Visiting the English countryside is one of the most enjoyable parts of any England itinerary, and a Yorkshire Dales itinerary is a must. From dramatic terrains and historic castles to idyllic villages, spending 2 to 3 days in the Yorkshire Dales on this itinerary will take you on a journey throughout one of England’s most beautiful national parks.
As one of England’s largest National Parks, the Yorkshire Dales is the epitome of classic English Countryside; quaint, historic, picturesque, timeless and waiting to be explored.
How Many Days in the Yorkshire Dales?
The first step to planning a Yorkshire Dales itinerary is deciding how many days to spend in the Yorkshire Dales. With that being said, you could easily spend a full week in the Yorkshire Dales exploring the extent of the park. However, if you’re short on time, 2-3 days in the Yorkshire Dales is best.
With 2 days in the Yorkshire Dales, you’ll be able to enjoy more than just one area or town in the park, giving a broader experience in the national park and the chance to stay the night in one of the park’s quaint towns or villages.
If you decide to spend 3 days in the Yorkshire Dales, your extended time and extra day in the park will allow you to explore even further, enjoying other areas, famous landmarks, and enjoying a hike or two.
Getting To & Around the Yorkshire Dales
When it comes to getting to and around the Yorkshire Dales, it’s fair to say that driving to/around the park as part of a Yorkshire Dales road trip is the ideal mode of transportation.
By renting a car and driving throughout your time in the park, you’ll have the most flexibility as to where to go, how long to spend in each location, and the option of visiting locations not included on the bus routes throughout the park. You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices across major companies.
From larger nearby North Yorkshire cities of Leeds and York, you can reach the Yorkshire Dales in around an hour and from Manchester, around an hour and a half. You can also easily reach the lovely Yorkshire coast from the Dales.
A great option to explore the national parks of northern England is to combine a Yorkshire Dales itinerary with time in the Lake District National Park, England’s largest national park, just 30 minutes away from the Yorkshire Dales.
With that being said, there is a bus service throughout the Yorkshire Dales National Park, connecting the park itself, along with a few cities and towns outside of the park.
Throughout the year, there’s a generous number of active routes, and in the high season between April and October, other routes are added as supplements.
When it comes to accommodation, basing yourself in the town of Skipton or Harrogate are both good options with easy access.
2 to 3 Days in the Yorkshire Dales Itinerary
From serene, awe-inspiring waterfalls to idyllic villages and delicious food, there’s something for everyone during these 3 days spent in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Day 1 – Skipton & Malham
A convenient and ideal start to any Yorkshire Dales itinerary or road trip is in the town of Skipton, otherwise known as “the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales”.
Dating back over 1,000 years, Skipton is a town steeped in history and heritage. As an important market town since medieval times, a visit to Skipton has many things to offer, including Skipton Castle and Skipton Market.
Skipton Castle was first built in the 11th century and has since been passed through various notable families, as well as held a major role in many events, including the English Civil War. A visit to Skipton Castle is a great way to learn more about the history of the area, as well as what life was like in Skipton centuries ago.
For an even more comprehensive visit, take part in one of the guided tours that the castle offers. Otherwise, enjoy exploring the castle independently at your own pace. The castle is open every day of the week with various ticket costs depending on the age and size of your group.
After visiting Skipton Castle, make sure to stop by the famed Skipton Market, which is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, every week. Skipton Market has been in operation for over 800 years, and to this day still offers a wide assortment of various local goods, from produce to clothing and antiques.
Bolton Abbey Estate
After spending time in the town of Skipton, take a short 10-minute drive to your next stop, Bolton Abbey Estate.
While known as Bolton Abbey due to its location, what you’ll actually be visiting are the remnants of Bolton Priory, an Augustinian monastery established in the 12th century as well as the surrounding areas of the estate.
During your visit, make sure to spend time visiting the centerpiece of the estate, the ruins of Bolton Priory as well as enjoying the pleasant riverside walks in the area running along the River Wharf.
Weather depending, this is also your perfect opportunity to enjoy a scenic picnic surrounded by nature and history!
From Bolton Abbey, travel around 25 km northwest further into the Yorkshire Dales to one of the park’s most famous land formations, Malham Cove. Malham Cove is a natural limestone cavern formation that’s enticed visitors for centuries due to its impressive geological features and stunning appearance.
Malham Cove was formed around 12,000 years ago during the last ice age and has its current appearance due to the melting of glacier ice, leaving a large hollowed-out, half-domed shaped cliff behind.
Malham Cove is open 24 hours a day and is free for visitors to visit and explore its magnificence.
Near Malham, you can also visit the beautiful Gordale Scar, another beautiful geological formation in a river gorge close to the village.
Dinner at Lister Arms
There’s no better fitting way to end a day exploring the countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, than by heading to a cosy, local pub to enjoy a comforting, traditional meal and a pint of something local.
A great option is Lister Arms, a top-rated pub and inn in the town of Malham. As this is the last stop of day 1 on this Yorkshire Dales itinerary, Malham is also a great area to stay for the night, for its beautiful surroundings and close proximity to where you’ll begin day 2.
Day 2 – Wensleydale & Hawes
Begin your second day in the Yorkshire Dales at one of Yorkshire’s most iconic sights, the Ribblehead Viaduct. Spanning an impressive length of 400 meters and consisting of 24 stone arches, the Ribblehead Viaduct is truly an impressive structure.
The viaduct is located near the village of Ribblehead, between the towns of Settle and Carlisle, and is accessible by both road and railway (Ribblehead Station), depending on your means of transportation.
