York is a wonderful destination for a 1 or 2 day trip. The city is located in the northeast of England, in Yorkshire. Since you may not be able to see all the sights in one day, we recommend staying in a nice bed & breakfast, especially if you are not local, and continue exploring the next day.
York is a city where you can combine history with fun and views with boating. The city also has two universities so you will find everything a student wants; bars, pubs, amazing places to eat and drink along with numerous museums and places to walk. Nevertheless, families who want to visit York will also get their money’s worth, as York is a kid-friendly city with specially designed areas for your children.
Sometimes it’s hard to choose between a variety of options that a place offers. That’s why we created a York travel guide of the best things to do in York. After this 10-minute read, you’ll be ready to explore this unique city in England.
What are the Best Things to Do in York?
Explore York’s long history
Because of York’s long, mainly medieval history, you can not miss some amazing and very well preserved monuments and museums. The first on our list is Clifford’s Tower and Castle Museum, which are located next to each other. Clifford’s Tower used to be a prison. It stands as an English landmark on a hill and offers a great view of the river Ouse.
The Castle Museum is one of the best museums in England. The reason for this state is to show you how Medieval York used to be, among other things. You can explore the famous Victorian street Kirkgate and see actors as citizens and even buy candies in a Victorian sweet store! You will also explore the Georgian castle prison, an amazing exhibition about the sixties and many more interactive exhibitions.
JORVIK – Viking Center features the Viking-Age York. The Viking history of this place is vast and Yorkers love it. Here you can travel back in time to the 10th century and experience what it was like to live in York. You will also see some rare Viking artifacts and fossils.
You can not leave York without visiting York’s Chocolate Story. Here you will learn about the history of chocolate. York used to produce both Rowntree’s (now Nestle) and Terry’s chocolate. Here you can also learn how to make chocolate and at the end you can take your creation home.
The National Railway Museum is a huge room full of trains from different eras. You will be amazed by the “Mallard”, the fastest locomotive in the world, and the royal collection of wagons. All 200 years of railway history will be open to you.
Take a walk
The Shambles is located in the heart of York. It is the best preserved mediaeval shopping street in England and perhaps in Europe. Here you will find small bakeries next to taverns, very expensive shops for bags and tourist items. The highlight, however, are the shops of Harry Potter, where numerous people are just waiting to get in. The Shambles are right next to the Shambles market, where you can definitely have a snack to continue your walk.
York is surrounded by a 3.4 km long ring wall made of mediaeval stones. The city centre is located in the middle of the walls. In our York travel guide we suggest taking an amazing tour by entering the walls through the many gates. All you have to do is take the stairs in one of the gates and start walking! The views are amazing. It takes about 2 hours to walk the whole distance.
Another exceptional place that invites you to take a long walk is the gardens of the archaeological site Yorkshire Museum. Here, everything revolves around history. In the gardens, you will see the famous York ducks walking beside you. You can also take a walk to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. Besides the Yorkshire Museum, you can also visit the former royal manor house that originally belonged to the Abbot of St. Mary’s.
Rowntree Park is right on the part of the River Ouse that runs through York. If you want to feel like a true Yorker, be sure to visit this 30-acre park, located just minutes from the city centre. It’s open all year round as it hosts events and has plenty of sports facilities for tennis, basketball and table tennis. There is also a special playground for children and a small but nice café that invites you to read.
York Minster is a magnificent cathedral standing in the heart of York city centre. The cathedral is the second largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. The building is also famous for how many years its construction took. Construction began in 1230 and was not commissioned until 1472.
It is definitely worth the visit, as you will get to the top of the cathedral through one of the towers, from where you will have a magnificent view. From here, you will not only be able to see York, but also the surrounding area for a long way. Besides, the gardens of the cathedral are a nice place to have a picnic and enjoy some quiet moments.
Take a Ghost Tour
We are sure that you have already heard that York is the most haunted city in England so we couldn’t skip it in our York travel guide. If you stay at York later in the evening you will have the chance to have the most haunted walk of your life!
Numerous Ghost Tours are taking place all over the city. You can have an original experience with a pirate actor or alternatives. The best alternatives are the “Ghost Bus Tour”, where you take a spooky bus or the “Bloody York Gin Tour”, where you will stroll around the city with a glass of Gin!
No matter which tour you will choose, you will have the ultimate fun with your family or your friends. The tours start from £5 and the tour will last at least 45 minutes.
Where Are The Best Places To Eat In York?
York is a gastronomic paradise. You can find all kinds of restaurants and menus. After a long day of walking through the alleys of York, you can go to Shambles Market for a meal. In our York travel guide Shambles Market is one of the best places to eat. You can find Indian snacks, Thai dishes, hot dogs, Greek gyros, crepes and coffee. So this place has the best street food in the city.
You can also have lunch or dinner in almost any place. Especially popular are the restaurants that are located directly on the Ouse River, because from there you have a fantastic view. You will also love the Polish cuisine prepared by locals. The best places for brunch are near the King’s Manor University in the city center.
Does York Offer A Great Nightlife?
York’s nightlife is very well known, especially among people who live near York, such as Leeds. You can get there in less than an hour by train and then leave on the last train. There are great bars and pubs where you can have a drink and then dance in a nightclub.
The best nightclubs are located near the train station. The most unusual bars can be found in the alleyways of the city center. Stroll around York to find the best place for your drink. The last stop on this wild and unforgettable night should be a place to eat. Canteens and fast food joints are everywhere in the city, so you’ll never go hungry.
When to visit York?
Unlike other destinations we suggest in countries like Greece (for example Naxos island),York is a year-round experience. You can combine your visit with one of the many local festivals. Jorvik Viking Festival , York Festival of Food and Drink, York Christmas Festival, and the York Resident’s Festival are just a few of them.
In February, you can visit the Yorvik Viking festival, which offers a full week of Viking-themed activities throughout the city. You will see battles and learn all about the history of the Vikings in York.
You can check the festivals here.
York Travel Guide | Sum up
The rich history of the City of York is an excellent choice for a 1 or 2 day trip. If you live at United Kingdom, York is a great destination. From London, the city can be reached in 3 hours and 30 minutes. If you are coming to York from another country, try to stay at least 5 days to experience the English culture and the extraordinary atmosphere of York.
York is a vibrant city full of activities for all ages and groups. In this York travel guide you will find millions of reasons why you should visit York more than once.
You will enjoy attending festivals and events throughout the year or just going out for dinner and having a drink or two after… Make sure you check our travel guides for more suggestions about your next trip to Europe.