Things to do in York – United Kingdom

Are you looking to explore the charm and history of old England? York, in the United Kingdom, offers a plethora of attractions and activities that will captivate any visitor. With its rich heritage, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, this historic city has something to offer everyone.

Key Takeaways

  • York offers a variety of attractions and activities for tourists to enjoy.
  • Top attractions include the National Railway Museum, York Minster, York Castle Museum, and the Shambles.
  • Visitors can explore York’s chocolate history, walk along the city walls, and visit the Jorvik Viking Centre.
  • Other highlights include Clifford’s Tower, York Cold War Bunker, and the York Dungeon.
  • Taking a ghost tour and enjoying afternoon tea at Betty’s are also recommended activities.

Uncover Historical Sites

York is renowned for its rich history, and you won’t want to miss exploring the city’s fascinating historical sites. From medieval marvels to well-preserved relics, there is something for every history enthusiast.

“History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.” – Lord Acton

One of the top attractions in York is the magnificent York Minster. Step inside this impressive Gothic cathedral and marvel at its breathtaking architecture and stunning stained glass windows. Climb the central tower for panoramic views of the city.

Top Historical Sites in YorkDescription
York Castle MuseumDiscover York’s past through interactive exhibits and recreated period rooms at this fascinating museum. Don’t miss the famous Victorian street, complete with authentic storefronts and displays.
Clifford’s TowerRising above the city’s skyline, Clifford’s Tower is a medieval keep that offers panoramic views of York. Learn about its turbulent history and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of times gone by.

Another must-visit site is the charming Shambles, one of the best-preserved medieval streets in Europe. Take a leisurely stroll along its narrow, cobbled lanes and admire the timber-framed buildings that lean precariously toward each other, creating an enchanting atmosphere straight out of a fairytale.

The Shambles: A Walk Through History

Once lined with butcher shops and filled with the sounds and smells of commerce, the Shambles has transformed into a picturesque street with boutique shops, tearooms, and quaint souvenir stores. Take in the delightful architecture and imagine what life was like centuries ago.

  • Explore the specialty stores and find unique gifts or souvenirs.
  • Indulge in traditional Yorkshire treats at the bakeries and sweet shops.
  • Don’t forget to stop by the Harry Potter-themed shops for a touch of wizardry.

As you wander the idyllic streets of York, the city’s rich history comes alive. Uncover the stories, immerse yourself in the past, and create unforgettable memories of this enchanting destination.

Wander the Idyllic Streets

York’s charming streets are like stepping back in time, and wandering through them is a must-do experience. As you stroll along the cobblestone paths, you’ll be captivated by the city’s rich history and unique character. Start your exploration at the Shambles, a medieval street lined with timber-framed buildings that lean towards each other, creating a narrow and picturesque corridor. The Shambles is known for its quaint shops selling everything from traditional sweets to handmade crafts, making it a delight for both history buffs and shopaholics.

Another idyllic street worth exploring is the Barbican, a well-preserved section of the ancient city walls. As you walk along the Barbican, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of the city, including York Minster, the majestic cathedral that dominates the skyline. Take a moment to admire the intricate architectural details of the Minster before continuing your journey through the streets of York.

For a unique sightseeing experience, consider joining a walking tour that showcases the hidden gems and lesser-known corners of York. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who will share fascinating stories and historical facts about the city. They will take you off the beaten path, allowing you to discover charming alleyways, hidden gardens, and secret passages that are often overlooked by tourists.

Quote: “York’s idyllic streets offer a glimpse into the city’s past, with their well-preserved architecture and quaint atmosphere. It’s a truly magical experience to wander through these historic streets and soak in the charm of York.” – Sarah, a local resident.

Complete Table:

Top AttractionsDescription
ShamblesA medieval street with timber-framed buildings and unique shops.
BarbicanA preserved section of the city walls offering panoramic views.
York MinsterA magnificent cathedral with intricate architectural details.
Walking ToursGuided tours that uncover hidden gems and secret passages.

