The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

The buzz and hustle in the north of England’s Yorkshire market towns and the hum of folks getting the freshest meats, veggies and cheeses from their local farmers is intoxicating. Not to mention the deliciousness of picking up hot and fresh Yorkshire pies and other delicacies.

If you planning your Yorkshire travel list to visit and see some of the attractions in Yorkshire such as York or exploring the nearby Yorkshire Dales, and the beautiful coastal regions you mustn’t miss this list of the most charming towns and villages that are worth a visit.

Villages in Yorkshire don’t hold a market every day but generally speaking each Market Town in Yorkshire hosts a market on specified days of the week in the market square. This allows the market vendors to take part in more than one market.

Robins Hood Bay one of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire

North Yorkshire is a strikingly beautiful area to visit in England. We were lucky enough to take on a house-sitting job in a little village called Snainton which was perfectly positioned to visit historic cities like Scarborough, Pickering York and Whitby and to really enjoy the Yorkshire coastline and country.

a beautiful large thatched cottage in Helmsley another of the prettiest villages in Yorkshire

From all the pretty Yorkshire Villages to the Yorkshire Market Towns spending over a month in Yorkshire in spring was an absolute treat. If you love the English scenic countryside then you will find no shortage of gorgeous villages and towns redolent with history to visit. 

 Yorkshire cheese for sale in a Yorkshire market town

One of our favourite activities is to make sure we visit market towns and see all the farmer’s markets we can and Yorkshire has an incredible variety of markets to check out. From the gourmet heights of Malton’s Market once a month to the delights of Pickering every Monday we make it our mission to find a market.

England is awash with market towns and Yorkshire is no exception. Market towns have a long history here dating back to Medieval times when farmers would come into the villages once a week to sell fresh fruit and vegetables along with meat, eggs and poultry.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Charming towns and villages in Yorkshire to visit

The beautiful old villages and towns in Yorkshire are an absolute treat to visit and although its hard to decide which ones to make the list (there are so many) we have chosen 14 of our absolute favourite best places to visit in Yorkshire.

What is a market town in the UK? Travelling in and around the countryside in the UK you may have wondered what the difference is between a village and a market town. Well a market town has a historic right (called a Royal Charter) dating back to the middle ages to hold markets in a square within the centre of the settlement.

Yorkshire has some of the most picturesque towns and quaint villages in England. Not to mention the incredibly beautiful landscapes of the North York Moors National Park Market and the Yorkshire Dales. Market towns in Yorkshire do vary – some are strictly farmers selling their produce, fresh meat and so on and others are a combination of vendors from those selling Bric a Brac to bras and fresh baked goods.

Market towns in Yorkshire do vary – some are strictly farmers selling their produce, fresh meat and so on and others are a combination of vendors from those selling Bric a Brac to bras and fresh baked goods.

Most markets unless otherwise stated will sell a range of products so don’t be surprised to see you can pick up some incredible meat pies and a couple of pairs of boxers at the same time.

fish van in the Yorkshire market town of Pickering

Helmsley

Hunters of Helmsley voted best small shop in the UK

Helmsley is a small market town nestled on the edge of the moor and was named Market Town of the Year and one of the prettiest to visit and there’s a castle to see. There are over 60 independently owned shops in Helmsley selling various items from kitschy souvenirs to some of the best pastry and meat pies I have ever tasted.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

The village square is full of traders on a Friday and there is an abundance of tea shops to enjoy some Yorkshire cakes in.

You can also visit Helmsley Castle at the edge of town and learn how the castle evolved over the centuries, from a mighty medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion, to a Civil War stronghold and a romantic Victorian ruin.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Take a short journey down the road and check out Rievaulx Abbey, as you drive down the hill this perfect gothic ruin looms romantically in the gorgeous valley. 

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Malton

Malton is the Food Capital of Yorkshire and its twice-monthly market is a feast for the senses. From fat beautiful sausages to some of the best homemade cider this market is simply a must-see. Malton was by far my favourite Yorkshire Market Town beyond a doubt.

