York is a city in the North Yorkshire county of England, UK. It sits on the bank of river Ouse and Foss. The city has a rich history with roots in Viking, Roman, and Medieval English culture. The best things to do in York revolve around exploring the various periods of its history and experiencing its culture.

The city is home to some of the most renowned medieval structures including York Minster, Castle, and City Walls. These are the best places to visit in York that depict its medieval glory. However, its story dates back to the time of the Vikings. Back then it was called Jorvick and you can experience this period of York’s history at the Viking Centre.

Later it became a Roman province in 71 AD. The Roman rule saw the construction of many of York’s attractions that you can tour today. The best preserved among these is the City Wall. Post the Roman era, came the time of the Dukes of York and Lord Mayors. The majority of historical things to see in York were built during the medieval period and under the British Empire.

Finally, you can also find marvels of the modern age, especially from the World War and Cold War periods. The bunkers and military museums are the top York tourist attractions that tell you about wartime.

Besides history, the city is also popularly known for its classic Georgian and Victorian Britain vibe. Many of the places to see in York hail from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also shops, confectionaries, tea rooms, and other establishments that date back to this period. The Shambles street was also famously featured in the Harry Potter movies. A themed tour of this street has become one of the most popular activities to do in York.

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Top 20 Tourist Places to Visit in York, England

1. York Shambles

This cobbled street is considered the historic heart of York. It was once lined with butcher shops and was called The Great Flesh Shambles. However, today it is one of the best places to visit in York for shopping, dining, and history tours.

It is also popular for its medieval aesthetics. You will find 14th-century timber houses and rustic-style shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is considered the most picturesque street in Britain.

This street was further popularized when it was featured in the Harry Potter films. You can take a walking tour through parts of the street that were shown in the movies. It is among the most fun things to do in York city centre. You can easily spend an hour or more exploring all the wonders of this street.

York Shambles

2. Barley Hall

This townhouse was first built in 1360 by monks of the Nostel Priory. Then this place served as the home of the Lord Mayor of York in the 15th century. The building is restored with elements from different times.

The majority of the woodwork hails from its original construction. But the overall aesthetics reflect a 15th-century townhouse. This makes it one of the most interesting things to see in York. You will need about an hour or so to tour the place.

Barley Hall

3. York Minster

This is one of the largest churches in Europe. It has a rich history of its own dating back to 627. The current structure was built in 1230. It incorporates several elements from the churches that stood here before it.

The blend of architectural styles from different periods makes it one of the most fascinating places to see in York, England. You will see the evolution of English Gothic architecture from the Early English period all the way to the Perpendicular period.

This cathedral is also renowned for the plethora of artworks that adorn its interiors. You will find stained glass windows, paintings, sculptures, intricate woodwork, and more. It is one of the most historical and culturally rich York tourist attractions. You will need about an hour or so to explore the cathedral.

York Minster

4. York Art Gallery

This art gallery is home to both ancient and contemporary works of art. You will find watercolour art, ceramics, sculptures, oil paintings, pottery, glassware, gold carvings, and more. The historic pieces date from the 14th century onwards.

The collection includes works from renowned creators from England, Italy, France, the Netherlands, China, Korea, and so on. It is one of the top York attractions for art admirers. You will need about two hours to tour this art museum.

York Art Gallery

5. Yorkshire Museum and Gardens

This complex comprises four museums. These are dedicated to Geology, Archaeology, Biology, and Astronomy. Each of these museums houses an incredible specimen of their respective fields.

The biology collection boasts more than 200,000 specimens of plants and animals. The geology section has 112,000+ specimens of soils, rocks, fossils, and minerals. The archeology museum is home to more than a million objects discovered from excavations around the world. It is one of the most interesting places to go in York.

The gardens are spread over 10 acres and are home to a variety of plants and trees. They are best known for the county champion trees, one of which is 150 years old. You will need about 2 to 3 hours to explore these museums and gardens when you visit York.

Yorkshire Museum and Gardens

6. York Castle

The original York Castle was built in 1068. It was expanded, renovated, and rebuilt several times in the next nine centuries. The castle is included among the best things to do in York, England for its history. It has played several roles, been under different rulers, and was the site of important historical events.

