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Yorkshire Travel Guide

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  • Photo: Debu55y / Shutterstock

Plan Your Yorkshire Vacation

A hauntingly beautiful region, Yorkshire is known for its wide-open spaces and dramatic landscapes. The hills of the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales glow pink with heather in summer, turning to black in winter. Rugged fishing villages like Robin Hood's Bay cling to the edges of cliffs in one of England's last remaining wildernesses. Historic buildings line the narrow streets of towns

like York, Whitby, and Harrogate, while ancient cathedrals, abbeys, and castles provide majestic backdrops to day-to-day life.

Some of the region's biggest attractions are the result of human endeavor: the towering cathedral designed by unknown geniuses in medieval York; Castle Howard, Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor’s baroque masterpiece near York; and the rooms in the obscure hillside town of Haworth where the Brontë sisters changed literature.

The Yorkshire landscape, however, is just as compelling. The most rugged terrain is the North York Moors, a vast, wild, windswept area dotted with fluffy sheep that wander at will in summer. The West Yorkshire Pennines, with their moors and rocky crags punctuated by gray stone villages, is the landscape that inspired the Brontës. Farther to the north are the lush, green valleys known as the Yorkshire Dales, where the high rainfall produces luxuriant vegetation, swift rivers, and sparkling streams. These are wonderfully peaceful places, except in summer, when hundreds of hikers (or "ramblers," as they're known in England) appear over the hills, injecting life into the local economy.

The area isn’t all green fields and perfect villages—there's also a gritty, urban aspect to the region. In West Yorkshire, once down-at-heels Leeds has remade itself with trendy restaurants and cafés, along with a buzzing music industry and nightlife scene.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. York Minster The largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe helps make York one of the country's most visited towns. The building's history is told in its crypt, brilliantly converted into a museum.
  2. North York Moors There's enough space in this national park for walkers to experience isolation amid the heather-covered hills that glow crimson and purple in late summer and early fall.
  3. Rievaulx Abbey Heading down the tiny lane that leads to the ruins of one of the great Cistercian abbeys only serves to make it all the more dramatic when its soaring arches appear out of the trees.
  4. Coastal towns Seafront Whitby inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. Robin Hood's Bay, a village set in a ravine, has an outstanding beach.
  5. Haworth Looking as if it were carved from stone, this picture-perfect hillside town in the dales is a lovely place to learn about the Brontë sisters.

When To Go

When to Go

To see the heather at its most lush, visit in summer (but despite the season, be prepared for some chilly days). It's also the best time to...

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