10 reasons why Yorkshire’s the best place in Europe

David Whitley July 17, 2015 Comments Off on 10 reasons why Yorkshire’s the best place in Europe

The Yorkshire Coast near Whitby.

The Yorkshire Coast near Whitby.

According to the World Travel Awards – the travel industry’s equivalent of the Oscars – the top destination in Europe isn’t one of the great Italian cities, the Greek Islands, or a buzzy hub of cool such as Berlin or Istanbul. It is… Yorkshire.

The idea of Yorkshire as “Europe’s Leading Destination” may cause much spluttering into cups of tea, but the recognition is perhaps not as insane as it may initially sound. So channelling our inner Boycott, we’ve put together the case for the defence and found ten reasons why Yorkshire is utterly fabulous…


Quirky countryside accommodation

Yorkshire is full of fun places to stay, such as Crab Manor near Thirsk – which themes its rooms on famous hotels around the world. For those with more landed gentry tastes, Swinton Park allows you to stay in a castle then have a go at handling falcons. The Wensleydale Heifer in the Yorkshire Dales, meanwhile, has themed rooms that run the gamut from horse-racing and chocolate to Hollywood movies.


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Great food

Many of these country hotels are also renowned for excellent food – unsurprising, given that they’re surrounded by some of Britain’s best farmland. Six Michelin-starred restaurants can be found in the county – including the Black Swan at Oldstead, the Yorke Arms near Harrogate and the Box Tree in Ilkley. For those who want to get interactive with what they eat, Taste The Wild runs foraging courses and the York Cocoa House teaches you how to make your own chocolate bar.


The coast

No-one’s going to pretend that the beaches of the Yorkshire coast are ideal for balmy warm water swimming. But the coastline – particularly between Whitby and Scarborough is as stunning as any in the world. It’s all cliffs, headlands and gorgeous fishing villages such as Robin Hood’s Bay. And there are cycling and hiking trails along it for anyone wishing to get out of the car and explore more actively.


Literary heritage

Some of literature’s most memorable scenes are set in Yorkshire – from Dracula’s arrival at Whitby under the gaze of the Gothic Abbey to the brooding moorlands of Wuthering Heights. But county has also produced some world class writers too. The Bronte sisters wrote many of their books at the Bronte Parsonage – now a museum – while poet Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd. His ex-wife, Sylvia Plath, is buried in St Thomas’ Churchyard in Hebden Bridge. Animal-loving readers will probably be more interested in the World of James Herriott in Thirsk.


Local heroes

Yorkshire’s greats aren’t confined to the field of literature, however. In Whitby, the Captain Cook Museum tells the remarkable tale of the local lad who went on to become one of the greatest explorers in history. Equally world-changing were the feats of William Wilberforce, the MP who led the campaign for the abolition of slavery. Wilberforce House in Hull has the full, engrossing story. Then there’s Harry Brearley, the man who invented Stainless Steel. His tale, and that of the steel industry, is told in Sheffield’s Kelham Island Museum.


Industrial heritage

For proper steel industry wows, however, head to MAGNA in Rotherham. A giant former steel mill has been spectacularly turned into a hands-on science centre. There’s more industrial chic adventure to be had underground in the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield, while the purpose-built cotton mill town of Saltaire in Bradford has made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list for its unique look. The main mill is now a giant arts centre, dominated by local boy David Hockney.



Any cynicism about the potential beauty of moorland can be instantly cast aside by driving the A169 from Malton to Whitby. It cuts through dramatic, heather-packed landscapes before dipping down towards the coast. There are plenty of places to pull up in and take a gloriously scenic hike – and the same applies for the Pennine Moors which skirt the edge of West Yorkshire’s major towns before running into the moodiest parts of the Peak District near Sheffield.


Train adventures

The alternative to driving across the Moors is to take a vintage steam train. The North York Moors Railway covers the 18 miles from Pickering to Grosmont. Goathland Station, in particular, should look familiar from the Harry Potter films and Heartbeat TV series.

Also famous for on-screen appearances is the restored Keighley and Worth Valley line – where you can ride a steam train along five miles of track. It featured in The Railway Children.

Then, of course, there’s the brilliant National Railway Museum in York – which absorbs train geeks and casual visitors alike.



In terms of cool things to see and do, York has to be the best city in England for tourists outside of London. York Minster is one of the most spectacular Gothic buildings on earth, and the Jorvik Viking Centre offers an entertaining and educational romp through Britain’s Viking past. Cutely cobbled shopping streets, boat trips, ghost tours and city walls you can pretty much walk all the way round add up to make York perfect weekend break territory.


Beer-tasting marathons

York is also a brilliant place for hopping between real ale and craft beer pubs. The York Tap by the railway station and Pivni in the city centre have amazing selections. Sheffield’s the true beer hotspot, however – the Kelham Island area is flush with real ale pubs. It’s a perfect pub crawl route, with the Fat Cat and Kelham Island Tavern being longstanding favourites.

If you can still stand up, then the Theakstons and Black Sheep brewery tours in Masham are the next step…


This story was originally written for MSN UK.

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