24 Incredible Things to Do in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire

Knaresborough Yorkshire

Knaresborough is an idyllic market town and a hidden gem of Yorkshire. The origin of this historic town can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon period. If you’re looking for things to do and see on your visit to Knaresborough, this guide has you covered. 

You’ll find everything you need to plan a perfect weekend break or a day trip – including easy hikes, stunning viewpoints, where to shop, and where to stay and eat. Also, we have mentioned a few must-visit places with easy access from Knaresborough.

It has a riveting history, filled with many colourful local characters, like prophetic witch Mother Shipton, blind professional road builder John Metcalf or the monk turned cave-dwelling hermit St Robert. 

Knaresborough is famous for the beautiful panoramic view of the railway viaduct over River Nidd, Mother Shipton’s Cave and the Petrifying Well, cliff-top castle and the Nidd Gorge. It’s charming, authentic and beautiful. For a small town, it offers a lot.

If you are planning a trip to Yorkshire, you can also add Haworth to your travel itinerary. This small village is the Home of the Bronte Sisters.

📍Where is Knaresborough

With a population of over 15000, Knaresborough is a market town in the Borough of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. River Nidd passes through this historic town. It lies about 17 miles west of York and 18 miles north of Leeds.

By car, It’s about 30-minutes from York and 35-minutes from Leeds. This town is well-connected with nearby cities by public transport.

River Nidd
Knaresborough viaduct

🤔Is Knaresborough Worth Visiting?

Knaresborough is certainly worth a visit! If you are searching for someplace off-beat, not on the tourist radar yet, Knaresborough is the place for you. It’s a true hidden gem and undoubtedly one of the prettiest places in Yorkshire. 

From History buffs to adventurous souls, Knaresborough has something for everyone. It is a perfect place to relax and unwind.

Easy train connectivity with Leeds and York makes it an excellent choice for a day trip or a weekend break. So, if you are planning to visit Leeds or York, definitely add Knaresborough to your travel itinerary. You can even visit here from Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne on a day trip.

Filled with a fascinating history and picture-perfect vistas, Knaresborough is quite a unique place to visit. From rowing on the peaceful River Nidd to visiting the mysterious Mother Shipton’s Cave – there are so many activities to do here. 

⛅Best time to Visit Knaresborough

This town is an all-year-round destination. Therefore there is no off-season to visit this town. 

☀️Peak Season– The summer months of June, July, August and September are the best time to visit Knaresborough. Days are warm and mostly dry, with a temperature of 27°C or higher due to its inland setting, making it ideal to enjoy the outdoors. Avoid the summer weekends and bank holidays if you don’t enjoy the crowd.

🌸Shoulder Season The climate is milder in spring and autumn, making it a good time to visit Knaresborough. Boat hires operate from March to October mostly. So you will not miss rowing over River Nidd. Also, the autumn colours in the nearby woodlands are gorgeous.

❄️Low Season– The days are shorter, and it gets pretty cold from November-March. Very often, the weather remains cloudy with strong winds. The Sun rises after 8 am, and sets before 4 pm. Also, it doesn’t rain all the time. So, you might get clear, crisp wintry weather. 

The boat service over River Nidd is closed during winter. But the view of Knaresborough with a dusting of snow would look magical. You can participate in Christmas festivities around the town too.

Knaresborough boat sailing
Knaresborough boat

🗓️How Many Days to Spend in Knaresborough

This riverside town is pretty small and compact, with all the tourist attractions within walking distance. You can manage to visit all the tourist attractions in a day. That makes Knaresborough a good destination for a day trip from nearby cities – York or Leeds.

But if you are planning to visit some of the surrounding attractions, including the magnificent Fountains Abbey and Ripon Cathedral, then why not make it a weekend? Also, the Peak District National Park is just an hour and a half drive away from here. 

How to Reach Knaresborough

🚗 By Car

It’s pretty easy to reach Knaresborough from nearby cities by car. A59 passed through this town. If you are coming from the south, take A658 and A661 to arrive at Knaresborough. 

There are Pay and Display car parks at Chapel street, Castle Yard, Conyngham Hall and Waterside. Here is a rough estimate of time and distance from nearby cities and towns.

