10 great things to do in West Yorkshire holiday cottages

10 great things to do in West Yorkshire

Kate Atkin 18 April 2023

Encompassing vibrant cities, industrial heritage towns and pretty Pennine villages, there’s no shortage of things to do in West Yorkshire. 

Take a day trip to the cosmopolitan city of Leeds for shopping, museums and eateries, or pack your walking boots and head for the trails and cycleways of the Yorkshire Dales and Pennines. Literary fans should make a beeline for Haworth and explore the surrounding Brontë country villages and vales, while lovers of modern art should journey to Wakefield with its renowned galleries.

With so many places to visit in West Yorkshire, we have created a bucket list to help you make the most of everything the region has to offer. From the most delicious restaurants to incredible days out and the best towns to visit in West Yorkshire, we’ve got it covered. And don’t forget, if you need somewhere to stay, we have a wide choice of West Yorkshire cottages to choose from too.

1. Indulge in afternoon tea at Betty’s Café 

A fancy afternoon tea with a cake stand, table cloth and cocktails

After a brisk ramble on Ilkley Moor, a visit to scenic Bolton Abbey or a day of shopping at the town’s stylish boutiques, Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in Ilkley is the perfect place to relax and refuel with a hearty meal or delicious afternoon tea. One of the best restaurants in West Yorkshire, Betty’s enjoys a lovely location in the picturesque Wharfedale Valley.

Its menu blends Yorkshire and Swiss cuisine with a seemingly endless list of decadent treats, including the renowned Yorkshire Fat Rascal, a huge fruit scone smothered in melted butter, accompanied by spoonfuls of homemade jam and dollops of cream. 

The silver cake stands will leave you spoilt for choice but if you still have room or want a little snack for later, why not treat yourself to a cake or two from the shop and take a slice of Betty’s home with you?

2. Be amazed at the National Science and Media Museum 

A family with an interactive exhibit at a museum

The National Science and Media Museum, in the heart of Bradford, has over eight floors of fascinating free galleries to visit. Exploring how the science and culture of light and sound technologies impact our lives, its interactive exhibitions illuminate world-famous collections in photography, film and television.

One of the top attractions in West Yorkshire, visitors can immerse themselves in a film at one of three cinema screens including an IMAX theatre, and see some incredible displays including the oldest surviving negative in the world, the earliest television footage, and the camera that made the earliest moving pictures in Britain.

3. Take a stroll through the Yorkshire Sculpture Park 

A sculpture covered in snow in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The first and finest of its kind in Britain, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield is an open-air gallery featuring some of the world’s leading artists. This beautifully landscaped 500-acre park set within the 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire is the perfect place to unwind, complete with scenic vistas and roaming Highland cattle.

Come face to face with incredible pieces by the likes of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Joan Miró, Andy Goldsworthy and Eduardo Paolozzi. With a vibrant programme of temporary exhibitions, dynamic events, and an on-site bookshop and café, there is always something new to discover.

4. Follow in the footsteps of the Brontë sisters

A street in Haworth lined with bunting

Discover the haunting moors that inspired Wuthering Heights and explore the historic cobbled streets where the famous Brontë sisters lived, wrote and loved on a visit to the Pennine village of Haworth. Located in Brontë Country, the undisputed literary mecca of West Yorkshire, Haworth exudes a unique charm which makes you feel like you've stepped into another era.

First, head over to Haworth Parsonage, the former home of the Brontë family, now a beautifully preserved museum. Filled with a treasure trove of letters, papers and early edition novels, it will give you a unique glimpse into the sisters’ mysterious lives. Then, visit Haworth Parish Church where their father Patrick Brontë was the minister until 1861. The Brontë family vault lies beneath a pillar in the south-east corner, and a polished brass plaque on the floor commemorates Charlotte and Emily. 

You can then hike along the Brontë Way, a way-marked trail over the moors to Brontë Falls, Brontë Bridge and the Brontë Stone Chair.

5. Explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park 

The rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Holidays in West Yorkshire offer the perfect opportunity to be able to explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a patchwork landscape of heather-topped moors, lush valleys, hay meadows bursting with wildflowers and pretty stone villages. From Ilkley, you can join the 80-mile Dales Way trail at the Old Bridge and discover some of the park's renowned beauty spots including Aysgarth Falls, Malham Tarn, Gordale Scar and the sweeping valley of Wensleydale.

Look out for the ancient ruins of Skipton Castle, Bolton Abbey and the iconic remains of Fountains Abbey as you explore. Picture-postcard Dales' villages and towns such as Middleham, Kettlewell, Hawes and Grassington offer friendly countryside inns where you can stop for a well-earned rest along the way and quench your thirst with a refreshing pint of local ale.

Have a read of our ‘Guide to the Yorkshire Dales’ for more inspiration.

6. Immerse yourself in modern art at The Hepworth Wakefield

Two women walking through an art gallery

If you’re an art lover searching for days out in West Yorkshire, then The Hepworth Wakefield is a must-visit. Created by the acclaimed architect David Chipperfield, the gallery itself is a work of art with its sculptural design. 

Named after Wakefield-born sculptor Barbara Hepworth, one of the most important artists of the 20th century, this award-winning gallery of modern art is located near the centre of Wakefield overlooking the River Calder.

The gallery showcases more than a dozen Hepworth originals, as well as works by other 20th-century British artists including Ivon Hitchens, Paul Nash, Victor Pasmore, John Piper and Henry Moore. There are free creative activities for all the family to get involved in, an exciting programme of fairs and markets throughout the year, and a variety of workshops, talks and tours. 

7. See the penguins at Harewood House 

An external view of Harewood House in West Yorkshire

Set within 1,000 acres of Capability Brown designed landscape on the outskirts of Leeds, Harewood House is one of the Treasure Houses of England, with art collections to rival the finest in Britain. From the moment you arrive at this 18th-century West Yorkshire attraction, it captures your imagination. 

Inside, you’ll be blown away by the rare Chippendale furniture and exquisitely decorated State Rooms adorned with artwork by the likes of JMW Turner, Reynolds, Titian and El Greco.

Outside, visitors can wander among the beautiful gardens, imagining being surrounded by English aristocrats and attending one of the opulent 18th-century parties. Perhaps unexpectedly, the house is also home to a flock of hopelessly comical Humboldt penguins among over 90 other species of birds in the Bird Garden. There’s also an adventure playground for kids to let off some steam, making this a great option for a family day out.

8. Relive The Railway Children at Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

A stream train on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

Step back in time on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in the heart of Brontë Country and enjoy a magical steam-filled day out. Running between Keighley and Oxenhope via Haworth, steam and classic diesel engines puff their way through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in West Yorkshire – a windswept land of heather and wild moors immortalised by the works of the Brontë sisters. 

You may recognise the charming station at Oakworth from the well-loved 1970s film, The Railway Children. The railway has also appeared in many other TV and film productions including Sherlock Holmes, Peaky Blinders and Disney’s 2019 remake of Dumbo.

Hop off the line at Ingrow West station, which is home to two award-winning transport museums, The Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel and The Ingrow Loco Museum, which boasts several locomotives as well as displays, exhibits and archive film. Explore the world of Wuthering Heights at Haworth, and discover a beautiful Pennine village at Oxenhope, every stop offers something different. There are also many special events throughout the year, so check online before you visit to see what's on.

9. Take a Last of the Summer Wine tour in Holmfirth

A beautiful panorama of Holmfirth with hills in the background

One of our favourite things to do in West Yorkshire is to visit the adorable little town of Holmfirth. Tucked away in the Holme Valley, this idyllic destination is home to the Picturedrome, an old cinema converted into a live music venue where artists like Adam Ant and The Buzzcocks have all played. 

You may also recognise the town as the setting where the popular BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine was filmed. Why not hop on the vintage tour bus and enjoy the Summer Wine Trail where you can see some of the filming locations from the series? Enjoy a cuppa in Sid’s Café and sit on Nora Batty’s steps.

Lying just north of the Peak District around the meeting point of the Holme and Ribble rivers, Holmfirth is also a draw for walkers, cyclists and wildlife enthusiasts. Follow the scenic Holme Valley Riverside Way or head to Holme Moss for some unforgettable views.

10. Visit the atmospheric ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

The ruins of Kirkstall Abbey on a sunny day

If you’re searching for West Yorkshire days out that the whole family can enjoy, then the romantic ruins of Kirkstall Abbey should be on your bucket list. One of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain, this feat of historic architecture is set amid a haven of wildlife and greenery in tranquil parkland overlooking the River Aire, north-west of Leeds city centre. 

After the 16th-century Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey was left to fall into ruin until the early 20th century when it underwent some remedial work and was opened to the public.

Let your imagination take you back in time as you wander around its haunting cloisters, collonaded nave and chapter houses, then explore the interactive visitor centre where you can learn more about the 12th-century monks who lived in the abbey and take part in family activities and trails. The Abbey House Museum across the road is also well worth a visit.

Where to stay in West Yorkshire

Hopefully, we’ve given you some great inspiration for days out on your West Yorkshire holiday. If you haven’t already found somewhere to base your stay, then why not have a browse of our cosy holiday cottages in West Yorkshire? Whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family, a large group of friends, or bringing the dog, we have holiday lets in West Yorkshire to suit everyone.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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