There’s so much more than sweeping hills and Yorkshire puddings to love about Yorkshire. Home to two National Parks, movie-style castles, a World heritage abbey and even a Gothic cathedral with the largest stained glass windows in the world – there’s a lot to explore. This is exactly where we come in to lend a helping hand. In need of some summer inspiration? Here’s our guide to just a few unmissable things to do in Yorkshire this summer.
1. Visit York Minster, AKA the cathedral of light
If we get lost in York, we only have to look up and look for the towers of York Minster, which just so happens to be the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, after Cologne. Thanks to its enormous windows, it almost appears as if it is made of light.
The Great East Window is particularly impressive, too, boasting the largest medieval stained-glass window in the world (the size of a tennis court). Once you’ve done admiring the Minster, there is the Undercroft Museum, with Roman and Viking remains found under the temple or the 275-step staircase that leads to the top of the central tower.
2. Enjoy some of the Yorkshire horse racecourses
Yorkshire has more horse racecourses than any other region in the UK. Between God’s Own Country’s nine racecourses, fans get to enjoy 180 race days throughout the year. Basically, plenty of options to get together with mates, dress up and most importantly – drink. You can even bet online by using companies such Lottoland, saving the trip up to the bookie’s box while you enjoy the race.
Here’s where the courses can be found.
- Beverley East Riding of Yorkshire
- Catterick, North Yorkshire
- Doncaster, South Yorkshire
- Pontefract, West Yorkshire
- Redcar, Redcar and Cleveland
- Ripon, North Yorkshire
- Thirsk, North Yorkshire
- Wetherby, West Yorkshire
3. Enjoy stunning cuisine at one of the region’s best restaurants
In an old 16th-century building in the small town of Oldstead is The Black Swan, voted the best restaurant in the world by TripAdvisor users in their 2017 Travelers Choice Awards. Local and seasonal ingredients prepared by its chef, Tommy Banks, would be worth a trip to Yorkshire alone – something the team at Michelin recognised when awarding it a star. If that wasn’t enough inspo already, The Burlington on the Bolton Abbey Estate is particularly sensational, alongside favourites such as The Star Inn and The Box Tree in lovely Ilkley.
4. Marvel at Castle Howard
It took more than a hundred years (1699-1810) to build this 145-room country mansion, which is decorated with paintings by Canaletto, Carraci and Gainsborough (among others) and surrounded by a four-square kilometre park. The castle has provided an impressive backdrop to numerous TV and film hits – including, most recently, Bridgerton.
5. Shop at The Shambles
Travel back in time to the Middle Ages and, at the same time, sign up for a bit of shopping. In The Shambles, which is one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe, both are possible, because it is also a shopping destination like no other. On this picturesque, flag-adorned avenue of the city of York, shops occupy pretty half-timbered buildings dating back to the 15th century and have been carefully restored to house master chocolatiers, jewellers, cafes, antique shops and even Harry Potter-themed gift shops.
6. Enjoy a day out in Leeds
The capital of Yorkshire is York, sure, but Leeds comes in at a close second. It’s a thriving city whose main attraction is its unique Victorian-style architecture – a legacy of the great development it had during the Industrial Revolution when it was one of the main centres of the English economy – but, above all, its lively culture and nightlife make it an absolute go-to all-year-round.
It is also popular for its shops, many of which are beautiful brick buildings that lead from Kirkgate Market, the largest covered market in Europe, to Briggate Street, the most commercial, or to Victoria Quarter, a set of commercial galleries where you can wander in search of unimaginable architectural details and unique shop windows.
7. Explore the Yorkshire dales many caves and waterfalls
More than eight million people visit the Yorkshire Dales National Park every year. They do so not just for its green dales crammed with sheep and picturesque settings, but for the wonders that erosion (glacial, first, and fluvial, later) has done to the limestone: caves, limestone pavements, and cliffs where rivers plunge forming mesmerising waterfalls. To see waterfalls, there’s nothing quite like the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, which is a lot like the Stone Monastery of England.
8. Potter around the fantastic Brimham Rocks
Another natural site where erosion has done a wonderful job is Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate. Here the sandstone rocks have acquired forms as curious as what they were named after The Druid’s Desk, the Dancing Bear, the Anvil, the Camel… The most incredible is the Idol, which weighs 200 tons and balances on a tiny base. A 1.8-kilometre trail allows you to explore these fantastic rocks, from the top of which you can see an immense panorama.
9. Visit the three-thousand-year-old Scarborough castle
On a rocky promontory overlooking the North Sea, the seaside town of Scarborough and its two long beaches stands this impressive (and still in ruins) 12th-century fortress. It was once a Roman signal tower, as evidenced by the pottery remains and the bronze sword on display in the House of the Master Artilleryman, and stands in ruins to this day. Few monuments, not just in Yorkshire, but in England and around the world, can boast of having been in continuous use for 3,000 years.