These incredible Yorkshire attractions are just a train ride away.
Whether you can’t drive, won’t drive or just don’t have a car, you can still make the most of everything Yorkshire has to offer – and these days out prove it. The great sights of God’s Own County are more accessible than ever, thanks to the wonders of train travel. You can explore award-winning art galleries, shop til you drop at indie stores and discover incredible vistas of glorious countryside – which will you do first?
Discover art, books and great eats at a historic mill
Salts Mill is a historic mill building dating from 1853. While it was once an industrious cloth mill, today it’s a hub of shops, art and eateries. You can admire their impressive David Hockney collection and peruse the independent homeware, books and jewellery shops. Need to refuel? Grab a hand stretched pizza from the diner or a coffee from their espresso bar. Set in Saltaire, a model Victorian village that also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s loads around the mill to explore too, like the SALT Beer Factory. The best bit? It’s under 20 minutes on the train from Leeds.
Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3LA. Entry is free.
Take afternoon tea on the water
Swap the car for a canal boat with Skipton Boat Trips. You’re in for a leisurely day on a luxury barge. Take in the wonderful vistas of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal as you pootle through the countryside for a couple of hours. Nibble on yummy sandwiches and savouries, pile jam and cream on your soft scones and slurp unlimited tea and coffee. They have veggie and vegan options available too! There’s a fully licensed bar aboard, so you could even make it a booze cruise if you were so inclined. Simply jump on a train to Skipton (just 55 minutes from Leeds) and walk the seven minutes to the wharf.
Skipton Boat Trips, Coach Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1LH. The Afternoon Tea Cruise starts at £24 for adults and £20 for children under 13.
Widen your horizons at a cutting-edge art gallery
Wakefield is home to The Hepworth, award-winning art gallery, and it’s only a seven-minute walk from the city’s train station. It’s a building you can’t miss – all concrete and sculptural sharp angles. Once inside, you can stroll around six galleries, filled with contemporary art from Barbara Hepworth herself, as well as other British sculptors like Henry Moore and international artists like Helen Marten and Alexandra Bircken. Don’t forget to check out the stunning garden either, dotted with outdoor sculptures and bursting with colour from Japanese cherry blossoms and other plants.
The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW. Exhibition tickets are £12 for adults, but free to Wakefield residents and under 18s.
Treat yourself to the Turkish baths
The Turkish Baths in Harrogate is one of the most historically complete, working Victorian baths in the country. It’s like stepping back in time and across the world – it has a Moorish design, which means Islamic arches, painted ceilings and terrazzo floors. This is a beautiful space to relax in, and only a short train ride away. You can make your way through the warm Frigidarium, the steam room, the heated rooms and the cool plunge pool. Want more relaxation? They offer treatments too. Try the Turkish spa body ritual for an eastern-inspired volcanic scrub and essential oil body massage.
Harrogate Turkish Baths & Health Spa, Parliament Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2WH. Spa sessions start at £20 per person. Each session is two hours and 15 minutes long.
Visit a cave that turns things into stone
Hop on a train to Knaresborough and stroll the five minutes to Mother Shipton’s Cave. It’s been open since 1630, making it one of the UK’s oldest tourist attractions. You’ll discover the magical petrifying well that turns objects into stone and the cave where the mysterious prophetess Mother Shipton was born. You can’t leave without making a wish in the wishing well – it’s tradition! They hold events during the school holidays, making it the perfect place to bring the kids. Want more? Head along the water and up the hill to Knaresborough Castle for spectacular views of the viaduct and the river.
Mother Shipton’s Cave, Prophecy Lodge, High Bridge, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, HG5 8DD. Pedestrian tickets starts from £9.50.
Delve into the world of light and sound
In the centre of Bradford, only 20 minutes away on the train, the National Science and Media Museum awaits filled with seven floors of wonder. Whether you’re a little kid or a grown up, there’ll be something to capture the imagination. Discover the history of photography, where you can see a 19th-century portrait studio. Learn about the impact of TV and how the internet changed our lives forever. Play classic games like Pac-Man and Super Mario Kart in the retro lounge too. Had enough? See what’s on at the IMAX cinema just next door for a chilled way to end the day.
National Science and Media Museum, Pictureville, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1NQ. Entry is free. The Experience TV and Animation galleries are currently closed, ahead of the full museum closure from June 2023 until summer 2024, so get your visit in quick.
Explore the world’s only remaining Georgian cloth hall
The Piece Hall is an impressive neo-classical building in Halifax. It’s the world’s only remaining Georgian cloth hall, and it’s only 45 minutes away via train. Back in the day, this was where you’d trade pieces of cloth, but today it’s an Aladdin’s cave of wonderful shops – from vintage clothes and stylish jewellery to collectable toys and delicious gin. To eat, there’s a variety of options. The Trading Rooms is a beautifully light and airy restaurant and bar serving refined bites. Fancy a glass of something boozy? The Wine Barrel has got you covered for quirky wines, craft beers and spirits.
The Piece Hall, Blackledge, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1RE. Entry is free.
Go under the sea at a spectacular aquarium
We’re lucky enough to have one of the world’s most incredible aquariums within easy reach, over in Hull. The Deep is housed in a dramatic building on the Humber estuary, and is home to all sorts of sea and water creatures. You can explore eight different animal zones, from prehistoric seas and tropical lagoons to the depths of the sea and open oceans. Residents you’ll get to see include several types of shark, turtles and eels, as well as penguins and frogs. Little ones get to uncover fossils, interact with the magic floor and design their own sea creatures. The train takes just over an hour from Leeds.
The Deep, Tower Street, Hull, East Riding Of Yorkshire, HU1 4DP. Tickets cost £19.75 for adults and £15.50 for children.
Ramble over Ilkley Moor
Blow the cobwebs away with a bracing walk across Ilkley Moor. It’s a rare habitat of heather moorland that’s home to owls, grouse and lapwings. You can also see spectacular rock formations on the moor – they all have legends behind them, like the rocks dropped from the skirt of a giant as she chased her husband. The Cow and Calf rocks are high up on the moor, so called because one is large and one is small, like a cow and her baby in the fields. You can climb these rocks for the great views they offer of Ilkley and beyond. It’s just under an hour on the train from Leeds too, making it a great day out.
Ilkley Moor, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9RF. Ilkley Moor is free to explore.
Spend the day at the seaside
Why worry about parking when you could hop on the train and be in Scarborough in under an hour-and-a-half? It’s full of traditional seaside fun, from playing in penny arcades and eating chips to making sandcastles and paddling in the sea. There’s a real castle too, dating from the 12th century, that you can explore. High up at the castle there are some incredible views of both the north and south beaches. If you fancy some culture, the art gallery has some of the best exhibits in Yorkshire – it’s full of fine art, natural history (check out the Galapagos turtle) and archeological finds.
Scarborough Beach (South Bay), Foreshore Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1NT.Cover image credit: Charlotte Gale.