What to Do and Where to Go in York

York is a stunning city bursting with history, culture and magic (Harry Potter fans will understand that reference). There are an abundance of attractions suitable for all ages and all interests and this makes it an ideal place to spend a day or a weekend with friends, family and children.

York Minster

Getting There

York is located in the North of England and by car, just off the M1/M62 network. There are many car parks centrally located and with most attractions within walking distance of one another, the six Park & Rides make it convenient to store your car during your stay.
Rail however, may be more convenient for some and trains from major cities like Leeds, Manchester, London and Edinburgh and even smaller towns like Dewsbury travel directly into York railway station.
Although York doesn’t have an airport, it is easy to get to from Leeds Bradford International Airport as the 757 bus from Leeds-Bradford airport goes to Leeds train station, where visitors can then hop on a train to York.

Where to Stay

The best area to stay in York is within the city centre itself, where, as mentioned above, main attractions are within walking distance of each other.
For budget-friendly options, there are Premier Inns, Holiday Inns, Ibis Budgets and Travelodge’s dotted around the city.
For more upscale options, visitors might be more inclined towards Malmaison, The Grand York and The Principal York.

What to Do

York is bursting at the seams with attractions and to really get a taste of most of what is on offer, you will need a nice weekend in the city. One of the best places to start is by purchasing the digital York Pass: a sightseeing card which gives visitors free entry to top attractions, museums and monuments in York and includes a free 24 Hour hop on hop off bus tour. Whether it is York Dungeon, Fairfax Museum, York Cocoa House or the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, the York Pass is extremely convenient and helpful.
The Pass can be purchased for One, Two or Three-Days and costs £48, £55 and £70 respectively, with total savings of £13.95, £45.95 and £45.25.

Some of the main attractions in York are:

  • Shambles / Shambles Market: Shambles is one of York’s most famous landmarks and one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe. With its cobbled streets and overhanging buildings, it is believed to have been the inspiration behind Diagon Alley from the movie adaptation of the Harry Potter series. Today, the beautiful old buildings have been restored and now house cheerful cafés and quirky boutiques and the smells are rather more pleasant with aromas from the chocolate, fudge and sweet shops, clothes and accessories and gift shops.
  • Castle Howard: Castle Howard is a stately home in North Yorkshire, England, within the civil parish of Henderskelfe, located 15 miles north of York.
  • Web Adventure Park: Web Adventure Park has a huge soft play area with an astro slide and climbing frames, a role play village (Buggington) with dressing up costumes, exciting ball cannons, a football arena, a disco and separate play areas for the under 5’s and babies, a baby sensory area and a new Ninja/Obstacle course for the older children.
    Outdoors the landscaped gardens contain numerous climbing frames, sand play and a water play area, hammocks and an Animal Park with goats, micro pigs, chipmunks, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. Go karts, quad bikes and a toddler track with pedal tri-bikes for smaller children and adults too.
  • Point Zero Trampoline Park, York
  • City River Cruises, York: The York City Cruise provides an entertaining and informative tour of the historic city on a boat ride, as seen from the River Ouse.
  • *York Dungeon
  • *York Cocoa House
  • York’s Chocolate Story
  • *Fairfax House: Fairfax House is a Georgian townhouse available for visitors to tour both independently and as part of a guided group.
  • Clifford’s Tower: An imposing tower standing proud on a high mound, it provides stunning panoramic views over Old York. It is almost all that remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, and has served as a prison and a royal mint in its time.
  • York Art Gallery
  • *York Minster: York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals. Since the 7th century, the Minster has been at the centre of Christianity in the north of England and today remains a thriving church rooted in the daily offering of worship and prayer. Walking to the top provides an incredible view over the rooftops of York. 
  • *Merchant Adventurers’ Hall: The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is a medieval guildhall in the city of York, England. It is a Grade I listed building. 
  • *DIG: An Archaeological Adventure: DIG is a hands-on archaeological adventure giving kids the chance to become trainee ‘diggers’ and discover the most exciting artefacts from 2000 years of York’s history! Tours last one hour and are all based on real-life digs in the city and filled with replica Roman, Viking, medieval and Victorian find.
  • *Jorvik Viking Adventure: The Jorvik Viking Centre is a museum and visitor attraction in York, England, containing lifelike mannequins and life-size dioramas depicting Viking life in the city.
  • Betty’s: A York classic, and no trip to the city is complete without visiting the traditional tea room for a light lunch or afternoon tea.
  • *Van Gogh Immersive Experience

Attractions marked with an asterisk* were a part of a Press Tour we went on as guests of Visit York, and these activities (plus more) are free with a York Pass.

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