Whether you follow the leads of the locals or venture off the beaten path, York’s idyllic streets will enchant you with their timeless beauty. Explore at your own pace, immerse yourself in the city’s fascinating history, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Immerse in Vibrant Culture

Immerse yourself in York’s vibrant culture and discover the city’s thriving arts and entertainment scene. With a wide range of activities to choose from, you’ll find something to suit every taste and interest. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, art lover, or simply looking for a fun-filled experience, York has it all.

Start your cultural journey with a visit to the York Theatre Royal, a historic venue that has been entertaining audiences for over 270 years. Take in a play, musical, or dance performance and be captivated by the talent on display.

If you’re interested in visual arts, the York Art Gallery is a must-visit destination. Explore its impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics, showcasing both local and international artists. Don’t forget to check out the gallery’s temporary exhibitions for a dose of contemporary art.

Outdoor Adventures and Luxury Experiences

For those seeking outdoor adventures, York offers a range of activities to get your adrenaline pumping. Explore the picturesque countryside surrounding the city with a bike tour, or take a leisurely stroll along the River Ouse for stunning views of the city’s skyline.

If luxury is more your style, indulge in a pampering spa experience at one of York’s top-notch wellness centers. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, or rejuvenating body treatment, and leave feeling refreshed and revitalized.

York’s Culinary Delights

No visit to York would be complete without experiencing its culinary delights. From traditional British cuisine to international flavors, the city’s thriving food scene offers something to satisfy every palate.

Indulge in a quintessentially British afternoon tea at Betty’s, a beloved institution that has been serving up delicious treats since 1919. Savor delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of mouthwatering pastries.

National Railway MuseumDiscover the fascinating history of railways and explore a vast collection of locomotives, carriages, and memorabilia.
York MinsterMarvel at the stunning Gothic architecture of this magnificent cathedral, and climb to the top for panoramic views of the city.
York Castle MuseumStep back in time and immerse yourself in the history of York, with exhibits showcasing life from the Victorian era to the 1960s.

For a unique dining experience, head to one of York’s many independent restaurants, where you can sample local ingredients and innovative dishes. From fine dining establishments to quirky cafes, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

Immerse yourself in York’s vibrant culture and explore the city’s rich history, indulge in culinary delights, and embark on outdoor adventures. With its diverse range of activities and attractions, York offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

Additional York Activities

  • Take a ghost tour and discover the haunted tales and legends of York.
  • Explore the historic city walls and soak in the views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Visit the Jorvik Viking Centre and journey back in time to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Viking-age York.

Delight in Culinary Delights

York is a haven for food lovers, with a range of culinary delights to satisfy all palates. Whether you’re craving traditional British fare or international cuisine, the city offers a plethora of dining options that are sure to entice your taste buds.

Start your gastronomic journey with a visit to Betty’s, a renowned tearoom that has been serving delicious treats since 1919. Indulge in a sumptuous afternoon tea experience, complete with delicate sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of delectable pastries. The elegant surroundings and impeccable service make it a truly unforgettable experience.

For those seeking a more international flavor, York’s diverse culinary scene won’t disappoint. Take a stroll along Fossgate, one of the city’s vibrant foodie hubs, and discover an array of independent cafes and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. From Italian trattorias to Indian curry houses, you’ll find something to satisfy every craving.

Sample Traditional Yorkshire Fare

Yorkshire is known for its hearty and comforting dishes, and no visit to the city would be complete without trying some traditional specialties. Head to a local pub and sample a classic Yorkshire pudding, a light and fluffy savory pudding often served with roast beef and gravy. For a true taste of the region, don’t forget to try Yorkshire parkin, a deliciously spiced ginger cake, and Wensleydale cheese, a crumbly and tangy cheese that pairs perfectly with fruitcake.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not embark on a food tour? Join a knowledgeable guide as you explore the city’s culinary highlights and learn about the history and heritage behind each dish. From artisan chocolate shops to historic markets, you’ll discover the hidden gems of York’s food scene.

