The best things to do in and around Ilkley at the weekend

What to do, see, eat and drink in Ilkley this weekend.

On Ilkley Moor Bar t’At, on Ilkley Moor Bar t’At…

Fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of the city for a weekend away in the countryside? Then Ilkley is the place for you. Only a 25 minute train ride away, Ilkley is a quaint town drenched in history with lots to explore.

Located on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales, you are spoilt for choice with different rambles to embark on, all with breathtaking panoramic views guaranteed. After working up an appetite you’ll find a lively drinking and dining scene to indulge in, all with a side of that good old Yorkshire hospitality.

With lots to choose from, we have cherry picked our favourite places to visit in Ilkley this weekend.

The Cow and Calf Rocks

Image: The Hoot Leeds

You simply can’t visit Ilkley without visiting the iconic Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor. Take a hike up to the top, breathe in that good Yorkshire air and marvel at the impressive panoramic views of the town and beyond.

The rock formation is named the Cow and Calf because one is large and the other sitting close by it, small. According to local legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when Rombald, the local giant, trampled on the rock when fleeing his angry wife. The wife then dropped the stones in her skirt, forming the surrounding rock formation ‘The Skirtful of Stones’. So when you’re up there, watch out for any angry giants!

Read More: These hidden spots around Leeds are perfect to watch the sunset

Betty’s Tea Rooms

Image: Betty’s Tea Room

The famous Betty’s Tea Rooms are a Yorkshire institution and well worth a visit when in Ilkley.

Expect impeccable service, carefully curated seasonal menus and cakes that look just too good to eat. Their offerings celebrate their Yorkshire roots whilst paying homage to their Swiss heritage, a winning combination if you ask me. Grab a table by the window and treat yourself to the traditional afternoon tea whilst watching the world go by. Or order my favourite, a fat rascal scone lathered in warm butter served alongside a piping hot cup of Yorkshire tea, yum!


This family-run Italian restaurant serve up ‘homemade pasta inspired by Nonna’ and let us tell you, it is well worth a trip to indulge in Pranzo Italian Ilkley‘s food.

The Seafood Bigoli is the star of the show – perfectly al dente pasta jam packed with fresh mussels, juicy tiger prawns, anchovies and calamari in a white wine sauce.

The Grove Bookshop

Image: The Grove Bookshop

If you’re a book lover, the Grove Bookshop is an absolute corker. They’ve been selling books to the people of Ilkley for over 40 years and is one of the best-known independent bookshops in the North of England.

On the first floor you’ll find shelves lined with books from every genre, from old school classics to works from new and exciting authors. Downstairs is entirely dedicated to music, offering an extensive selection of sheet music and CDs.


Image: The Hoot Leeds

If you’re after a good Sunday roast then you’ve got to go to Joel’s on The Grove. Their roast is simply on another level, the 45 Day Aged Sirloin of Beef is sealed over sweet chestnut over their live fire grill and served perfectly pink (or however you like it).

The potatoes are perfectly crunchy and salty, the carrot sweet and the Yorkshire pud crispy and pillowy in equal measure. Not to mention the Cauliflower Cheese which is wickedly indulgent and a must order.

Bolton Abbey

Image: Flickr

Located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Bolton Abbey is the perfect place for a riverside walk or to enjoy a picnic whilst admiring its breathtaking landscapes.

Just a ten minute drive from Ilkley awaits 30,000 acres of beautiful countryside and 80 miles worth of footpath to explore and enjoy. There are numerous cafes dotted about for a well earned pit stop and a number of themed trails are put on during the year making it a perfect day out for the family.

La Casita

Image: The Hoot Leeds

Head to this tapas bar for a jug of sparkling sangria alongside a selection of divine small plates. Patatas bravas, padron peppers, croquettes, they do all the classics and they do it well.

Real Food Ilkley Market

Image: The Ilkley Kitchen

Time your trip to Ilkley for the first Sunday of the month and I promise that you won’t be disappointed. Real Food Ilkley hosts a bustling market on the Grove which features local venders offering speciality food, drink and crafts. The market has a real community feel to it and boasts immense talent from all its venders.

We recommend making a beeline for ‘The Ilkley Kitchen’, an award-winning food stall where you can find the best sausage rolls in Yorkshire and an array of irresistible sweet treats all lovingly made with local ingredients in the heart of the town. The market is held from 10-3pm and is not one to be missed.

Fuggle & Golding Tap House

Image: The Hoot Leeds

This craft beer and bottle shop is a local favourite and it is no surprise why. Established in 2015, they have a fantastic reputation for its wide range of craft beer, relaxed atmosphere and friendly, knowledgable staff.

Pop in for a pint or fill up a reusable glass bottle from one of their ever-changing keg lines which showcase some of the best breweries in Britain and from around the world.

Emporio Italia

Image: Emporio Italia

This family run Italian restaurant is the business. With a menu that changes daily, you can guarantee that the freshest ingredients of the highest quality are used in creating authentic dishes made from the heart.

Stop by for your morning espresso before a walk on the moors and you’ll feel compelled to come back for a bowl of their delicious fresh pasta accompanied with a cold glass of wine. Sit inside their trattoria-style restaurant or basque in the sunshine on their terrace. What’s not to like?

Read More: Daredevil Leeds pensioner ziplines 270m down Ilkley Moor

Ilkley Cinema

Image: Ilkley Cinema

Now, this cinema isn’t just your average cinema. Intimate auditoriums fit with swanky sofas point towards Europe’s smallest Ultra 4k Digital Single Screen, creating an experience so immersive you’ll feel as though you could walk into the screen.

Ditch the popcorn and coca-cola for a charcuterie board and bottle of Estelado sparkling rosé, because you deserve to watch a film in style.

Friends of Ham

Yes, we know there’s one in Leeds but the one in Ilkley is well worth a visit too. Specialising in finest charcuterie, cheese, craft beer and wine, this is a great spot to wind down on the weekend and pick your way through their irresistible menu. Might we recommend the baked Tunworth cheeses served with a crusty baguette and cornichons.

Find yourself there on a sunny day? Their two outdoor terraces are a perfect sun trap and provide the best location to enjoy an Aperol spritz (or three) whilst watching the world go by.

Feature image: Flickr, Dave Morton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts