Set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, the delightful spa town of Harrogate – with its elegant shops, glorious gardens and culinary gems – is a perfect location for an indulgent break away
Why visit Harrogate?
Harrogate is a delightful spa town, set on the edge of Nidderdale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that borders the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The glorious countryside is easily accessible and there are plenty of walking and cycling routes to enjoy. Thrill-seekers are well catered for at adventure centres in the area, where they can try activities such as gorge walking, abseiling, caving and canoeing.
On a relaxing short break in Harrogate, you can amble around the stunning gardens at RHS Harlow Carr or watch wildlife in the countryside surrounding the town and spot deer, otters, kingfishers and red kites. Art lovers can spend time perusing galleries, including the Mercer Art Gallery, which has a varied programme of changing exhibitions and a collection of fine art.
If you’re in need of pampering or are taking a romantic break, why not indulge in a luxurious spa treatment at the beautifully restored Turkish Baths & Health Spa.
Harrogate is renowned for its stylish shopping and people travel for miles to browse its independent shops and specialist boutiques. You’ll find a wealth of boutiques, jewellers, delis and chocolatiers lining its charming streets. Head for West Park where fashionable shops overlook the Stray, one of Harrogate’s best known landmarks, or wander the cobbled streets of the Montpellier Quarter with its antique shops and art galleries.
Harrogate is a great destination for food lovers and a visit to the town should definitely include a delicious cream tea at the legendary Bettys. There are plenty of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from, and whether you’re looking for traditional fish and chips, international cuisine or fine dining, you’ll find something to suit everyone.
In the evenings, you can relax in one of the town’s many stylish bars and traditional pubs or enjoy live entertainment at Harrogate Theatre, The Royal Hall or Harrogate International Centre.
A brief history
The origins of Harrogate can be traced back to the 14th century, although its development as a town really began with the discovery of the Tewit Well by William Slingsby in 1596. The mineral waters of the well were thought to possess the same health properties as Belgian spa water and Harrogate became known as ‘the English Spa’. The medicinal properties of the waters and their health benefits were widely publicised and by the late 17th century, the town had become a popular destination for wealthy visitors seeking cures for their ailments. The story of the town and its development as a spa is beautifully told at the Royal Pump Room Museum.
When is a good time to visit Harrogate?
You’ll find a wonderful programme of events and festivals taking place in the town throughout the year so why not plan your Harrogate weekend break to coincide with the celebrations?
The Harrogate Flower Show takes place in April and is one of the most popular events on the horticultural calendar. Its stunning show gardens along with a wide range of talks and demonstrations offering practical advice make it a must visit for gardening enthusiasts. Its sister event, the Autumn Show, takes place in September.
The Great Yorkshire Show is the biggest agricultural show in the area and takes place at the Great Yorkshire Showground in July.
Literary lovers are in for a treat with The Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival taking place in July.
Celebrating 50 years in 2017, The Harrogate Music Festival runs throughout July and features the best in classical, jazz and contemporary music in venues across the town. Music fans will also enjoy the annual International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in August.
If you’re planning a family break, then September sees the arrival of the Children’s Festival, which takes place in the magical Spiegeltent – Europe’s oldest travelling tent.
The Harrogate Comedy Festival runs for two weeks in October and the Harrogate Christmas Market brings the festival season to a close in December.
By train: Harrogate is situated on the line between Leeds and York. Journeys to both cities take a little over half an hour. Leeds and York are well served by regular services from London, Scotland, Manchester, South Yorkshire and the North East.
By road: If you’re driving, Harrogate can be accessed easily via the A61 just off the A1. If not, the town has a comprehensive bus service serving the surrounding towns and cities as well.
By air: Leeds Bradford Airport is 12 miles from Harrogate.
Within the town: With many local cycle routes and walks Harrogate is easy to explore on foot or by bicycle.