There is more to Bradford than meets the eye. The city combines rich culture, excellent bars, restaurants, and shops, with cutting edge urban parks along with plenty of green spaces. There is so much to see and rather pleasingly, much of it can be explored on foot.
Slap bang in the heart of the centre is Bradford’s multi-award-winning City Park – a vast urban development which contains the largest man-made water feature in any UK city. At six acres, it connects many of the must-see sites including the Alhambra, and the National Science and Media Museum along with the main shopping streets. It makes a great base for exploring the surrounding attractions and of course, a mooch around the park itself is essential. Head there at dusk and enjoy an evening light show with stunning accompanying water effects.
Boasting a whopping 44 parks, there are a great deal of walks in Bradford and the surrounding areas of Baildon, Bingley, Cullingworth, Denholme, Ilkley, Keighley, Shipley, Silsden and Queensbury. Including the unmissable Horton Park and the vast Cliffe Castle Museum gardens. A 40-minute walk from the Bradford Interchange Station is Lister Park which features a spectacular Islamic water feature.
What’s more, Visit Bradford have put together a City Centre Heritage Walking Trail which can be downloaded from their website and there are also bookable guided tours available. Notably though, they take in many of the galleries, theatres, and cultural attractions featured in our guide and this goes some way in demonstrating the fact Bradford is a brilliant place for walks – complete with Yorkshire air.
There are plenty of great eateries to keep your sustenance levels up and provide the necessary calorific clout for long saunters and stomps – including food that can be delivered to your hotel or apartment meaning you can fully relax and rest your legs.
While this guide mostly focuses on the central areas of the city we can recommend a longer stay which would provide additional time to explore all of our top picks along with some of the stunning surrounding countryside.
Here are our picks
The Alhambra Theatre, Morley Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1AJ - Visit now
With views of the City Park from the windows of its 1914 restaurant, the Alhambra Theatre is a must-see for any theatre-lover visiting Bradford. Coined the ‘jewel in Bradford’s theatrical crown’, the theatre attracts visitors with a year-round programme of hit musicals, large scale theatrical productions, and dance.
Whether you are staying overnight in the city, or seeing a matinee, the Alhambra Theatre is perfectly located to be reached on foot – just a ten-minute walk from the train station through the spectacular City Park (which is best described as an urban oasis – featuring a stunning mirror pool, fountain water feature and dazzling evening light shows). In the summer months you’ll find the area packed with families enjoying a splash in the water and on warm evenings, the seating provides the perfect spot to soak it all up before heading off to enjoy a show.
Impressions Gallery, Aldermanbury, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 1SD - Visit now
Located in Centenary Square – adjacent to the City Park, Impressions Gallery is a mere five-minute walk from the train station and is the perfect place to begin a day taking in the sights. As the leading gallery of photographic arts in the UK, Impressions succeeds in making photography accessible, inspiring, and approachable for everyone.
The gallery runs a bursting programme of workshops, talks, fairs and exhibitions throughout the year including a ‘Time For Tea’ drop-in session for the over 55s (although all age groups are welcome). This work allows visitors to engage in conversation with photographers and publishers which in turn influences the evolution of the art form.
Fuse Art Space, 7 Rawson Place, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 3JP - Visit now
Once you have absorbed the impressive architecture of City Park and been inspired by the work on show at Impressions, head over to Fuse Arts. It’s just an 8-minute walk away via Bank Street and Darley Street (which house some of the city’s big brand shops, cafes and bars).
Fuse Art Space opened in 2014 and is best described as a hybrid arts space with a gallery, artist studios, music, and performance venue as well as an excellent shop. It caters to all manner of art forms and is a great place for a meander around while getting your culture fix. Centrally located, a visit can easily be combined with a stomp around the shops or walks slightly further afield in the hills of Brontë territory.
The National Science and Media Museum, Little Horton, Bradford, BD1 1NQ - Visit now
Also centrally located and just a five-minute walk away from the City Park is the incredible National Science and Media Museum. With a vast collection of exhibitions exploring light and sound technologies it’s a brilliant way to combine hands-on learning while also clocking up a substantial number of steps.
The museum draws millions of visitors each year and offers free, guided walking tours which are 45 minutes long and ensure that no collection, experiment, or detail is missed as the key scientific knowledge is imparted by ‘Expert Explainers’. Walking tours do need to be booked in advance so do bear that in mind. And after all that discovering, it might be time to sit back and relax either in the café or with a film at the Pictureville Cinema (which is attached to the museum). To this day, it remains the only public screen on which films can be shown in Cinerama and is perfect for kicking back to rest those legs.
Mumtaz, Great Horton Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 3HS - Visit now
No trip to Bradford would be complete without a curry and Mumtaz – which began as a humble street stall in 1979 is now a 500-capacity institution serving up classics like Murgh Makhani and Keema Aloo, the restaurant now hosts (and caters for) large events and weddings. Once you’ve had your fill of curry, a trip to nearby Horton Park is an excellent way to work all that deliciousness off. After a 9-minute amble via Horton Park Avenue, you will find yourself in glorious surroundings.
Grade II listed Horton Park was opened in 1878 and occupies land purchased by the council a few years earlier – in 1873. Designed by William Gay, this leafy park is full of tall, elegant trees, rose gardens a pond and a popular play area. There’s a short circular walk around the water feature for little legs, and also scope to explore the grounds further should you wish. If you’re staying in the city over a weekend and feeling particularly energetic there’s a free, 5km ParkRun which commences at 9 am every Saturday.
The Record Cafe, The Record Cafе 45-47 North Parade, Bradford, BD1 3JH - Visit now
Over in Bradford’s ‘Independent Quarter’ is the excellent The Record Cafe which has been named CAMRA pub of the year three times (in 2017, 2019, and 2020). In recent years, the areas of John Street, Westgate and North Parade have been transformed into the ‘go to’ streets for those looking for something a little bit different – a haven for hipsters you might say.
There are numerous independent bars and shops and therefore the area is perfect for a leisurely stroll – pop in and out of different businesses and maybe even embark on a mini pub crawl. While in this part of town be sure to check out Plant One On Me which is a haven for plant parents’ old and new. Could this part of BD1 be Bradford’s answer to Manchester’s Ancoats?
The South Square Centre, Thornton Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD13 3LD - Visit now
Just four miles out of the city centre, and easily accessible by public transport, the South Square Centre in Thornton Village is a quaint exhibition space, café, bar, and artist studios with heaps of character and charm.
Within them is a collection of artists working in different mediums including archivists, framers, community groups, and cinema enablers. The village of Thornton is situated in prime rambler territory with the 43-mile-long Bronte Way Walk passing through the village. With that in mind, it is perfectly possible to combine a visit to this unique artist space with a longer walk.
Be sure to grab some lunch or take away tea or coffee from one of the two eateries on site: Plenty at the Square and The Watchmaker which are both highly rated.
Cliffe Castle Museum, Spring Gardens Lane, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD20 6LQ - Visit now
Embark on a 30-minute drive out of Bradford city centre, and you’ll be rewarded by the stunning Cliffe Castle Museum and gardens which provide 300 acres of public gardens to roam around.
With Victorian ornamental rockwork, pond, marble fountains, band stand and glass house, along with an immensely popular children’s play area and picnic benches, it is perfect for a quiet, leisurely stroll through the lush greenery while (given its vast size) providing plenty of space for the children to blow off some steam.
After a full day of exploring the museum and gardens, you can then call into the Pavillion Cafe for some well-earned refreshments. Thanks to their unrivalled beauty, Cliffe Castle Museum and gardens are undoubtedly worth the road trip.