48 hours in stunning Saltaire

This unique model village in West Yorkshire celebrates its 20th anniversary of World Heritage status by welcoming visitors to experience its beauty, historic past and world-class art.

Have you heard of Salts Mill? The former textile mill that houses an impressive collection of David Hockney’s art? Well, it’s not the only reason to visit pretty Saltaire; the handsome Victorian model village in Shipley has an incredible industrial past, too.

Named after its founder, the magnate and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt, and the nearby River Aire, this charming place was created with Salts Mill to house mill workers. Built in the Italianate style, the historical, honey-hued village has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. 

Saltaire (Image: Bankbuster/Shutterstock)Bankbuster/Shutterstock

Saltaire is small but perfectly formed and there’s plenty to do. Apart from the famous mighty Salts Mill, you can travel on an old Victorian tram at Shipley Glen, walk or take a boat trip on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, try out the independent shops, book tickets for the Saltaire Festival (held every September), or take the family to the park – bordered by green hills. Here's how to spend 48 hours there.


Check into: the Dakota in Leeds – just a 20-minute drive or train ride away from Saltaire, it's where most visitors base themselves. The Dakota is a central stay tucked away from the busier hub of the city. Rooms are comfortable, luxurious and the grey-on-grey colour palette is easy on the eye.

The hotel's Grill restaurant serves up delicious brunch dishes and modern fine dining and has an excellent Sunday lunch menu. The hotel also has Z beds for children, if you’re travelling with the family.

Visit: Roberts Park. With its vast expanse of green and sprawling grounds, Roberts Park was created by Sir Titus for the mill workers as he believed they should all have somewhere to relax in their free time. The mill produced alpaca wool – which was unique at the time, spot the alpaca statues in the park along with Saltaire United Reformed Church, which was built in 1859.

Alpaca statues in Roberts Park (Image: Richard Coomber/Shutterstock)Richard Coomber/Shutterstock

Try one of the ales: from Saltaire Brewery at the iconic and newly restored Fanny’s Ale and Cider House – it’s where you’ll find the locals.

Bradford is known to be a ‘curry capital’ too, so book a table at Jinnah Bistro in Saltaire for dinner to soak up those ales.

READ MORE: Your guide to the Yorkshire Dales


Start the day at: the Salts Mill. This Grade II-listed former textile factory originally opened in 1853, and is where wool was produced – it turned out 18 miles (29km) of worsted cloth a day. The mill closed in 1986 and was reinvented to become a lifestyle venue, housing an art gallery, shop, café and new enterprises.

You’ll see the factory space adorned with David Hockney’s artworks – he was born in nearby Bradford.

Visiting the Salts Mill is a lovely way to spend a morning: there’s art, books, and food while its enviable location in Saltaire makes it memorable. Admission and parking are free.

Hockney artwork in Salts Mill (Image: Salts Mill/Facebook)Salts Mill/Facebook

Have lunch at: Salts Diner. It has a thoughtful menu including brunch dishes, Greek salads and soups but it’s the location that stands out. The walls of the dining room are covered with Hockney’s art, making it a memorable lunch date.

Get crafty at: Salt Pots Ceramic Studio. If you’re bringing the family, book a session at Salt Pots and create your own masterpiece in a two-hour pottery painting workshop. Try one of the ‘Crafternoon Teas’. For £25, you get to choose a piece of pottery for up to £15 and sample afternoon tea including sandwiches, scones and cakes.

Explore: Leeds and Liverpool Canal, either on foot or by hopping on a boat. Covering 127 miles (204km), the canalway passes a grand total of 91 locks and Salts Mill is right next to the canal. There are various walking and cycling routes and you can find these at the Canal and River Trust or Sustrans.

Leeds-Liverpool canal (Image: Andrew E Gardner/Shutterstock)Andrew E Gardner/Shutterstock

Just two minutes from Salts Mill, take the kids on the Saltaire Trip Boat (a narrowboat called Titus) to get a view from the waterways. For future holiday inspiration, you can book narrowboat holidays or full-day trips at Pennine Cruisers or White Rose Canal Holidays.

Go for dinner at: Japanese restaurant Issho, which serves up modern Izakaya dishes and sits pretty in its rooftop location at Victoria Gate.

Want casual (but still delicious) eats with the kids? Try the myriad hawker-like independents at Trinity Kitchen.

For a special occasion, book a family table at The Ivy and tuck into some of the classics such as the Ivy shepherd’s pie or fish and chips.

READ MORE: The UK's prettiest small towns and villages


Enjoy an early adventure: at Shipley Glen Tramway. This old Victorian tramway was built in 1895 and it is the oldest operating tramway in the UK. The two trams travel down a forested hill to the museum at the bottom. It can be easily accessed from the village but make sure to check opening times as it’s currently only open on Sundays as it’s run by volunteers. 

Shipley Glen Tramway (Image: Shipley Glen Tramway/Facebook)Shipley Glen Tramway/Facebook

Have lunch at: Salt Bar and Kitchen. Sunday lunch in a microbrewery? Go on, then. Salt Bar and Kitchen serves up classics such as beef and ale pies, burgers and wood-fired pizzas and it also has a children’s menu.

Pizza at Salt Bar (Image: Salt Beer Factory/Facebook)Salt Beer Factory/Facebook

Take the kids boating: at Lister Park – a leafy public park with botanical gardens, a lake and tennis courts. Make sure to visit Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, with its permanent Hockney gallery. The gallery also works with The British Museum and V&A Museum of Childhood – the Art in the Park series is running until August 2022.

Finally, if you’re travelling home through Bradford, an essential stop for families is the National Science and Media Museum. It’s free entry, just make sure to book tickets online beforehand.

READ MORE: UK's most amazing World Heritage Sites

Lead image: annaj77/Shutterstock


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