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Guide to York

If you’re wondering where is York, it is a city located in England’s largest country, Yorkshire. In this York travel guide, you will find everything you need to plan your trip to York England, such as places to visit in york, things to do in york, york tourist attractions, and many more!

This York guide is from my experience, I have traveled all over the world but chose to make York England my home. I never get bored of my beautiful city and after fifteen years, I still have things on my ‘Things to do in York’!

It’s easy if you want to have a day out in York. York is just two hours from London by rail and three hours from Edinburgh so the city can easily be visited as a day trip by train from these locations.

You won’t be confused in deciding what to do in York UK, there are so many fantastic things to do and see in York that you will want to stay longer as soon as you have arrived.

Having a York guide is so handy since York is centrally placed for trips further afield to explore all that the county of Yorkshire has to offer – from the stunning landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales to the rugged Yorkshire Moors and the dramatic, windswept North Yorkshire coast.

It is a very attractive destination for york tourist attractions!

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Guide To York
Guide To York

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best York Tours: Click here to check out the top York tours
Best York Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in York
Best York Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in York

Guide To York

Top 10 Things to do In York

1.York Minster

What to do in York UK? First, visit York Minister! York Minster is an Anglican cathedral lying in the heart of York city centre. This location should be added in your things to do in york city centre.

It is the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe and contains more stained glass than any other cathedral in England. This is one of the authentic York attractions, York Minster’s ornate Great East Window is the largest expanse of stained glass anywhere in the world.

provide visitors with the history and stories of this ornate building, this part of your travel can be your educational destination in your York guide.

Visitors can handle historic artifacts in the Undercroft Museum, see the seat of the Bishops of Yorkshire in the decorated Chapter House, explore the eerie Crypt and climb the 275 steps of the Minster’s central tower for a fantastic view of the city.


If you’re into exploring historical sites and wondering what to do in York England, is the circular remains of a Norman keep built on an artificial hill right in the city center.

Visitors can learn how the keep was built and used in the Norman era and climb up to the top of the open round tower for a 360-degree view of York. This destination should be put in your York travel guide to get a historical insight and astonishing panoramic view.

3.Barley Hall

If you want a unique place in your York Guide, Barley Hall is a restored medieval townhouse which, until recently, was hidden under the facade of a modern building.

This beautiful timber frame building has recreated medieval rooms offering visitors a glimpse into what life was like in medieval York. It could be one of the best things to do in york since this type of destination is not available in many locations.

4.York City Center

The next destination will take you to the central part of York, and there will be many things to do in York City Centre. York city center is a maze of pedestrianized streets, cobbled lanes, and hidden snickets (alleyways).

It is packed with independent shops and bars housed in an interesting mix of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian-era buildings.

Wander the stone flags of Stonegate, visit the bars on Swinegate, and the cozy boutiques of Fossgate.

See if you can find York’s shortest street with a long name – Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate. This is one of the most common york tourist attractions due to its centralized location.

5. The Shambles

Going to The Shambles is one of the things to do in York City Centre. The Shambles is a short, cobbled shopping street in the center of York.

It is famous for its medieval-era buildings which are lopsided, and tightly packed together with overhanging first floors, making it one of the best things to do in York.

The Shambles was once the location for York’s butchers’ shops and when you stroll The Shambles today, you can still see the medieval-era window ledges where the meat was displayed as well as the dangling rusty hooks used for hanging meat.

6. York’s City Walls

What to do in York UK City Walls? You can escape the bustle of the city center with a walk on York’s medieval city walls which are the longest city walls in England.

Visitors can access the free to enter walls at one of the four majestic medieval gateways, known in York as ‘bars.’

You should make this one of the places to visit in York. Walk the walls, glimpse hidden-from-view scenes of York life, and see historical artifacts such as the portcullis in Monk Bar or the barbican and archer’s arrow slits at Walmgate Bar.

A full circuit of the walls will take around two hours but the most scenic section is from Monk Bar to Bootham Bar which winds around the back of York Minster.


What to do in York England if you love museums? The Yorkshire Museum is the best place to go to learn about York’s Roman past through interactive, engaging exhibits.

also houses an excellent dinosaur exhibition about North Yorkshire’s Jurassic coastline.

Spend time in the Museum Gardens surrounding

The attractive gardens are home to the Roman remains (the Multiangular Tower), the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, and a tiny 19th Century observatory.

8. Mansion House

If you’re not into museum and wondering what to do in York England, The grand Mansion House is the home of the current Lord Mayor of York.

Visitors can view recreated bedrooms, dining rooms, and drawing rooms from the Georgian era plus a full working kitchen in the basement.

