15 Best Things To Do In Ilkley, England

15 Best Things To Do In Ilkley, England

By will

Located in the heart of West Yorkshire, England, Ilkley is a charming town full of history, culture, and outdoor adventure. If you’re looking for a unique destination, then Ilkley is the perfect place to explore.

There are so many exciting activities and attractions to explore, from walking the moor to visiting the 12th century castle. Here are the 15 best things to do in Ilkley, England, so you can make the most of your visit.

From shopping in the town centre to experiencing the nightlife, Ilkley has plenty of activities to offer. There are rivers and waterfalls to explore, golf courses to enjoy, and hidden treasures to find at the market.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun family vacation, Ilkley has something for everyone. So grab your walking shoes and get ready to explore the 15 best things to do in Ilkley, England.

Walking the Ilkley Moor

Spicey Gill, Ilkley Moor
Photo by Malc McDonald

You’ll love taking a walk across Ilkley Moor – it’s an experience you won’t forget!

The Moor is a beautiful, huge area of heather-covered hills, valleys, and rivers. Plus, it has stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales and the town of Ilkley in the distance.

As you wander through the Moor, you’ll find lots of evidence of its history – from the Roman fort at Burley Woodhead to the Bronze Age stone circle at Twelve Apostles Stone Circle.

You’ll also spot plenty of wildlife, including red grouse, curlews, and skylarks. On a clear day, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the nearby Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Ilkley Moor is the perfect place to get out and explore.

Exploring the 12th Century Ilkley Castle

the 12th Century Ilkley Castle
Photo by Travel Tru History

Nestled atop a hill, Ilkley Castle’s 12th-century ruins offer a glimpse into the town’s rich past. The castle is a sight to behold, with its tall towers and grand stone walls. Exploring the grounds, you can easily imagine what life was like centuries ago.

From the castle’s top, you can take in beautiful views of the neighboring hills, as well as the town itself. Inside the walls, you can explore the remains of the castle, including its large fireplace and grand hall. It’s easy to picture the grand banquets and celebrations that once took place here.

It’s a great way to experience a bit of Ilkley’s history and culture and get a sense of the town’s past.

Visiting the 19th Century Manor House

Ilkley Manor House Museum
Photo by David Ward

Tucked away atop a hill, the 19th century Manor House provides a window into Ilkley’s past. With its pale yellow walls and bright red roof, the manor house stands as a vivid reminder of the town’s rich history.

Built in the 1800s by a local judge, the house has been impeccably maintained and now serves as a museum for visitors to explore.

Inside, the Manor House offers a unique look into Ilkley’s past. The original furniture and artwork have been carefully preserved, providing visitors with an insight into the life and times of 19th century England. There are also stunning displays of vintage clothing and books, which tell the stories of generations past.

A visit to the Manor House is a must-do for anyone interested in exploring Ilkley’s history.

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Enjoying the Rivers and Waterfalls

Bask in the beauty of Ilkley’s rivers and waterfalls as you explore the town’s breathtaking natural scenery.

One of the best places to enjoy Ilkley’s rivers and waterfalls is the Ilkley River Walk. This picturesque walk offers a range of different views, including stunning views of the Wharfe River, the River Wharfe Waterfall, and the iconic Ilkley Lido. The walk also offers the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, such as kingfishers, herons, and even otters. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try your hand at a spot of river fishing!

The Ilkley Moor is also a great spot to take in the region’s beautiful rivers and waterfalls. Here you can explore the rocky outcrops of the moor and spot some of the area’s best-known waterfalls, including the stunning Horsehold Waterfall. The moor also has a range of easy walking trails for those who want to take it slow and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the area.

Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to have a wonderful day out in Ilkley.

Shopping at the Town Centre

Hidden away in the heart of the town is a bustling shopping centre with something for everyone. From quaint boutiques selling clothes and accessories to supermarkets stocking all the essentials, you can find whatever you need in Ilkley.

