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48-hours   ›   Short breaks › Travel Inspiration  ›  Yorkshire and The Humber

48 hours in Bradford -  What to do on a weekend in Bradford

You might be surprised to discover that Bradford is the 5th largest city in the UK.  Which is why when you are planning a 48-hour break away it’s certainly a place to come and visit.

Bradford is often overshadowed by its next-door neighbour, Leeds; there are only about 8 miles between the two city centres.  In the last few years, Bradford has begun to redefine its identity and with its rich heritage and diverse culture, stands out on its own.  If you’ve got 48 hours to spend in the city, Bradford has so much to offer.

Recently Barclays Bank named Bradford the best city to start a business in and Saltaire, a suburb of the city, was voted one of the top 10 places to live in the North of England in the Sunday Times.

Bradford is the world’s first UNESCO City of Film. This permanent title was given because of the city’s rich film heritage. Recently, it has also has begun its bid for the 2025 Capital of Culture.

Bradford is certainly somewhere to consider when you are planning your next 48-hour getaway.  Whether it’s as a couple or with your kids, there are plenty of things to see and do in the Bradford district.

October 23, 2021

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Friday afternoon in Bradford

I would recommend staying in the city centre.  If you’re arriving by train, Bradford has 2 train stations, Forster Square and the Interchange.  They are both in the heart of the city with less than a 10-minute walk between them.  Both stations have direct access to Leeds, with Forster Square serving the local area and the Interchange where you will likely arrive if you’re coming from further afield.

For accommodation, I would recommend either The Midland Hotel, which is next door to Forster Square and has the most incredible chandeliers in its function rooms or The Great Victoria Hotel, which is near the Interchange.  This has recently been refurbished and saw Dame Helen Mirren enjoying a stay here when she was filming The Duke.  Both hotels have on-site parking if you’re visiting Bradford by car.

If like me, you like your first port of call to be lunch when you arrive somewhere new, then there are plenty of cafes in the centre.   I would recommend taking a walk through City Park to Cake’Ole for a sandwich and of course, some delicious cake.

City Park is home to the iconic City Hall and also has the Mirror Pool, which often holds events on a weekend and in summer even has a beach!  The Impressions Gallery looks over it, which is always worth calling into.

You can also explore the independent businesses within Sunbridge Wells.  You won’t see them from the outside as it’s a group of historic underground tunnels.  Once inside, you will discover a range of shops and bars.  It’s so unique, you must call in!

Over the road from City Park, there is the National Science and Media Museum which has plenty to see and do for both adults and children.  They usually have different exhibitions happening which you can check in advance.  It’s also home to the IMAX and Pictureville if you’re looking for a traditional cinema experience.

Friday evening in Bradford

The Media Museum is next to the Alhambra Theatre.  The Theatre itself is a stunning building both inside and out and is often home to some fantastic shows, which are on tour from London’s West End.  At the other side of City Park, there is the newly refurbished St George’s Hall, which again often has some famous names performing there.

If nothing is showing at the theatres which tickles your fancy and you’re looking for food and drinks then it’s time to explore the “Top of Town”.  Mama Mia’s is a longstanding, favourite Italian restaurant, which always is busy and has a great buzz about it, the food is excellent too.

Behind it is North Parade, which is home to many small and independent pubs, including the first to open on there, The Sparrow.  Bradford’s craft beer scene has certainly grown over these last few years, including Eyes Brewery, which is just behind North Parade. Depending on the time of year you are visiting you might even fall lucky for in on one of their famous North Parade street parties!

Saturday morning in Bradford

If you tried a few Bradford beers the night before, then enjoy a leisurely morning with breakfast in the hotel.  Then it’s time to explore out of the city.  There are some wonderful areas in the Bradford district including Haworth, Skipton and Ilkley but for a first time visitor then I would highly recommend a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Village, Saltaire.

