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50+ Best Things to Do in York, England

York born and bred. Elin Beck loves writing about York and things to do there!

York, England

York, England

I've lived relatively close to York for three years. I also went to university and now work in York, sp I feel that this list of things to do will give you some great insights into what the city has to offer.

York is a beautiful city located in the north of England. The city is steeped in history and is home to a variety of different attractions. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s Roman history, take in the stunning architecture or simply enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, York has something for everyone!

To help you make the most of your time in the city, I've put together a list of the best things to do in York. Read on to find out more (if you are looking for things to do on a budget in York, skip to the bottom to see my favourite recommendations).

1. Take a Walking Tour of the City Walls

One of the best ways to see York is by taking a walking tour of the city walls. The walls date back to Roman times and are over two miles long. They offer stunning views of the city and are a great way to learn about its detailed history.

They take you right around York, and once you have completed the full walk, you will feel like you have a much better sense of location with where you are in and amongst the city too. Not to mention there are a couple of cafes on the way that I highly recommend stopping in for a refreshment or two.

York Minster

York Minster

2. Visit York Minster

York Minster is a must-see for any visitor to the city. The Gothic cathedral is one of the largest in Northern Europe and is home to a number of beautiful stained glass windows. Visitors can also explore the crypt, tower and museum.

3. Explore the Jorvik Viking Centre

The Jorvik Viking Centre is a must-visit for anyone interested in Viking history. The centre uses a combination of actors, special effects and archaeology to bring York’s Viking past to life.

4. Take a Ghost Tour

York is known for its ghost stories and there are numerous different ghost tours available. These tours are a great way to learn about the city’s history and see some of its most famous landmarks.

There is a whole range of different tours to take consider embarking on. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • York Witches and History Walking Tour with Potion Making
  • The Wizard Walk of York
  • The Deathly Dark Tour of York
  • Ghost Trail of York
  • Ghost Keeper Tour of York
  • Paranormal Research York
  • Death in a Chocolate Box
  • The Ghost Bus Tours York
Clifford's Tower in York

Clifford's Tower in York

5. Visit Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s Tower is a Norman castle located on top of a hill in the centre of York. The castle was once used as a prison but was closed in 1929. It is now open to the public. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city from the top of the tower. A restoration project was completed in early 2022, allowing visitors to see some of the structure's original features and access less crowded viewpoints.

If you're looking for tickets, check out their website.

The Shambles in York

The Shambles in York

6. Shop in the Shambles

The Shambles is a medieval street located in the centre of York. The street is lined with independent shops and cafes, making it the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or enjoy a cup of coffee.

Since Harry Potter was released, the street has experienced a newfound burst of tourism. You can find multiple shops that sell everything from wands to potions. So if you're a fan, budget a little extra cash to spend at one of the world's most immersive Harry Potter-esque streets in England!

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7. Visit the National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum is located in York and is home to a collection of locomotives and railway memorabilia. The museum is perfect for anyone who loves trains or wants to learn about the history of the railways that still work to shuttle people across the country efficently.

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8. Learn about York’s Roman History

York was once a major city in the Roman Empire and there are a number of different ways to learn about its history. The Yorkshire Museum is home to a collection of Roman artefacts, while the York Archaeological Trust offers a variety of tours and excavations.

Get more information on tickets, new exhibits and tour opportunities by visiting their website.

9. Take a Boat Tour on the River Ouse

York is located on the River Ouse and there are a number of different boat tours available. These tours offer a different perspective of the city and are a great way to relax and see the sights.

10. Attend a York Racecourse Meeting

York Racecourse is one of the most popular horse racing venues in the UK. Visitors can enjoy a day at the races or simply explore the racecourse grounds, which are located on the edge of the city.

11. Visit the York Chocolate Story

The York Chocolate Story is a museum dedicated to the history of chocolate making in the city. The museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits and visitors can even make their own chocolate.

12. Stroll Around Rowntree Park

Rowntree Park is a large park located in the centre of York. The park is perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic on a sunny day. Visitors can also take part in a number of different activities, including tennis and bowling.

13. Visit the Castle Museum

The Castle Museum is located in a medieval castle in the centre of York. The museum houses a collection of artefacts from the city’s history, as well as a number of interactive exhibits.

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14. Learn About York’s Medieval History

York has a rich medieval history and there are several different ways to learn about it. The Yorvik Centre is a great place to start, while the York Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower discussed previously, are also worth a visit.

15. Enjoy a Drink in a Historic Pub

York is home to a number of historic pubs, many of which date back to the medieval period. These pubs are the perfect place to enjoy a pint or learn about the city’s history.

16. Visit the Treasurer’s House

The Treasurer’s House is a historic house located in the centre of York. The house was once the home of the city’s treasurer and is now open to the public. Visitors can explore the house and gardens, as well as enjoy views of the city.