Malton market in Yorkshire

Great restaurants, tons of free samples and great local produce make this a great day out. The Food Market in Malton will have its own post shortly.

Malton market days are every Saturday in Malton’s central market place where you’ll find gifts, interiors, fashion, food, art and lots more.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire
The best-looking vegan food I have ever seen at Malton Market Yorkshire

Wensleydale

Wensleydale, the upper valley (dale) of the River Ure in the Pennine highlands is renowned for being the origin of Wensleydale cheese and continues to be the location of the Wensleydale Creamery where it is produced. Additionally, it is also home to Hardraw Force, which holds the distinction of being the tallest waterfall in England. 

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Haworth Village

An iconic Yorkshire village Haworth is the centre of what is known now as Bronte Country and is on a steep hill with a cobbled main street. This is were the Brontë sisters grew up and wrote their novels. Here you can visit all the Brontë attractions and the area known as Brontë Country! Brontë Country is the name given to an area of south Pennine hills west of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England.

Haworth village in the Worth Valley, Yorkshire, UK was the home of the Bronte family

Hebden Bridge

In 2005 Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire was called one of the funkiest towns in the world in Highlife, the British Airways flight magazine.

Once recognized for its production of utilitarian work-wear such as cords and moleskin, Hebden Bridge has successfully transformed itself into a thriving center for the arts and alternative lifestyles and is well worth a visit. Visitors can explore a plethora of galleries, gift shops, and whole-food stores, showcasing the town’s creative offerings and unique character. Additionally, a canal-side center dedicated to alternative technology adds to the town’s diverse array of attractions.

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

Hebden Bridge, is a vibrant town nestled in the Pennines and known for its funky charm and rich industrial history. The highly anticipated Handmade Parade, featuring locally designed and crafted giant puppets on the theme of Food, takes place in June and Hebden Bridge becomes an off beat tourist attraction you must visit.

Whitby

Whitby is outstandingly atmospheric, with the brooding Whitby Abbey ruins looming over the North Yorkshire Coast inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula Whitby has charm and history. 

Whitby Abbey famed for being Bram Stoker's inspiration for Dracula

The narrow little streets in the town centre give you a feeling of having gone back in time and are full of independent retailers with some funky things for sale providing the perfect setting for a charming and unique shopping experience. Renowned for its unique blend of local craft shops and jewellers (including highly sought-after Whitby Jet Jewellery).

Don’t miss England’s oldest medieval street in York – The Shambles

Whitby North Yorkshire streets

Pickering

Pickering is a pretty and amiable market town on the edge of the North York Moors. Nestled between a Castle and the river Pickering is a charming village with little alleyways lots of tea shops and a great market on Mondays. Don’t forget to take a look at St. Peter & St. Paul’s Anglican Church with its world-famous 15th Century wall paintings.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Besides the Malton market, Pickering is my favourite market town in North Yorkshire. They have a great little market on Mondays that encompasses baked goods, the fish van, a cheesemonger with some awesome Yorkshire cheeses, and of course a couple of fruit and veg guys.

Pickering is also a stop on the North York Moors Railway which takes you on a steam train journey through Yorkshires rolling hills and beautiful countryside.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Robin Hood’s Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay is historically known as smugglers’ haunt and has a long history of evading the law which is where the name comes from, not as in the Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest. There are absolutely stupendous views from the top of the village, you cannot take your car down into the village but must park at the top and walk down.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

The village itself is charming and atmospheric with its lovely beach, pretty cottages and winding hill. Famous for being an ancient fishing village. On a summer’s day or any warm day for that matter, you will see the Brits out crabbing and looking for cockles and whelks in the tide pools of the beach. Absolutely brilliant place for fish and chips by the shore.