It’s easy to get to Saltaire from Forster Square station, I would recommend a train journey as parking isn’t always the easiest in the village.  Saltaire was built by Sir Titus Salt for the workers of his wool mill.  You can see all the street names which were named after his children and the terraces where the mill workers lived surround Salts Mill.

As you walk out of the train station you can’t miss Salts Mill, which is open to the public and has an eclectic selection for everyone inside.  To begin with, there is the David Hockney exhibition, a son of Bradford; you can see the work of this world-famous artist.  Nestled inside the mill there is also a range of independent shops and Salts Diner.

Saturday lunchtime in Bradford

Saltaire has so many independent cafes you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to lunch.  You can stay in the Salts Mill Diner, which is excellent and has more of the David Hockney exhibition on display but does get very busy.  If you want to avoid the queues then visit one of the cafes on Victoria Road or head to the top of the village. Call in at Edward Street Bakery for an assortment of freshly baked goodies to enjoy on the go.

If you need to quench your thirst, there are some great bars too.  From Don’t Tell Titus (named as Sir Titus Salt banned pubs from the village) to Salt which brews its own beer, to The Boathouse which is wonderful in summer with outside seating overlooking the river and Roberts Park.  Roberts Park is home of Saltaire Festival,which takes place every September.

Saturday afternoon in Bradford

From The Boathouse, take a nice walk along the Leeds Liverpool Canal to Bingley which is the next stop along the canal.  Along the way, you can call for a drink at The Fishermans and take in the Three and then Five Rise Locks.  If any canal boats are travelling you will see the locks in action. If you come off the canal at the Five Rise Locks you will be in Bingley, which is a small market town with some great bars!

Saturday evening in Bradford

For the evening, explore some of Bingley’s drinking establishments. A few of my favourites are 99 & Main and The Potting Shed.  Or if you’re looking for a nice meal; The White Horse or La Rue which is back in Saltaire, are firm recommendations of mine.

If you fancy a curry instead, then you are spoilt for choice in the Bradford District.  Bring a bottle to The Sharma in Bingley, visit Shimla Spice in Shipley (next to Saltaire) or visit Jinnah in the city centre.  Bradford has some of the best curry houses in the world and they have got the awards to prove it.  In fact, Bradford was named the Curry Capital of Britain for 6 years in a row and I will never get a curry anywhere else – They are just too good in Bradford!

Sunday morning in Bradford

Your final hours in the city leaves you with plenty of choice of things to do.  Bradford Cathedral has morning services and is situated in the city centre.
If you want to do a bit of shopping, visit the Broadway Centre, which is full of your high street names.  A trip to Waterstones (which is across the road) is a must, it has to be one of the best book shops in the UK.  It’s built-in the historic Wool Exchange which gives its unique appeal.

If you’re looking for a coffee and cake stop then I would recommend Tiffin Coffee Shop or the newer Tiffin Grande if you’ve not yet had a chance to visit.

Bradford was at the forefront of the industry during the Industrial Revolution and much of this history can be seen in the buildings as you walk around.  If you’re interested in finding out more, then the Industrial Museum is certainly worth a visit for all the family.

If you’ve still got time to explore, then Lister Park just outside the city, is home to Cartwright Hall, which has different art exhibitions from some of the best artists in the world.  Or take a trip to the Ponderosa Centre where the kids can experience a mixed variety of animals.

If you’d rather see a little bit of Yorkshire countryside, then a visit to the Hewenden Viaduct (part of the Great Northern Railway Trail) which you can walk along in the village of Cullingworth, will blow away the cobwebs.  Even though I’ve lived in Bradford my whole life, it still amazes me how easy it is to go to from city life to the country all within Bradford! From here you could drive to the beautiful village of Haworth and visit its famous cobbled street.

There really is so much to see and do in Bradford. I am sure you will have an incredible 48 hours here in Bradford both within the city centre and its surrounding areas.

My favourite places to stay

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October 23, 2021


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