  • From York: 30 minutes / 17 miles
  • From Leeds: 35 minutes / 18.3 miles
  • From Harrogate: 10 minutes / 3.9 miles
  • From Manchester: 1 hr 30 min / 62.8 miles
  • From Sheffield: 1 hr 15 min / 58.9 miles

🚂 By Train

The Knaresborough Train Station is located near the town centre. It takes about 24 minutes from York and 45 minutes from Leeds to reach Knaresborough by the Northern train service. Trains are very frequent and cost-effective. If you are travelling from Scotland or other cities in England, you need to catch a train from York or Leeds to come here. There are regular train services from Edinburgh and Glasgow to York.

🚌 By Bus

There are regular local bus services to Harrogate and nearby areas from Knaresborough. Transdev operates the bus services in this area. Buying a day ticket will be cheaper if you are visiting other places nearby.

✈️Flight

The nearest airport is Leeds Bradford Airport, which is about 30 minutes drive from Knaresborough. Also, it is reachable by bus through Harrogate.

🚶How to Get Around Knaresborough

In our view, Knaresborough is a town best enjoyed slowly, on foot. It is a place to stroll lazily, map-less, and to discover unknown gems. So, the best way to get around is by walking. All the tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other. 

Keep in mind that some streets here are slightly steep and there are stairs to go down the riverside. We will recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes.

🇬🇧24 Best Things to Do in Knaresborough, Yorkshire

1. See Breathtaking Vistas of Knaresborough Railway Viaduct

The best attraction of Knaresborough is the magnificent four-arched Railway Viaduct over the River Nidd. Now a Grade II listed structure, this 80.5 feet high viaduct carries the Harrogate line connecting Leeds to York. It reminded us so much of the historic viaduct in Cullen on the Moray Firth coast of Scotland.

This iconic landmark of Yorkshire opened in 1851. Scottish civil engineer Thomas Grainger built this viaduct for the Leeds and Thirsk Railway. The structure that we see today is a second viaduct. The earlier one was supposed to open three years earlier, but the construction had collapsed into the River Nidd before its completion.

Knaresborough Viaduct
Knaresborough Viaduct

For the most iconic view of the stone viaduct, visit the Knaresborough Castle. The castle yard offers the best viewpoint of the viaduct looming over the River Nidd. 

Take a seat on a bench and admire the breathtaking panoramic views. Undoubtedly, it is a great spot to watch the sun setting down. For a closer perspective, hire a boat from the riverside. You will get an imposing view of the viaduct from the river.

2. Explore Mother Shipton's Cave and the Petrifying Well

Tucked away in ancient woodland along the River Nidd, Mother Shipton’s Cave and the Petrifying Well is one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in Knaresborough. Also, the Petrifying Well is the oldest tourist attraction in England, to charge a fee since 1630.

The cave is the birthplace of the 15th-century witchy prophetess and Fortune-teller, Ursula Sontheil – popularly known as Mother Shipton. According to urban myths and legends, She correctly predicted the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Her ability to foretell the future gained her popularity.

Mother Shipton's Cave
Mother Shipton's Cave

Right beside the Cave is the Petrifying Well – a unique geological wonder. It’s believed that the nearby stream has the magical ability to turn everyday objects into stone. 

But today, we know that the natural process of evaporation and the high sulphate and carbonate content of the water creates a stone-like crust around the objects. You can see teddy bears, kettle etc hanging from the string of the well. 

There is also a children’s playground, a small pop-up cafe, souvenir shop within the woodlands, and the view over the River Nidd is simply stunning. The Knaresborough train station is just five minutes walk from the entrance near the high bridge.

Opening hours: Open every day from the end of March till October. 

School Holidays: 9:30am-5.30pm

Term-time weekdays: 10am-4:30pm

Term-time weekends: 10am-5.30pm.

💰Admission price: £30 per Car (max 5 people per car), £10 per pedestrian.

3. Learn the History of Knaresborough Castle

No visit to Knaresborough is complete without a visit to the historic castle. Perched over a cliff overlooking the River Nidd 120 feet below, Knaresborough Castle is a prominent ruined fortress.  It is one of the main tourist attractions in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

The castle has a rich history and once served as a stronghold of medieval kings. Edward III and King John visited the castle. Richard II was imprisoned at the castle after losing the crown. The castle was a key garrison during the English Civil war in the 17th century.

