cottage near Barnard Castle
family breaks in the uk
Barnard Castle
Richmond Castle from the Green Bridge

Yorkshire’s Top 10 Market Towns

Discover the best North Yorkshire market towns

North Yorkshire is full of history, characterful cafes, local butchers, bakeries, and boutique shops. There’s plenty to explore as well as support some fantastic local businesses. All close to our luxury holiday cottages, here are our top 10 market towns to visit in North Yorkshire… 

cottages in Richmond

1. Richmond

Richmond, North Yorkshire is one of Britain’s most beautiful market towns. Its 11th-century castle, fine historic buildings, large cobbled market place and many hidden corners make it a treasure trove for visitors. You’ll find a good choice of pubs and plenty of places to eat, as well as shops to stock up on essentials and gifts…

Take a stroll…

Be sure to visit the grand Norman Richmond Castle, set in the heart of the town. Take a stroll around the castle walls, walk along the riverside and take in the falls, which are particularly stunning after a rainy day. Follow the trail along to Richmond Bridge where you can reward yourself with a treat from the award-winning bakery found in The Station.

There are miles of the best walking and mountain bike trails around Richmond… Why not try the Drummer Boy Walk for some spectacular views of the River Swale, the Batts and the Castle. On Saturdays make sure you don’t miss the Saturday Market, with local produce to be enjoyed in your luxury holiday cottage.

Stay in Richmond

2. Knaresborough

Knaresborough is another charming Yorkshire market town. Discover the picturesque riverbank and the iconic Victorian viaduct towering over the River Nidd, alongside the ruins of Knaresborough Castle. Discover the bustling marketplace, ancient walkways and cobbled paths shrouded in mystery, with a history that goes back to the 5th century.


Along the waterfront, you can take a woodland walk and discover one of Knaresborough’s enduring curiosities; the famous Mother Shiptons Cave and the Petrifying Well. Don’t forget to make a wish in the wishing well before you go.

Hop on the train into Harrogate for a bit more shopping. Glide over the imposing railway viaduct looking down on the River Nidd – an amazing view. Make sure you try a slice of homemade cake at the famous Betty’s tea room whilst you’re there.

Stay Nearby
yorkshire vet

3. Thirsk

Thirsk is an ideal base for visiting many much-loved attractions and exploring the wonderful Yorkshire countryside. Rolling hills run into spectacular limestone valleys, with historic castles and ancient abbeys offering something for the whole family.

Fancy a day at the races?

Thirsk Racecourse has excellent facilities and high-quality flat racing throughout summer. Centred around a bustling cobbled market square with a weekly Monday and Saturday market, Thirsk has a charm of its own. Why not take a break from your busy day and pick up some freshly baked bread from Olivia’s Artisan Bakery.

Birthplace of Thomas Lord, founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground and spiritual home of author James Herriott, Thirsk is a Yorkshire legend. Today, the World of James Herriott is an award-winning museum which attracts lovers of BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small from around the world.

Stay in Thirsk

4. Helmsley

Helmsley is the perfect market town, surrounded by miles of the beautiful North York Moors. Offering a bustling market square featuring charming tea rooms, cosy pubs and Michelin starred fine dining at The Star Inn. For a relaxing day, visit The Verbena Spa, named one of Tatler’s 101 Spas of the World.

It’s a history lover’s delight…

Soaring above this tranquil town are the dramatic ruins of Helmsley Castle. Be sure not to miss the bronzed archers ready to battle, with a 100-foot high tower and substantial medieval remains.

The magnificent ruins of Byland Abbey and Rievaulx Abbey are nearby and are well worth a visit. Finish your walk with a trip to Mannion & Co, a dog-friendly deli and artisan bakery for the perfect afternoon treat.

North York Moors
yorkshire dales holiday cottages

5. Leyburn

At the heart of Wensleydale lies the vibrant market town of Leyburn with a mix of quaint and quirky shops and a bustling Friday market. Leyburn has many great walking routes, but a popular time for walkers is the Wensleydale Wander, typically held between March and April.

If you like antiques…

Give your legs a rest and travel in style by hopping on a train at the Wensleydale Railway. This heritage line uses diesel locomotives with the occasional steam services running. Take a scenic route from Leyburn to Redmire and discover Bolton Castle, a well-preserved 14th-century medieval castle. Look out for the sword fighting demonstrations and falconry displays.

Leyburn is home to the largest auction house outside of London. Tennants Auctioneers has been running since the late Victorian period and holds auctions of fine art, antiques, and specialist collectables each year.

Fun-loving families should look no further than the nearby Forbidden Corner. A unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies, and surprises. A day out with a difference that will challenge and delight children of all ages.

Stay in Leyburn

Where to stay

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Brompton Lakes

Brompton Lakes is a destination where you escape the every day. A unique natural retreat, choose between 21 luxury lodges near Richmond, North Yorkshire.

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Bolton Abbey Boltholes

A trio of luxury hideaways, the holiday cottages at Bolton Abbey are perfectly located in the Yorkshire Dales, nestled on the Bolton Abbey Estate.

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Wayside Cottage

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6. Bedale

Within a stone’s throw of Wensleydale lies the charming market town of Bedale. Shop for delicious local produce and make a trip to the town’s renowned butcher Cockburn’s. The weekly Tuesday market continues the food theme with the fishmonger, locally grown vegetables and plant stalls.