Whether you’re a foodie or simply enjoy exploring new flavors, York’s culinary delights are not to be missed. So, grab your fork and embark on a gastronomic adventure in this charming city.

Recommended Culinary ExperiencesContact Information
York Food

Step into History at the National Railway Museum

If you have an interest in trains and railways, a visit to the National Railway Museum is an absolute must. Located in the heart of York, this fascinating museum is home to an impressive collection of locomotives, carriages, and railway memorabilia that spans over 300 years of railway history.

As you wander through the museum’s vast exhibition halls, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at iconic steam engines like the majestic Mallard, which still holds the world record as the fastest steam locomotive. The museum also houses a wide variety of vintage carriages, including the opulent Royal Carriages that once transported British monarchs on their travels.

One of the highlights of the National Railway Museum is the chance to step aboard some of the locomotives, allowing you to experience the grandeur and engineering marvels of these historical trains up close. From the elegant and luxurious interiors of the Orient Express to the rugged charm of the early steam engines, each exhibit offers a unique glimpse into the golden age of rail travel.

For railway enthusiasts and history buffs alike, a visit to the National Railway Museum is an unforgettable journey through time and a chance to appreciate the remarkable impact that railways have had on the development of the United Kingdom.

Things to do at the National Railway Museum
Marvel at the iconic steam engines
Explore vintage carriages
Step aboard historical locomotives
Learn about the history of rail travel
Discover the engineering marvels of the past

Visitor Information

  • Location: Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ
  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Christmas Day)
  • Admission: Free (Donations welcome)
  • Accessibility: The museum is fully accessible with ramps and lifts available throughout the exhibition halls. Wheelchair hire is also available.
  • Visitor Facilities: The National Railway Museum offers various amenities, including a cafe, picnic areas, a gift shop, and free Wi-Fi.

“The National Railway Museum provides a fascinating insight into the history and development of rail travel. Whether you’re a railway enthusiast or simply curious about the golden age of trains, this museum has something to captivate and inspire visitors of all ages.” – The York Times

Marvel at the Magnificent York Minster

Standing tall in the heart of York, the awe-inspiring York Minster is a true architectural masterpiece. This stunning Gothic cathedral is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe and has been a place of worship for over 1,000 years. With its intricate stained glass windows, soaring towers, and intricate stone carvings, the Minster never fails to captivate visitors from around the world.

As you enter the cathedral, you’ll be greeted by an overwhelming sense of grandeur. Take your time to admire the exquisite details of the interior, from the magnificent nave to the beautiful choir stalls. Climb the narrow spiral staircase to the central tower for breathtaking panoramic views of York and beyond. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Undercroft, an underground exhibition space where you can learn about the history and archaeology of the Minster.

A Testament to Human Ingenuity

The York Minster is a testament to human ingenuity and the enduring power of faith. Its construction began in the 13th century and took over 250 years to complete. The skilled craftsmen who worked on the Minster left behind a legacy of exceptional artistry and craftsmanship that can still be appreciated today. From the delicate tracery of the stained glass windows to the intricate stone carvings, every detail of the Minster reflects the dedication and skill of its builders.

While exploring the Minster, be sure to visit the Chapter House, home to the famous medieval stained glass window known as the “Heart of Yorkshire.” This stunning piece of artwork is a prime example of the exquisite craftsmanship found throughout the cathedral.

Whether you’re admiring the Minster from the outside or exploring its magnificent interior, a visit to York would not be complete without experiencing the grandeur of this iconic landmark. Marvel at the York Minster’s architectural splendor and discover the rich history and spirituality that have shaped this beloved symbol of the city.