Knaresborough Castle
Knaresborough Castle

Inside the Knaresborough castle, climb the stairs to an upper chamber and see the remains of the King’s Tower. There’s also an underground dungeon, ancient graffiti and a secret tunnel to explore beneath the castle. 

The castle grounds are open all year round, and you are free to roam around the castle yard. But to visit the interior of the castle you need to buy a ticket.

🌺Pro tip: Look out for the castle Ravens. One of them is very renowned for greeting visitors in a thick Yorkshire accent. Be prepared to be surprised, when you hear a raven say ‘Y’alright love?’.

Opening times: Opens seasonally. Different summer and winter opening hours. Check the Harrogate Borough Council website.

💰Entrance fees: Adult £3.50, child £2, family ticket £10.

4. Enjoy Rowing on the River Nidd

Rowing a boat on the peaceful and calm River Nidd is one of the most romantic things to do in Knaresborough, especially in summer. The view of the layered houses over the cliff and the towering viaduct is absolutely gorgeous.

It is one of our favourites. Speaking of viaducts, the Glenfinnan Viaduct near the Scottish town of Fort William is one of the most-visited railway viaducts in the World.

You can hire boats from two different companies. Marigold Café & Boating, located on the banks of the River Nidd, operates 36 boats. Each can accommodate a maximum of 4 people. Their riverside cafe is a great place to buy an ice cream or grab some lunch.

They run boats from mid-March to the end of October.

Knaresborough boat sailing
Knaresborough Boat hire

Opening Hours: Mon- Fri 9.30 am – 4.30 pm, Sat-Sun 9.30 am – 5 pm.

💰Price: Per person for one hour. Adult £6, child £4.

Blenkhorn’s Boats is another place to hire boats. Located next to the World’s End pub, they are open daily from March to October.

They have four different types of boats to hire- 5-seater, 6-seater, 10-seater and punting boats.

Opening Hours: Daily 10 am- 5 pm

💰Price: Per hour, adult £7, child £4. Boat hires or tours are weather dependent. They might cancel if the water levels are too high.

🌼Insider Tip: With Knaresborough’s growing popularity, the boat hire gets very busy, particularly on summer weekends and the Bank Holidays. So, if you want to get the place to yourself, come early.

5. River Nidd Waterside Walk

The idyllic River Nidd waterside walk is an easy flat walk with extremely picturesque views. You can easily walk the town along the river from the famous Mother Shipton’s Cave to Our Lady of the Crag, even further to St Robert’s Cave.

Knaresborough River Nidd
Knaresborough River Nidd

The Mother Shipton’s Cave, along with the petrifying well, is a must-visit attraction in Knaresborough. The well is the oldest paid tourist attraction in England.

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag is an early 15th-century chapel excavated in the limestone rock cliff.

There’s a line of cafes under the castle’s cliff, where you can sit and take in the gorgeous scenery. The Riverside Cafe and The Marigold Cafe are some great choices to eat with an amazing view. They sell ice cream as well in summer.

In summer, you can hire a boat and row away into the River Nidd. There are two boat company that runs boat service in this area.

6. Visit Courthouse Museum

Courthouse museum
Courthouse museum

Within the Knaresborough Castle ground, you will find the Courthouse Museum with the original Tudor courtroom where suspected criminals faced public trials.

The museum tells the story of Knaresborough town and its many colourful residents who added to the town’s charm. You’ll find stories of local characters, Blind Jack, Guy Fawkes and Mother Shipton. 

The local hero, Blind Jack lost his sight at a very young age due to smallpox. Yet, he built a 180-mile road across Yorkshire and Lancashire in the 18th century. You would also learn about the 17th-century life in Knaresborough and the role the town played in the English Civil War.

Entrance ticket to the castle includes entry into the Courthouse Museum.

7. Hike Along Nidd Gorge

River Nidd Knaresborough
River Nidd Knaresborough

Stretched approximately three miles in length from Nidd viaduct at Bilton to Grimbald Bridge in Knaresborough, the 120 feet Nidd Gorge dates back to 1600. 