There are no markets in Robin Hood Bay but you will see plenty of farm shops on your way to find it. These farm shops have a superb range of products including the family farm’s produce and food made on the farm itself.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Burnsall Village

Burnsall is a small village and one of the Yorkshire Dales prettiest villages situated by the River Wharfe and famous for its beautiful views and scenery and its picturesque bridge.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire
©Baz Richardson

Thornton le Dale

Thornton le Dale is a beautiful picturesque village with stone cottages, independent shops, great pubs, and I believe one of the most beautiful towns in Yorkshire.  Yorkshire Village has lovely stone houses, a river running through and some delightful architecture. You can’t help but fall in love with this place.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Check out Mathewson’s fabulous antique car museum where they have great auctions once a month. You can see vehicles and motorcycles, mopeds and scooters plus tons of interesting car and vehicle memorabilia.  I was pretty sure I spotted some British Celebs at the auctions, not to mention a few cars and bikes I could happily own.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

If you love antique steam trains take a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Lady Lumley’s Almshouses are a restoration project that provides subsidized housing for older folks on the edge of the town square. Lovingly restored and renovated the original almshouses date back to 1657 when Lady Lumley bequeathed her estate for the creation of a school and almshouses for the poor.

Lady Lumsley's Almhouses
Lady Lumsley’s Almhouses

The Square is in the centre of the village and here on the village green, you will see the Market Cross and Stocks. There isn’t a market in the square anymore and the last time the stocks were used was in 1874.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Thirsk

If you are a Downton Abbey fan you may recall the name Thirsk which is used in the show. You never actually see Thirsk but if you are up that way in North Yorkshire Thirsk is a charming town with a great artisan market. There are cobbled streets, lovely stone houses and the Thirsk Racecourse if you love watching the horses run. The market days are every Monday and Saturday all year long.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Skipton

Skipton is another of those small market towns in North Yorkshire and it is known as the Gateway to the Dales. You can visit Skipton Castle or stroll down the Leeds-Liverpool Canal while enjoying a snack you picked up from the Market. The High Street in Skipton is where you will find the market and market days are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Different merchants are set up on different days.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Richmond

On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, you will find Richmond. A very popular town to visit Richmond has some gorgeous Georgian architecture, a Norman Castle, lovely cobbled streets and views of the beautiful River Swale. Founded in 1071 by the Normans Richmond has a fascinating history. Market days here are every Saturday and on the 3rd Saturday of the month, there is an artisan farmers market.

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Grassington

Grassington is an old market town and is a pretty little village located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, and is known for its natural beauty, traditional stone buildings, and rich history.

The village retains much of its traditional character its quaint streets are lined with stone houses, many of which date back several centuries, giving the village a timeless feel. 

The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire

Grassington’s main focal point is its cobbled square and streets, which are is surrounded by pubs, shops and cafes. The square serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, especially during the annual Grassington Festival, a renowned arts and music event that attracts artists and performers from all over.

These are just a few of my personal favourites from my time in Yorkshire. The list below is from the North Yorkshire website

Yorkshire Market Towns list

Monday

Kirkby Stephen, Pickering, SelbyScarborough, Skipton, Thirsk

Tuesday

Bedale, Hawes, Kirkby Lonsdale, Richmond (indoor), ScarboroughSettleWhitby

Wednesday

Knaresborough, Kirkbymoorside, Masham, NorthallertonScarborough, Sedbergh, Skipton

Thursday

Guisborough, Kirkby Lonsdale, Richmond (indoor), Ripon, Scarborough, Tadcaster, Wetherby

Friday

Easingwold, Helmsley, Leyburn, Reeth, Redcar, Richmond (indoor), Scarborough, Skipton, Stokesley

Saturday

Appleby, Guisborough, Malton, Masham, Northallerton, Richmond, Scarborough, Skipton, Thirsk, Whitby

Sunday

Catterick Sunday Market

Yorkshire towns and villages offer a unique blend of history, culture, and commerce. From the vibrant streets of Skipton to the charming alleys of Helmsley, each town has its own character and charm that make it worth exploring. Whether you’re looking for fresh produce, handmade crafts or simply a pleasant day out with family or friends, these towns have something to offer everyone. So why not plan a trip to one or more of these delightful destinations and discover all that Yorkshire market towns have to offer?