However, the castle lies in ruins now. Only a few of the pieces remain standing, the most prominent among these is the Clifford’s Tower. But, you can explore its history at the castle’s museum and learn about its former glory. You will need 2 hours or so from York travel to tour this entire place.

York Castle

7. Jorvik Viking Centre

This centre traces the Viking roots of York. It sits on the location of Jorvik, the Viking-era city that thrived here a thousand years ago. It is one of the best places to begin York sightseeing as you learn about the origin of the city.

This center recreates a Viking village as it would have during its heyday. You will see how the people looked, dressed, worked, and lived at the time. It is also known for several fun activities to do in York that trace back to the Viking culture. The best among these is an animatronic ride with 15 characters narrating about history and culture. You will need about an hour to explore the Viking centre.

Jorvik Viking Centre

8. National Railway Museum

This museum traces the 300 years of British rail transport history and the impact it had on people. This one is spread over 20 acres and exhibits several historic locomotives. The museum also gives you a peek into life at a railway station and workshop.

Some of the most popular exhibits of the museum include Queen Victoria’s Saloon, Flying Scotsman, Shinkansen Bullet Train, and Hogwarts Express Train Engine. It is one of the top places to visit in York for families. The museum also has interactive exhibits and an activity area for children. You can easily spend 2 to 3 hours exploring the museum.

National Railway Museum

9. York Cold War Bunker

Built-in 1961, this bunker served as a control room to monitor nuclear explosions. It also served as the HQ for the Royal Observer Corps. There were 30 such bunkers in the UK, but this is the only one preserved in the original state.

The bunker is one of the top post-war tourist attractions in York. It even has the original furniture and equipment. It shows a unique side of the panic after the advent of nuclear weapons and the life in these bunkers. You will need an hour or so to explore the bunker.

York Cold War Bunker

10. York Dungeon

This dungeon is a theatric experience that recreates a gruesome part of the city’s history. It’s about a time when prisoners were kept in horrific conditions in such dungeons. These shows are among the top York attractions in their own right.

The shows are interactive theatre experiences with elements of horror. It is one of the top things to do in York at night. The actors recreate events from the dungeon’s history while the theatrics create an immersive experience. You will need an hour and a half for a show and there are ten such shows for choice.

I suggest you should get your Entry Ticket to York Dungeon in advance.

York Dungeon

11. Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial

The museum was created on a former WWII airfield which was used by Allied Bomber Planes. The museum has more than 60 aircrafts from the WWII and Cold War period. It is one of the best places to visit near York if you are interested in war history.

This includes zeppelins, fighter planes, bombers, and more. The museum also features 250,000 artifacts including weapons, uniforms, documents, photographs, and film footage. You will need about 2 hours to tour this museum.

Yorkshire Air Museum

12. York Maze

This maze was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. It was built using more than two million corn plants. It is perhaps the largest maze in the world and definitely the largest in Britain. If you are looking for fun things to do near York you will enjoy this place.

The maze is like a treasure hunt. You will have to solve clues to navigate through it. It is also like an amusement park with over 20 different rides. This includes crazy golf, jumping castles, a climbing zone, quad bikes, a cob cliff challenge, and so on. You can easily spend a couple of hours to enjoy this place when you travel to York.

York Maze

13. Ghost Bus Tour

This tour is one of the most interesting ways to experience York sightseeing. It is a comedy, horror, and tour experience on a bus. Alongside tourist sites, this tour covers places of gruesome events and allegedly haunted ones.

The tour is led by a creepy conductor who gives a humorous spin on places to see in York. Some of the attractions included in the tour include Clifford’s Tower, Dick Turpin’s grave, York Minster, and a few others. You will need about an hour and a half for this tour.

I suggest you should book your Ghost Bust Tour in advance.

Ghost Bus Tour

14. River Cruise

This cruise tour takes you on a journey through River Ouse to explore things to see in York that sit along the riverside. This guided cruise also covers parts of the city’s history from the Viking and Roman eras. You will need about an hour for this cruise experience.

I suggest you should book your Tour of River Cruise in advance.

River Cruise

15. York’s Chocolate Story

The city of York has a great entanglement with chocolate. The York’s Chocolate Story tells you about the founding families of York’s confectioneries. The guided tour also takes you through various chocolate maker and seller shops.

