The 11 Great Day Trips from Leeds You Need to Go On

England United Kingdom

Dating someone who lives in Leeds has enabled me to see more of the north. In fact, it’s enabled me to see the north in the first place. ‘Cause last time I checked, I don’t think going to Leeds Fest really counts. And hey, turns out the north is pretty bloody beautiful. Who’d have known?

 

So yeah, Leeds is great and all. But like any city, sometimes you just want to escape. These 11 great day trips from Leeds combine a selection of places I’ve visited already and loved. But it is also partially a bucket list of places I want to visit too!

 

From days in the countryside to days on the coast, whether accessible by car or train, this list will have a little summin-summin for everyone. So, without further ado, let’s see what Yorkshire and the surrounding area has to offer, shall we?

 

11 Great Day Trips from Leeds

 

1. Knaresborough

 

viaduct-running-through-cute-historic-town-over-the-river-on-an-autumn-day-knaresborough-england-uk-day-trips-from-leeds

 

How long does it take to get there? A 40-minute drive or an hour train

 

I recently visited Knaresborough a couple of months ago. And let me tell you, it’s difficult not to fall head over heels in love with this adorable little town. Perched on the cliffs above the River Nidd, Knaresborough is most recognisable for the viaduct that runs across the river (and makes for a banging Instagram photo).

 

A maze of medieval streets and stone staircases, Knaresborough takes picturesque to a whole other level. Pop over to the market place in the centre of town for a cuppa and some delicious home-cooked food, or take a stroll past the castle and down the river to soak up the sights.

 

Once the home of the mysterious prophetess who died in 1561, a trip to Knaresborough is incomplete without a visit to Mother Shipton’s Cave and the Petrifying Well. Thought to be England’s oldest tourist attraction, the cave tells the story of Mother Shipton and the waters which turn objects to stone.

 

2. The Peak District

 

picturesque-view-of-a-reservoir-bridge-and-rolling-green-hills-at-bamford-edge-in-the-peak-district

 

How long does it take to get there? The Peaks are spread out across a whole chunk of the UK, so it can take anywhere from a 45-minute drive to a 2-hour drive, depending on where you visit

 

Whilst most of the Peak District remains relatively untouched for me, I have loved day tripping into this national park on several occasions over the last six months. The Peaks boast some of the greatest views this country has to offer (this view from Bamford Edge being one of my favourites!).

 

Some of the best places to visit in the Peak District include Kinder Scout, Mam Tor, Dovedale, Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Lyme Park, Ladybower Reservoir and Stanage Edge. Particularly popular with walkers and hikers, there are moors and dales, hills, rivers, springs and caverns to discover. Just remember to couple the exercise with some hearty local pub grub, yeah?

 

3. Staithes

 

moody-british-seaside-town-with-orange-roofs-in-autumn-staithes-yorkshire

 

How long does it take to get there? An hour and 40-minute drive

 

One of my favourite seaside day trips from Leeds is Staithes. This lovely little hamlet may not be as popular as some of the other destinations on this list, but that does mean it makes for a quieter day out. And in my grand old age of 23, I am not angry about that.

 

With its higgledy-piggledy cottages and winding streets, Staithes is picture-postcard material. A great place to get a little too snap happy, Staithes makes the perfect base for exploring Yorkshire’s clifftop paths. So grab your camera and walking boots, we’re off to Staithes, pals.

 

4. Ilkley

 

sheep-standing-on-rugged-moors-in-front-of-pub-the-cow-and-calf-in-ilkley-england-uk-day-trips-from-leeds

 

How long does it take to get there? A 45-minute drive or a 35-minute train

 

If hiking in the moors before devouring a big pub lunch sounds like your cup of tea, then a day trip to Ilkley should definitely be on the cards. Situated in the Wharfe Valley, at the southern end of the Yorkshire Dales, Ilkley is best-known for its moorland and the countryside walks that accompany it. Anticipate green landscapes and unusual rock formations as you scramble across the moorlands.

 

If walking isn’t so much your thing then enjoy afternoon tea at the famous Bettys Cafe and Tea Rooms. They first served afternoon tea back in the 1920s so their food is rich in history and flavour. The town also plays host to a number of smart boutiques for you to browse if that sounds up your street.

 

5. York

 

Historic city skyline river houses sky fields York Yorkshire England UK

 

How long does it take to get there? A 45-minute drive or a 35-minute train

 

The textbook definition of quaint, York is oh-so-British and oh-so-lovely. If you’re looking for a town big on charm, then there’s nothing not to love about York. With Roman roots and a Viking past, York is the perfect day trip from Leeds for history buffs. Step back in time as you walk the cobbled streets and explore one of the city’s 30 world-class museums.

 

However, if history isn’t your thing, don’t fret. York boasts many contemporary independent shops and vibrant eateries and bars. This means you could easily just spend your whole time in York exploring different establishments. The city also plays host to many festivals throughout the year. Expect everything from York Literature Festival to the JORVIK Viking Festival. I I told you York loves its history, didn’t I?

 

6. Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay

 

steps-leading-down-to-harbour-in-cute-british-seaside-town-whitby-robin-hoods-bay-day-trips-from-leeds-england-uk

 

How long does it take to get there? An hour and 45-minute drive

 

If you are more of an eating-fish-and-chips-by-the-sea kind of human, Whitby might just take your fancy. Whitby is a seaside town overlooking the North Sea. It is a great day trip from Leeds for fans of all things gothic and horror. Its most famous monument, the ruined Gothic Whitby Abbey, was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula. A place that inspires creativity, Whitby has also been the backdrop for many other novels.