A rich history…

Don’t miss the Heritage Trail when visiting Bedale, taking in the Palladian Bedale Hall and museum as well as a 12th-century church named one of the most lovely in Britain. Its rich history stretches back to the Domesday Book.

Make sure you visit Thorp Perrow Arboretum and explore 85 acres of stunning woodland. Let the kids run wild in the adventure play area before meeting exotic birds and animals such as meerkats, wallabies and Shetland sheep. They host Halloween, Christmas and other seasonal trails. Less than 2 miles away is Carrick’s fishmonger and greengrocer, a local favourite.

Holiday Cottage North Yorkshire

7. Stokesley

This is one of Yorkshire’s most elegant market towns, known as the Gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors. A long cobbled street is lined with award-winning restaurants, shops and boutiques.

A few miles away for a family-friendly day trip explore OsmotherleyEnjoy fabulous food, fish and chips, Cod Beck Reservoir, and a shooting ground to impress the whole group!

Explore the North York Moors…

Stokesley is the perfect base from which to explore the Moors and Yorkshire Coast, providing walks and trails with plenty of pubs and picturesque picnic spots along the way. The River Leven, crossed by the ancient Pack Horse Bridge, provides a perfect spot, and there are spectacular views at Roseberry Topping.

One of our favourite tea rooms nearby is The Rusty Bike which offers a warm Yorkshire welcome. The perfect pit stop, feast on homemade cakes, scones and tray bakes. Peruse the art gallery or hire a bike for the day, the team will tell you all the best routes nearby!

North York Moors

8. Masham

Welcome to the home of the great Yorkshire beer. Real ale lovers will be in heaven in Masham.  Two family-run breweries; The Black Sheep Brewery and Theakston Brewery, offer tours as well as plenty of samples to enjoy along the way.

This quintessential Dales town is an idyllic spot, best known for its breweries, steam engines and an annual sheep fair. Each September, this is a celebration of all things sheep, with activities and a sheep race to entertain all ages. As well as a thriving community for artists, authors and craftsmen in Masham, there is a picturesque marketplace, lined with shops, cafes and great traditional pubs to discover.

A family day out…

Explore Druid’s Temple, one of Yorkshire’s quirkiest 19th century follies with stunning views over the Leighton reservoir, surrounding moorland and the Yorkshire Dales. There are many public footpaths to the main folly, with other standing stones throughout the woodland and walking trails with plenty of picnic spots.

Make sure you have time for a try of Yorkshire’s famous Brymor Ice Cream. Treat yourself to a delicious afternoon tea at Swinton Park, or enjoy some excellent pub grub at the White Bear.

Stay in Masham
Fountains abbey and studley park

9. Ripon

Whilst being a cathedral city Ripon makes the list because of its thriving marketplace, an array of independent shops and a wide choice of restaurants, pubs and bars. Close by are more family-friendly attractions near Ripon, such as Lightwater Valley, Newby Hall, Ripon Racecourse, Ripon Workhouse Museum (perfect for a rainy day), and the glorious Ripon Cathedral.

Spend a day exploring the beautiful Studley Royal Water Gardens in the grounds of Fountains Abbey on the outskirts of Ripon. With attractions on the grounds year-round and the most stunning setting, it’s a firm favourite amongst locals.

Making Christmas plans…

Take a trip to Stockeld Park, a place where adventures begin for the whole family. Every season boasts fun, with a themed adventure playground, climbing nets, a covered ice-skating rink, and a yew tree maze, and the exquisite Winter Illuminations in the award-winning Enchanted Forest. Fountains Abbey also hosts beautiful winter illuminations

Stay in Ripon
Malton Food Festival

10. Malton

Malton, best known as ‘Yorkshire’s Food Capital’ is only a short scenic drive over the North Yorkshire Moors. There is so much to do in the buzzing town, a town of makers and markets… with traditional food shops, Malton cookery school, artisan food tours, restaurants, Talbot Yard, exciting events and festivals.

One for the foodies…

Every second Saturday of the month you can enjoy a feast as Malton’s central marketplace is transformed into a foodie’s heaven. Local artisan stalls showcase the best local produce and street food, live music, and tasting trips to the Talbot Yard. Munch your way around the streets learning about local history and taste tasting in delicious delicatessens along the way. With 2-hours free parking, follow your nose around the town, butchers making sausages, bakers baking bread, greengrocers & fishmongers too.

On your way home, make a detour for Castle Howard – one of the grandest stately homes in Britain. Explore the 1000 acres of beautiful landscape, relax in the idyllic gardens, enjoy lakeside walks, and children can play in the adventure playground.

Where to stay

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Paddock View

A gorgeous cottage offering a relaxing rural retreat for up to eight guests in one of the most sought-after Yorkshire villages on the edge of the North York Moors.

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Darcy Mews

Perfectly located on Riverside Road in Richmond, North Yorkshire, Darcy Mews boasts some superb views across Richmond Falls and along the River Swale.

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Dragonfly is a rural retreat for up to 8 guests. Tucked away in the quiet Yorkshire countryside, it promises a unique opportunity to recharge your batteries! This idyllic hot tub […]

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