You will also get to see how different brands make their signature chocolate products. Along this journey, you will also get to taste a variety of treats and even make your own. It is one of the most fun activities to do in York, England. You will need about 2 hours for this tour.

I suggest you should book a Guided Tour of York’s Chocolate Story in advance.

York’s Chocolate Story

16. Bettys Tea Room

This is one of the most well-known Tea Rooms in the UK. The traditional decor and delightful English delicacies make up for a wonderful experience. If you are visiting York from outside the UK, this is a great cultural experience.

You should make a booking a day or two in advance as this place is always in demand. Take an hour or so to enjoy tea and some snacks at Bettys when you visit York.

Bettys Tea Room

17. Harry Potter Tour

This tour covers various places to go in York that were featured in the Harry Potter films. The tour also covers themed shops and cafes that recreate the magical world of the films. Along the way, you will also get to enjoy games, quizzes, and trivia contests.

Some of the highlights of the tour include Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express Platform, and The Shop that Must Not be Named. It is the most fun thing to do in the York city centre. Some of the tourists also come dressed in Harry Potter garbs for a wholesome experience. You will need about 2 hours for this tour.

I suggest you should book a Guided Walking Tour of Harry Potter in advance.

18. Dark Chronicles Tour

This tour focuses on the bloody history of York, haunted places, urban legends, folk tales, and horrific incidents. It is a walking tour through dark alleys, abandoned historic sites, and several York attractions.

The tour also focuses on local tales of beheadings, blood eagles, torture dungeons, horrors of plague, and even the death of Guy Fawkes. It is one of the top things to do in York at night. You will need 2 hours for this tour.

I suggest you should book a Guided Walking Tour of Dark Chronicles in advance.

19. History & Witches Tour

This is yet another horror and ghost-focused tour to explore York tourist attractions. While the previous one focused on events, this one focuses on the alleged wizards, mages, and witches that are part of York’s legends.

A character guide conducts this tour telling spooky tales of mysterious and supernatural nature. Incidentally, these tales are connected to famous places to visit in York. This includes Shambles, Stonegate, York Minster, Barley Hall, and so on. It is a great 2-hour tour for York sightseeing with an entertaining perspective.

I suggest you should book your Walking Tour of History and Witches in advance.

20. City Walls Tour

The old city walls of York date back to the Roman Empire. These structures have known and seen it all. They have stood against wars and sieges. They have also witnessed the evolution of the city.

You will walk alongside these walls to learn about their history and the stories that took place around them. The tour also covers several historical places to visit in York that stand close to the walls. You will need about 2 hours for this tour.

I suggest you should go for a Guided Tour of City Walls of York.

City Walls York

If you are looking for more things to see in York, then check out the sections below. We have compiled a complete list of attractions and activities that you can enjoy in York and near it.

Things to do in York, England

Monuments, Museums & Historical Places to Visit in York, England

  1. York City Walls
  2. York Castle Museum
  3. York Museum and Gardens
  4. Barley Hall
  5. Red Tower
  6. Barker Tower
  7. The York Dungeon
  8. Merchant Adventure’s Hall
  9. National Railway Museum
  10. Pikeing Wall
  11. Roman Column
  12. Beningbrough Hall
  13. Yorkshire Museum
  14. Robin Hood Tour
  15. Fishergate Postern Tower
  16. Van Gogh Immersive Experience
  17. Clifford’s Tower
  18. Goddards Mansion
  19. York Minster
  20. York Mansion House
  21. National Trust Treasurer’s House
  22. Holgate Windmill
  23. Jorvick Viking Centre
  24. Abbey Church
  25. York Cold War Bunker
  26. Yorkshire Air Museum
  27. York Oratory
  28. Baile Hill
  29. St. Olave’s Church
  30. Holy Trinity Church
  31. Ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey

Nature & Wildlife Tourist Spots in York, England

  1. Fulford Ings
  2. New Earswick Nature Reserve
  3. Heworth Holme
  4. Moorslands Woodlands Nature Reserve
  5. Wheldrake Ings Nature Reserve

Entertainment & Leisure Tourist Spots in York, England

  1. Dean’s Park
  2. York’s Chocolate Story
  3. West Bank Park
  4. DIG: An Archeological Adventure
  5. Hull Road Park
  6. Rawcliffe Park
  7. Rowntree Park
  8. Grand Opera House
  9. York Racecourse
  10. Barbican
  11. Murton Park
  12. Breezy Knees Gardens

