Living in Harrogate: A local’s guide to the best spots

Nestled in the heart of North Yorkshire, Harrogate is a charming spa town known for its elegant architecture, lush gardens, and vibrant cultural scene. 

Whether you’re considering moving to Harrogate or just visiting, this guide will provide you with an insider’s perspective on the best neighbourhoods, dining spots, outdoor activities, and more. 

Let’s explore why Harrogate is a beloved destination for families, young professionals, and retirees alike.

Where is Harrogate?

Harrogate is located in North Yorkshire, in the north of England. It sits approximately 20 miles north of Leeds and 20 miles west of York, making it a convenient location for commuters and those looking to explore the broader Yorkshire region. 

The town is easily accessible via the A1(M) motorway and is well-connected by rail, offering direct services to London, Leeds, and York. Harrogate’s central location and excellent transport links make it an attractive place to live and visit.

The best neighbourhoods in Harrogate

Harrogate has a variety of neighbourhoods, each with its unique charm and appeal. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly area, a bustling environment for young professionals, or a peaceful retreat for retirement, Harrogate has something for everyone.

Family-friendly areas

For families, Harrogate offers several neighbourhoods that are perfect for raising children. The Duchy Estate is one such area, known for its spacious homes, leafy streets, and proximity to excellent schools. Another popular choice is the Oatlands area, which is home to Oatlands Infant School and Oatlands Junior School, both highly rated by Ofsted. The area also boasts several parks and recreational facilities, making it ideal for families with young children.

Best for young professionals

Young professionals often gravitate towards the town centre, where they can enjoy the convenience of being close to Harrogate’s bustling high street, vibrant nightlife, and excellent transport links. The Montpellier Quarter, in particular, is a trendy area with a range of chic boutiques, cafes, and bars. The Stray, a large open parkland, provides a beautiful backdrop for weekend relaxation and social activities.

Ideal for retirees

Retirees looking for a peaceful and picturesque place to settle down will find Harrogate’s southern suburbs, such as Pannal and Burn Bridge, particularly appealing. These areas offer a quieter lifestyle while still being within easy reach of the town centre. They are also home to some beautiful countryside walks and golf courses, perfect for those looking to enjoy a leisurely retirement.

The best dining and drinking in Harrogate

Harrogate is a foodie’s paradise, offering an impressive selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars that cater to all tastes and budgets. From traditional British fare to international cuisines, the dining scene in Harrogate is sure to delight.

Best restaurants

British cuisine

For a taste of classic British cuisine, The Fat Badger is a must-visit. Located in the heart of Harrogate, this gastropub offers a cosy atmosphere and a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients. 

Their Sunday roast is particularly popular among locals. Another excellent choice is Bettys Café Tea Rooms, a Harrogate institution since 1919. Known for its afternoon tea, Bettys also serves a range of traditional British dishes and delectable pastries.

Italian cuisine

When it comes to Italian cuisine, Sasso is one of the top choices in Harrogate. This family-run restaurant offers an authentic Italian dining experience with a menu that includes fresh pasta, seafood, and classic meat dishes. For a more casual Italian meal, Stuzzi is a great option. This eatery serves a variety of small plates inspired by Italian street food, perfect for sharing with friends.

Indian cuisine

Lovers of Indian food should not miss Cardamom Black. Located in a beautifully restored theatre, this restaurant offers an extensive menu of Indian dishes, from traditional curries to contemporary fusion plates. 

The opulent décor and excellent service make it a great spot for a special night out. Another noteworthy option is The Orchid Restaurant, known for its creative take on Asian fusion cuisine, including a range of delicious Indian-inspired dishes.

Popular cafes and coffee shops

Harrogate is home to a thriving café culture, with numerous spots perfect for enjoying a coffee and a chat or getting some work done. Hoxton North is a popular café located in the town centre, known for its excellent coffee and stylish, minimalist décor. 

For a more traditional experience, head to Baltzersen’s, a Scandinavian-inspired café offering a range of delicious pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. Another favourite among locals is Bean & Bud, an independent coffee shop that prides itself on serving high-quality, ethically sourced coffee.

Best pubs and bars

When it comes to nightlife, Harrogate has a diverse selection of pubs and bars to suit all tastes. The Old Bell Tavern is a traditional pub located in the Montpellier Quarter, offering a great selection of real ales and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. 