17. Take a Tour Bus

There are a number of different tour buses available in York, each offering a different perspective of the city. These tours are a great way to see the sights and learn about the city’s history.

18. Escape Room in York

Escape Room in York is a live-action escape game located in the city centre. The game is perfect for groups of friends or family and offers a unique way to explore the city.

Make sure to check out:

  • Gr8escape
  • Mindlock Escape Games
fun-things-to-do-in-york-for-adults-and-kids

19. Harry Potter Shops

York is home to a number of Harry Potter shops, which are perfect for fans of the series. These shops sell a variety of merchandise, including clothes, toys and collectables. They are mainly located on the Shambles, where there have been decades of speculation J.K. Rowling based Diagon Alley's look on. She has disputed this claim, but either way, it definetly gives the look.

20. Shambles Food Court

The Shambles Food Court is located in the heart of York and offers a variety of different cuisines. The food court is perfect for anyone who wants to try something new or simply enjoy a meal in the city.

York Art Gallery is home to a collection of artwork from the city’s history. The gallery offers a variety of different exhibitions and is perfect for anyone who loves art or wants to learn about the city’s history.

fun-things-to-do-in-york-for-adults-and-kids

22. Yorkshire Museum & Gardens

The Yorkshire Museum is located in the heart of York and is home to a collection of artefacts from the city’s history. The museum also offers a number of different gardens, which are perfect for a leisurely stroll.

23. York Golf Range

York Golf Range is a driving range located on the outskirts of the city. The range is perfect for anyone who wants to practice their golf swing or simply enjoy the views.

24. York Maze

York Maze is a large maze located on the outskirts of the city. The maze is perfect for a family day out and offers a variety of different activities, including a playground and a picnic area.

25. Cafes in York

York is home to a number of different cafes, which offer a variety of different cuisines. These cafes are perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a meal in the city or simply relax with a cup of coffee.

26. Go Ape Dalby Forest

Go Ape Dalby Forest is a treetop adventure park located in the heart of the York area. The park offers a variety of different activities, including zip lines and rope courses.

27. Cycle Around York

York is a great city for cycling and there are a number of different routes to explore. These routes offer a great way to see the sights and get some exercise. There are also plenty of York Cycling tours to take advantage of as well.

The video above gives you about a 20-minute look into what your cycling adventure through York would entail.

28. York Footgolf

York Footgolf is a combination of football and golf and is located on the outskirts of the city. The course is perfect for anyone who wants to try something new or simply enjoy a game of footgolf.

29. 10 Pin Bowling

York Bowl is a ten-pin bowling alley located in the city centre. The alley is perfect for a family day out or a night out with friends. There is also a Hollywood Bowl located nearby.

30. York Dungeon

York Dungeon is a live-action attraction located in the city centre. The dungeon is perfect for anyone who loves history or wants to learn about the darker side of York’s past.

31. York Cinemas

York is home to a number of different cinemas, perfect for a night out. These cinemas show a variety of different films, from the latest blockbusters to independent films. Cityscreen is located right at the heart of the city and there is an iMax cinema located on the outskirts in Monks Cross.

fun-things-to-do-in-york-for-adults-and-kids

32. York Food Scene

York is home to a number of different restaurants, cafes and bars, perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the city’s food scene. There is a variety of different cuisines on offer, from traditional English food to international cuisine.

33. Nightlife

York offers a great nightlife scene, with a variety of different bars and clubs to choose from. The city centre is the perfect place to enjoy a night out, with a number of different bars and clubs located within walking distance of each other.

34. Shopping

York is home to a number of different shops, perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy some retail therapy. The city centre is the perfect place to go shopping, with a number of different stores located within walking distance of each other.

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35. Guided Pub Walks

A guided pub walk is a great way to explore York’s historic pubs. These walks are led by knowledgeable guides and offer a great way to learn about the city’s history.

36. York Cocoa Works

York Cocoa Works is a chocolate factory located in the city centre. The factory offers a number of different tours, perfect for anyone who loves chocolate or wants to learn about the process of making chocolate.

37. Yorkshire Appetite Food Tours

Yorkshire Appetite Food Tours provides a really great way to sample the food scene in York. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides and offer a great way to try new foods and learn about the city’s food culture.

38. Brew York Brewery Tour

Brew York Brewery Tour is a great way to learn about the city’s brewing history. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides and offer a great way to try different beers and learn about the brewing process.

39. Grand Opera House York

The Grand Opera House York is a historic theatre located in the city centre. The theatre offers a variety of different shows and is perfect for anyone who loves the arts.

40. Gin Tasting

York Gin Distillery offer a variety of different gin tasting experiences, perfect for anyone who loves gin or wants to learn about the process of making gin. The distillery is located on the outskirts of the city.

