweater.
Transportation in Yorkshire
Most of Yorkshire's cities, towns, and villages are compact enough for you to get around by foot comfortably. Leeds
, the county's largest city, is equipped with regular local buses along with one of the UK's busiest train stations. From this 17-platform building, you can access cities across much of the country as well as numerous locations within Yorkshire. Long-distance buses, referred to as coaches, provide a wallet-friendly way to travel between the county's cities and major towns, but they generally take longer than trains. If you're interested in including some picturesque rural destinations on your Yorkshire itinerary, consider hiring a car, as less-populated areas suffer from poor public transport links.