The beautiful walled city of York has an incredible amount of history with amazing places to explore, and it’s the ideal destination for a few days’ break. Spend a weekend in York and you’ll be wanting to go back to discover more. But don’t limit yourself to the city. There are many exciting day trips from York that you can take to explore Yorkshire, locally known as ‘God’s Own Country’, and its surroundings.
This is one of the great things about York. It’s surrounded by spectacular countryside with an abundance of cute villages and stately homes with tons of history. And it’s not too far from one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the UK. And if you set off early and love driving, you could even visit the Lake District on a day trip. Here are some of the best York day trips you can do.
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Awesome Day Trips from York
By Teresa from Brogan Abroad
Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest stately homes, and it was named ‘One of the greatest mansions and grand houses’ in the world by Lonely Planet. The whole estate features over 200 listed buildings and monuments and is located in the rolling Howardian Hills, an Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty. It was built over a period of 300 years by the Howard family, and it is still their family home.
The impressive architecture and the grand interiors decorated with world renowned works of art will leave you speechless. You can also explore the enormous grounds, which include monumental gardens with statues, lakes, temples, fountains and a walled garden that is beautiful all year long. Don’t miss the serpentine with its spectacular house and grounds.
Castle Howard has everything you need to keep you entertained all day. Once you’re done exploring (if that’s ever the case in over 1,000 acres) there is a choice of restaurants and cafes, a farm shop and a garden centre.
Admission tickets cost £19.50 (~$25) for the house and gardens, or £11.95 (~$16) for the gardens only. However, it is free if you already have a York Pass.
North York Moors
By Jonathan from Journeymaxx
Located only a few miles north of York, the lengthy green valleys of the North York Moors National Park provide visitors with countless opportunities for hiking, cycling and generally a chance to experience a part of England at a slower pace. Feeling like a snapshot of a bygone time appropriately used in ITV’s long-running 1960s set drama series Heartbeat, the moors are definitely at their most glorious and colourful in the springtime.
Between the ancient market town of Pickering and the dramatic coast of Whitby is the route of the historic North York Moors Railway. A groundbreaking creation of George Stephenson in 1831 at the height of the Industrial Revolution, this remains one of the best-preserved steam locomotives operating in Europe. Among the many scenic locations through which the train passes is the village of Goathland, whose station has provided many a pilgrimage of a Harry Potter aficionado!
As mentioned, Yorkshire has often been referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’ thanks in no small part to the many abbeys that existed here in the Middle Ages until dissolution by Henry VIII. Two notable examples are located near two entry points to the Moors. The ruins of Rievaulx Abbey near Helmsley and Mount Grace Priory and Gardens near Northallerton leave the visitor to imagine what monastic life was like. That, as well as being in close proximity to two fine market towns that serve as an ideal base for visitors coming to explore.
The fields of purple heather and bright daffodils overlooking vast limestone and ironstone moorland are inspirational for many an artist too. If, like me, you find yourself craving a location blessed with splendid isolation when you just want to get away from the crowds, this part of the woods is the perfect location for a recharge. A hark back to a quieter and more genteel way of life.
Here are some tours that you can take in the North York Moors:
- Heartbeat TV Locations Tour of Yorkshire
- Steam Train, Whitby, and North Yorkshire Moors
- North York Moors and Whitby Day Trip from York
By Teresa from Brogan Abroad
Whitby is a traditional seaside town located on the east coast of Yorkshire. A quaint ancient place, it is famous for the jet industry and ruins of Whitby Abbey, perched on the top of the East Cliff.
The Abbey is said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which makes Whitby a must visit destination for all those Dracula fans. There is even a Dracula Experience and Dracula walks on offer. And the town also holds two Dracula related events (one annual and one biannual), the Bram Stoker Film Festival and the Whitby Goth Weekend for those die hard fans.
Another popular attraction is the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, located in the house where the famous explorer Captain Cook served his apprenticeship as a seaman. Whitby also has plenty of beautiful beaches, so weather permitting, it’s a lovely option for a walk along the shore.
And let’s not forget food. Whitby is one of the best places in the UK to try traditional fish and chips, so don’t miss this opportunity – but make sure you sprinkle plenty of salt and vinegar over those chips!
