5 towns within an hour of Leeds worth a day trip

Updated: Jan 29

Looking for somewhere different to go that’s not too far away from Leeds?

Leeds is an incredible city, there’s no denying that. But sometimes you just want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and head somewhere a little quieter.

Here are five towns within an hour of Leeds that are perfect for a day trip.

Harrogate town centre, North Yorkshire

Gardens and tea rooms in Harrogate

Just a few miles down the road from Leeds and you’ll find yourself in Harrogate. You can drive or you can get the number 36 bus which goes straight from Leeds city centre to Harrogate – easy.

Harrogate is probably most famous for being the birthplace of Bettys tea room. If you haven’t heard of Bettys you must be living under a rock. It’s a Yorkshire icon and has been serving up afternoon teas, lunches and other sweet treats for over 100 years. Pop in for a little treat and you won’t be disappointed. It’s an absolute must for any day trip to Harrogate. After you’ve filled yourself with tea and cake, take a turn around Valley Gardens to live your ultimate Bridgerton fantasy. We know you want to.

Just a little bit out of the town centre is Harlow Carr, an RHS garden. Ironically, you’ll find another branch of Bettys here so you could do two birds with one stone if you wanted. Although, we’d recommend the town centre tea room as this is the OG.

View of viaduct and river from Knaresborough Castle

Boating and ice cream in Knaresborough

Just on the other side of Harrogate is the quaint little town of Knaresborough.

This old market town set in the picturesque Nidd Valley where you’ll find cobbled streets, little cafes and plenty of ice cream stops. The viaduct is the main attraction here which you can get up close and personal to by hiring out a rowboat for an hour or two.

As you row yourself down the river, you’ll get a great view of the viaduct, surrounding cottages and, of course, Knaresborough Castle. The castle, at the top of the valley, gives the best vista over the town, viaduct and river all in one. Plus, there is even a resident raven that speaks with a Yorkshire accent. No, we're not making this shit up.

Cow and Calf pub, Ilkley Moor

Walking and pub trips in Ilkley

If you’re looking for towns within an hour of Leeds, you can’t beat a classic bit of Ilkley.

Famed for its moors, Ilkley is a fantastic spot for a day’s hike. Start at the Cow and Calf, the iconic rock formation that sits atop the moor. The rocks even have a legendary story to them. According to locals, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant, Rombald, stepped on the rocks while fleeing an enemy. I mean, take what you want from that, but it sounds pretty cool to us.

From the Cow and Calf, you can take several routes along and over the moor for as long or as short a walk as you like. At the top of the moor, you are treated with stunning views over the landscape so make sure your phone is fully charged for photo-taking opportunities.

Right next to the Cow and Calf rocks you’ll find the Cow and Calf pub – originally named, we know. This is every walker’s favourite spot for a post-hike pint while overlooking the hills. In the town, you’ve also got a great selection of local independent pubs and cafes. So, you’ve got more than a handful of choices for refreshment stops. Plus, there is even a Bettys here too (we told you they were a Yorkshire icon).

Aerial shot of Bolton Abbey Estate

Scenic villages and strolls in Bolton Abbey

In case you hadn’t guessed, there is a tonne of walking to do in Yorkshire. After all, Leeds is under an hour away from the unbelievable Yorkshire Dales!

If you’re looking for a laidback stroll, Bolton Abbey is the place for you. You may have heard of Bolton Abbey, it’s home to the infamous Bolton Priory which you’ve probably recognise from everyone’s photos online. The Priory is part of the Bolton Abbey Estate, which is huge. The Estate has over 80 miles of footpaths to explore and is home to some of the prettiest waterfalls and rivers in the whole of Yorkshire.

While the estate itself if more than impressive, the little scenic village of Bolton itself shouldn’t be missed. With little thatched-roof cottages and tea rooms, it’s the perfect place for a rest stop outside of the Bolton Abbey Estate.

Haworth local pub and bakers

History and exploration in Haworth

Looking for some bigger towns within an hour of Leeds?

Haworth is a fantastic day out if you’re after a trip out that doesn’t involve walking. Although, there are some great routes starting in and around the Haworth area.

If you’re a history or literary buff you’re going to love Haworth. The town was home to the Brontë sisters and is the inspiration behind some of their most famous novels, including Emily’s Wuthering Heights. The steep cobbled streets overlook misty moorlands and it’s easy to see where the Brontë’s got their imagination. These cobbled streets are lined with tea rooms and independent shops for a true Yorkshire welcome.

There is also an old railway station in Haworth with vintage steam trains that make regular trips. So, hop on board and pretend you’re on your way to Hogwarts while you take in the rolling hills and viaducts of the beautiful Yorkshire landscape.

Oh, also, here's a fun fact for you: Haworth is the filming locations for the charity shop and hairdresser scene from the movie Wild Child. We thought you'd want to know.

Will you be heading out to any of these towns within an hour of Leeds?