HighlightOpening HoursAdmission
Tower Climb10:00 AM – 5:00 PM£5.00
Undercroft Exhibition10:00 AM – 5:00 PM£9.00
Chapter House10:00 AM – 5:00 PMFree

Explore History at York Castle Museum

Step back in time and delve into York’s past at the captivating York Castle Museum. This renowned attraction offers a fascinating journey through the city’s history, showcasing a diverse range of exhibits that bring the past to life. From Victorian street scenes to recreated prison cells, the museum offers a unique and immersive experience that will transport you to different eras in York’s history.

At York Castle Museum, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the former York Castle complex, which played a significant role in the city’s history. Discover the stories of the prisoners who were held within its walls and gain insight into the harsh realities of life in the past. The museum also houses a collection of artifacts and displays that illustrate various aspects of York’s rich cultural heritage.

One of the highlights of a visit to York Castle Museum is the recreated Victorian street, complete with authentic shops, displays, and costumed characters. Step into the past and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of bygone days, as you stroll along the cobbled streets and explore the intricately furnished shops. It’s a truly immersive experience that offers a glimpse into the daily lives of people in Victorian York.

In addition to its historical exhibits, York Castle Museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and special events throughout the year, ensuring there is always something new and exciting to discover. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking to gain a deeper understanding of York’s past, a visit to York Castle Museum is a must-see attraction that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the city’s rich heritage.

Key Information 
LocationEye of York, York, YO1 9RY
Opening HoursMonday to Sunday: 9:30am – 5:00pm
AdmissionAdults: £12.50, Children (16 and under): Free

Experience the Quaintness of the Shambles

Lose yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the Shambles, a picturesque street that has retained its medieval character. As you stroll through its narrow, cobbled lanes, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The timber-framed buildings lean precariously towards each other, creating a charming and unique setting. The Shambles is renowned for its quaint shops, offering a variety of goods from traditional sweets to artisan crafts. Take the time to explore the hidden passages and alleyways that branch off from the main street, revealing delightful surprises at every turn.

One of the highlights of the Shambles is the presence of original meat hooks still hanging from the buildings, a nod to its past as a bustling market street. These hooks were used to display meat and offal, giving the street its name. Today, the Shambles is a haven for shoppers, with a range of boutique shops selling everything from vintage clothing to handmade jewelry. Don’t forget to stop by The Shambles Market, where you can find fresh produce, unique gifts, and mouthwatering street food.

For a truly immersive experience, consider joining a guided walking tour of the Shambles. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the history and stories of this fascinating street, bringing its past to life. You’ll hear tales of the butcher shops that once lined the street, the witches and ghosts that roamed its alleys, and the secrets hidden within its walls. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a shopaholic, or simply looking to soak up the atmosphere, the Shambles is a must-see attraction in York.

Table: Shops to Explore in the Shambles

Shop NameSpecialty
The Shop That Must Not Be NamedHarry Potter-themed merchandise
Ye Olde Pie ShoppeTraditional English pies
Shambles MarketFresh produce and street food
The ImaginariumUnique gifts and curiosities

The Shambles is a true gem in the heart of York, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history and a delightful shopping experience. Immerse yourself in its medieval charm, explore its nooks and crannies, and discover the hidden treasures that make it a must-see attraction in York. Whether you’re admiring the leaning buildings, browsing the shops, or indulging in some delicious street food, the Shambles is an enchanting destination that will leave you with lasting memories.

Journey through Viking History at Jorvik Viking Centre

Embark on a journey through time at the Jorvik Viking Centre and discover the fascinating history of the Vikings in York. As you step into the centre, you’ll be transported back to the 10th century, where you’ll get a unique glimpse into the daily life of the Vikings. Through interactive exhibits and immersive displays, you’ll learn about their trading practices, craftsmanship, and even their toilet habits! With a reconstructed Viking village and artifacts unearthed from archaeological excavations, the Jorvik Viking Centre offers an authentic and educational experience.