The peaceful 6-miles long ‘Knaresborough, Nidd Gorge and Old Bilton Circular Walk’  takes around 2 hours to complete. It is an easy walk through tranquil broadleaf woodland.

The Nidd Gorge woodland is under the care of the Woodland Trust and consists of five woodlands – Coalpits Wood, Bilton Banks, Spring Wood, Scotton Banks and Gates Wood.

There are numerous wildlife dwellings as well as numerous plants and flowers in the gorge. The woodland is home to more than 80 species of birds and 30 different kinds of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Ninety-one species of fungi have been identified in the gorge including, cup fungi, puffballs, bracket fungi and jelly. 

This ancient woodland is very popular among walkers, hikers, cyclists, entomologists and bird-watchers. At the west end of the Nidd Gorge, you will find the Nidd Viaduct, which used to carry railways until 1967. Also, during the Civil War, the woodland was a base for Lord Fairfax’s Roundheads in Knaresborough.

🌳Tip: The walk into the Nidd gorge is steep in a few places, and it may get slippery after rain. Therefore, a good walking shoe is recommended.

8. Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag is an early 15th-century chapel built by carving the limestone cliff. Sometimes also referred to as ‘The chapel in the rock‘,  It’s a Marian Shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. The chapel was constructed by John the Mason next to the River Nidd. Also, this chapel is the third oldest wayside shrine in Britain.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag Knaresborough
Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag Knaresborough

As the story goes, one day, John saw a huge rock rolling down the cliff onto his son, who was playing nearby. He started praying to the Virgin Mary to save the life of his son. By some divine miracle, the rock changed its direction, and the boy remained unharmed. So, he built the chapel to express his gratitude.

It takes around 10 minutes to walk from the Knaresborough Waterside Boat Pier to reach this chapel on Abbey Road. You will find an impressive life-sized figure of a knight holding a sword carved into the sandstone wall, right next to the chapel door. Nowadays, a group of volunteers look after the place and open the chapel to visitors and pilgrims.

The chapel was closed on the day we visited. So, we couldn’t see the interior. But it was lovely to walk by the river.

Opening Hours: Only on summer Sundays, April- September 2 pm- 4 pm.

9. Shop Like a Local at Knaresborough Market

Knaresborough Market place
Knaresborough Market

Knaresborough Market runs on the Market Square, every Wednesday from 7.30 am until 3 pm throughout the year, as it has been for over seven hundred years now. In 1310, it was Edward II who gave the town the market charter. 

A few minutes’ walk from the train station, this traditional English market has over 100 stalls selling everything from fruit to sweets, handbags and fresh flowers. You would have a wide range of essential goods and farm produce – such as fruits and vegetables, fish, cheese, eggs, bakeries, as well as locally reared meat. You can also buy clothes, bags and scarves, electronics repairs, household essentials and much more.

There’s also Knaresborough Farmers’ Market, held in the marketplace, on the third of every month from 10 am to 3 pm. You can buy organic, fresh, locally sourced produce from the market.

There are several independent shops near Market Square. It’s a great place to sit and watch people going by. You will find two statues of famous Knaresborough residents – witchy prophetess, Mother Shipton and the town hero, Blind Jack.

10. Discover the Church of St John the Baptist

church of St John the Baptist
Knaresborough riverside houses

Just a 5-minute walk from Knaresborough Castle and the marketplace is St John the Baptist Church –  the largest church in Knaresborough. Located on the North bank of the River Nidd off Church Lane, this church is a peaceful place to reflect. 

The medieval church serves as a place of great historical importance and is a grade I listed building.

Evidence of an early church on this site dates back to nearly 1114. Originally dedicated to St. Mary, the church changed to its present-day name in the 16th century after the English Reformation.

The church that we see today dates back to the 15th century. Though several fragments of the early days still remain. You will come across this church on your way to Mother Shipton’s Cave from Knaresborough castle.

Take a walk around the church ground. It’s a great little spot to relax and learn about the local history of Knaresborough.

11. Watch Out for the Town Windows Trail

A collection of public artworks, telling the story of Knaresborough’s history, can be seen around various buildings in the town.

