Keeping a list of the most charming towns and villages in Yorkshire to a reasonable number is certainly a challenge! The UK’s largest region even split into its 4 constituent counties, is packed with delightful little destinations to explore.

    It seems like every little settlement in Yorkshire has a fascinating history, plenty of old stone cottages and winding streets that cross a babbling beck on their way past an old-fashioned pub before heading off into the rolling countryside. As you’ll see from our list of the best of the bunch, there’s even quite a lot of variety around that template to choose from.



    The home of Wensleydale cheese

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • History
    • Adventure

    Hawes is a tiny market town in the Yorkshire Dales, consisting of just a few streets spanning the Gayle Beck near the confluence with the River Ure. It’s most famous for being the birthplace of Wensleydale cheese and is still home to the Wensleydale Creamery where it’s made. However, it’s also got the Hardraw Force – the highest single-drop waterfall in England.

    The town itself consists of charming old stone houses around the beautiful beck and its own little waterfalls. It acts as a focal point for walkers wanting to explore the surrounding countryside.



    The home of the Brontë sisters

    • Couples
    • Photo
    • History

    Haworth near Bradford is famous for having been the home of the Brontë sisters, making it something of a mecca for fans of their work. Many of the surrounding attractions bear their name, including the Brontë Parsonage Museum (where they used to live) and the Brontë Waterfall.

    Among the village’s other attractions are the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, the Hewenden Viaduct, numerous reservoirs and large tracts of unspoilt moorland. The village itself is compact and charming, with a steeply sloped high street giving great views of the countryside from the top.



    A quiet and peaceful beach village

    Sandsend is a tiny fishing village just north from Whitby, on the North York Moors coastline. While the beach is naturally the star attraction, the village itself is home to some very nice dining options and backs onto the Mulgrave Estate, where you’ll find some lovely walks.

    There’s more to the coastline here than just golden sands. When the tide is out, you’ll find rock pools at the bottom of the cliffs and you might even find some Jurassic-era fossils, too.


    Robin Hood’s Bay

    Smuggler’s den turned tourist destination

    • Photo
    • History

    Robin Hood’s Bay, located to the south of Whitby, is an extremely popular coastal destination in the North York Moors. Its claim to fame has nothing to do with Robin Hood but comes from the village’s past as an 18th-century smuggler’s den. They certainly picked a great spot for their headquarters as what was once a remote and difficult-to-access location now makes for an extremely picturesque setting. You can hear more about this fascinating history on a ghost walk or at the village’s museum.

    Other than its beautiful coastal scenery, Robin Hood’s Bay has a little cluster of red-roofed cottages and the old coastguard station as well as plenty of places to enjoy some fish and chips.


    photo by Matthew Hartley (CC BY 2.0) modified



    A riverside market town on the edge of the Dales

    • Couples
    • Photo

    The market town of Richmond in North Yorkshire has been described as the most romantic place in the North East of England. Its imposing, honey-coloured castle on the River Swale has had various purposes, from being a strategically important stronghold when it was first built in 1071 to a barracks in the First World War. It’s also said to be where King Arthur and his knights are sleeping, waiting to rise when England needs them most.

    The town itself contains one of England’s largest cobbled market squares and a great many historical structures. The riverside is especially picturesque, particularly the waterfalls near the castle.


    Hebden Bridge

    One of the quirkiest towns in Yorkshire

    Hebden Bridge has been variously named “the greatest town in Europe”, the “4th funkiest town in the world”, and the UK’s “lesbian capital”. Located west of Halifax, at the confluence of the River Calder and the Hebden Water, the market town combines an industrial past with beautiful natural surroundings.

    Among Hebden Bridge’s star attractions are the nearby Hardcastle Crags, a beautiful waterfront and an unusually large number of great independent shops. The town has a generally artsy vibe and a good selection of cafés and pubs.



