Harrogate: Shopping, afternoon tea and old-fashioned charm

Rich in romance, history and fine food – Harrogate is a great place to spend the weekend. This genteel spa town moves at its own pace: we challenge you to not fall for its old-fashioned charms.  

 

Here’s our guide to some of the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in Harrogate.

Things to do in Harrogate

No visit to England's premier spa town would be complete without sampling the stunning Turkish Baths and Health Spa. The baths first opened their doors to the public in 1897 and although they underwent a major revamp in 2004 many features of the original Moorish design remain, making guests feel as if they have been transported to far-off exotic lands. 

The spa experience: guests follow the ritual of healing, cooling and cleansing to promote a sense of relaxation, moving through a series of heated chambers, before cooling off in the plunge pool and relaxing in the Frigidarium.

If you'd like to learn more about the history of Harrogate's famous spa then the Royal Pump Room Museum is well worth a visit. Visitors can see the strongest sulphur-well in Europe and find out more about a range of historical spa treatments including peat baths, nasal douches and electric therapies.

As spring approaches visitors to Harrogate flock to The Stray to enjoy a brisk stroll through the 200 acres of parkland surrounding Harrogate old town.

Things to do at The Stray:

  • See the crocuses: One of the best times to visit is the beginning of March when you can see the 6-7 million crocuses planted over the years bursting to life

Cherry Tree Walk: Spend an afternoon strolling through the blossom-lined lanes of Cherry Tree Walk. Pink-hued trees arch across to kiss like parting lovers, creating a ceiling of cherry blossom

Shopping in Harrogate

Harrogate's tree-lined streets are a shopper's paradise, featuring elegant boutiques and quirky independent stores alongside the usual high street favourites. 

Montpellier Quarter: This collection of antique dealers, food shops, salons and boutiques is a must-visit for serious shoppers. Designer brands including MaxMara and Caroline Charles rub shoulders with eclectic boutiques such as Rose Velvet, while the popular Morgan Clare has been named one of Britain's Best Boutiques by style bible Vogue.

Farrah's Food Hall is a must-visit for those with a sweet tooth with more than 200 lines of old-fashioned sweets and almost 200 different chocolates.

Must try: Pick up some Farrah's Original Harrogate Toffee - the perfect souvenir from your visit.

Victoria Shopping Centre: If it's big-name retail chains you're looking for, head to this mall conveniently located opposite the train station. Here you'll find high street must-haves WH Smith, HMV and H&M alongside a few hidden gems like accessories retailer Hush, and Tinc, where you can pick up all manner of weird and wonderful stationery and gadgets.

Food and drink in Harrogate

Harrogate has some fabulous options for food – including a world famous afternoon tea.

The quintessential afternoon tea. Where better to relax after a busy day of shopping and sightseeing than the famous Betty’s Café Tea Rooms? Since its 1919 opening, Betty’s has become a full-blown Harrogate institution, delighting visitors with its delicate pastries, tasty savoury dishes and of course the famed Fat Rascal scones. 

For a real treat why not book afternoon tea in the Imperial Room? You can enjoy an indulgent array of sandwiches, scones, cakes and speciality teas in stunning Regency elegance while live piano music plays in the background.

An intimate dinner. If it's fine dining you want then look no further than award-winning French eatery Mirabelle, tucked away on Swan Road. There are midweek and pre-theatre set menus for bargain hunters or for a truly special experience opt for A Taste of Mirabelle - a seven-course tasting menu featuring local ingredients such as Yorkshire rhubarb and Whitby lobster with a French twist.

Hidden Harrogate

Take a wander off Harrogate’s beaten path and discover these hidden gems… 

Norse: If you're looking for an alternative to good Yorkshire grub then look no further than Norse. This unique food experience takes over Baltzersen's Cafe for the evening service offering a traditional Nordic dining experience with a twist. The eight-dish menu makes use of a variety of techniques for capturing flavours and includes gems such as Scottish red deer loin with duck-fat beetroot, blueberry chutney, artichoke and Julmust sauce.

Royal Hall: A stunning Edwardian theatre built in 1903, at the Royal Hall you can admire fabulous architecture as you take in some culture. Upcoming events include iMagician, which will be wowing audiences with some of the most amazing illusions ever staged on February 11.

Sugar Therapy: If Betty's is a bit old-fashioned for your tastes then why not try the modern twist on afternoon tea at Sugar Therapy? Sweet treats on offer include vintage Champagne and Madagascan vanilla trifles and Victoria and chocolate lavender club cakes. Yum!

Enjoy your visit to Harrogate.