Harrogate sits just 16 miles north of Leeds, almost equidistant from the similarly stunning city of York. A train between the two takes about 40 minutes from the centre of Leeds, while driving takes a little longer due to the excess of traffic travelling from West to North. Go with the train, it is an easy journey after all, and Harrogate train station is right in the heart of town.
Harrogate is a town of heritage and history, of wellness and health, but it also happens to be a town that values that which makes it part of Yorkshire more than most. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means a hot cup of tea and some magnificent cakes. A day trip to the city should start with a trip to Betty’s, although you might have to make a booking ahead of time. The world famous tea room has queues out the front door every morning, and the splendour waiting inside deserves every single one of those crazy people.
But what else is in Harrogate, aside from old teahouses? Tranquility is king here, and it doesn’t get much more tranquil than a bit of time spent in the old Turkish baths. These baths are what brought people here in the first place, and they remain the highlight of the town in the 21st century. Harrogate is the sort of town you visit in order to feel better after all.
If you aren’t into massages and saunas, the town has museums, galleries and history ready to take over. The Nidderdale Museum is just about as whimsical as museums get, telling the story of the Yorkshire Dales with plenty of humour, charm and character. Brimham Rocks isn’t far away (we went on a first date here once), although art lovers should make sure to head to the Mercer Art Gallery, a celebration of 19th and 20th century fine art in the heart of town.
The history of Harrogate doesn’t end with its museums, its architecture, its galleries or its tea rooms. The boozers also happen to be dripping in the stuff, none more so than Hales Bar, the oldest pub in town and one that has been serving ale to the locals since the 18th century. It also does a fine line in pub grub, so what better place to spend the final couple of hours before heading back to Leeds? Or better still, book yourself a room at a hotel in the city and sample a few more of those ales…