Back in July, me and Theo spent the weekend in the wonderful spa town of Harrogate for my 25th birthday. We stayed at nearby Rudding Park, and we ventured in to Harrogate in the car during the day. Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire, and has been a popular tourist spot for decades, mainly because of the iconic Betty’s and the Turkish Baths located in the town centre. Harrogate sits within reach of nearby towns Ripon, Boroughbridge, Knaresborough and Masham.
It is one of the most elegant destinations in the north, with stunning buildings, a famous tearoom, wide-open parks and a long list of shops and restaurants dotted throughout the town. And if you want to venture a bit further out, the Yorkshire Dales, and Ilkley Moors are only 20 minutes away. It is the perfect base for a day, a weekend or a week. Here is my Ultimate Guide to 48 hours in Harrogate…
Spirit of Harrogate
We visited Spirit of Harrogate on my actual birthday for a personal discovery of gin tasting package. We opted for the Spirit of Gin package with their Head of Mixology Alex. Within the experience we were given a selection of gin and tonic inspired drinks to try with their Slingsby Gin, alongside a detailed story about the history of gin. Me and Theo love gin and were in awe of the amazing tales of it’s history, and its origins. They also keep over 80 different gins in store, put on mixology lessons to learn how to create a range of classic cocktails and explore the history and evolution of gin, plus a range of enjoyable extras. We had a lovely time during our visit, and Alex was wonderful. They offer The Spirit of Gin, The Cocktail Master and Just the Tonic packages.
Its heritage as a fashionable spa resort continues even to this day, offering visitors the chance to find out about the spa town at the Royal Pump Room Museum, and then visit the Turkish Baths & Health Spa. Built in 1899, they were renovated in 2004 thanks to National Lottery funds, and offer a eucalyptus-infused sauna plus other rooms to sit back and relax in as you admire the beautiful Islamic arches and ornate ceilings. We didn’t actually visit the Turkish Baths during our visit as we ran out of time, but we were highly recommended a trip by several people we met.
I visited Betty’s way back when I was a child, my mum grew up nearby, and also went to college in Ilkley so she opened our eyes to the wonderful world of afternoon tea from an early age. And Betty’s sure does set the standard. Since 1919, Bettys has been the leader in the art of running a graceful, but never pompous, tearoom, meeting our urge to pause mid-afternoon for some scrumptious macaroons, vanilla slices or its signature fat rascals (similar to a scone but with more fruit) served on silver-plated cake stands, along with a pot of Assam or perhaps some lemongrass and ginger tisane. Expect a queue, as it is so popular, but 100% worth it, both for the food and the experience.
Farrah’s of Harrogate
Another famous brand based in Harrogate is Farrah’s Original Harrogate Toffee. Created in 1840 it is still made to the original recipe in copper pans in North Yorkshire. As a gift we have blue and silver embossed tin (large) or loose in a cellopohane bag! A hard brittle toffee (similar to both Butterscotch & Barley Sugar) is available in 100g, 200g and 350g Blue & Silver Embossed Tins.
Knaresborough is full of surprises, a warren of medieval streets and stone staircases that weave their way up and down the hill. And the town centre is perched on the cliffs with incredible views above the River Nidd and the imposing railway viaduct across the Nidd Gorge. You can find Knaresborough market on a Wednesday, and at weekends there is often lots on. At the base of the cliffs on which the town sits, you will find a delightful promenade that traps the sun in summer. You can also hire a boat down near the river, or grab a beer in the sunshine watching the waters pass you by. Me and Theo wandered around Knaresborough for a few hours, grabbing a drink down near the river, and looking at all the intrinsically built houses, trying to capture a glance of the river.
The gardens of Harlow Carr, set out in the 1880s on the edge of Harrogate, have become a very 21st century attraction. The Royal Horticultural Society took over the site in 2000 and has transformed it. Stroll around and check out areas including the rhododendron glade and alpine zone. The garden even has its own branch of Bettys tearoom so if you can’t get in to the one in Harrogate, head here, and kill two birds with one stone (not literally).