Fun and Best Things to do in Harrogate

The 13 Fun and Best Things to do in Harrogate in 2022

Harrogate is a historic town in North Yorkshire, England. The town is known for its healing springs and has been a popular tourist destination since the 17th century. Today, Harrogate is still a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. There are plenty of things to do in the town, whether you’re looking for a day of relaxation or a night in the town. Here are 13 fun things to do in Harrogate that will keep you busy.

Nestled in the east of the Yorkshire Dales, this charming spa town is the ideal place to spend a relaxing day or weekend.

Harrogate is the perfect base for a North Yorkshire road trip, with its numerous unique and pretty market towns such as Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Masham, and Pateley Bridge.

This travel guide provides a wealth of things to do in Harrogate and its surrounds, making it the perfect planning tool if you’re looking to visit this lovely town.

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The 13 Best Things to do in Harrogate

Picnic at valley gardens

Picnic at valley gardens

The Valley Gardens Harrogate is a beautiful oasis consisting of 17 acres of English Heritage Grade II listed parkland, gardens, and heritage monuments. Walking trails thread through the space, making it easy to explore all the major highlights.

You can find many things in the Valley Gardens Harrogate, including mineral springs, sculptures, beautiful green spaces, a paddling pool, and tennis courts. This Grade II Listed garden is situated a few minutes from the town center.

The gardens are always green, with different variety of flowers and the beautiful Sun Pavillion. It’s a lovely spot for those who love nature photography.

There are plenty of gardens to explore at the park, including a Japanese Garden and a New Zealand Garden. You’ll also find beautiful floral displays of British blooms.

The gardens also have a cafe, open from April to September, where you can get a coffee or tea, and a piece of cake while enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of the gardens.

Visit the Royal Pump Room Museum

Visit the Royal Pump Room Museum

The Royal Pump Room Museum is located opposite Harrogate Valley Gardens. This museum is home to the strongest sulfur well in Europe.

The Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate is a must-see for anyone interested in the town’s connection to Russian royalty. Once a world-renowned destination for visitors from all over, the museum tells the story of how Harrogate became a magnet for the rich and famous.

Nowadays, the museum has temporary exhibitions as well as permanent displays of Harrogate’s spa history.

The spa waters fell out of fashion, after the formation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948. The Royal Pump Room Museum, now an exhibition space, provides insight into the history of Harrogate’s springs and how the water was used to treat ailments.

Go to the Mercer Art Gallery

Go to the Mercer Art Gallery

The Crescent Gardens is the perfect place to relax, rest and take in the stunning views of Harrogate Turkish Baths and its surroundings.

The gardens come to life in spring when all the colorful flowers bloom.

In Crescent Gardens, you’ll find the statues of Cupid and Psyche under an impressive glass dome.

This art gallery houses a large collection of 19th and 20th-century fine art from local artists. In addition to being a space for painting, photography, sculpture, and crafts exhibitions, it also hosts temporary exhibitions.

The Mercer Art Gallery will be open from Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm.

Go see a show at the Harrogate Theatre

Go see a show at the Harrogate Theatre

It’s always worth checking to see if there are any performances happening at Harrogate Theatre, whether you’re planning a day trip or a weekend getaway.

This theatre is home to a variety of performances – from comedies and musicals to dramas and children’s productions – all year round.

Unlike the high-priced theaters in London, Harrogate Theatre is much more affordable. Its Victorian-style interior is beautiful, making it a great value for your money.

The annual Harrogate Comedy Festival is an event that takes place over the course of two weeks in September. With 53 performers booked for 34 shows, it’s definitely something to mark in your diary!

Explore RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Explore at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

The gardens consist of a woodland zone, an alpine house, and a scented garden teeming with roses, lavender, and lilies. Meanwhile, a kitchen garden presents the scrumptious flavors of Yorkshire’s agriculture. But there’s so much more to explore; you could easily spend an entire day roaming the gardens.

Curated by the Royal Horticultural Society, RHS Garden Harlow Carr is only a 10-minute drive from Harrogate town center – a nature lover’s paradise full of woodland, wildflower meadows, streams, and more.