Shopping in York, England

  1. Parliament Street
  2. Vangarde Shopping Park
  3. Shambles Market
  4. Murton Sunday Market
  5. Coppergate Shopping Center
  6. Bishy Road
  7. York Designer Outlet
  8. Clifon Moor Retail Park
  9. Stonegate
  10. Monks Cross Shopping Park

Offbeat Places, Tours, & Adventures in York, England

  1. Ghost Bus Tour
  2. Walking Tours
  3. Boat Cruise
  4. Hiking

Sightseeing in York, England

  1. Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate Sign
  2. York Cat Trail
  3. Foss Fairy Trail
  4. Bloody Tour
  5. Chocolate Tour
  6. Harry Potter Tour
  7. History & Witches Tour
  8. Dark Chronicles Tour
  9. City Walls Tour
  10. The Bloody Tour
  11. Tansy Beetle Mural
  12. Ghost Tour
  13. St. Helen’s Square
  14. The Fisher of Dreams Sculpture
  15. Micklegate
  16. Northeastern Railway War Memorial

Food, Dining, Restaurants, & Street Food in York, England

  1. Rustique
  2. Bootham Bar
  3. Cocoa Joe’s
  4. Shambles Market
  5. 31 Castlegate
  6. Roots
  7. Bill’s York
  8. The Block
  9. Rattle Owl
  10. Love Cheese
  11. Partisan
  12. Los Moros
  13. Sara Danesin
  14. Satano
  15. Melton’s
  16. The Pig & Pastry
  17. Skosh
  18. Coconut Lagoon
  19. Fish & Forest
  20. Arras
  21. Pairings Wine Bar
  22. Cafe No. 8
  23. Mannion & Co
  24. The Hairy Fig
  25. Ambiente Tapas
  26. Il Paradiso del Cibo

Where to Stay in York?

Here we have listed Top Rated Luxurious, Mid-Range, and Budget Hotels in York. You can check below listed hotels for your perfect stay in York.

Luxurious Hotels

  1. The Grand, York
  2. Middlethorpe Hall & Spa
  3. Grays Court Hotel
  4. The Plough Inn
  5. Dean Court at York
  6. Principal York
  7. Minster Walk Guest House
  8. The Judges Lodging
  9. The Fort York
  10. Best Western Kilima Hotel

Mid-Range Hotels

  1. Tower Guest House
  2. Hotel Indigo York, an IHG Hotel
  3. 23 St. Mary’s
  4. York Pavilion Hotel, Sure Collection By Best Western
  5. The Fat Badger
  6. Hampton by Hilton York
  7. Mercure York Fairfield Manor Hotel
  8. Middletons York
  9. Radisson Hotel York
  10. Novotel York Centre Hotel

Budget Hotels

  1. Travelodge York Central
  2. Travelodge York Central Layerthorpe
  3. Holiday Inn Express York, an IHG Hotel
  4. Travelodge York Hull Road
  5. Premier Inn York City Blossom Street South Hotel
  6. Travelodge York Central Micklegate
  7. YHA York
  8. Safestay York – Micklegate
  9. Ibis York Centre
  10. York City (Blossom St North) hotel


Custom Tours Package in York

How to Reach York, England?

By Air

The Leeds Bradford airport is the closest airport to visit York. However, this airport has limited international connectivity. If you are travelling from international destinations, you can pick the airports of Manchester and London. These airports receive direct flights from several cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.

You can reach York from any of the above-mentioned cities (Leeds, Manchester, and London) by train or bus.

By Road

York sits at the intersection of four train routes. These are the Northern, Grand Central, Transpennine Expressway, and London North Eastern Railway. So you can easily travel to York from almost any major town or city in the UK. This includes Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham, Leicester, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, and several others.

Similarly, you can also get buses to visit York from all over the UK. However, you only need to take a bus to the nearest train station. The railway route is much more efficient for intercity travel in the UK.

If you are planning to reach York by road, you should head for routes A19, A1079, A166, A64, or A59. These routes intersect with A1237 and A64, which surround the city.

By Water

There are no direct water routes to reach York.

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