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The Ultimate Guide of Things to do in York
Looking for things to do in York? We’ve got you covered! York is best known for its incredible multitude of cultural, historical and scenic attractions, and has even been voted as the UK’s favourite city. The beautiful city is surrounded by extraordinary walls and home to the incredible York Minster; the winding cobbled streets and independent shops encourage tourists to walk around and immerse themselves in the city’s history. The majority of the main attractions in the city are all within a short walking distance, making it the ideal city to visit. And why not visit one of York’s charming pubs while you’re there? With locals claiming that there are over 365 of them, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
The Grand York
The Grand is Yorkshire’s only 5-Star hotel and offers its guests a luxurious experience during their stay. The extraordinary building retains large amounts of its original architecture and features, supplying visitors with beautiful views of York, including the surrounding ancient walls. Guests are able to fully submerge themselves within the relaxing atmosphere of their spa and gym, then treat themselves afterward to classic British dishes with a twist within their stunning Rise Restaurant, Bar and Terrace or an indulgent an Afternoon Tea experience with a selection of both sweet and savoury treats. Following a recent expansion, The Grand is also now home to an impressive cookery school, where you can brush up on your culinary skills thanks to their expert tutors.
The Grand, York, Station Rise, North Yorkshire, YO1 6GD, https://www.thegrandyork.co.uk/
Whether you’ve visited one of the company’s other venues across the UK or not, the York Dungeon is not to be missed when looking at things to do in York. Offering an immersive and interactive experience for visitors within the dungeon, the tour lasts just over an hour. Celebrating and informing individuals on Yorkshire’s two-thousand years of rich and detailed history, fun can be had by all members of the family. York Dungeon is a marvelous activity for tourists to engage in, with its fantastic special effects and engaging cast of actors, ensuring that every performance is special.
York Dungeon, 12 Clifford Street, York, YO1 9RD, https://www.thedungeons.com/york/en/
Jorvik Viking Centre
The Jorvik Viking Centre – Jorvik being the Viking name of York – offers visitors a carefully constructed interactive experience and exhibition that truly brings the 9th century Viking village to life (the creators have even managed to replicate the smells!). During the 1970s, excavations revealed a Viking site beneath the streets of York, and it is that settlement which the Jorvik Viking Centre is now built upon, giving visitors the opportunity to discover the remains of 9th-century homes. Voted as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, why not put this on your list of things to do in York?
19 Coppergate, York, YO1 9WT, https://www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk/
The York Minster is considered to be not only one of the world’s most beautiful Cathedrals, but one of Northern Europe’s most astounding Gothic Cathedrals. The Minster is the dominant landmark within York, making it one of the most popular things to do whilst visiting. The Minster contains the largest collection of medieval stained glass throughout the entirety of England, which thousands of people visit each and every year. If you decide to venture up the 275 steps to the top of the central tower – which is also York’s highest viewpoint – then you will be greeted with the most spectacular view of the entire city, whilst immersing yourself in its architectural beauty.
York Minster, Deangate, York, YO1 7HH, https://yorkminster.org/
Spark York is an exciting community of small and growing independent businesses which include bars, street-food, entertainment, co-working and retail. The idea is to encourage independently-run trading companies which are all local to York, furthering the trade of local produce. The quirky appearance of Spark York, made entirely of shipping containers, welcomes a refreshing change to the already beautiful cobbled city of York. Inspiring local people to take part in local projects which will improve their beloved city.
17-21 Piccadilly, York YO1 9PB, https://www.sparkyork.org/
Dating back to the Medieval era, this street was once filled with an abundance of butcher shops visited by locals. Today, the Shambles is not only officially York’s most picturesque street but is ranked as one of the most beautiful streets throughout the entirety of Britain. Home to a wide variety of shops, you can pop into an independent and quirky coffee shop or treat yourself to a delicate trinket in another. Not only is the Shambles encouraging of independent businesses, but it also welcomes more mainstream chains; proving that there really is something there for everyone. So why not add visiting The Shambles to your list of things to do in York?
The Shambles, York, YO1 7LX
National Railway Museum
York’s National Railway Museum is the proud home to over a million items of memorabilia, and honourably showcases more than 300-years of history under one – granted it is very large – roof! Being the largest Railway Museum in the UK, it displays an impressive collection of royal trains, some of which were once used by Queen Victoria. The carefully recreated stations include incredible locomotives as well as the only bullet train to be housed outside of Japan. The museum offers an excitingly unique afternoon tea for visitors to enjoy on a carefully restored train carriage; head over to our article on The Best Afternoon Tea in York to find out more.
Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ, https://www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/
Built more than nine centuries ago, Clifford’s Tower is one of York’s most visited tourist attractions and is comprised of a range of prisons, castles and law courts. Offering spectacular views from the hill’s summit, visitors will be rewarded with an undeniably beautiful overview of the city of York and the impressive York Minister – on some days it is even possible to see North York Moors National Park! For tourists looking to increase their knowledge on the history of the city, visiting Clifford’s Tower should be high on your list of things to do in York.