The exhibits and displays at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr change with the seasons. This attraction is one of the perfect Harrogate attractions for nature lovers and families.

The adult admission price is £13.50. The garden’s charitable work is funded by gift aid.

Discover Ripley Castle

Discover Ripley Castle

Situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and at 5 kilometers from Harrogate, Ripley Castle is a must-see attraction in the area.

This enchanting 14th-century country house feels like something out of a fairytale, with its stunning architecture, ivy-covered walls, and idyllic setting.

No visit to Ripley Castle is complete without a stroll through the deer park, where you can find a variety of animals – squirrels, woodpeckers, and wigeons, to name a few.

The number of rooms you can tour at the castle varies, but you can typically see six, including the library and tower room. Unfortunately, these tours aren’t always available, so make sure to check the castle’s website before you go.

Ripley Castle welcomes adults for £5 and children for free!

Have afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms

Have afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms

There’s no visit to Harrogate without stopping at Betty’s, the most popular tea room in Yorkshire.

Bettys Tea Rooms have been a staple in England since 1919 when a Swiss baker and confectioner left his home country to establish his own business. He wasn’t the best at speaking English, but his baking skills were second to none.

Since Betty’s cakes, chocolates, and tea became popular, afternoon tea at Betty’s has been an experience. The friendly staff, tranquil and elegant atmosphere, and of course, the food, make it an enjoyable experience.

The best thing to do is to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds, especially on weekends. You’ll see people queueing up outside, so it’s best to get there early!

Wander the Montpellier Quarter

The Montpellier Quarter is home to over 50 unique and independent shops, pavement cafes and bars, and award-winning restaurants, located a few minutes from Betty’s Tea Room.

There’s no better place to stroll and window shop than here, and the cafes are the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the stunning surroundings with a cup of tea.

The quaint quarter with its cobbled streets, floral hanging baskets, and traditional shops makes you feel like you’re in a traditional British town. The famous Farrah’s shop, which sells delicious toffee, is a highlight of the quarter.

See a show at the Royal Hall

See a show at the Royal Hall

The Royal Hall is an important building in Harrogate. It is a Grade II* listed Edwardian performance hall situated a few footsteps from Harrogate Town Centre.

The Royal Hall is not only beautiful on the outside, but stunning on the inside as well. With incredible decor and the ability to welcome over 950 people, it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular venues in the city.

Prince Charles reopened the Royal Hall in 2008 after an expensive restoration.

There are great events happening at the Royal Hall in Harrogate. I highly recommend checking the calendar before you visit!

Hike Brimham Rocks

brimham rocks adventure farm

Brimham Rocks is a natural rock playground that sits atop Brimham Moor in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

In addition, Brimham Rocks is a must-see for anyone visiting this National Trust site. This moorland spectacle of giant rock formations is the result of centuries of extreme weather and erosion.

You can explore Brimham Rocks on your own or on a guided walk. Led by knowledgeable guides, these walks offer insights into the rocks’ fascinating geology and the wildlife that inhabits this special place.

Although visiting Brimham Rocks is free, if you travel by car you will have to pay for parking (£6 for 4 hours or £9 per day.)

The best way to travel to Brimham Rocks by public transport is to take the 24 bus from Harrogate to Pateley Bridge and then walk 2 km to Summerbridge.

Turkish Baths Harrogate

Turkish Baths Harrogate

The Harrogate Turkish Baths are a symbol of the town’s status as a spa and wellness retreat.

Dating back to the 19th century, the Turkish Baths are a beautiful example of Moorish architecture, with Islamic arches, arabesque glazed ceilings, and terrazzo floors. The bathing ritual is the perfect way to relax and unwind from the hectic pace of modern life. It heats, cools, and cleanses the body, and provides the perfect place to unplug and relax.

The bathhouse operates single-sex sessions, each lasting 2 to 3 hours. You will journey through the frigidarium, steam rooms, heated chambers, and an ice-cold plunge pool during the experience.