For those looking for something a bit different, there are plenty of unique shops to explore. Here you can find handmade jewellery and art, vintage items, and one-of-a-kind gifts to take home for friends and family.

You can also find a variety of cafes and restaurants in the centre, with everything from traditional British fare to international cuisine. There’s even a charming tea room, perfect for an afternoon break.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, the Ilkley Town Centre has something for everyone.

Hiking the Valley Trails

For an unforgettable outdoor experience, nothing beats hiking the stunning Valley Trails near Ilkley.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, the Valley Trails offer something for everyone.

The trails wind through some of the most beautiful scenery in Yorkshire, so it’s no surprise that they’re popular with nature-lovers.

The trail network consists of several routes, all of which provide a challenging and rewarding experience.

The terrain varies from easy rolling hills to more difficult rocky passes.

The views from the trails are spectacular, and you can take in panoramic vistas of the countryside from the highest points.

With so many different routes to choose from, you can tailor your hike to suit your own level of fitness.

There are also plenty of rest points along the way, so you can take in the views and enjoy a picnic lunch.

For a truly special experience, you can take a guided tour with a local expert who’ll point out all the best spots and provide an informative and entertaining commentary.

Hiking the Valley Trails is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Relaxing at Ilkley Lido

Take a refreshing dip in the sparkling waters of Ilkley Lido and feel the cares of the world melt away. Located in the heart of Ilkley, the Lido is a great place to relax and unwind.

With its heated outdoor pool, sun terrace, and café, it’s a perfect spot for a summer day. The pool, which is open from May to September, is 12 metres long and 5 metres wide, making it the ideal size for a leisurely swim.

The sun terrace is the perfect place to soak up the sun while sipping a cool beverage and admiring the beautiful views of Ilkley Moor. The café serves up a variety of treats, from freshly made sandwiches and snacks to homemade cakes and hot drinks.

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Whether you’re looking for a quiet day of relaxation or an afternoon of fun, Ilkley Lido is the perfect spot for a day trip.

Taking a Tour of the Parish Church

Explore Ilkley’s historic Parish Church and be awed by its beautiful architecture and rich history. Built in the late 19th century, the church stands as a testament to the town’s long and storied past.

With its white stone walls and stunning stained glass windows, it’s easy to get lost in the breathtaking beauty of this sacred space. Inside, visitors can admire the intricate mosaics, ornate carvings, and impressive organ, all showcasing the skill of local artisans.

A tour of the Parish Church is a must for any visitor to Ilkley. Taking a guided tour is an excellent way to learn more about the history of the church, as well as the town of Ilkley itself.

Visitors can also take in the breathtaking views of the Yorkshire Dales from the church’s tower, or gaze up at the awe-inspiring ceiling painting depicting the Ascension of Christ.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a peaceful retreat, the Parish Church of Ilkley is sure to delight.

Visiting the Ilkley Toy Museum

Discover a delightful hidden gem in Ilkley – the Toy Museum! Located on Wells Road, this charming museum is a must-visit for any toy enthusiast.

Visitors have the chance to explore the museum’s extensive collection of toys and dolls from throughout the ages, from antique wooden toys to modern-day dolls and action figures.

There are interactive displays and games to enjoy, as well as a gift shop and café.

The Toy Museum is a great place for families to spend an afternoon. Kids will love the interactive exhibits and the chance to play with some of the toys.

For adults, the antique toys and doll collections are great for appreciating the craftsmanship and design of the past.

There are also guided tours and special events throughout the year, so be sure to check the museum’s website for more information.

Exploring the Local Countryside

After visiting the Ilkley Toy Museum, the next best thing to do in Ilkley is to explore the local countryside.

Whether it’s a leisurely stroll or an energetic hike, visitors can take in the rolling hills, rivers, and farms that make up the Yorkshire landscape.

I’m always struck by how green and lush the countryside looks, especially in the summertime!

There are plenty of walking routes to choose from, with something for all abilities.

From the wooded valley of the Wharfe to the moorland of Ilkley Moor, there are plenty of sights to take in.