 

But what is there to do in Whitby, I hear you cry. Well, Whitby is home to a number of historic buildings, museums and galleries that will keep you entertained for hours. I mean, if you can draw yourself away from the beach that is.

 

Located only 5 miles south of Whitby, you cannot miss Robin Hood’s Bay on your day trip from Leeds. Robin’s Hood Bay is a small fishing village and a bay that sees Yorkshire’s coastline at its most raw and elemental. Home to brooding cliffs and quaint little alleyways, this place is photogenic for sure.

 

7. The Yorkshire Dales

 

church-building-in-fields-in-dark-autumn-weather-in-the-yorkshire-dales-day-trips-from-leeds-england-uk

 

How long does it take to get there? Quite like the Peaks, the Dales are spread out across an even larger chunk of the UK. Expect your drive to take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes.

 

The Yorkshire Dales are a beauty. One of my favourite day trips from Leeds, this national park is nothing short of stunning. Packed with beautiful scenery and historic sites aplenty, you could easily spend a week exploring all of the Dales’ nooks and crannies. Guess we’ll just have to do more than one day trip, huh?

 

The larger dales include Wensleydale, Wharfedale, Swaledale, Malhamdale, Ribblesdale and Dentdale. Famously known as a Harry Potter filming location (not sure if you’ve heard of it?), Malham Cove in Malhamdale is particularly popular amongst tourists. Fountains Abbey is also worth a visit too!

 

However, the best thing about visiting the Yorkshire Dales is the people. Cheesy and cliche, I know, but when you are used to the unfriendliness of the south, the community spirit of the Dales is a bloody delight. There will always be a friendly face to welcome you.

 

8. Flamborough Head

 

houses-sitting-on-edge-of-cliff-by-the-sea-on-a-dark-moody-autumn-winter-day-in-britain-at-flamborough-head

 

How long does it take to get there? An hour and 45-minute drive 

 

Wild and untamed, Flamborough Head is an outdoor lover’s paradise. The photo above really does not do this place justice. Believe me, it is practically unrecognisable in summer. With crystal clear turquoise waters, Flamborough Head not only looks the part but is brimming with stuff to do too. We’re talking everything from bird watching and hiking to sea canoeing and fishing.

 

Flamborough Head’s characteristic rugged white chalk cliffs are a spectacular sight to behold. But don’t get too distracted. There are also two ancient lighthouses nearby for you to explore. And one is even the oldest complete lighthouse structure in the UK! 

 

9. Manchester

 

road-going-through-built-up-british-city-manchester-england-uk

 

How long does it take to get there? An hour drive or an hour train

 

From one cool city to another, Manchester may rival Leeds for the coolest city up north award. But hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Manchester is easily one of my favourite cities in England. I love the music, the atmosphere, everything. Bursting with events and festivals, there is always something going on in this city.

 

As the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Manchester is rich in culture too. We’re talking science, politics, music, arts, sport, the job lot. Basically, if you want to visit a city that has a lot going on, Manchester’s your best bet. Visit the Northern Quarter for quirky eateries and street art, Ancoats for its eclectic food and drink scene, and Chinatown purely because it’s reputedly Europe’s largest.

 

10. Haworth

 

cute-historic-northern-town-cobbled-streets-and-shop-fronts-haworth-england-uk-day-trips-from-leeds

 

How long does it take to get there? A 45-minute drive

 

Best-known for being the home of the Brontë sisters, Haworth attracts history and literary lovers from all around the world. Spoiler alert: I’ve never actually read a Brontë book. And yes, I did study English Literature at uni. No hate, okay? Even if, like me, you haven’t read anything of theirs, be sure to visit the world-famous Brontë Parsonage Museum to learn more about the sisters.

 

However, if literature isn’t for you, Haworth, like most Yorkshire towns, is enveloped by beautiful, rolling hills and wild, rugged moors. Follow the spectacular walking trails out to ruined farmhouses and waterfalls. Top tip: be sure to visit in winter to witness the magic that is the mist cloaking the landscape. You have to see it to believe it.

 

11. Scarborough

 

colourful-rainbow-beach-huts-in-british-seaside-resort-scarborough-england-uk

 

How long does it take to get there? An hour and a half drive or an hour and a half train

 

Last but by no means… Actually, scrap that. Yes, it may not be the classiest seaside resort England has to offer (wait, shit, does this country have any classy seaside resorts to offer?) but sometimes you just fancy a bit of tack. On the seafront, you will find everything you would expect from a British seaside resort. We’re talking amusement arcades, ice cream parlours, shellfish stalls and beach huts galore!

 

From Scarborough castle to the fossil remains you can find along the Yorkshire coast, there is more to the resort than meets the eye. History really is at every turn… you just have to look past the inflatable beach balls to find it.

 

Plus, Scarborough is only a half-hour drive away from Whitby. This means you could easily combine Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Scarborough into one big day trip from Leeds. Sounds like a plan to me!

 

 

So have you been on any of these day trips from Leeds? Please let me know what you thought of them! And if you have any other recommendations for day trips from Leeds, hit me up. I’m keen to explore more of the north.

 

 

The 9 Great Day Trips from Leeds You Need to Go On. Leeds England UK. The Yorkshire Dales. Manchester. Peak District National Park. Knaresborough. Ilkley. Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay. York. Haworth. Scarborough. Leeds city. Yorkshire England. England travel guide. England travel blog. England travel countryside. England travel itinerary. England travel tips. Click through to read more...

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  1. Reply

    Hey Lucy, Thanks for sharing these day-trip ideas. It will help me to plan my weekend as a student.

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