    A cosy old fishing village lost in time

    Staithes was once one of the largest ports in North East England, which is an amazing claim to fame when you see the size of the place. The little fishing village was once known for its thriving fishing industry and the place where Captain James Cook first fell in love with sailing.

    Staithes is a great spot to start some beautiful hikes around the North York Moors. You can enjoy a great view over the harbour and the jumble of slate-roofed cottages in the village along the cliff paths or go fossil hunting in the rock pools on the shore.



    The quintessential Yorkshire village on the North York Moors

    The tiny village of Hutton-le-Hole is one of the most popular spots in the North York Moors, despite being barely more than a collection of cottages around a T-junction. Its popularity comes from the raw natural beauty in and around it, including the babbling beck running through it. With a couple of tearooms, a great pub, an ancient church and picture-postcard stone cottages, it’s the quintessential Yorkshire village.

    Aside from the beautiful scenery, one of Hutton-le-Hole’s star attractions is the Ryedale Folk Museum. The outdoor museum gives you a look into the history and heritage of the Moors through its historic buildings and traditional workshops.



    A hub of history on the edge of the Moors

    Pickering is a bustling market town on the southern edge of the North York Moors. It’s a great destination for those with an interest in steam locomotion, being the terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Look out for the Pickering Traction Engine Rally at the start of every August at the town showground, too.

    For even more history, it’s impossible to miss the Norman-built Pickering Castle that still dominates the town. Explore the historic town centre along Market Place and check out the 12th-century church at the eastern end of the street.



    • Photo
    • History

    The tiny village of Goathland in the North York Moors has a surprising number of claims to fame. Its train station is one of the major stops on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and played the part of Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter films. The village itself was the filming location for the TV police drama Heartbeat, which ran for 372 episodes from 1992 to 2010.

    As you might expect from such credits, the village has a fantastic historical appearance, as well as a lot of hotels to accommodate visitors looking for familiar landmarks. The whole place is surrounded by rolling moorland, with the charming Mallyan Spout Waterfall just a short walk from the main road.



    A hub of family-friendly attractions

    Malton is a delightful historical market town on the River Derwent with a lot of claims to fame. Located about 20 miles northeast of York, it’s been named the food capital of Yorkshire, the most dog-friendly town in the UK and is a hub of major attractions. At its heart is the marketplace, which is the main centre of commerce for the surrounding villages (particularly on Saturdays, which is market day) and is ringed by great cafés and pubs.

    Within easy reach of Malton, you’ll find the Flamingo Land Resort theme park and zoo and Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum, which is a fascinating, family-friendly place that brings the Second World War to life. The town itself contains the Malton Museum, the impressive Castle Gardens and plenty of beautiful old streets.



    A popular stop on the Great North Road

    • Photo
    • History

    Wetherby is 12 miles from York and roughly the same distance from Leeds. A lovely historical town, it’s been ranked as among the best places to live in the north of England. Among the star attractions is Wetherby Racecourse, an excellent selection of boutiques and a month-long cultural festival that’s been running every October since 1977. The riverside is an especially beautiful part of town and worth checking out, too.

    The town’s history mostly revolves around being an important stop on the Great North Road. Wetherby Bridge, spanning the River Wharfe, is a Grade II listed structure and is surrounded by old coaching inns, many of which still serve travelling visitors.


    Kettlewell, Yorkshire

    A little slice of nostalgia in the Yorkshire Dales

    Kettlewell is a hiking hotspot in the Yorkshire Dales and a charming village that retains a spirit of yesteryear. With a handful of pubs and cafés, you'll find plenty of local favourites to fill your belly after long walks on the Yorkshire Dales. Angling and fly fishing are also popular, thanks to Kettlewell’s location on the tributary of the River Wharfe.

    Every August, Kettlewell hosts its annual Scarecrow Festival, which is a quirky festival for local farmers and their families.


    photo by Chris Wood (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

    Start planning your trip

    Keep exploring


    United Kingdom

    Back to top