Here’s a study in contrasts: the genteel yet fashionable spa town of Harrogate and the historical, culturally dynamic city of York. Both destinations offer a virtual sensory overload in terms of food, drink and sightseeing.


Taking the Waters and More

Harrogate is in North Yorkshire and its international reputation as a spa town dates back to the Georgian era, when its waters, containing naturally high levels of iron, became a popular health treatment.

The town is architecturally beautiful, hilly and full of character. You can visit the luxurious Turkish Baths on Parliament Street to get a sense of what the 18th century visitors originally came here for.

Covering 17 acres, the Valley Gardens are a testament to Victorian aesthetics and landscape design. Here you’ll find beautifully tended flower shrubs and herbaceous beds, the historical Sun Pavilion and Colonnades, and an extensive children’s play area.

Out and about you’ll find a great selection of places to eat, from the stylish West Park Hotel in the town centre, and the Michelin starred Yorke Arms in nearby Pateley Bridge, to firm family favourites such as Jakes, and Harrogate’s very own Scandinavian café, Baltzersens.

Harrogate’s Montpellier Quarter has a charm all of its own, with its independent and stylish shops selling fashion, art and antiques, and a diverse range of restaurants, bars and cafes. There is also the iconic Betty’s Café and Tea Rooms to visit, something that Harrogate has in common with York.


A City Steeped in History

The walled city of York dates back to the time of the Roman occupation of Britain, and was founded in 71AD. It’s notable for its city walls and for a great many historical buildings, including Clifford’s Tower, York Castle and its famous cathedral, York Minster. It is also the home to the National Railway Museum.

For the more brave and adventurous, you can experience the drama of The York Dungeon or go on a guided Ghost Walk.

There are plenty of organised city-wide tours, but you can also be totally independent and explore York’s rich historical legacy and characterful layout at your own pace.

The city is replete with intriguing independent, boutique shops and market stalls, including those located at the Shambles Market. For those looking for a great bargain, the York Designer Outlet is situated a few minutes out of town and includes over 120 leading designer and high street brands.

The city is home to a vast number of bars and pubs, some of them historical, such as Ye Olde Starre Inn, dating back to the 1600s. There is also a huge number of restaurants to choose from, from bistros and brasseries to burgers.

Harrogate and York both combine great visual character and historical interest with dynamic hospitality, offering the visitor plenty to see, do and enjoy.