Yorkshire is a region that boasts a remarkable array of villages and towns, each with its own distinct character and charm. From the picturesque village of Grassington, nestled amidst the breathtaking Yorkshire Dales, to the bohemian town of Hebden Bridge, with its creative atmosphere and scenic surroundings.

Yorkshire offers a diverse range of experiences. Whether you’re drawn to the historic streets of York, the coastal beauty of Whitby, or the enchanting market town of Helmsley, Yorkshire has something to captivate every visitor. With its rich heritage, stunning landscapes, and warm community spirit, Yorkshire’s villages and towns offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of this remarkable region, making it an ideal destination for exploration, relaxation, and experiencing England at its best.

Inspired to read more about Yorkshire?

16 Evocative Ruined Abbeys in Yorkshire

Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales

Scarborough England – 31 entertaining things to do

16 of the best things to do in North Yorkshire England

Rievaulx Abbey a haunting ruin in North Yorkshire

Inspired to visit some Yorkshire market towns?  

Author

  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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15 thoughts on “The Most Stunning towns and villages to Visit in Yorkshire”

  1. I love to discover such gems. These towns look absolutely amazing. So far, I only saw such towns in movies or blog posts – but I hope I’ll get there sooner rather than later. Wonderful pictures too!

    1. It is gorgeous sort of like travelling around a movie set – the glory of Europe in my eyes all these tiny beautiful little towns.

  2. I do love that part of England, I’m a fan of of Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay and Helmsley. I’ll have to make my across to the others do, especially for the local produce – nothing beats it. 🙂

    1. and you can almost smell the salt in the air and taste those incredibly fish and chips in Robin’s Hood Bay…..I miss it – can you tell? LOL

  3. I passed through Yorkshire more than 7 years ago, and don’t remember the name of the market. But I remember the scent of food in the markets, and the awesome strawberry table wine. Love your pics of the Rievaulx Abbey and Whitby Abbey ruins, and the daffodils, and the antique bikes… I could go on 😉

  4. I really need to see more of Yorkshire! When we head back home to England I will make it a priority to see more! Thanks for the inspiration as always!

    1. Can’t wait to get back there myself – oh for the want of a good pasty or a Yorkshire pud. You can’t beat the scenery and the food is awesome.

  5. All of your photos are so charming! I’ve never been to Yorkshire but after seeing all of this food I’m interested. I’m a total architecture nerd so I’d love to see these villages in person.

    1. Thank you – that’s the part I love the most about travelling the variety of architecture and if you ever get to York check out the Shambles – talk about architecture wow from medieval to Tudor times to the present just amazing.

  6. I’ve grown to love traditional British food and one of my favourites is pies (I don’t like pies, I LOVE pies). Always think some of the best places to get them are markets. And there are few things I like more than cute English villages with rolling hills. Don’t live too far away from these and already going to pester my boyfriend into visiting some of them ☺️

    1. Pies oh my god the pies – I was in heaven sausage rolls, chicken tikka pies, steak and onion pies, pasties vegetable pies, chicken and veg pies, potato and leek pies goddamn it now I am going to have to find some pies in Spain. Off to the British store we go….lol….If you really want to see some awesome pies and experience food heaven get to the Malton Market – I swear I have seen nothing like it anywhere chock full of the most incredible foods and PIES!!!! You even get to sample them.

  7. Lovely post! I love little markets and cute villages, Yorkshire is a truly beautiful place! Thankyou for sharing.

  8. Excellent post! It reminds me of when I was living in the Yorkshire a few years ago. I particularly loved Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, I think they have a special atmosphere indeed. In general, Yorkshire is one of the best regions of UK, and the markets are an excellent way to appreciate the local beauty.

  9. Thank you very much this interesting post.
    I love to travel off the beaten path. Local markets and charming villages are perfect destinations to explore more about the local culture. Your post makes me want to visit York.

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