Harrogate is a picturesque spa town located in North Yorkshire, England, and it is known for its elegant architecture, beautiful gardens, and rich cultural heritage. A charming and historic town, Harrogate has a lot to offer visitors. Whether you’re interested in gardens, history, or culture, there’s something for everyone in Harrogate.
It’s easy to see why people love the place so much. Not only is it one of the North’s most affluent metropolises it is also one of the country’s prettiest with its stone Victorian buildings and well-kept gardens.
The town has an array of boutiques and department stores as well as top class restaurants, but it also sits amongst stunning countryside and is only a stone’s throw away from the Yorkshire Dales.
People who love flowers are drawn to Harrogate as it is one of the most colourful places imaginable, with green areas, flower beds and hanging baskets dotting its streets.
Accommodation in Harrogate
Harrogate is a great place to stay regardless of whether you are an outdoors type or someone who loves to shop. Look for your perfect accommodation in Harrogate.
As well as water, Harrogate is also known for Tea. Taylors of Harrogate, which makes Yorkshire Tea amongst other blends, has been going for more than 120 years and is one of the country’s favourite brands.
Obviously, no tea is grown in Harrogate itself due to the climate, but the firm uses the best methods to buy premium quality teas from around the world. Since the 1950s Taylors has been owned by another Harrogate institution, Bettys.
If you are not aware of Bettys then we hope you soon will. Founded in 1919, Bettys has six tea rooms across Yorkshire with two in Harrogate. Its flagship café can be found on Parliament Street and offers a fine selection of refreshments, cream cakes and its famous fruity scone, the Fat Rascal. Such is the popularity of Bettys that on some days the queue for seating goes out of the door.
On top of great tasting teas and Fat Rascals, no visit to Harrogate can be complete without sampling the delights of Farrah’s Original Harrogate Toffee. This brittle butterscotch was originally made to clear the palate after drinking the town’s spa water, but is now very much a treat on its own.
It still comes in small embossed metal tins with the same blue and silver design it had in the Victorian era and is a firm favourite of the Queen, who when visiting the factory in 1998 said that the Royal Family have been enjoying Farrah’s for generations..
A great place to take in some history near Harrogate is Ripley Castle. Constructed during the 14th century, it is a Grade I listed building that has hosted everyone from monarchs to gun-power conspirators in its time.
It is a privately owned residence but is open to the public with tours running that tell the story of the building and its many residents.
History Of Harrogate
Harrogate has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 16th century. The town was originally a small hamlet known as “Harlow Hill”, and it was situated on the edge of the royal forest of Knaresborough.
The town is famous for a number of things, but it was the discovery of a natural spring in 1571 that first started bringing people to the area. The great and the good of the time found the water to be very therapeutic and travelled from around the country to bath in it as well as drink it.
During the Victorian era, Turkish baths were common in many towns and cities, but only three remain in England and one can be found in Harrogate. The Royal Baths Assembly Rooms were opened in 1897 and was considered to be the most advanced hydrotherapy centre on the planet.
They are still splendid today thanks to significant restoration, but the treatments available are modern and include hot stones, Reiki, Indian head massages and reflexology.
In 1596, Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to the town, and it was renamed “The Borough of Harrogate”. This was an important step in the town’s development, as it gave Harrogate the right to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Harrogate grew rapidly as a fashionable spa town, attracting wealthy visitors from all over Britain and Europe. The town’s elegant architecture and beautiful gardens were designed to cater to the tastes of these affluent visitors, and many of the buildings and landmarks that we see today were built during this period.
In the 20th century, Harrogate became a center for conferences and exhibitions, and it has continued to thrive as a popular tourist destination.
Visitor Attractions in Harrogate
- RHS Garden Harlow Carr: This is one of the most popular attractions in Harrogate, and it is a stunning 58-acre garden that features a variety of plants and flowers. It also has a number of themed gardens, including a kitchen garden and a wildflower meadow. On the edge of Harrogate is RHS Garden Harlow Carr. This is one of only four public gardens run by the Royal Horticultural Society and it attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year. The winner of many awards, the gardens has stunning shrubs, pretty perennials and beautiful bulbs on a site that is spread over 83 acres. It also has its own Bettys tea room so you can enjoy a fine beverage after you have explored the foliage.
- Turkish Baths and Health Spa: This is a historic Victorian spa that offers a range of spa treatments and therapies, including hot stone massages and aromatherapy sessions. It is a great place to relax and unwind.
- Betty’s Tea Room: This is a famous tea room that has been serving tea and cakes since 1919. It is known for its elegant decor and delicious cakes and pastries.
- Royal Pump Room Museum: This museum tells the story of Harrogate’s history as a spa town and features a collection of Victorian artifacts and exhibits.
- Valley Gardens: This is a beautiful park that features a variety of gardens, including a Japanese garden and a rose garden. It is a great place to take a stroll or have a picnic. It comprises of 17 acres of woodland, park and floral displays and is believed to have more mineral springs than anywhere else in the world.
- Harrogate Theatre: This is a historic theatre that hosts a variety of performances, including plays, musicals, and concerts.
- The Stray: This is a large park that surrounds the town center and is a popular spot for picnics, walks, and sports.
- Mercer Art Gallery: This gallery features a collection of art and exhibitions from local and national artists.
An attraction that goes even further back in time are the Brimham Rocks. Owned by the National Trust, these are balancing rock formations that reach a height of almost 30 metres. Their weird shapes were created by ancient weather conditions and they really do capture the imagination, with one presenting a dancing bear.
The area is now a 183.9-hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and Geological Conservation Review site.
Travel To Harrogate
Harrogate is located in North Yorkshire, England, and there are several ways to get there:
- By car: Harrogate is easily accessible by car, and it is located just off the A1(M) motorway. The town is approximately 200 miles from London, 85 miles from Manchester, and 30 miles from Leeds.
- By train: Harrogate has its own railway station, which is located in the town center. Trains run regularly from Leeds and York, and there are also direct services to London Kings Cross.
- By bus: There are several bus companies that operate services to Harrogate, including National Express and Megabus. There are also local bus services that run within the town and surrounding areas.
- By plane: The closest airports to Harrogate are Leeds Bradford Airport and Manchester Airport, both of which are within easy reach of the town. There are regular flights to and from these airports to destinations across the UK and Europe.
Once you arrive in Harrogate, the town is easy to navigate on foot or by public transport, and there are plenty of taxis and car rental options available.