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The small market and spa town of Knaresborough is definitely one of the best places to go in Yorkshire. The town centre is perched on cliffs, overlooking the River Nidd and it’s extraordinary viaduct. This less explored town is often overlooked by all the beauty of North Yorkshire, but a there are plenty of things to do in Knaresborough, making a trip here a great day out in Yorkshire.

Things to do in Knaresborough

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Getting to Knaresborough

Knaresborough train station is located within walking distance of the town centre. There are direct trains to Knaresbrough from York and Leeds. It’s a 20 minute drive from Ripon to Knaresborough. Harrogate is just 3 miles away. Easily accessibly via car, train or bus, a trip to Knaresborough is one of the best things to do near Harrogate.

Where to Park in Knaresborough

Close to the A1(M) and A59, accessing Knaresborough by car is easy. There are numerous pay and display car parks in Knaresborough, all within close proximity to all of these “things to do in Knaresborough”.

Places to Stay in Knaresborough

There’s not very many cheaper places to stay in Knaresborough, but there’s some lovely accommodation options if you’re treating yourself to a nice night away. The best way of finding a budget place to stay in Knaresborough is to look for Air B&B accommodation in Harrogate, or look for a hostel in York or Leeds. Knaresborough can be accessed by train easily from both these places.

Map of Knaresborough


1. Knaresborough Castle and Courthouse Museum

First on my list of things to do in Knaresborough is to head to one of the most iconic sites in the town. The castle fortress has a commanding position, overlooking the River Nidd on a cliff edge. The original castle was built by the Normans in the 1100s. The castle ruins and the Courthouse Museum in its grounds are popular attractions, open from Easter to September. You can visit the castle for £3.50.

Castle what3words – ///partner.routs.scrolled

Museum what3words – ///chestnuts.framework.poets

Knaresborough Castle ruins

2. Bebra Gardens

This small park is found within the grounds of the castle. The name Bebra comes from the German town with which Knaresborough is twinned. Bebra Gardens can be explored via steep winding paths, taking visitors from the banks of the River Nidd up to Knaresborough Castle. They are well signposted from the waters edge.

what3words – ///code.novel.expecting

3. Knaresborough Walks

River Nidd Waters Edge Walk

Admiring the beautiful River Nidd that flows through the town is one of the best Knaresborough walks. The River Nidd is a tributary of the River Ouse, which flows through the city of York. If you’re parking at Bond End car park, you’re really close to accessing the river. It’s an easy, photogenic walk along the town centre’s riverside, starting at Mother Shipton’s Cave and finishing at Our Lady of the Crag, a early-15th century chapel excavated from the sandstone.

Knaresborough to Nidd Gorge Walk

Starting at the Bond End car park, this walk will take you around 30 minutes. Continue up the River Nidd away from Knaresborough and towards Bilton. The woodland here dates back to at least the 1600s.

Check out the Nidd Gorge and Bilton Circular Walk.

Nidd Gorge what3words – ///enchanted.heave.rush

4. Hire a Boat and Row Along the River Nidd

See the beautiful Knaresborough from a different perspective by hiring a rowing boat, rowing along the river and under the viaduct. Boat hire is usually available from March to October (weather depending). Hire from Blenhorn’s Boats is £7 per adult per hour.

what3words – ///rooting.reissued.lamp

River Nidd knaresborough North Yorkshire england

5. Knaresborough Market

Taking place every Wednesday in the Knaresborough Market place, the Knaresborough market has taken place here since 1310. It runs from 8:30am until 4pm, with much of the produce being sourced and/or produced locally.

what3words – ///hovered.straying.skylights

6. St Roberts Cave

Robert of Knaresborough was a hermit who lived in this tiny, secluded cut out of magnesium limestone cliff. Around 500 hermitages are recorded however the locations of very few are known. St Robert’s Cave is a very rare surviving example of a medieval hermitage, that includes a living area. 

Robert left his wealthy family to become a monk in Northumberland, but eventually gave up and became a hermit, settling in this small cave aside the River Nidd. He attracted many followers, most of whom were poor, ill or spiritually in need. Robert died here in September 1218. It’s been a popular tourist attraction since the late 1750s. The cave remains open to the public 24 hours a day.

what3words – ///onions.fruit.shipwreck

Harrogate is just 3 miles away from Knaresborough. Follow my guide to make the most out of a day trip to Harrogate.

