While Skipton is often considered the ‘gateway to the Yorkshire Dales‘ – implying something far better on its doorstep – the charming market town is well worth the visit in itself.
Offering a dose of ‘hustle and bustle’ just a stone’s throw away from the sleepy Dales, the town has a little bit of everything – from tranquil waters and countryside walks, to lively bars and restaurants for fun nights out. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Skipton.
Things to do in Skipton: by day
Treat your pooch at Kibble Bakery
Skipton’s fantastic dog-friendly cafe is one of our favourite attractions in the town, catering more so to the pooches than the humans.
And while that is certainly true, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing for us to enjoy. Quite the opposite. There’s plenty of fantastic sweet treats and sandwich options for the hoomans to enjoy, with just as many (if not more) treats catered for our beloved doggy guests. Kibble Bakery, 44 Sheep St, Skipton, BD23 1HY.
Learn a bit of history at Skipton Castle
Skipton’s most famous attraction is an absolute must visit when in town. Over 900 years old but exceptionally well preserved, visitors can imagine what it was like to live in the Medieval masterpiece of a building – which has lived through civil wars and more.
From the banqueting hall to hidden cellars and viewing spots, there’s plenty to see and learn about at Skipton Castle.
Wind down at The Woolly Sheep Inn
One of our favourite little spots in Skipton, the Woolly Sheep Inn is a welcoming, well-decorated pub run by Yorkshire brewery Timothy Taylor’s, boasting plenty of nooks and crannies to retreat to, fantastic pub grub and an exceptional beer garden, too.
Hideaway with a gin in the back garden which is covered and heated on the cooler days and opened up on the sunnier days, or hibernate inside during the winter where you’ll be able to enjoy tons of delicious, traditional pub fare. The Woolly Sheep Inn, 38 Sheep St, Skipton, BD23 1HY.
Take in a bit of Yorkshire heritage at Bolton Abbey
A trip to Skipton wouldn’t be complete without a detour to the historic Bolton Abbey. Just minutes away by car, the stunning site is one of the area’s most popular attractions – and for good reason.
The preserved abbey is one of the most spectacular in the country, with tons of woodland and parkland to explore and, of course, the famous stepping stones to take on. We’d recommend sensible shoes for that one, however!
Shop local at Skipton Market
Taking place every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, Skipton Market takes over the High Street – with tons of fantastic local traders to browse.
What makes Skipton Market so unique, however, is that traders bring their own stalls on market day mornings and find a spot to pitch up – with no fixed stalls left on the High Street afterwards.
Run by Skipton Castle in collaboration with the local council, there’s tons of stuff on sale – including live animals, which are sold off in the purpose built auction house.
This element of the market attracts tons of farmers every week – with both cattle and sheep sold on an almost daily basis.
Explore Yorkshire on a canal boat trip
The Leeds and Liverpool canal flows right through Skipton, not only providing scenic views, but also a great activity when visiting the town.
Jump on board one of the town’s resident canal boats and enjoy the gateway to the Dales in a whole new light, with fun, on-board luxuries to enjoy such as fish and chips, roast dinners and plenty of booze.
Some boats are available to hire out completely privately, too, meaning you and your pals can try your hand at sailing across the canal in your own time.
Try J. Stanforth’s beloved pork pies
Born in Skipton, Stanforth’s has become well loved far and wide for its delicious pies and pastries, with it’s pork pies, in particular, achieving local fame.
They’re so popular, in fact, that the butchers now offer a bespoke, personalised service, adding words and initials on top of the pies in pastry before baking. Hell, they even do pork pie wedding cakes!
In addition to their famous pork pies, visitors can enjoy sausage rolls, filled traditional pies and sweet bakes as well as locally sourced sausages, bacon, beef, lamb and pork. Stanforth’s, 9-11 Mill Bridge, Skipton, BD23 1NJ.
Have a potter around Craven Court
Packed full of independent retailers and larger, luxury jewellers and home stores, Craven Court is a stunning 16th-century arcade that visitors can potter around, with two floors full of shops to explore.
Local shops include Emma’s Apothecary, The Potting Shed, The Sweet Emporium and more, alongside larger chains such as Fatface, Joules and H. Samuel.
Things to do in Skipton: by night
Get cosy in a proper Yorkshire pub
If there’s one thing Skipton isn’t lacking in, it’s pubs. Proper pubs as well.
From the Woolly Sheep Inn to the proper local micropub Early Doors (friendly landlord included), there’s plenty a cosy, traditional boozer in Skipton.
We recommend warm and welcoming pubs such as the Woolly Sheep Inn, The Cock & Bottle, The Albion and the Yorkshire Rose.
Skipton Sound Bar
A unique bar where music lovers can kick back with a beer, Skipton Sound Bar is a record store-slash-laidback pub – with crate after crate of vinyl records and CDs, live music sessions and, of course, plenty of real ales, wines and gins.
The relaxed bar is great to visit day or night, with coffees available during the day if you don’t quite fancy getting on the booze train just yet. Skipton Sound Bar, 15 Swadford St, Skipton, BD23 1RD.
Fancy a gin? You’ll be pretty spoiled for choice at VSQ, a glam gin and champagne bar where guests can kick back with a gin of their choice (with tons of flavours on offer!), alongside champagnes, wines, craft beers and more.
If that wasn’t all lovely enough already, the bar also serves up fun G&T ‘trees’ to share with friends, which make for the perfect social media moment. VSQ, 1 Victoria St, Skipton, BD23 1JF.
For chilled nights in Skipton, the Plaza Cinema showcases all the latest blockbuster hits, with room enough for 250 viewers to enjoy its scheduled screenings.
The historic cinema also boasts plenty of original features, with tons of beautiful features (including its grand balcony) nodding to its history that dates all the way back to 1912.
It’s safe to say, it’s not your average Odeon chain. Plaza Cinema, Sackville St, Skipton, BD23 2PB.
Cocktails at Alexander’s
Whether it’s a treat night you’re after, or just a refreshing cocktail with great surroundings, Alexander’s is the place.
A bar and bistro with a welcoming and luxurious terrace, Alexander’s is simply stunning inside out, with art deco interiors, show-stopping cocktails (with rose petals and even theatrical smoke coming from some of them!), alongside beautiful British dishes such as fish fritters with Yorkshire caviar, honey glazed duck breast and grill boards packed with confit chicken breast, pork ribeye, glazed duck breast and beef fillet. Alexander’s, 4-6 High St, Skipton, BD23 1JZ.
Our top bar recommendations:
- The Mess Room
- The Beer Engine
- Devonshire Vaults
- Skipton Sound Bar
- The Woolly Sheep Inn
- The Cock & Bottle
Our top restaurant recommendations:
- Elsworth Kitchen
- Le Caveau Restaurant
- Le Bistro Des Amis
- Alexander’s Grand Café
- Two Sisters
- The Woolly Sheep Inn
- Napier’s Steakhouse
[Featured image: Andrzej Sowa/Adobe Stock]