41. Bedern Hall

Bedern Hall is a historic building located in the city centre. The hall is perfect for anyone who loves history or wants to learn about the medieval period. The hall is also home to a number of different events and workshops.

42. Paranormal Research York

Paranormal Research York is a paranormal investigation group that offers a variety of different tours and events. These tours and events are perfect for anyone who loves the paranormal or wants to learn about the city’s history.

43. York Theatre Royal

York Theatre Royal is a historic theatre located in the city centre. The theatre offers a variety of different shows and is perfect for anyone who loves the arts.

44. Yorkshire Heart Vineyard & Brewery

Yorkshire Heart Vineyard & Brewery offer a variety of different tours and events. These tours and events are perfect for anyone who loves beer or wants to learn about the process of making beer. The brewery is located on the outskirts of the city.

45. Sharmini's Hands-On Indian Cookery Workshops

Sharmini’s Hands-On Indian Cookery Workshops offer a great way to learn about Indian cuisine. These workshops are led by knowledgeable chefs and offer a great way to try new foods and learn about the culture of India.

46. York Photography Tours

York Photography Tours offer a great way to explore the city through the lens of a camera. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides and offer a great way to learn about photography and take some amazing pictures.

47. Castle Howard

Castle Howard is a historic house located on the outskirts of the city. The house is perfect for anyone who loves history or wants to learn about the medieval period. The house is also home to a number of different events and workshops.

48. Dark Chronicles of York

Dark Chronicles of York is a walking tour that explores the dark side of the city’s history. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides and offer a great way to learn about the city’s dark past.

49. Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well is a historic building located in the city centre. The well is perfect for anyone who loves history or wants to learn about the medieval period. The well is also home to a number of different events and workshops.

50. Piglets Adventure Farm

Piglets Adventure Farm is a farm located on the outskirts of the city. The farm is perfect for anyone who loves animals or wants to learn about farming. The farm is also home to a number of different events and workshops.

20 More Things to Do in York (On a Budget)

If you are on a strict budget for things to do in York, don't worry! Plenty of activities won't cost you an arm and a leg. Here are 20 things to do in York on a budget:

1. Climb the York Minster towers for stunning views of the city – it only costs £5.50 for adults and £2.80 for children!

2. Visit the National Railway Museum – admission is free and it's a great day out for all the family.

3. Take a look around York Castle Museum – another free attraction that's perfect for history lovers.

4. For something a bit different, head to the Jorvik Viking Centre and learn all about the city's Viking past. It's £9.50 for adults and £6.00 for children.

5. York Art Gallery is free to enter and has a great collection of paintings, sculptures and more.

6. Strolling around The Shambles is a must-do when in York – it's one of the most picturesque streets in the city.

7. Take a walk along the ancient city walls – it's a great way to see York from a different perspective

8. York Minster is one of the most impressive cathedrals in the country and definitely worth a visit. Guided tours start from £8 for adults and £4 for children.

9. The Yorkshire Museum is free to enter and has exhibitions on everything from dinosaurs to Roman life.

10. For something a bit quirky, check out the York Dungeon – it's a great way to learn about the city's dark past! Prices start at £11 for adults and £9 for children.

11. The York Chocolate Story is a must for all sweet-toothed visitors! Learn about the city's rich chocolate history and make your own truffle to take home. Prices start at £9.95 for adults and £7.95 for children.

12. Ghost tours are a popular way to experience York after dark – there are plenty of spooky stories to be heard! Prices start at around £7.

13. Take a boat trip along the River Ouse – it's a great way to see the city from the water. Prices start at £7 for adults and £4 for children.

14. Visit Clifford's Tower, an imposing Norman castle that offers stunning views of the city. Admission is £4.70 for adults and £2.80 for children.

15. York Racecourse is a great day out if you're lucky enough to catch a race! General admission starts at £10.

16. The York Maze is perfect for a day out with the kids – there's plenty to keep them entertained, including mazes, giant slides and more. Prices start at £10.95 for adults and £9.95 for children.

17. Visit the Museum Gardens , a beautiful green space in the heart of the city that's home to several museums. Admission is free.

18. The York Chocolate Trail is a great way to sample some of the city's best chocolate – you can pick up a map from the tourist office for £2.50.

19. Take a look around Fairfax House, a beautifully preserved Georgian townhouse that's open to the public. Prices start at £7 for adults and £3 for children.

20. For something really unique, try the York Beer Experience – you'll get to sample some of the city's best brews on a guided tour! Prices start at £12.50.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous different activities and attractions to enjoy in York. Whether you’re interested in history, the arts, or just want to try something new, there’s sure to be something for you. So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring York today!

© 2022 Elin Beck

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