7. Mother Shiptons Cave

The oldest tourist attraction in England is found in Knaresborough – Mother Shipton’s Cave. It’s been charging an entry fee since 1630! Legend has it that Mother Shipton was born in this cave in 1488, and she’s renowned for being the country’s oldest ‘witch’. She’s thought to have predicted the 1666 Great Fire of London.

Just outside the cave is the ‘prettifying well’. The high sulphate and carbonate content of the water causes the encrusting of any object that comes into contact with it. Tourists have watched everyday objects be “turned to stone” by the water for hundreds of years.

what3words – ///sensual.pushes.houseboat

mother shiptons cave knaresborough North Yorkshire England

Looking for some other North Yorkshire trip ideas? Check out my guides to York, Harrogate and Robin Hoods Bay.

8. Ye Olde Chemist Shoppe in England

Next on my list of things to do in Knaresborough, is head to the oldest pharmacy in England. You can find it in the market place and it’s marked with an official blue plaque. Records show a John Beckwith ran a chemists here in 1720, but it’s thought the shop could date back 200 years further. The building is now home to a cafe and gift shop.

what3words – ///parties.swam.bulletins

9. Knaresborough Town Windows Trail

Georgian Houses often have blank windows which have been bricked up. This was often to avoid the historic window tax. There are lots of these around Knaresborough, but they serve a much more creative purpose. The town commissioned “trompe-l’œil paintings” to fill these old windows. Ten have been painted so far featuring Mother Shipton, Guy Fawkes and King John. Wander around the town and see if you can find them!

Knaresborough Windows - Why is there a giraffe - Renaissance Knaresborough
Picture from Renaissance Knaresborough

10. Jacob Smith Park

Around a 15 minute walk north of Knaresborough town centre, Jacob Smith park has only been open to the public since 2008. It was given to the council by Winifred Jacob Smith, who had maintained the 20 acre land with her sister since their father died in 1941. It boasts a stone wall and ancient trees, as well as over 200 newly planted trees. There’s meadows, footpaths and a nature trail.

what3words – ///early.formless.woke

Knaresborough viaduct River Nidd and rowing boats on River Nidd Knaresborough North Yorkshire England

11. Great Knaresborough Bed Race

The first Great Knaresborough Bed Race took place in 1966 and since then it had never been cancelled, until 2020 that was. Of course, the bed race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Big C (don’t think we really need to give it anymore attention do we). The Knaresborough Bed Race is held on the second Saturday of June every year – June 11th in 2022! The event raises money for local charities. 90 teams of 6 tackle the gruelling 2.4 mile course in fancy dress, whilst pushing with a bed on wheels – the route even includes a quick dip in the Nidd. The course has barely changed over the 50 years its been running.

Find out more at

12. Eating and Drinking in Knaresborough

Marigolds Cafe

Marigold is situated on the banks of the River Nidd, and is the ideal place for a drink or lunch stop whilst you’re wandering the town. There’s a great view of the Knaresborough viaduct from the cafe.

what3words – ///pixies.grapevine.pepper

Worlds End Pub

Found opposite Mother Shipton’s Cave, the pub is named after one of her prophecies. Apparently “when the neighbouring bridge over the river falls for the third time, the world will end.” As it stands, the bridge has collapsed twice, so brace yourself, it’s only a matter of time!!!!!!

what3words – ///clinic.boating.shops

Brymor Real Dairy Ice Cream

If you want to pick up a quick snack, or satisfy your sweet tooth, grab some local ice cream from the shop on the corner of Castle Yard and Castlegate.

what3words – ///found.gems.rating

Places to Visit Near Knaresborough

There are plenty of amazing places to visit in North Yorkshire that aren’t too far from Knaresborough, including:

  • Harrogate
  • Brimham Rocks & Nidderdale AONB
  • Robin Hoods Bay
  • Whitby
  • North York Moors National Park
  • Scarborough
  • York
View of Knaresborough Viaduct and River Nidd from Knaresborough Castle

Things to do in Knaresborough (North Yorkshire, England)

  1. Knaresborough Castle and Courthouse Museum
  2. Bebra Gardens
  3. Knaresborough Walks
  4. Hire a Rowing Boat
  5. Knaresborough Market
  6. St Roberts Cave
  7. Mother Shiptons Cave
  8. Ye Olde Chemist Shoppe in England
  9. Knaresborough Town Windows Trail
  10. Jacob Smith Park
  11. Great Knaresborough Bed Race
  12. Marigold Cafe, Worlds End Pub and Brymor Real Dairy Ice Cream
Things to do in Knaresborough

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