The highlight of the visit is the famous ride experience, where you’ll climb aboard a replica Viking ship and be taken on a thrilling journey through the recreated streets of Jorvik. As you glide past realistic animatronic figures and reconstructed buildings, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The sights, sounds, and even the smells of the Viking city are meticulously recreated, providing an immersive and unforgettable experience.

For those interested in the Viking era, a visit to the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must. The centre offers a wealth of information, engaging exhibits, and knowledgeable guides who are passionate about sharing the Viking history of York. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the past, the Jorvik Viking Centre offers an enriching and entertaining experience that shouldn’t be missed during your exploration of York.

Key HighlightsPractical Information
Authentic Viking VillageLocation: Coppergate, York
Interactive ExhibitsOpening Hours: 10am – 5pm
Reconstructed Viking Ship RideAdmission: Adult – £12.50, Child (5-16) – £8.50
Knowledgeable GuidesWebsite:

Immerse yourself in the world of the Vikings and gain a deeper understanding of York’s rich historical heritage at the Jorvik Viking Centre. With its engaging exhibits, realistic recreations, and educational experiences, it’s no wonder that the centre is one of the must-see attractions in York. Whether you’re visiting with family, friends, or as a solo adventurer, the Jorvik Viking Centre promises to transport you back in time for an unforgettable journey through Viking history.

Discover the Majesty of Clifford’s Tower

Take in breathtaking views of York from atop Clifford’s Tower, a symbol of the city’s medieval past. This historic landmark, located in the heart of the city, offers a glimpse into York’s rich history and provides a panoramic vantage point to admire the surrounding beauty. Built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Clifford’s Tower stands as a testament to the city’s resilience and fortitude.

Once inside the tower, you’ll discover the exhibition that delves into its fascinating past, showcasing its strategic significance and the events that unfolded over the centuries. From battles to imprisonments, Clifford’s Tower has witnessed it all. As you ascend the steps, you’ll be transported back in time, experiencing the castle’s storied past.

After exploring the tower’s interior, be sure to take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking views that await you at the top. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to see the stunning cityscape of York, including its historic buildings, winding streets, and the majestic York Minster. It’s the perfect opportunity to capture unforgettable photographs and create lasting memories.

Clifford’s Tower Opening Hours:

Monday10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

When visiting York, a trip to Clifford’s Tower is a must-see experience. Immerse yourself in the captivating history of this iconic landmark and marvel at the stunning views that await you. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking a memorable sightseeing adventure, Clifford’s Tower promises to leave a lasting impression.

Uncover Secrets at York Cold War Bunker

Step into the underground world of the York Cold War Bunker and uncover the secrets of this historic site. Nestled beneath the bustling city streets, this once top-secret government facility offers a fascinating glimpse into the Cold War era. Built in the 1960s and designed to protect the region in the event of a nuclear attack, the bunker remained a closely guarded secret until its decommissioning in the 1990s.

As you explore the bunker’s labyrinthine corridors and rooms, you’ll be transported back in time to an era of political tensions and nuclear fears. The authenticity of the site is truly remarkable, with original fixtures, equipment, and documents on display. Learn about the bunker’s purpose, operations, and the strategies employed during the Cold War period.

The York Cold War Bunker is a unique historical attraction that offers a captivating experience for history enthusiasts and curious visitors alike. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the era as you walk through the cramped living quarters, communication rooms, and decontamination areas. Gain insight into the daily lives of the personnel who would have been stationed here, ready to respond to any potential threat.

Opening HoursAdmissionContact Information
Monday – Friday: 10am – 4pmAdults: £9.50Phone: 01904 646940
Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 5pmConcessions (seniors, students): £8.50Email:

Discover the secret history that lies beneath the surface of York and gain a deeper understanding of the events that shaped our world. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the Cold War era, a visit to the York Cold War Bunker is a must-see when exploring the city. Unveil the mysteries of this hidden gem and immerse yourself in the intriguing world of Cold War espionage.