Window tax was introduced in England in 1696 under King William III. Many windows in the Georgian buildings were left blocked to avoid paying the tax. Today, these blank windows of old buildings display ‘Trompe-l’ œil’ paintings of prominent characters and historical events involving  Knaresborough.

Knaresborough Town Windows Trail
Knaresborough Town Windows Trail

You can see several famous characters, like Mother Shipton, King John, and even a giraffe remembering the now closed Knaresborough zoo. 

There are now sixteen windows on ten properties spread over the town and they are on display all year round. If you are a street art fan, you would surely enjoy walking the Knaresborough Town Windows Trail.

While strolling through the charming streets of the town, look up to spot the painted windows. Grab a leaflet of the trail from the Tourist Information Centre in Castle Courtyard.

12. Take a Stroll Around the Streets of Knaresborough

Knaresborough streets
streets of Knaresborough

Wander around the maze of medieval streets of Knaresborough to admire the beautiful architecture of the town. The cobbled streets are too photogenic. Perfect for some Instagram shots.

The town is very rich in history. You will find blue plaques on many buildings, revealing the town’s local history. Watch out for the chequered houses, like the Old Manor house. 

The ‘chequered’ Old Manor house, believed to be the oldest building in Knaresborough, was built in 1208 around an Oak tree. King John used this building as a hunting lodge in past centuries.

Keep an eye out for the ‘Trompe-l’ œil‘ painted windows around the town. Also, take a walk around Waterside Road, Market Place and Chapel Street.

13. Spend Some Quiet Time in Bebra Gardens

Want to escape all the hustle-bustle of the town centre? Then the peaceful and quiet Bebra Gardens is the place for you. 

Step down the stairs of Knaresborough Castle, and you will be entering the small, well-maintained Bebra Gardens. 

The garden was earlier called Moat Gardens but changed its name after Knaresborough twined with the German town of Bebra in 1969.

In summer, you can see many flowers around the garden. Also, there’s a paddling pool, which is free to use and remains filled from the end of May till September.

The garden is on a steep slope. At the lowest point of the slope, you will find stairs leading to the waterside below. From there, continue your walk towards the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag and St. Robert’s Cave.

14. Explore Ripley Castle

The 700-year-old Ripley Castle is located just 3 miles north of Harrogate. It has been home to the Ingilby family for twenty-six generations. From April to October, there is a guided tour of the castle. There are many walking trails around the estate. Take a stroll around the grounds, lakes, Deer Park, walled gardens, hothouses and Kitchen Garden.

How to reach: 🚗 Car – From Knaresborough 10 min / 4.8 miles

🚌 Bus – Bus 36 from Harrogate. 

Opening hours: Ripley Castle’s grounds are open daily. For up to date opening times, please visit their website.

💰Entrance fees: Castle tour £10 adult, £7 child. Gardens and parkland £5 adult, £3 child.

15. Discover St Robert’s Cave

Like Mother Shipton, the Saint Robert of Knaresborough is another mystic hermit Knaresborough is linked with. He lived in a cave in the 12th century on the outskirts of the town. 

St Robert of Knaresborough was born as Robert Flower in 1160 to a wealthy merchant and Mayor of York, Touk Flower. To follow a religious path, Robert started as a novice Cistercian Monk in Northumberland. But later leave all that behind to live as a hermit.

Slowly he gained popularity as a holy man, who helped the poor and sick in need. Even King John visited Robert several times. The Constable of Knaresborough Castle gave him a piece of land, and he lived in the cave for the rest of his life. 

Today St Robert’s Cave is a rare surviving medieval hermitage and a unique place to visit in Knaresborough. From the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, follow the abbey road along the River Nidd. It takes around 20 minutes to reach the cave. The steps down to the cave are steep. You will find the foundations of a small chapel and an altar platform inside the cave.

16. Visit the Spa Town of Harrogate

Harrogate is a bustling Victorian spa town in North Yorkshire. This town is an excellent base to explore Yorkshire Dales National Park – only 13 miles away from the town centre. A 10-minute drive from here lies Harlow Carr, one of the five Royal Horticultural Society gardens. Other visitor attractions of Harrogate include its famous Spa waters, Royal Pump Room Museum and Valley gardens. 

