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… 

Mooching around North Yorkshire Market towns…

1. Richmond

Richmond, North Yorkshire is one of Britain’s most beautiful market towns. With its 11th-century castle, fine historic buildings, large cobbled market place and many hidden corners making 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.

Yorkshire holiday cottages

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.


Explore ancient walkways and cobbled paths leading down to the idyllic waterfront. Discover the bustling marketplace and secret passageways shrouded in mystery, with a history that goes back to the 5th century.

Further along the riverbank 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.

yorkshire holiday cottages

3. 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.

It’s a history lovers 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.

And relax…

Or for a more relaxing day out, you must visit The Verbena Spa, named one of Tatler’s 101 Spas of the World and is the perfect retreat for a unique revitalising experience!

yorkshire vet

4. 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 offers a picturesque racecourse with excellent facilities and high quality flat racing throughout the summer. Centred around a bustling cobbled market square with a weekly Monday and Saturday market. Thirsk has a charm of its own, essentially unchanged and influenced by the world. 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 Lords 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 BBCs All Creatures Great and Small from all around the world.

yorkshire dales holiday cottages

5. Leyburn

At the heart of Wensleydale lies the vibrant market town of Leyburn, set amongst acres of Yorkshire’s finest countryside.

This cobbled market town has a great mix of quaint and quirky shops with a bustling market every Friday. Leyburn has a number of great walking routes, but a popular time for walkers is the Wensleydale Wander, typically held between March and April.

Hop on board…

If you want to give your legs a rest and travel in style then why not hop on a train at the Wensleydale Railway. This heritage line has a station in Leyburn and uses diesel locomotives with the occasional steam services running.

Hop on board at Leyburn and take a scenic route to Redmire. You can discover Bolton Castle, one of the country’s best-preserved 14th century medieval castles, with over 600 years of fascinating history to explore. Look out for the sword fighting demonstrations and falconry displays.

If you like antiques…

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 collectibles 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.

Thorp Perrow

6. Bedale

Within a stones throw of Wensleydale lies the charming Georgian market town of Bedale.

Shop for delicious local produce and make a trip to the towns renowned butcher in the cobbled square. The weekly market on Tuesdays continues the food theme with the fishmonger, locally grown vegetables and plant stalls amongst the most popular.

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 as one of the best in Britain. With a rich seam of history that stretches back to the Domesday Book.

Make sure you visit Thorp Perrow 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.

yorkshire holiday cottage

7. Stokesley

This is one of Yorkshire’s elegant market towns, known as the Gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors. The town centre offers cobbled streets lined with a number of award-winning restaurants, shops and boutiques.

One of our favourite tea rooms nearby is The Rusty Bike which offers a warm Yorkshire welcome. The perfect pit stop for some homemade cakes, scones and tray bakes after exploring the area. Peruse the art gallery or hire a bike for the day. Speak with a member of the team about the best routes and what to do and see nearby!

Explore North Yorkshire…

Stokesley is the perfect base from which to explore North Yorkshire from. Providing plenty of varied walks and trails from your doorstep 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 for walking and picnics. Not to forget the spectacular views of Roseberry Topping and the North York Moors.

Further afield, you can get in the car and enjoy the Yorkshire coastline for a family-friendly day trip or explore Osmotherley. Enjoy fabulous food, fish and chips, a reservoir, and a shooting ground to impress the whole group!

Days out in North Yorkshire this Bank Holiday

8. Malton

Malton, best known as ‘Yorkshire’s Food Capital’ is only a short scenic drive over the North Yorkshire Moors. A must-visit during your trip to Yorkshire, with its new foodie scene, set amongst some of Yorkshire’s finest countryside.

You will find there is so much to do in the buzzing town of Malton, 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 foodies heaven.  Offering local artisan stalls showcasing the best local produce and street food, live music as well as tasting trips to the Talbot Yard. Munch your way around the streets learning about the local history and tasting delicious Yorkshire delicatessens along the way. With 2-hours free car 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.


9. Masham

A vibrant and friendly Yorkshire market town in the heart of North Yorkshire and 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, market stalls 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 market place, lined with shops, cafes and great traditional pubs to discover.

A family day out…

For the perfect family friendly day out nearby, 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 along the way.

Make sure you have time for a trip 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.

Stockeld Park

10. Wetherby

Wetherby is a thriving Yorkshire market town. With many treasures to explore alongside panoramic scenery and historic architecture. With a plethora of independent boutique shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a popular farmers’ market on the second Sunday of each month.

Visit the racecourse, which is considered to be one of the country’s finest jumping tracks…  A great day out for the whole family.

Take a trip to Stockeld Park, a place where magic is made and adventures begin for the whole family. Every season boasts fun within the park, with a themed adventure playground, climbing nets, a covered ice-skating rink, ayew tree maze and the Enchanted Forest.

Christmas at Stockeld…

Stockeld Park’s renowned Christmas Adventure is centred around the exquisite Winter Illuminations, where you can see the award-winning Enchanted Forest come to life. After dusk this becomes one of the country’s largest and most creative light displays. Hire a pair of Nordic skis and glide your way round the Enchanted Forest, before visiting Santa’s Grotto, for a memorable Christmas day out!

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