Brave the York Dungeon

Journey into the dark and eerie depths of York Dungeon for an unforgettable experience of history and scares. This popular attraction takes you on a thrilling adventure through the city’s unsettling past, bringing to life its darkest moments and legends.

As you brave the Dungeon, you’ll be guided by a cast of talented actors who will immerse you in the chilling tales of York’s history. From the horrors of the Black Death to the infamous Highwayman Dick Turpin, each scene is meticulously designed to send shivers down your spine.

The York Dungeon is not for the faint-hearted, but if you’re a fan of history mixed with adrenaline, it’s a must-visit. The interactive experience will transport you back in time, allowing you to witness the macabre events that shaped York’s past. Feel the tension rise as you navigate the dark corridors and encounter terrifying characters along the way.

With its atmospheric setting and spine-tingling storytelling, the York Dungeon offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking a thrill, this attraction is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a newfound appreciation for the haunted history of York.

Attraction NameAddressOpening Hours
York Dungeon12 Clifford Street, York YO1 9RDMonday-Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Take a Ghost Tour

Get ready for chills down your spine as you embark on a ghost tour, delving into the haunted history of York. This ancient city has a reputation for being one of the most haunted in the United Kingdom, with stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activities that will send shivers down your spine.

Join a guided ghost tour and explore the eerie streets and alleyways of York as your knowledgeable guide shares spine-tingling stories of the city’s dark past. From the infamous Grey Lady haunting the Treasurer’s House to the ghostly Roman soldiers marching through the streets, each stop on the tour will leave you captivated by the haunting tales of York.

As you walk through the dimly lit streets, you’ll discover the mysteries that lie behind the city’s historic buildings and landmarks. Hear about the ghostly residents of the Shambles, one of the oldest streets in York, and learn about the tragic events that gave rise to the hauntings at Clifford’s Tower.

Whether you’re a believer in the supernatural or simply interested in the history and legends of York, a ghost tour is a must-do activity. So, gather your courage and prepare for an unforgettable journey into the paranormal as you explore the haunted corners of this historic city.

Enjoy Afternoon Tea at Betty’s

Treat yourself to a delightful afternoon tea at Betty’s, a beloved institution in York. As one of the best things to do in York, this quintessentially British experience will transport you back in time to an era of elegance and refinement. Step into Betty’s elegant tearooms, adorned with beautiful Art Deco-inspired interiors and an ambiance that exudes sophistication.

Indulge in a delectable selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a tempting array of cakes and pastries. Sip on a perfectly brewed pot of tea or choose from a range of specialty coffees to complement your afternoon tea. The attentive and friendly staff at Betty’s will ensure that your experience is nothing short of exceptional.

Located in the heart of York, Betty’s is more than just a tearoom. It is a beloved gathering place that has been welcoming visitors since 1936. Immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere and take in the views of the bustling streets of York while enjoying your afternoon tea. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply treating yourself, this experience is not to be missed.

Afternoon tea at Betty’s is the perfect way to relax and recharge during your exploration of York. So, take a break from sightseeing and embrace the traditions of British tea culture. Indulge in this delightful experience and create lasting memories in one of the most iconic tearooms in the United Kingdom.


What are some popular activities to do in York?

Some popular activities to do in York include cultural tours, city tours, visiting historic sites, going on walking tours, and exploring architectural buildings.

What are some top attractions in York?

Some top attractions in York include the National Railway Museum, York Minster, York Castle Museum, and the Shambles.

What are some other highlights in York?

Other highlights in York include Clifford’s Tower, York Cold War Bunker, and the York Dungeon.

Are there any special experiences to try in York?

Yes, some special experiences to try in York include taking a ghost tour and enjoying afternoon tea at Betty’s.

Are there any outdoor activities available in York?

Yes, there are outdoor activities available in York such as Breezy Knees Garden and walking along the city walls.

What are some additional options for sightseeing and entertainment in York?

Additional options for sightseeing and entertainment in York include visiting the Barbican and exploring the collection at the National Railway Museum.