If you don’t have your own transport, Whitby would be better visited as part of a tour that combines the North York Moors with this lovely town. Here are some tours that you can take:
- Robin Hood’s Bay, Whitby & North York Moors Tour from York
- North York Moors and Whitby Day Trip from York
- North York Moors and Whitby Tour from York
Holmfirth and The Pennines
By Leona from Wander Must Family
This is a day trip best taken by car. About an hour south of York lie the beautiful Pennines and the picture perfect Yorkshire town of Holmfirth.
Older readers and classic British sitcoms aficionados will know Holmfirth as the setting of the show Last of the Summer Wine. Big fans of the show can take a bus tour of the area to see famous filming locations and can eat at the renowned Sid’s Cafe made famous by the show or eat in Nora Batty’s House now a cafe called the Wrinkled Stocking Tearoom.
If this isn’t your thing then there are plenty of outdoor pursuits in the Pennine Hills for those who love cycling or walking. One of our favourite walks is Diggley reservoir. It is a relatively easy walk but with beautiful views across the countryside. After a nice walk, stop in one of the many local pubs. Our favourite is The Fleece pub where you can stop for a pint or a good Yorkshire lunch.
If cycling is more your thing then no visit to the area would be complete without a drive, or cycle for the brave, up to the top of Holme Moss, recently famed for having been the highest point on the Tour de Yorkshire.
It is also worth checking the local festival calendar before your visit as the town has a lively arts scene and a fantastic food and drink festival that take place in September.
By Suzy from Our Bucket List Lives
Scarborough is easily accessible from York. It takes around 1 hour 15 minutes from the centre of York to reach the centre of Scarborough by car. There is also a bus route, which takes just under 2 hours. The easiest and perhaps the cheapest way to get there is by train, which takes around 45 minutes. There is plenty to choose from once you arrive there.
If you are interested in historical sites then Scarborough Castle is a great starting point. The entry fee to the Castle is £6.50 (~$8.50) but it’s free is you have a York Pass. The main shopping area sits up on the higher level of Scarborough centre. If you want to head down to the beach, amusements and harbour and don’t fancy a steep walk there are two tramway lifts over to the south side of Scarborough. The south side has a spa with great evening entertainment.
There are plenty of restaurants in this part of town. In season there are daily boat trips from the harbour such as fishing trips, a pirate ship and seal spotting tours. Everything is great value for money. You can drive up to the north end of Scarborough but I recommend taking one of the many open top buses to get there. Once there it’s worth visiting Peasholm park which is a chinese themed water garden with boat hire, crazy golf and more.
One of our favourite activities is crabbing which you can do at the harbour to the south or in rock pools to the north. The north end is a lot quieter but there are still some places to eat and this is also a great spot to hire a beach hut. There is plenty in Scarborough for young and old.
By Claire from Tales of a Backpacker
Leeds is the largest city in Yorkshire, and about 25 minutes by train from York. Leeds is a fabulous shopping destination and is renowned for its food and nightlife. However, if you are visiting Leeds on a day trip, there is still plenty to do here without hitting the bars!
One of the highlights of Leeds is Kirkgate Market, the largest covered market in Europe, which is full of fresh local produce and has a street food area perfect for a tasty snack or lunch. Close by is the Corn Exchange, a beautiful round building with an impressive roof and boutique shops. For luxury shopping, head to the Victoria Arcade, which is in two sections – one with stunning Victorian archways, and the other a modern sleek development. Trinity Shopping centre is also a great place for high street shops and a food court on the top floor.
Once you’ve shopped your heart out, there is time for culture in Leeds too, with some wonderful free museums in Leeds including the Royal Armouries Museum, which houses the best collection of weapons and armour in the country. In the Royal Armouries you can see two sets of armour worn by King Henry VIII and a set of elephant armour on a full-sized model elephant, as well as exhibits on Japanese swords and armour, and weapons from the bronze age right through to the modern day. Another free museum of sorts is the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, set in a large park where you can stroll next to the river or see some open-air theatre during the summer.
Other day trips from York
- Full-Day Yorkshire Dales Heritage Tour
- The Yorkshire Dales Tour from York
- Haworth and Yorkshire Dales Day Trip
- The Lake District Tour from York
Do you have any other day trips from York that you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments!
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Teresa is an award-winning travel blogger based in London. She’s on a mission to explore the world through responsible cultural and adventure travel, and through deeper, more meaningful local experiences. She’s a lover of adventure, the outdoors and everything food related, and she’s always looking for ways to make a positive impact through sustainable travel.