For something a bit more contemporary, visit The Foundry Project, a trendy bar known for its creative cocktails and lively weekend vibe. If you’re a gin enthusiast, The Spirit of Harrogate is a must-visit. This bar offers an extensive range of gins, including the locally produced Slingsby Gin, and also hosts gin-tasting experiences.

Shopping in Harrogate

Harrogate is a shopper’s delight, with a mix of high-street stores, independent boutiques, and antique shops. The Victoria Shopping Centre, located in the heart of the town, houses a variety of popular retail chains and is a convenient spot for everyday shopping. 

For a more unique shopping experience, head to the Montpellier Quarter, where you’ll find a range of independent boutiques offering everything from fashion and jewellery to homewares and gifts. Harrogate is also known for its antique shops, particularly in the Kings Road area, where you can find a treasure trove of vintage and antique items.

Outdoor activities in Harrogate

Harrogate’s beautiful natural surroundings make it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you enjoy leisurely walks in the park, challenging hikes, or scenic cycling routes, Harrogate has plenty to offer.

Parks and gardens

The Valley Gardens is one of Harrogate’s most popular parks, offering 17 acres of beautiful gardens, woodland, and historic buildings. It’s a perfect spot for a family picnic or a relaxing stroll. 

Another must-visit is the RHS Garden Harlow Carr, which features stunning landscaped gardens, woodland walks, and a delightful café. The Stray, a vast area of open parkland in the town centre, is also a favourite among locals for jogging, dog walking, and enjoying the outdoors.

Hiking and walking trails

For those who enjoy hiking, Harrogate is surrounded by some fantastic walking trails. The Nidderdale Greenway is a popular route that runs from Harrogate to Ripley, offering stunning views of the countryside and the chance to see local wildlife. 

The Harrogate Ringway is another excellent trail, a circular walk that takes you through the town and its outskirts, showcasing the natural beauty and historic landmarks of the area.

Cycling routes

Cyclists will find plenty of scenic routes to explore in and around Harrogate. The Beryl Burton Cycleway is a dedicated cycling path that runs from Knaresborough to Harrogate, providing a safe and enjoyable ride through the picturesque landscape. 

For more challenging routes, the Yorkshire Dales, located just a short drive from Harrogate, offer some of the best cycling terrain in the UK, with breathtaking scenery and challenging climbs.

Local tips for Harrogate

To make the most of your time in Harrogate, here are some local tips:

  • Visit during the Harrogate Flower Show: Held twice a year, the Harrogate Flower Show is one of the most prestigious gardening events in the UK, showcasing stunning floral displays and offering plenty of gardening inspiration.
  • Take advantage of the Turkish Baths: Harrogate’s Turkish Baths and Health Spa is a unique experience, offering traditional spa treatments in a beautifully restored Victorian setting.
  • Explore the local markets: Harrogate’s weekly market, held on Thursdays in the town centre, offers a variety of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and unique finds.

Transportation and getting around

Harrogate is well-connected by public transport, making it easy to get around without a car. The town’s bus network, operated by The Harrogate Bus Company, offers regular services throughout Harrogate and to surrounding areas. 

The Harrogate railway station provides direct train services to major cities like Leeds, York, and London, making commuting and travelling convenient. For those who prefer to drive, Harrogate is easily accessible via the A1(M) motorway, and there are several car parks in the town centre for visitors.

Sett Mortgages can help you find your dream home in Harrogate

Harrogate is a vibrant town with a rich history, stunning natural beauty, and a thriving cultural scene. 

Whether you’re drawn to its family-friendly neighbourhoods, bustling town centre, or peaceful suburbs, Harrogate offers something for everyone. With excellent dining, shopping, and outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to call Harrogate home. 

If you’re considering making Harrogate your home, Sett Mortgages is here to help you navigate the local property market. Our experienced mortgage brokers have extensive knowledge of the Harrogate area and can assist you in finding the perfect mortgage to suit your needs. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, looking to remortgage, or interested in buy-to-let properties, we offer tailored advice and support to ensure you get the best deal possible. 

Contact Sett Mortgages today to start your journey towards finding your dream home in Harrogate.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.