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A perfect day in Harrogate

Visiting the Yorkshire spa town? Find Turkish baths, tip-top gardens, time-warp tea rooms and more things to do in Harrogate

By Katie Gregory |
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Harrogate Bettys in distance

For a gloriously genteel day out, Harrogate has you covered. The North Yorkshire spa town has been a high-society stop-off for centuries, ever since its curative waters put it on the map. Sink into thermal baths, stroll through manicured gardens, dip in and out of art galleries and antiques shops then sit down to afternoon tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms – this bastion of bone-china cups and delicate desserts is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Convinced? Here’s an itinerary for the perfect day in Harrogate. 

RECOMMENDED: Visit nearby York, Leeds and Haworth

A perfect day in Harrogate

First up

Take to the waters at Harrogate’s original Turkish Baths, which have seen more royals than the pages of Tatler. The incredible 1897 interiors have recently been restored to their opulent, terrazzo-tiled former glory. Just don’t rock up in your robes at the Royal Baths next door (that’s a Chinese restaurant).

Stop for lunch

Craft beer and stone-baked pizzas are on the menu at indie café-bar Major Tom’s Social, while William & Victoria does a first-rate Sunday roast with some notable wines. For food to go, pop into butcher’s shop Addyman – Keith Addyman serves up a hearty dose of banter alongside Harrogate’s best pork pies.

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Soak up the vibes

The gorgeous Grade II-listed Valley Gardens are as peaceful as they come, despite their town centre location by the Royal Pump Room Museum. From the gardens, walk south-westwards through the Pinewoods for about half an hour and you’ll emerge at another leafy sanctuary: RHS Garden Harlow Carr.

Drink like a local

The Harrogate Tap in the station is perfect for a post or pre-train pint. The Little Ale House on Cheltenham Crescent does some great micro-brewed ales, as long as you can fit into the micro-interior. Need caffeine? Head to Baltzersen’s for locally roasted coffees and Scandi cakes.

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HARROGATE
Photograph: Albert Pego / Shutterstock.com

Splash the cash

The upmarket Montpellier Quarter is packed wall-to-wall with art galleries, antique shops and independent boutiques, plus plenty of pavement cafés. Covet is an Anthropologie-esque treasure trove of textiles and homewares. Haggling is a given at Montpellier Mews Antique Market.

If you only do one thing

Go to Bettys Café Tea Rooms. Don’t be put off by the queue that curves round the building; it’s worth the wait for the nostalgic interiors and fat rascals (they’re like rock cakes). This is where the Bettys story began back in 1919, so it’d be rude not to plump for the full, pinky-in-the-air afternoon-tea experience.

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The Ruin, Hackfall
Photograph: Jill Tate

And if you stay the night, wake up here

When you’ve had your fill of spa treatments and fat rascals, head out into the lush countryside that surrounds Harrogate to rest up in this totally dreamy location. A woodland garden dotted with eighteenth-century follies, grottos and mock ruins, Hackfall is Grade I listed. One of the buildings, high on a hill with impressive views over the ornamental landscape, has been restored and turned into a tiny home. From the front, it looks like a little gothic banqueting house; from the rear, it’s a hulking, rugged ‘ruin’. The three rooms within are entirely separate from each other, so guests must step out on to the outside terrace to move between them – even for a middle-of-the-night trip to the loo. From £318 for four nights.

Exploring more of Yorkshire?

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