Learn about cooking and food in the Georgian era by watching the live cooking demonstrations which are held daily

9. York Castle Museum

What to do in York if you want to learn some history? York Castle Museum tells the history of the city of York and its residents.

The museum is famous for its life-size recreation of a Victorian street where visitors can wander into the shops, schoolroom, and police station to meet the people who ‘live’ there to learn about life in Victorian York.

You can also see what used to be York’s prison and learn about crime and punishment in Victorian York from the tales of the real-life prisoners who lived in these cells.

10. Jorvik Viking Centre

The Jorvik Viking Centre will complete your lists of What To Do York through the ages as it is where you will learn about the Viking history of York.

Viking artifacts continue to be found in York today and there is a week-long, rousing annual Viking Festival hosted every February.

This small but very popular museum houses artifacts found on this very site. The highlight of the museum is a ‘cab ride’ through a recreated Viking village.

Guide To York

Food to try in York

If you’re a foodie, here’s what to do in york!

York is packed with independent restaurants and cafes to suit all budgets and tastes ranging from the indulgent ‘The Ivy’ on central St. Helen’s Square to a traditional British fish and chip takeaway from Papa’s on Parliament Street.

If you ask anyone from York what to do in York England, it might always be a pub. York is overflowing with pubs; it is said that wherever you stand in York you can see a pub.

Visitors should take advantage of this and enjoy a traditional pub roast dinner accompanied with a
savory Yorkshire Pudding, definitely must be put in “what to do in york uk” list! For a pub dinner with a great view of York Minster, try the pretty beer garden of The Lamb and Lion pub on High Petergate.

Or visit any of York’s budget-friendly bakeries when you’re having a day out in york, grab a sandwich and a drink, and enjoy an alfresco picnic in the gorgeous Museum Gardens or Dean’s Park behind York Minster.

Your day out in york can start with a cup of Yorkshire tea. Visit Betty’s Tea rooms where you will be served tea and cake on bone china crockery by bow-tied waiters. The 100-year-old tea room also has a bakery section for takeaway bread and cakes. You won’t be able to resist a large Fat Rascal – a scone type cake made from cherries and almonds.

Solo travelers should visit the original House of Trembling Madness on Stonegate.

This medieval ale house is not visible from the street and can be found above the beer shop of the same name.

As i told you before, Pub should be in your “What to Do York” list, pub is also one of the top places to visit in York. The pub serves delicious food alongside a selection of craft beers. Food is served to long communal benches and tables which are not pre-bookable; solo travelers will instantly be drawn into conversation.

York Money Saving Tips

I have listed out so many things to answer the question of what to do in York England, and you should also know that York is a great city to visit on a budget.

Several York attractions are free and, as the city is compact and easily walkable, you do not need to take additional transport or taxis for your sightseeing in your York guide.

Another York guide tip i can share with you is there are a number of tourist cards available to purchase though I would recommend price comparing attractions, with consideration to your time frame, to see if these passes are good value for money for you and your stay in York.

If you are not planning a day out in York but a long action-packed sightseeing day or weekend trip, consider the York City Pass at £59 or £75 for two days.

Where is York pass eligible? This pass includes entry to over 50 York attractions (including York Minster) as well as a 24-hour bus sightseeing ticket plus a pizza or pasta meal from a restaurant in York city centre.

Guide To York

Packing Advice For York

Your plan in vacationing to York should not only be about what to do in York UK, but also what to bring in York. The most important item to pack for a visit to York England is comfortable walking shoes.

You will be doing a lot of walking around my beautiful city and flip-flops or sandals are not comfortable on cobbled lanes and do not grip well on smooth, stone steps.

Quick Tip: View my full UK packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my UK Essentials shopping list here.

Where to Stay in York

Planning about what to do in York UK is not enough without knowing where to stay! The best area to stay is inside the city walls or as close to the walls as possible.

As most of the York attractions are inside the city walls, this will limit the amount of walking you will need to do.

Blossom Street and Micklegate offer several budget friendly accommodation options and are just a five-minute walk from York rail station. This can be a perfect stay location that will bring you to the station and take you to the best things to do in york.

If you only want to have a day out in york, this hostel might be fit for you. Safestay York is a large, modern hostel located in an opulent Georgian era house on the cobbles of Micklegate.

Or, for something different, opposite Micklegate Bar is the Bar Convent. This is one of the oldest convents in England and it offers affordable rooms with breakfast to visitors to York.

An unbeatable city centre location and your place for many things to do in York city centre is the budget-friendly private and dorm rooms at The Fort York, above the popular Kennedys bar and restaurant. If you’re looking for a budget york travel guide, this place should be put as your stay location.

