Visitors to this corner of North Yorkshire often have their heads turned by the likes of York and Harrogate, but venture a short way from the bars and bright lights of these cosmopolitan places and uncover a rare gem.

With lots to shout about including a majestic cathedral, brilliant schools, a bustling market place, its own racecourse, and a bounty of beautiful walks on its doorstep, Ripon is one of Yorkshire’s quiet stars. It's charm was recently lauded by The Telegraph which named it one of the 'UK's prettiest towns' (out of some 1,250), with a score of 41/50 in its national survey.

Great British Life: Ripon is an architectural gem. (C) Getty Ripon is an architectural gem. (C) Getty

As one of the smallest cities in the UK, it retains a warm and welcoming community feel. The city’s history can be traced back to the 7th century and many of its ancient traditions are still celebrated to this day. Wander into Market Square at 9pm on an evening and you’ll be greeted by a man blowing a horn at each corner of the Obelisk. This is the city’s Hornblower setting the watch – a ceremony observed every night since the Middle Ages.

Other ancient customs include the pilgrimage to Fountains Abbey which takes place each Boxing Day from Ripon Cathedral retracing the steps of the abbey’s founders back in 1132. Not only does the city hold a significant amount of religious and historical importance, but the minster has been a key cultural figure for many years. Not only was Lewis Carol inspired to write Alice in Wonderland from the many carvings found in the cathedral, but today it plays host to a variety of artistic events which showcases the versatility of this tiny, but impactful city.

Great British Life: One of the popular eating places in Ripon. (c) NewsquestOne of the popular eating places in Ripon. (c) Newsquest


Begin at the majestic heart of the city – Ripon Cathedral. With over 1350 years of history there’s a lot to discover, so taking one of the daily tours is highly recommended. From here you can venture down one of the picturesque, cobbled streets which are home to a variety of independent shops and businesses. Ripon is blessed with a Booths supermarket for your grocery basics ad good wine selection. Pop into the beguiling Webb & Webb to seek out a treasure or explore Karma to find ethically sourced jewellery. The Castle is a go-to for cool interiors finds and gifts.

Wander to discover the restaurants and coffee shops and happen upon the market place where a weekly market still takes place every Thursday. Roads wind off at every angle from here taking you to a variety of city highlights.

Great British Life: Ripon Workhouse Museum gives visitors a sense of what life in a Victorian Workhouse was like. (c) NewsquestRipon Workhouse Museum gives visitors a sense of what life in a Victorian Workhouse was like. (c) Newsquest

Discover the many museums where you can learn what punishments were like in the Victorian times at the Prison and Police Museum, or gain a sense of what life was like in a Victorian Workhouse.

For something a little more light-hearted why not take tea with a twist at the Indian tearooms Realitea located on North Street or find your next read at the friendly Little Ripon Bookshop on Westgate - where you can also find bakery treats at Vanora's.

Great British Life: The Old Deanery is a popular venue for weddings, events and dining. (c) NewsquestThe Old Deanery is a popular venue for weddings, events and dining. (c) Newsquest

Fine dining has arrived at smart Old Deanery with chef Adam Jackson at the helm. For relaxation, take to the water on one of the cruises which travel along Ripon Canal, discover some unusual carvings in the Spa Gardens, or be wowed by a variety of floral and fauna in the Himalayan Gardens.

For those who like to be active take on the eight mile round walk through Studley Deer Park and up to nearby Fountains Abbey. If all of that has left you feeling rather tired, indulge in a little bit of luxury and check into Grantley Hall – the AA Hotel of the Year 2023. With four restaurants including a Michelin star, an award winning spa, and acres of beautiful grounds it’s a classy place to appreciate this wonderful part of Yorkshire.

Great British Life: Waterside properties in Ripon are sought-after. (C) Paul Kirkwood Waterside properties in Ripon are sought-after. (C) Paul Kirkwood


One of the many lovely features of Ripon is the period architecture the place still retains. From Georgian townhouses to Victorian terraces, there’s picturesque properties aplenty. On the edges of town one can find some impressive homes, often dotted along the bank of the river. Starting prices for property here can range between £70,000-£250,000 for an apartment in the city centre, while terraced properties sell for an average of £228,308, and larger detached properties fetch an average of £441,308. The downside here is there’s no train station, but the A1M is just a five minute drive away and the very plush 36 bus will take you to Harrogate and Leeds at any time, day or night. The larger towns of Thirsk and Knaresborough are a 20-minute drive away, with the cities of York and Leeds taking between 45 and 50 minutes to reach. Being located on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a big draw for many, as is Ripon Grammar School.

Great British Life: Shavonne Hannan Shavonne Hannan


Shavonne Hannan moved to Ripon from the south over 12 years ago. As one of the most loved hairdressers in the city, she can be found in Love Hair salon delighting regulars with her wonderful cuts and colours. ‘Ripon is a lovely city to be in thanks to its great, supportive community spirit where everyone is willing to help others. It has some great businesses such as my favourite café Oliver’s Pantry which serves yummy food and the best chai lattes around – although it can be a little dangerous being located opposite the salon on North Street.’