No visit to Harrogate is complete without a visit to the traditional English Afternoon Tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms.

How to reach from Knaresborough: 🚗 Car – 13 min / 3.5 miles. 🚌Bus – Bus 1A, 1B, X1a, X1b. 🚂Train – Northern Train Service takes 9 minutes.

17. Explore Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden

The magnificent Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – a must-visit tourist attraction in Yorkshire – lies just 3 miles southwest of Ripon in North Yorkshire. In 1986, UNESCO declared the park and the abbey a World Heritage Site.

The site includes a Georgian water garden, ruins of a 12th-century Cistercian Abbey, the medieval Deer Park, the Victorian St Mary’s Church and 800 acres of landscaped gardens. Founded in 1132 by the Benedictine Monks, Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best-preserved monastic ruins in the country. The medieval deer park is home to between 300 – 350 wild deer. There are great walking opportunities in this massive estate.

How to reach: 🚗Car – From Knaresborough 23 min / 11.8 miles

🚌Bus: There is no direct bus from Knaresborough to reach Fountains Abbey. Ride bus 22 to Ripon. From Ripon, take bus 139 or book a taxi to Fountains Abbey visitor centre. Alternatively, you can walk from Ripon. It would take about one and a half hours.

Opening hours: Open every day, 10:00 – 18:00. The whole estate closed Fridays in November, December, January & 24/25 December.

💰Entrance fees: Adult £15.00, child £7.50

18. Delve into Delicious Food and Drinks in Knaresborough

food
food

There are so many great places to eat in Knaresborough- you would be spoilt for choices. Try the riverside cafes – The Black Mulberry for Yorkshire Rascal, coffee, cakes and sandwich; Marigold Cafe for ice cream, sandwiches and snacks. Some of the riverside cafes have outdoor seating arrangements too.

For a relaxed lunch, head out to Six Poor Folk or Two Brothers Grill and Pizzeria. You will get an extensive choice of pizza, pasta, and calzone at the Two Brothers. The Six Poor Folk serves an excellent Sunday roast. 

Pop into 1940’s theme, Scarlett’s Vintage Tea Rooms for some homemade cakes, scones and tiffin baked. 

For a pint, make your way to The Half Moon Free House, The Worlds End and Mother Shipton’s Inn. Try Half Moon Free House’s cheese and meat platter. Mother Shipton’s Inn is a great choice for a riverside drink in the beautiful beer garden. They also serve delicious, hearty British pub food.

The Guy Fawkes Arms, a country pub on the outskirts of Knaresborough, is another good option.

19. Lose Yourself in Super Cute Shops

Shops in Knaresborough
shops in Knaresborough

Immerse yourself in retail therapy while visiting Knaresborough. As you meander around the town, you will find many small independent shops. 

If you are an antique lover, pop into Donkeys Years Antiques Centre Knaresborough near the Marketplace or the Chris Holmes Antiques near the train station.

Housed in a converted flax mill, Art in the Mill is an independent art gallery, showcasing a vast collection of paintings, pottery and sculptures by local artists. Pop up into the next door shop, Yorkshire Mixture – a traditional English sweet shop. 

Spend some quality time browsing through books in Castlegate Books, an independent book store in Market Place. Also, visit The Crystal Buddha to buy some rare crystals and holistic products. Pop into Country 2 Western, in Castlegate, for cowboy boots, western shirts and Knitting Pretty for a great collection of yarn.

20. Fall in Love with Historic Harewood House

Harewood House is a historic country house located in Harewood village near Leeds, West Yorkshire. This house is one of the best places to visit from Knaresborough. There are plenty of things to do around the estate.

The house appeared in many TV series and movies. The historical drama film, Downton Abbey was filmed here.

There are over 100 acres of gardens at Harewood, with many varieties of plants. The magnificent Terrace is one of the most beautiful Victorian gardens in England. Also, visit the Himalayan Garden, Walled garden and Lakeside garden in the estate. Don’t miss the Harewood Bird Garden, home to over 40 species of birds from around the world.

How to reach: 🚗 Car – From Knaresborough 25 min / 10.5 miles

🚌Bus: Bus 36 from Harrogate towards Leeds. 

Opening hours: Open daily. House 10 am to 5.30 pm. Gardens and Grounds 10 am to 6 pm.

💰Entry fees: It is cheaper to book your tickets online in advance. Adult £12.50.

21. Search for The House in the Rock

The House in the Rock was partly excavated from the crag between 1770 and 1791 by a linen weaver, Thomas Hill and his son. Originally known as Fort Montague, it was a popular tourist attraction but became a purely private residence in 2000.

The house has a turreted castle-like structure and can be seen from the adjacent Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag on the riverside walk.

In 1770, a local linen weaver, Thomas Hill, started excavating the crag to build the house. After 16 years of work, he built four rooms in this building, all stacked one on top of the other. It took almost 21 years to finish the house and was named Fort Montague in honour of the Duchess of Buccleugh. It was a popular tourist attraction of Knaresborough from the very beginning. But from 2000 onwards, the house became a private residence.

You can clearly see the house today built on the high cliff from the riverside walkaway below. 

22. Discover Ripon Cathedral

The Ripon Cathedral was founded as a monastery by the Scottish monks in 660. Located in the North Yorkshire city of Ripon, this cathedral has an interesting Anglo-Saxon crypt dating from 672. It’s the oldest structure of any cathedral in England. Today over one hundred thousand visitors come here yearly to marvel at its Gothic architecture.

Many believe Lewis Carol, the author of the classic ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, was inspired by the carvings into the choir stall of the Cathedral. 

The carving depicts a Griffin chasing a rabbit, which is believed to be the inspiration for the character, White Rabbit and other animals.

How to reach: 🚗 Car – From Knaresborough 25 min / 12 miles

🚌Bus: Take bus 22 to Ripon.

Opening hours: Open Monday to Saturday between 8.30 am-6 pm, Sunday 12 pm- 5 pm.

💰Entrance fees: free

23. Attend the Knaresborough Bed Race

The Great Knaresborough Bed Race is the town’s very own quirky annual event, held on the second Sunday in June every year. The first race took place in 1966, organised by the local Lions for various charities. 

Ninety teams of six participants push their beds around a 2.4 mile Knaresborough course. The race starts at the Conyngham Hall Field and goes through the town. The participants have to swim across the cold water of the River Nidd at the later part of the race.

The bed race is a super-fun family event. You can watch the colourful procession of decorated beds, marching bands and dance groups through the town streets. There are also various stalls for refreshments and entertainment to enjoy throughout the day. 

24. Visit Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe

Who knew the oldest chemist shop in England lies in Knaresborough Market Place? 

Records show that John Beckwith was said to be distributing medicines from the chemist shop here as early as 1720. But the building is 200 years older and listed as a Grade II building in town.

The old shop has a notable Chinese-style suspended box window. The shop was famous for its lavender water, which is still produced today. The upstairs of the building has changed to a tea room now.

🗺️Map of the Attractions in Knaresborough

Here is a map of all the tourist attractions in and around Knaresborough. We have also marked all the best restaurants, pubs and hotels mentioned in this article. Click here to save the Google Map on your phone.

🏨 Where to Stay in Knaresborough

🛌🏼 Kirkgate House (9.7*) –The Kirkgate House has three charming cosy modern rooms and is within walking distance of all the Knaresborough attractions. They have a delicious full Yorkshire breakfast, with a vegetarian option in the morning. Doubles from £94 (B&B).

🏠Teardrop Cottage (9.2*) – Located in the picturesque Waterside area beside the River Nidd, Teardrop Cottage offers a luxury stay in Knaresborough. The king-size room includes a private outdoor hot tub with a view of the Viaduct. Doubles from £95 (B&B). Also, the shared rooftop terrace has river views.

😴The Blue Bell at Arkendale (9.4*) – The Blue Bell at Arkendale has four cosy rooms and is a 9-minute drive away from Knaresborough. There’s also a restaurant and country pub on the property. Breakfasts are included in the booking. Doubles are from £120. 

We absolutely love exploring this Yorkshire town and hope our travel guide has given you lots of inspiration on things to do in and around Knaresborough. 

Love, Moumita & Sankha

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