Mid-range travellers could head to the Judges Lodgings or the Dean’s Court hotel, directly opposite York Minster.

For those looking for a luxury stay, there is the imposing The Principal Hotel adjacent to York railway station with great views of the city walls.

Or the five-star Grand Hotel tucked just inside the city walls and within easy reach of all the York attractions.

Alternatively there are lots of beautiful Airbnbs in York so that’s also worth considering if you want somewhere you can cook for yourself. 

Map of Accommodation in York

Getting Around in York

A York guide won’t be complete without tips on getting around in York. The nearest airport to York is Leeds Bradford International Airport, a one-hour drive from the centre of York.

You can catch a bus and train from the airport traveling via Leeds or Harrogate.

The easiest way to travel to York is by rail.

York railway station is opposite the city walls and just a ten-minute walk from York Minster and the city center.

York is a compact city and it’s easy to create things to do in York city centre itinerary since the city center is pedestrianized. Unless you stay far outside the city center, you will not need buses or taxis during your stay in York.

York Safety Advice

When you already know what to do in York UK, make sure to always research on the area.

York is a safe city as long as the usual safety precautions are observed. Avoid the city centre’s riverside paths late at night or after a few drinks; the drop into the River Ouse is unfenced and fatalities have occurred. Use a licensed taxi cab from one of the several, marked taxi ranks dotted around the city centre. Make sure any taxi you enter has its company logo and phone number clearly displayed on the side of the vehicle.

Did You Get Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about the companies. 

York Travel Guide planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for York?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to York which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for York on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in York?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in York?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are,, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack

The Best Time To Visit York

Guide To York

York is a fantastic destination to visit at any time of the year.

The long northern summer evenings are ideal for busy days spent sightseeing or enjoying the city’s riverfront bars and restaurants.

At Christmas, York gets into the festive spirit with city-wide lights and the popular six week long St Nicholas Fair.

However, I think York is spectacular in Spring when daffodils blanket the slopes of the city walls and the hill of Clifford’s Tower shortly followed by vivid pink cherry blossoms.

Author Bio

Guide To York
Having lived in York for 15 years, and after running a successful family travel blog for several years, I decided to showcase the very best of my home city in the new Best in York Guide. My blog highlights the best things to do in York, offers ideas for itineraries, day trips, hidden gems, free attractions, as well as advice on places to stay and eat. The blog is packed with useful tips for visitors that only a local would know (where the free toilets are found)! I can also be found on Facebook.

What to Read in The United Kingdom

Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist is a great companion on your trip to the UK. You can get it before your trip to help you plan out all of the best places to go. It’s a go to bucket list of the not to miss places to visit in the UK.

It’s full of beautiful photography and it goes much further than just the typical tourist traps and includes everything from coastal walks, music festivals, and hidden away pubs you must visit. 

If you are interested in learning more about the upper echelons of the British aristocracy then this book abut the life of Anne Glenconner is a great read.

She has long been at the center of the royal circle as a life long friend of the Queen and her sister. Her father was the Earl of Leicester and controlled one of the largest estates  in England. 

Sadly Anne turned out to be “the greatest disappointment” to her father and she was unable to inherit his great estate and instead make her own way in the world while surviving the vipers of court life! And interesting read to see how the ‘other half’ live.

The UK that you will see today is a product of the post WWII industrial revolution.

Nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented series of changes in the wake of the war. Cities grew fast and revolutions in transports, communication, science, and the way people lived happened in quick succession. 

Added to these changes was a growing skepticism of religion, a questioning of power resulting in political and social unrest.

In spite if these turbulent times Britain remained strong on a global level which saw it quickly rise as a global leader… this was of course before Brexit!

If you are looking for a light read to accompany yo on your UK vacation then Bridget Jones’s Diary is the perfect literary companion. Even if you have watched the movie, the book is soooo much better.

Us brits are legit obsessed with manners to a fault. Seriously we love nothing more that throwing as many please and thank you’s in to a sentence as we can make fit. And don’t even get me started with our obsession with apologizing for EVERYTHING! 

But our obsession doesn’t just stop there, there is so much more to British etiquette most of which will confuse the hell out of visitors from foreign lands. 

In this book you will get an illuminating insight in to all of the social rules we are governed by, from never putting your elbows on the table to holding open doors. But this book goes deeper and shines a light on where this crazy obsession with good manners comes from. Its a interesting and quirky must read.

Looking for a novel to sink your teeth into on those long cross country train journeys in the UK. White Teeth is it.

Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.

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