Enjoy the best things to do in Skipton with our guide to the attractions, events and places of interest.
Not too long ago, Skipton was named the “Happiest Place in the UK,” with the Yorkshire Dales on its doorsteps and a host of fabulous things to do in Skipton, whether you’re you a first-time visitor to Skipton or live in the surrounding towns and cities, we’re here to help you discover the best things to see and do in Skipton.
From the many local businesses, the historic hot spots and the beautiful surroundings, spending a day, a weekend or even a week in Skipton, you will find something for everyone. For information on what’s on in Skipton when you’re here, make sure to take a look at our What’s On in Skipton section to avoid missing out.
Here’s a list of just 31 of the fantastic things to do in Skipton. We know there are so many more but as local residents, these are some of our favourites!
Things to do in Skipton
Skipton High Street
Over the years, Skipton’s high street has transformed beyond recognition, whilst retaining its beautiful architecture and having many intricate details for visitors and locals to enjoy all year round. The people of Skipton are famous for being amongst the friendliest in the country, too! If you visit on a market day, you’ll find a buzzing offering of stalls at the UK’s best small outdoor market! You’ll find pubs and shops galore with something for everyone
A short distance from the canal towpath is Aireville Park, which consists of 20 acres of parkland. Many years ago it was owned by the Dewhurst family and was part of Aireville Estate. It is now managed by Craven District Council. As well as a multi-use games area for sports of all types, there is an 18 hole pitch and putt golf course, a swimming pool and fitness centre as well as a children’s playground. There is a busy calendar of events held at Aireville Park, so keep an eye on our What’s On in Skipton section to see what’s on during your stay.
Dating back over 900 years, Skipton Castle is a perfectly preserved piece of British history. Visitors can explore the medieval castle at their leisure which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War. It’s open daily from 10 am (Sunday from 11 am) with the last admission at 5 pm (October – March 4 pm) and costs £8.30 for adults, £5.20 for children (5-17) and it’s free for under 5s, if you’re with the family a ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £26.60. Free tour sheets are available in a choice of ten languages.
Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway
An absolute essential stop for anyone visiting Skipton is Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. There you can enjoy a ride in a vintage steam train, which locomotive enthusiasts and history lovers will adore. The evocative smell and the sound of the beautifully restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages will give visitors a truly unique view of Yorkshires famous countryside. To make it an extra special occasion, the first-class saloons offer Cream Tea, Afternoon tea, Ploughman’s Lunch or a Cooked Breakfast, served whilst you steam through the Yorkshire Dales. In summer and autumn, evening meals are available serving everything from Fish and Chips to Curry!
Skipton Canal Basin
Probably one of the prettiest and most loved parts of town is Skipton’s canal basin. With the Excellent Boat House Bar offering drinks with a view and scenic boat trips on available throughout the day, it’s certainly a hit with both locals and tourists. Events such as the Waterway Festival and Skipton’s Farmers Market are also hosted in this area.
Free things to do in Skipton
The Leeds-Liverpool Canal
The UK’s longest canal, (the Leeds and Liverpool Canal) runs through the heart of Skipton. It offers a fantastic opportunity for walkers who often enjoy an afternoon stroll. It takes you through some of the best countryside found anywhere on England’s canal network. Gargrave to Skipton is an extremely popular walk, it’s a lock-free stretch of the canal, meaning it offers a uniquely peaceful experience for walkers and boat enthusiasts alike.
Skipton Castle Woods
One of the most photographed areas of Skipton, set alongside Skipton Castle, Skipton Castle Woods is a stunning area of woodland, which has an intriguing history and offers a wide variety of amazing wildlife, including bats, deer and kingfishers. The Woodland Trust does a fantastic job of managing the woodland and put a lot of effort to make sure that the natural beauty of the wood is maintained. They also offer a range of events, including the ever-popular lantern walks which allow people to experience the woods in a unique way.
Craven Museum and Gallery
Located within Skipton Town Hall, Craven Museum and Gallery is run by Craven District Council and plays host to an ever-changing array of exhibitions based on heritage and art from the local area. Entrance to the museum is free and is a popular destination for family s looking for a fun activity to do whilst in Skipton. The museum also houses Shakespeare s First Folio, one of just four Folio’s on permanent display in the world. The museum is closed in January for maintenance work.
Just a short distance from Skipton Town Centre, Bolton Abbey is one of the most visited landmarks in the area. It is an impressive estate which sits perfectly within the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, next to the picturesque village of Bolton Abbey. There are ample walking routes and many attractions which appeal to all ages. It has a rich history, which dates back to 1120, and the ruins of the original Priory are still present within the estate.
Fun things to do in Skipton
The Sound Bar
The Sound Bar is Skipton’s pub with a twist! As well as serving an excellent range of local ales, they also stock and display a vast collection of vinyl records and CDs, which are all available to purchase. Avid supporters of the local music scene, The Sound Bar host live performances every Sunday to showcase the area’s best music talent. Open Wednesday 12:00 – 20:00, Thursday 12:00 – 21:00, Friday 12:00 – 21:00pm, Saturday 12:00 – 21:00 and Sunday 12:00 – 20:00.
