Best Places to Visit in Harrogate
Often called one of England’s most liveable and happiest places, Harrogate is a spa town in Yorkshire. From the 18th century onwards, Harrogate was frequented by nobles, industrialists and even tsars to bring water rich in sulphur, iron and salt. These luxury clients brought great wealth to the city, whose majestic buildings, elegant parks, ornate tearooms, galleries and theaters still stand out.
Harrogate has one of only four gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, and the surrounding valley features castle ruins, stately homes, and gritty millstone formations transformed by wind, water and ice into surreal shapes.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Harrogate and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Harrogate
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Harrogate:
1. RHS Garden Harlow Carr
The western suburbs of Harrogate are one of only four gardens managed by the Royal Horticultural Society. Harlow Carr was established in 1946 in a former Victorian spa on nearly 30 acres of natural spring. The bathhouse has been transformed into a garden learning centre, while the limestone garden offers a view of the overhead spring with a faint scent of sulfur.
There is a garden showing the evolution of gardening and fashion over time, a fragrant garden, a botanical garden, a kitchen garden, a forest covered with bell flowers, a chalet, a lake dedicated to humanity, Queen Anne and many more that we can’t count.
2. Mercer Art Museum
It focuses mainly on Victorian painters such as Edward Burne-Jones, John Atkinson Grimshaw, and William Powell Firth, as well as 20th-century works such as Alan Davey and Laura Knight. The collection consists of 2,000 works dedicated to a particular theme or movement and selected for a variety of short-term exhibitions that include paintings, drawings and prints.
3. Montpellier Quarter
The streets surrounding the Betis Tea Room all make up the Montpellier Quarter, first developed by entrepreneur George Dawson with the construction of the Montpellier Parade in the 1860s. There were more than 50 independent stores in the quarter, and the Harrogate-based store caters mostly to high-income shoppers.
There are haute couture boutiques, high-end gin hotels, designer shops, one-off jewelers, snack bars, galleries, beauty parlors, and a few more vintage shops. If you’re just here to hang out, the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian spa buildings are a delight, complete with hanging flower baskets and gas lamps that complement the rare atmosphere.
4. Royal Pump Room Museum
The Royal Pumping Room is a beautiful rotunda built in 1842 as a sanctuary for people drinking from Europe’s most powerful sulfur well. In Harrogate’s heyday as a spa, 15,000 people entered the building each summer, and the elegant metal and glass annex opened in 1913. Opened in the Pump Room in 1953, the museum examines Harrogate’s glory days and remembers Russian aristocrats and famous writers such as Charles Dickens, who happened to be on the property.
Alongside the routines for visitors to the spa are detailed information on authentic Georgian and Victorian clothing, ornately decorated ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, and a children’s Egyptology exhibit. You can also take a guided tour of the basement and be blown away by that mighty sulfur well.
5. Knaresborough Castle
The ruins of Knaresborough Castle are magnificent, but the building is also important as British monarchs (Henry I, King John, Edward I and Edward II) invested heavily in developing the castle. Hugh de Moreville, who was also one of those who assassinated Thomas Beckett in the 1170s, took refuge after the operation.
A royalist stronghold, the castle was destroyed by victorious MPs in the English Civil War to avoid being reused. Much of his stone was recycled for buildings in Knaresborough, but most remained in place. Upstairs in the adjacent courthouse is a museum with Tudor furniture and computer reconstructions of what the castle looked like in the 1300s.
6. Ripley Castle
Just 3 miles north of Harrogate is a magnificent Grade I listed cottage dating back to the 1300s. Ripley Castle has been home to 26 generations of the Ingilby family. Led by a guide, the family almanac is presented to visitors describing 700 years of romance and intrigue. Built in the mid-16th century, the old tower is a delight, with piles of antique books, fine wood paneling, tiles, chandeliers and armor.
There is also a real priest’s cave, which was built to hide Catholic clergy during religious persecution in the 16th and 17th centuries. Try to time your visit in the spring when the National Hyacinth Collection at Castle Woodland is in full bloom, along with its 150,000 bulbs. There is also a “playground” for children to take a particularly fun tour of the castle.
7. Brimham Rocks
On a 20-minute journey, every second counts towards the extraordinary natural beauty of the Nidderdale region, to Brimham Rocks, a National Trust site where steppes, meadows and forests are interspersed with otherworldly millstone-pebble formations.
Many of these rocks, formed by wind, water and glacial activity over thousands of years, are named. There are dancing bears, camels, turtles, guard dogs and sphinxes, but sometimes you have to use your imagination. If there’s one you need to hit, it’s the heaviest idol rock, a huge rock swinging on a small block.
8. Harrogate Theater
People have been enjoying live entertainment in Harrogate since 1788 when the Georgia Theater catered to the crowds that flocked to the property. The main building of the Harrogate Theater (1900) is at the Cheltenham Parade, but the company also operates the Royal Concert Hall, which we’ll discuss below, and several other venues in the city.
The theater offers something for all ages and tastes, whether it’s award-winning plays, famous touring musicians, children’s productions, opera, dance, classical soloists, choir performances, poetry readings or lectures. To keep to the diary, there’s the annual Harrogate Comedy Festival, where 53 performers are booked for 34 shows in the first two weeks of September.
9. Royal Hall
Harrogate’s famous performance venue is the luxurious Royal Hall, completed in 1903 and designed by one of the busiest architects of the time, Frank Markham. The original name of the theater was Kursaal, inspired by similar venues in German spa towns, but was renamed the Royal Concert Hall with the outbreak of the First World War.
The exterior is plain, with no trace of the flamboyant Beaux-Arts style of the concert hall, which is lavishly gilded and plastered. The Royal Concert Hall is home to many of Harrogate’s premiere performances, concerts and lectures, and hosts the Harrogate International Music Festival, a series of summer music and literary events.
10. Crescent Garden
This clean green space is very central and is surrounded by the Mercer Gallery and the Royal Hall, built in the 1890s. It is an oasis in the resort town where people can stroll and relax after the waters of Harrogate. Spa facilities throughout the park have been converted into blocks of flats containing some of the most expensive homes in the north of England. With gas lamps, manicured flower beds and shrubs, and sculptures from the hot spring at Bandstand, the park is tidy in all seasons.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Harrogate. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Harrogate, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.