Sandwiched between the verdant Yorkshire Dales and the dramatic North York Moors is the charming and historic town of Harrogate.
The North Yorkshire spa town, famed for its beautiful green spaces and the benefits of its mineral waters, is simply brimming with vibrant, independent eateries, bars and shops.
Easily walkable, it is also awash with great history, culture and stunning architecture, making it a delight to explore.
Where to stay in Harrogate
There are also some great campsites to choose from in the area, including Harrogate Caravan Park, which made it into our best motorhome site in North-East England guide.
Harrogate Caravan Park is a serene campsite on the town’s doorstep, home to spacious pitches and an excellent farm shop.
Alternatively, Rudding Holiday Park is a dog-friendly site that offers leafy surroundings, hardstanding pitches and a great swimming pool.
What to do in Harrogate on Day 1
10am – On parade
Fuel up for the busy day ahead at Hoxton North, on the elegant Royal Parade. Oozing with local atmosphere, this laid-back, London-inspired café serves fresh, simple breakfasts and delicious brunches inspired by the seasons
12pm – Take a tour
An essential part of Harrogate’s hugely welcoming scene is the walking tour of the town, led by Harry, local expert and very informative, entertaining guide.
Departing from the War Memorial, opposite the famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms, this 80-minute tour will take you on a gentle stroll through the town’s fascinating history.
2pm – Pause for lunch
Only four minutes away from the War Memorial, walking via Montpellier Gardens, you’ll find La Feria, a smart contemporary Spanish restaurant where you can unwind over a relaxing lunch. They provide an authentic and delicious menu of tapas, sharing boards and salads, along with a well-curated wine list.
4pm – Community spirit
After lunch, wander down Cold Bath Road, which is also known as the ‘Notting Hill of Harrogate’. Lined with beautiful buildings and buzzing with community spirit, the road is home to over 50 independent shops, restaurants, bakeries and cafés.
At the bottom of the street, take a right turn on Valley Mount and you’ll find the splendid Valley Gardens. Here, there are 17 lush acres of English Heritage Grade II listed gardens, woodland and footpaths, all just waiting to be explored.
6pm Now add spice
Returning to the town centre, it’s time to make your way over to Spice Culture. It’s easy to see why this elegant Indian restaurant is a firm favourite among both locals and visitors, with its fine menu of beautifully presented dishes. To accompany your meal, they also serve an impressive range of beers, wines and expertly crafted cocktails.
What to do in Harrogate on Day 2
10am – A walk in the garden
One of the brightest jewels in Harrogate’s crown has to be Harlow Carr, the Royal Horticultural Society’s northernmost garden.
This gorgeous landscape combines woodland, wildflower meadows, herb gardens and manicured grass, with features along the way including Doric columns, a birdwatching hide and sub-tropical gardens.
After exploring, swing by Harlow Carr’s on-site Bettys Café Tea Rooms, where you can enjoy some of the famous brown bread ice cream.
12pm – Buon appetito!
Now it’s time to pause, stopping off for an excellent lunch back in town at Pranzo, a relatively new but understandably very popular Harrogate restaurant.
This cosy Italian eatery offers a light lunch menu of two courses for £16 or three for £19, with some superb options for the children, too.
They specialise in indulgent homemade pasta, authentic starters and fine aperitivi.
2pm – Cultural connections
A five-minute walk up Cold Bath Road brings you to the Mercer Art Gallery. Housed in the 200-year-old building where spa visitors once socialised, this splendid free museum displays an ever-changing collection of paintings and exhibitions. Close by is the Montpellier Quarter, where you can browse a selection of great independent and luxury shops, or simply stop for a coffee at one of the many trendy pavement cafés.
5pm – Dine in style
Head across town for an early dinner at Saranda. This very relaxed bar and grill serves authentic and plentiful Greek, Albanian and Mediterranean food in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
7pm – Evening entertainment
As well as plenty of history and local character, Harrogate is just bursting with culture and entertainment.
You could catch a good concert, talk or show at the Convention Centre. Alternatively, Harrogate Theatre lays on an entertaining programme of superb theatre, music and comedy.
Where to eat
- Oliveta: Mediterranean cuisine, including small plates and sharing boards, served in a cosy, rustic restaurant.
- The Wild Plum: Colourful café with locally sourced breakfast, lunch and light bites.
- The Tannin Level: “Yorkshire on a plate” – seasonal classics.
Lead image: Alamy Stock Photo
Wondering where else you can head to for a weekend getaway? Then head to our Best of British: Weekends Away section, for more great ideas!
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