Skipton Bar Crawl
Skipton is home to a wonderful selection of bars and pubs. We have gin bars and cocktail bars, music bars and sports bars, traditional alehouses and micropubs serving craft beers. Start with a glass of the bubbly stuff at Flutez and Fizz and then head across to Bojangles for some killer cocktails, before making your way up the High Street towards the sassy and sophisticated Alexander’s Bar & Kitchen.
Coffee and Clay
Located at the top of Skipton High Street, Coffee and Clay looks like your average cafe from the outside. However, on the top floor of the building is an area dedicated to pottery painting. Great fun with or without children, Coffee and Clay lets you unleash your creativity on an unsuspecting teapot whilst demolishing one of their delicious lunches. Open Monday to Saturday 09:30 – 16:15 and Sundays 10:30 – 16:15.
The Kilnsey Estate dates back to the 1100s. It was owned by the monks from Fountain’s Abbey for 400 years, before Henry VIII took their land. Now owned and managed by Jamie and Amy Roberts, this glorious estate offers a variety of rural activities such as fun fishing, pony trekking and wildlife experiences. There is much to see and do on the Kilnsey Park estate and the location is stunning. The onsite cafe, discovery trail and family fishing activities are open to the public 7 days a week until 5pm.
Things to do in Skipton with kids
Thornton Hall Farm Country Park
You’ll find Thornton Hall Farm Country Park just outside Skipton near Thornton-in-Craven. A working farm offers some wonderful animal encounters in addition to its excellent children’s play areas, Thornton Hall Farm Country park has plenty to keep the kids entertained. There is also a cafe on-site so you can enjoy a slice of cake and a cuppa whilst they let off some steam. Opens at 10:00 and closes at 16:30.
Matrix Superbowl in Skipton is great for kids of all ages. They have Ten-pin bowling, Snooker and American Pool for the older kids and the adults as well as a fully licensed bar serving hot food. Upstairs, you’ll find a small cafe with an indoor soft play area which is bound to keep your little monkeys happy for a good couple of hours. Open from 10:00 – 22:00.
Yorkshire Dales Bushcraft
Could you survive a night alone in the Yorkshire Dales? Do you fancy yourself as the next Bear Grylls? Yorkshire Dales Bushcraft offers survival and Bushcraft experiences for parties and groups. They don’t require a minimum number of attendees in order to run, so as soon as you book your experience, it’s guaranteed to go ahead. Head into the Yorkshire Dales, connect with the great outdoors and learn some valuable survival skills!
The Plaza Cinema
Skipton’s cinema only has one screen so you’re not going to be spoiled for choice when picking a film. However, a cosy little local cinema such as the Plaza is perfect for families with young children who want to avoid the extortionate costs and crowds often associated with larger cinema chains. Check their website to see what films are showing and head down to the Plaza for a cosy, family film night!
Raven Tree Top Adventure
Raven Tree Top Adventure first opened in May 2018. Located in Aireville Park, this excellent high ropes adventure course offers hours of fun for adults and children over the age of 7. With fun zip lines, suspended bridges, balance beams, high wires and more, it’s a great way to introduce the kids to the natural beauty of the area.
Romantic things to do in Skipton
Dinner for Two
There is no shortage of restaurants in Skipton. They have Mexican, American, Indian, Thai, Chinese and French restaurants and a superb selection of pubs serving home-cooked food. If you’re looking for a romantic dining experience, head to Le Caveau or Le Bistro des Amis. Both of these offer an ambience perfect for those intimate dinner dates and they serve some of the finest food in Skipton.
The Canal Basin
The Leeds-Liverpool canal runs through the heart of Skipton and is one of its main tourist attractions. Boat trips are available at various times throughout the day. During the warmer months, we recommend taking a leisurely stroll along Skipton’s canal banks with your other half. You’ll find some great spots for those obligatory ‘couple selfies’ and you can end your romantic walk with traditional Fish & Chips from Bizzie Lizzies.
If you like Gin then you’ll LOVE Skipton’s V.SQ bar. The brainchild of a local mother and daughter, this great little bar opened in August 2015 and now serves around 170 different gins. They also offer an excellent selection of cocktail created by their talented mixologists. Spend an evening getting to know one another whilst sampling their impressive drinks menu.
The Rendezvous Hotel
Book a night at the Rendezvous Hotel, situated next to the Leeds-Liverpool canal and just a mile from the town centre. They have a leisure club onsite if you want to work up a sweat or go for a dip. The hotel is also home to the Baby Swan – an excellent canal side restaurant. We recommend booking ‘The Best Room in the House’. With plush velvet soft furnishings, a comfortable lounge area and a luxurious Jacuzzi, it really lives up to its name!