For those who want to go a bit further afield, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is only a short drive away.

Here, visitors can explore the stunning valleys of the River Ure and the River Swale, and many of the local villages offer the chance to sample some delicious local produce.

From traditional pubs to farm shops selling fresh vegetables and cheeses, there are plenty of things to do.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day out or an active adventure, the countryside in and around Ilkley is the perfect place to explore.

Visiting the Ilkley Brewery

For beer lovers, a visit to the Ilkley Brewery is a must-see. Located in the heart of the town, the brewery is a mecca for beer aficionados looking to sample some of the finest craft beers in the country.

The sheer range of beers on offer is enough to whet anyone’s appetite and they come in an array of styles and tastes. From the classic ‘Mary Jane’ Pale Ale, to the seasonal ‘Hopplebok’ IPA, there’s something to suit all palates.

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In addition to the beers, the Ilkley Brewery also has a fantastic bar and restaurant, which serves up some of the best pub grub in the region. It’s the perfect spot for a casual lunch or dinner, with delicious locally sourced dishes, all washed down with a cold brew or two.

Enjoying a Round of Golf

Head to Ilkley for an unforgettable golfing experience – the lush rolling hills provide a beautiful backdrop and a challenging course. Not only will you be wowed by the views, but the course itself is sure to keep you on your toes.

From the championship tees, the course offers a great challenge for experienced golfers, while the forward tees make it great for beginners. With a variety of different tee levels, Ilkley Golf Club can accommodate golfers of all skill levels.

The club also offers a range of golf lessons, from beginner classes to individual lessons with a PGA professional, so you can perfect your swing.

The clubhouse also serves a delicious selection of food and drink to keep you going on the course.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer, Ilkley Golf Club is sure to make your golfing experience unforgettable.

Exploring the Arts Centre

Tucked away in the heart of Ilkley, the Arts Centre is a must-visit for culture lovers. Boasting a vibrant programme of art exhibitions, live music, comedy shows, and theatre productions, the Arts Centre is the perfect place to explore the cultural side of Ilkley.

With something for everyone, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

The Arts Centre also offers a range of workshops and classes, perfect for those looking to develop their creativity or learn something new. From pottery and textile design to drawing and painting classes, there’s something for everyone.

There’s even a cafe on-site, so you can relax and enjoy a snack while you take in all the art and culture that Ilkley has to offer.

Finding Hidden Treasures at the Market

Take a stroll through the vibrant Ilkley Market and discover hidden gems that’ll make your day. From local produce to handmade items and antiques, you’ll find a treasure trove of goodies to bring home.

The market, located in the heart of town, is full of merchants selling all sorts of unique items. Sample delicious treats, like fresh fruit, homemade cakes, and roasted nuts, and find a one-of-a-kind gift for someone special.

There’s also a wide selection of antique furniture, vintage clothing, and jewelry to choose from. Whether you’re looking for something special or just want to browse the stalls, you’re sure to find something unique at the Ilkley Market.

Experiencing Ilkley’s Nightlife

Experience the exciting nightlife of Ilkley and you’ll find plenty of fun and entertainment.

From local pubs and bars to lively clubs, there’s something for everyone.

The pubs are full of character and offer a great atmosphere, with plenty of friendly locals to chat with.

For a night of music and dancing, head to one of the many clubs in town. They feature a wide variety of music, from classic rock to contemporary pop.

Whether you want to dance the night away or just sit back and enjoy a few drinks, Ilkley’s nightlife has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed evening out, there are several restaurants and cafes to choose from. Enjoy a delicious meal or some drinks with friends in one of these unique spots.

With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that’ll make your night out in Ilkley a memorable one.


I had an amazing time exploring Ilkley and all it had to offer. From the 12th century castle to the 19th century manor house, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

I loved walking the Ilkley Moor and exploring the rivers and waterfalls.

Shopping in the town centre was a great experience and I found some hidden treasures at the market.

I also got to enjoy a round of golf and experience the nightlife.

In all, it was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of this charming English town.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.