Tower Street, York, YO1 9SA, https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
Yorkshire Museum & Gardens
One of the very first purpose-built museums in the country, the Yorkshire Museum is composed of four collections which include archaeology, biology, astronomy and geology, presenting an array of both historical and local artefacts originating from the Viking and Roman period. Providing an ample array of history and knowledge, the museum hosts a variety of workshop projects for children, and community programmes for adults. The botanical gardens, which include an impressive selection of trees, bulbs and shrubs bring life and greenery to the museum, allowing visitors to take part in tranquil scenic walks and relaxing retreats.
Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York, YO1 7FR, https://www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/
Most popular for being home to the largest maze throughout the entirety of Europe, the York Maze ensures that the whole family will experience an exciting day out. The variety of activities provided for visitors, such as Crazy Golf, the Maze of Illusions and an obstacle course will keep you entertained for hours. The wide range of options supplied ensures that group members will be spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for a fun and active day out, then be sure to visit the York Maze when researching things to do in York.
York Maze, Elvington Lane, York, YO19 5LT, https://www.yorkmaze.com/
The Cookery School at the Grand York
Based in Yorkshire’s only 5-Star Hotel, the Cookery School at the Grand is a new addition, following the Hotel’s recent expansion scheme. Offering a wide selection of 43 classes to choose from, varying from ‘Curry Night’ to ‘Terrific Tartlets’, it is ensured that there will be a class for everyone. The expert Chef tutors will encourage attendees to enhance their skills whilst creating impeccable dishes under their guidance. The aim is to inspire cooks to enhance their abilities whether cooking for the family or hosting an exciting dinner party.
Station Rise, York, YO1 6GD, https://www.thegrandyork.co.uk/cookery-school/
York City Cruises
Looking to experience the wonderful sights of the city of York and its surrounding rural countryside without the stress of traveling around on foot? Then why not opt for a boat trip? York boat trips offer a variety of sailing times throughout the day on a selection of different boats accommodating to the needs of each individual group wanting to explore the city. Customers are also able to hire crafts during the evening for special occasions and parties as well as hiring self-drive boats during the day if requiring a more intimate exploration of the rivers and city sights.
City Cruises, York, The Boatyard, Lendal Bridge, York, YO1 7DP,
York’s Chocolate Story
York’s Chocolate Story provides both a descriptive and entertaining tour, guiding visitors through the city’s chocolate history and some of the founding families of the chocolate industry. You will discover the origins of the cocoa bean and it’s intricate journey into the finest chocolate created within the chocolate factory. Visitors will be educated on chocolate’s sustainable and ethical future, as well as discovering what it is about chocolate that makes us feel so happy! Voted for serving the best hot chocolate throughout the city, the Chocolate Story tour is one that you won’t regret when researching things to do in York.
York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York, YO1 7LD, https://www.yorkschocolatestory.com/
York Ghost Walks
The Original Ghost Walk of York has inspired and influenced many ghost walks around the world. A special team of experienced guides have worked together to seamlessly combine York’s intricate legends, history and apparent ghost sightings. Creating a spooky and thrilling atmosphere for their audience, with a selection of tours throughout the day. Whether you decide to wander along the city’s winding cobbled streets and dimly lit narrow passageways, whilst investigating tales of crime and rumour, or decide to board the Ghost Bus where you will learn some of the city’s most scandalous crimes, you’ll be ensured to have a fright.
York, YO1 9SN, https://www.theoriginalghostwalkofyork.co.uk/
Castle Howard is considered to be one of the UK’s most grand historic homes, located within a thousand acres of rural land, scattered with lakes, fountains, statues and temples. Within the castle, visitors are encouraged to gaze upon collections gathered and protected by numerous generations of the Howard family. Despite being built over an impressive 300 years ago, Castle Howard remains a family home to this day. Whilst visiting the castle and exploring the home at your own leisurely pace, the public is encouraged to engage with knowledgeable guides to acquire precise information about the home and family.
Castle Howard, York, YO60 7DA, https://www.castlehoward.co.uk/
York City Walks
Walking along York’s city walls during your visit is a necessity; built by the Romans, the walls have remained perfectly preserved over the centuries and continue to exist as the largest stretch of medieval walls throughout England. Whether you decide to walk the entire circuit – this will take you around 2 hours to complete – or decide to take part in a shorter length, you will be able to read the information scattered around the walls to gain an insight into the city’s history. Guides are available throughout the day to assist and lead groups around the walls, answering any questions they may have whilst providing essential knowledge.
York is home to a thriving and forever expanding food scene and has many renowned fine dining restaurants. Commenting on a few of our favourites; Roots has a menu that exists around three seasons, meaning that the dishes frequently change as the availability of ingredients fluctuates. Skosh is a multi-award-winning restaurant that incorporates international influence into contemporary British dishes, providing small plates that allow visitors to sample a variety of dishes. One of the city’s most romantic locations for fine dining has to be 2-AA-Rosette awarded Bow Room Restaurant at the Grade 1 listed Grays Court Hotel. Serving a sumptuous 10-course tasting menu of the finest local and seasonal ingredients. Featuring in many Food Guides, Melton’s offers its diners a carefully constructed menu which serves delicious modern British food. Finally, Arras looks at food from the past to improve future menus, creating thought-provoking dishes for customers to enjoy.