Things to do in Skipton at Night
Skipton Town Hall Theatre
The local town hall puts on a variety of ticketed events such as family film screenings, heart-warming plays, seasonal craft fairs and fun tea dances. You can find a full list of upcoming events in our what’s on in Skipton section. The town hall is located right at the top of the high street so you can pop into one of the local bars for a cheeky drink beforehand!
The Mart Theatre
You’d be hard pushed to find another venue like The Mart Theatre in Skipton. It’s the only theatre in the world that resides in a working cattle auction mart! Their annual programme of events is a diverse mix of theatre, comedy, music, family events and student performances. They’ve played host to some big names such as Michael McIntyre, Sarah Millican, Toploader and Beverley Craven. Check out their website to see what’s on!
Bojangles Bar on Newmarket Street offers Cocktail-Making classes for small groups. Choose from a selection of cocktails and learn to make them yourself at their bar before sitting down to enjoy them. They have some delicious cocktails on offer such as one that incorporates frozen lemon sorbet with bubbly prosecco. Delicious! Head over to their Facebook page to book your class.
A few of the pubs in Skipton host a weekly quiz night. Some offer prizes in the form of cash whilst others reward the winner with alcohol. The Cock and Bottle host their quiz night on a Wednesday and The Albion host theirs on a Thursday
Karaoke is a guilty pleasure for many of us. There’s nothing more enjoyable than a good old sing-a-long after one too many beers. The best karaoke night in Skipton takes place on the last Friday of each month at The Albion. The owners are excellent hosts and you’ll get a warm welcome from both the staff and their regular crooners. The Fleece also hosts regular karaoke nights, hosted by colourful local characters including Skipton’s very own celebrity – Martyn Crofts.
Wine by Slow Food
Wine by Slow Food Kitchen is a wonderful restaurant in Skipton operating a BYOB scheme. In just a couple of years, they’ve already proved to be a huge success. Their menu changes weekly as they only use locally sourced produce and the owners take great pleasure in hunting down new and tasty ingredients. They often host themed evenings where they provide the food and you take your own wine. They sell out rather quickly so it’s best to book in advance.
Best events in Skipton
Skipton’s Anglo Saxon name is “Sceap Tun” which translates, simply, to Sheep Town. The residents of Skipton embrace this title with their annual “Sheep Day.” It’s one of the most anticipated, be it slightly unusual days of the year! The famous Sheep Show, takes place at regular intervals throughout the day, showcasing various breeds of sheep, sheep shearing demonstrations and even sheep dancing. The whole town gets behind the event and there are lots on offer, including various animal-focused attractions like a petting zoo and even birds of prey showcases. It’s an unmissable event if you’re looking for a truly unique thing to do when in Skipton
Skipton Car Show
Skipton Car Show dates back to 2014 and is one of the biggest car enthusiast days in the north of England. For one day only, Skipton Town Centre is taken over by hundreds of cars, ranging for classic through to vintage, motorcycles and even the off truck or two. The true community spirit of Skipton is out in force for the car show, with so much for people to enjoy. This year its taking place on Sunday, 3rd June and promises to be a spectacular event, as usual! You can read more about Skipton Car Show here.
Skipton Farmers and Craft Market
Skipton’s Farmers and Craft Market takes place on the first Sunday of every month, taking a short break over the winter months. It sees a host of local crafters and producers take over the Canal basin for a fantastic, community lead event organised by some of Skipton Markets top traders. There’s always something different on offer and there are often local musicians for you to enjoy.
Taking place at the Mart Theatre in September and heading into its fifth year, Yarn Dale is a fantastic exhibition of some of the best knitting, crochet, spinning, dyeing and felting talent in the region. It’s a two-day event which hosts over 180 talented exhibitors who are passionate about sharing all things woolly! The Auction Mart is a truly unique venue which is certainly an essential stop for anyone visiting the area, and Yarn Dale, along with Art in the Pen and Crafts in the Pen, is perhaps the most popular event held here throughout the year.
Skipton and Craven Rotaries annual Santa Fun Run
The Santa Fun Run has fast become one of the most anticipated days of the year. It’s a day when thousands of dedicated Skipton residents join together to run through the streets of Skipton dressed as Santa Clause. Truly a sight to behold, this event is held in the name of charity and is organised by the fantastic individuals at the Skipton and Craven Rotary club.
This annual weekend-long event was the brainchild of Pennine Cruisers – one of two local companies offering day boat trips along the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Each year, with the help of Skipton BID, Skipton’s canal basin is transformed into a bustling local festival venue complete with stalls, live music and fun activities for the kids. It really is one of the most family-friendly events in Skipton’s busy calendar. Each year, Skipton’s waterway sees an influx of narrowboat visitors during the event too, who line the canal with their beautifully decorated vessels.
So, that’s our round-up of some of the best things to do in Skipton. We love a moan as much as the next person but please don’t feel sad if your favourite hasn’t made the list. Just send us a message and we’ll check it out!