If you want an even more relaxing and luxurious experience, add massages, facials, and holistic therapies to your pampering session.

To avoid disappointment, book your bathhouse visit in advance. As one of the most famous Harrogate tourist attractions, spaces do sell out fast, especially during peak times.

Go to Knaresborough Castle: One of the most picturesque towns in North Yorkshire

Beautiful Knaresborough Castle

A little way past Harrogate Golf Course in the neighbouring town of Knaresborough, you’ll find what’s left of a castle overlooking the River Nidd.

The gorgeous remnants of Knaresborough Castle are not only aesthetically pleasing but also significant as a symbol of English monarchs’ (Henry I, King John, Edward I, and Edward II) power and might.

Hugh de Moreville, one of the men who assassinated Thomas Becket, took refuge in the 1170s.

The castle was pulled down by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War to prevent it from being reused as a Royalist stronghold.

Much of the stone from the original castle was recycled for buildings in Knaresborough, but much of it is still in its original location.

On the upper floor of the adjacent courthouse, the Tudor Court Furniture Museum features furniture from the Tudor Court, as well as computer reconstructions of how the castle would have looked in the 1300s.

Pateley Bridge Nidderdale Museum

Pateley Bridge Nidderdale Museum

In the picturesque Nidderdale Valley, you’ll find an enlightening museum at a former Victorian workhouse in the market town of Pateley Bridge.

The destitute were provided with not only employment through workhouses, but also healthcare and education for children.

This building is the perfect place to paint a picture of Yorkshire life in days gone by. The museum has an array of reconstructed scenes from Victorian times that are sure to inspire your creativity.

There’s a school room, a cobbler’s shop, a Victorian parlor, a solicitor’s office and kitchen, a joiner’s shop, and a general store.

Also on display are agricultural tools, religious paraphernalia, various costumes, and artifacts relating to the 19th century.

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Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Harrogate

How do I spend a day in Harrogate?

You’ll find many attractions in Harrogate and its surroundings, there are plenty of things to do in the area, from having afternoon tea at Bettys Tea Room and relaxing at Harrogate Turkish Baths to exploring the gardens or visiting Knaresborough castle.

What is Harrogate best known for?

Harrogate is known for floral excellence evident from the magnificent exhibits throughout the city and the carefully preserved gardens. The biggest of them was the Grade II listed Valley Gardens, which includes several unique areas and draws 3 million visitors every year.

Is Harrogate worth visiting?

The town of Harrogate and the surrounding area are definitely worth a visit. There’s a wide range of activities to enjoy, especially if you’re a nature lover. The Yorkshire Dales National Park is nearby, so there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore.

Is Harrogate a spa town?

Harrogate has long had an incredibly rich spa town that dates from the 16th century. William Slingsby discovered the very first spring in 1571 in High Harrogate. Known as Tewit Well Spring it has been shown to have medicinal uses for the water.

Is Harrogate pretty?

Harrogate city is beautiful in its feel and atmosphere. It is a beautiful center with Victorian architecture, beautiful attractions such as Roman bathhouses, and nice shopping centers.

What can you do for free in Harrogate?

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Harrogate. Take a stroll through Valley Gardens and Crescent Gardens, admire the local art at Mercer Gallery, explore Brimham Rocks, or go for a hike in one of the many nearby nature reserves.

Best time to visit Harrogate

Harrogate is a great year-round destination, with plenty of green spaces to enjoy in the warmer months. But as you’ll see, there are also plenty of tempting indoor activities for a cozy winter visit or romantic getaway in the UK.

Keep in mind that the town gets more crowded during the busiest summer months when British schools are closed.

Harrogate is a thriving hub for events and festivals, with the Great Yorkshire Show taking place in July and the Literature Festival running in October. At these times, accommodation gets booked up quickly, so you’ll need to plan ahead.

Stay up to date on upcoming events with the Harrogate International Festivals event calendar.

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Thanks for reading! If you’re planning a trip to Harrogate, be sure to check out all of the fun things to do in this historic town. And don’t forget to book your accommodations in advance to avoid disappointment.