With such a stunning backdrop and the Ribblehead Viaduct being surrounded by stunning countryside, the surrounding area offers fantastic walking and hiking opportunities. If you’re keen to get out on the trails and enjoy the Yorkshire Dales countryside, this is an ideal opportunity.
If you want to take in some more natural sites, then consider heading over to nearby Ingleton and visit the gorgeous Ingleton Waterfalls, which aren’t far from the viaduct. En route, you can also pass by the Yorkshire Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.
While the majority of famous English cheeses hail from the south of the country, Yorkshire is the home to one of England’s most well-known and delicious cheeses, Wensleydale. The history of the cheese dates back to a style of cheese originating from a monastery of French Cistercian monks who had settled in northern England in the 13th century.
While the cheese is now made throughout the UK, the Wensleydale Creamery is still the main producer of Wensleydale cheese, as well as the perfect stop on any Yorkshire Dales itinerary.
The Wensleydale Creamery consists of a cheese museum, interactive exhibits, guided tours, and a cheese shop. Visiting the creamery is a must for not just cheese enthusiasts, but also those interested in this key cultural side of the Yorkshire Dales, providing insights into Wensleydale cheese’s history, production, and the chance to sample and purchase a variety of delicious cheeses.
Opening hours of The Wensleydale Creamery are daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM with closure on specific days, so make sure to check the hours in advance before visiting. Ticket costs depend on which exhibits and parts of the creamery you wish to visit.
After spending time learning about Wensleydale Cheese at the Wensleydale Creamery, head to the local village of Hawes to experience traditional Yorkshire charm.
Hawes is a small market town located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, renowned for its picturesque landscapes, rolling hills, and traditional stone-built buildings and homes.
Hawes offers a delightful variety of experiences and things to do; from inviting tea rooms, to cozy cafes, and charming traditional pubs, perfect for indulging in a satisfying meal or savoring a cup of tea amidst the rolling green surroundings.
Furthermore, the town boasts a variety of shops that showcase local crafts, souvenirs, and products, providing an ideal opportunity to find unique Yorkshire gifts and treasures. You can also visit the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes if you want a bit of historic context to your visit.
For an incredible pub meal to round out your day, I highly suggest heading to The White Hart Inn, located on the village’s main street.
The atmosphere is everything that you’d want in a pub in the Yorkshire Dales; cosy, inviting, charming, and connected to the feeling of the countryside. From fish and chips to a hearty steak pie, the recipes are homemade, homecooked, and absolutely delicious.
Day 3 – Aysgarth & Castle Bolton
Start your 3rd and final day in the Yorkshire Dales in the quaint countryside hamlet village of Aysgarth, tucked within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Nestled amidst the idyllic landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales, Aysgarth is a haven of natural beauty and rural Yorkshire charm.
The pinnacle of visiting Aysgarth is undoubtedly the majestic Aysgarth Falls, a spectacular series of waterfalls located within the village of Aysgarth. Prepare to be amazed as you witness the cascading waters tumbling down the limestone steps, creating a stunning appearance.
Aysgarth Falls has three sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. The Upper Falls are often considered the most popular. With their dramatic display of water tumbling over rocky ledges, but all three falls are worth visiting for their own unique characteristics.
The falls are open 24/7 with free admission, and to learn more about the area, make sure to visit the visitors center (note you have to pay for the car park) for interesting insights into Aysgarth Falls, its geology, and preservation. The area itself also has a wide number of trails worth visiting, with peaceful and serene surroundings.
After spending time at the falls, make sure to spend time in the village of Aysgarth itself. The village feels like it’s stuck in time, from the small stone bridges passing over the River Ure, to the classic pubs and tea rooms waiting to make your acquaintance.
The village also has various shops, from classic souvenir and craft shops to more modern art galleries featuring local artists.
After discovering the charming village of Aysgarth and its wondrous waterfalls, head about a 10 minute drive away into the countryside to historic Bolton Castle.
Castle Bolton is a medieval fortress nestled in the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales National Park that holds historical and cultural significance as a medieval fortress, giving a deeper insight into the county’s heritage and offering insights into the lives of nobles throughout history.
With a strong association with Mary Queen of Scots and other historic figures, the castle is an off-the-beaten-path spot yet with rich history and outstanding surroundings.
While visiting the castle, you’ll wander through well-preserved chambers and various rooms throughout the castle, explore its enchanting gardens, and immerse yourself in the historic atmosphere in the middle of the green hills of the Yorkshire Dales.
Where to Stay in the Yorkshire Dales
Herriots Hotel – Located in the town of Skipton at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, this hotel is an excellent place to base yourself when exploring this natural area. They have a number of lovely rooms available along with plenty of great amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check availability
The Gamekeeper’s Inn – This quaint inn situated in Skipton makes for the perfect base when exploring the Yorkshire Dales. They have an array of cosy rooms to choose from along with amenities such as a swimming pool and a spa/wellness centre. Click here to check availability
Howgills Apartments – If you’re looking for a self-catering option, these apartments are a great choice. They have a number of flats on offer located in the town of Sedbergh within easy reach of both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. Click here to check availability
YHA Malham – This hostel in Skipton is a great choice for those looking for budget accommodation during their trip to the Yorkshire Dales. They have both dorms and private rooms available along with good self-catering facilities. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Yorkshire Dales hotels!
As one of the most stunning countryside getaways, yet one of the least visited spots in England by international visitors, the Yorkshire Dales is a truly special spot in Northern England offering the ideal blend of serenity, history, and enjoyment of life.
Are you planning to visit the Yorkshire Dales? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!