17 TOP THINGS TO DO IN YORK, ENGLAND (GUIDE)

17 attractions in York for; free, at night, for the children and unusual

This is your complete guide to the top things to do in York on your amazing visit to this top place place to visit in England. I have done a few overnight and 2 night stays in York and I absolutely love this historic city in England. York is a place for everybody; couples, families, kids and tourists from all over the world. You will get see things like the National Railway Museum York, York walls, York castle or the York minster on your visit. This is your ultimate post for the best of York, one of the top cities in the UK to visit!

What is the best attractions in York? You will have the chance to roam the York city walls, take amazing photos of the famous Shambles Street, try delicious fudge at the York fudge shop and discover brilliant history at Clifford’s tower. Also, the is many awesome places to stay in York and the shopping in York is fantastic. If you’re looking for unusual things to do in York in December, then you should check out the York Christmas festival if you want a magical experience.

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A complete guide to the best things to do in York, where to stay and the best restaurants in York.

Let’s have a look what exactly is in this post for you;

  • The best York attractions and activities
  • Best restaurants in York
  • Things to do at night at night in York
  • Where to stay in York
  • Summary

Free and top things to do in York, England

The are plenty of amazing and fun things to see in York on your visit. York is up there with there with my favourite cities in England, along with London! If you’re ever in London you should check out the best things to do in Shoreditch on your visit to the epic capitol of England.

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So let’s have a look at some the best York attractions:

1. The York shambles shops, cafes and pubs

The York Shambles Street is the most famous street in York. It is filled with, shops, cafes and old historic pubs. The Shambles street is narrow, cool and filled with culture. Also, a fun fact, the Shambles has won an award of Google for Britain’s most Picturesque Street. The street can be filled with waves of people taking in the amazing sights. So, just be wary of the crowds if you are going on a weekend. However, for this is a free thing to do in York and it’s one of my favourite York points of interest.

My favourite pub in York is on the shambles, it’s a classic old pub. I love British pubs, my favourite bars in my local city Manchester and if you’re ever in Manchester you should check out the best bars in Manchester on your visit.

What time do the shops open on the Shambles? Opened daily from early till late (Shops may vary)

It’s Free to walk the street

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the famous shambles street and shops in york

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christmas time in york

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december time in York

Where is the Shambles? See the map below for the exact location;

2. York Minster

This proudly one of the most Gothic cathedrals in Norther Europe. Taking 250 years this build this iconic landmark, the York Minster stands proudly in the centre of York and is definitely not one to miss with the camera and his will always on the list for top things to do in York.

What is the York Minster entrance fee? The actual price to enter the York Minster is; Adults £10 | Concessions £9 | Children (8-16) £5 (there’s an extra charge if you want to climb the tower). 

If you’re looking for the best York attractions then this is one of them.

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york minster

photo of York minster

Where is the York Minster? Check out the map below for the exact location;

3. York’s City Walls

If your like me and enjoy a good walk, this should be on your priorities of activities and walks do in York. The York’s City Walls walks are perfect for making your way around the outer perimeter of York and taking in some fantastic scenery, the walk is around 3 kilometres long, but don’t worry there is multiple points for getting off the wall.

What time to do the York walls? They’re opened daily at (8.00am and closed at dusk).

What is the York Walls entrance free? The York wall’s price: Free

If you ask any Brit about popular York attractions, then they will no doubt mention the awesome York’s city walls.

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Where are the York walls? The map below shows the centre of York. The walls are on the outside;

4. York Castle

Originally built by William the Conqueror as he sought to bring the whole country under his control, this is one of the most visited alternative things to do in York. The York’s Clifford Tower sits on top of hill, that you climb via steps. However, there is no need to pay to go in. You can enjoy the Clifford Tower for free, with great views.

If you’re looking for free things to do in York, Clifford’s towers is one of the best places to visit. However, you will have to pay to enter the tower.

What time does Clifford’s tower open? Opened daily 10am–6pm

What is the Clifford’s tower entrance fee? English Heritage Members Free | Adults £4.20 | Concessions £3.80 | Children (5-15) £2.50

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Where is York’s Clifford’s tower? Check out the map below for the exact location;

5. Fudge kitchen York

The finest fudge shop in England. The York’s fudge Kitchen is a gem for food indulgence and you can call in here and witness the weird way in which fudge is made. Then, the friendly staff will let you taste the warm Delicious fudge. The fudge can be a little on the expensive side if you do decide to buy any. Nevertheless, the price is worth it for the amazing array of flavours. Top things to do in York for free for ultimate mouth watering goodies.

Opened daily 10am–6pm

Free thing to do in York (unless you want a taste of heaven and then you will have to pay for more fudge)

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Where is the fudge kitchen in York? Right in the centre of York;

6. York’s Chocolate Story

Want to take a journey through the history of chocolate? York’s Chocolate Story is the place to do it. You can be educated on the entrepreneurial side of chocolate and how it became a revolution in England. Also, bringing the pride of chocolate home to York. If you’re looking for unusual things to do in York, then you should visit this tasty treat shop!

Also, if you looking for what to do in York for kids, then this is where you should bring them. All children love chocolate.

What time does York’s chocolate story open?

Opened daily from (10am and the last tour is at 4pm).

What is the York’s Chocolate story entrance fee? 

  • Adults £12.50
  • Concessions £11.50
  • Students £11.50
  • Children (aged 4-15 years) £10

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Check out How to prepare for backpacking

Where is the chocolate story York? Check out the map below;

7. York’s Shambles Market

The Shambles Market is a historic and vibrant market situated in the heart of Europe’s largest single pedestrianised area. Home to more than 85 stalls, the Market is a one-stop shop for all your daily requirements and special purchases, including beautiful pottery, artisan breads, crafts, handbags, mobile phones, pet foods, army surplus and vintage clothing. And this is one of the most popular York attractions to check out whilst visiting this historic city in England.

Markets are one of my favourite, fun and free things to venture into, wherever I visit and the Shambles Market does not disappoint and the shambles market lives up to the York historic culture, providing brilliant stalls. Also, there has been a market in York since the viking times, since the 8th century.

This epic market is one of the free things to see and do in York.

What time does the shambles market open? Opened daily from 7am – 5pm

The market is Free

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Where is the Shambles market? It’s on the map below;

If you love amazing markets, you need to check out the Yorkshire market town on your travels.

8. York’s Dungeon

The York’s dungeons was opened in 1986. The York Dungeon is a 75-minute journey into more than 2000 years of York’s horrible history, bringing together horrible characters, immersive sets and thrilling special-effects in a unique and exciting walk-through experience that you see, hear, feel and smell. This is one you should visit if you like scary fun as it maybe a little freaky. But, it is definitely worth a visit as it is an unusual thing to do in York.

What time does the York’s Dungeon activity open? Opened daily from 10am – 5pm

What is the York Dungeon entrance fee? On the door £22.50 | Online £11.00 

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Where is the York dungeon? Check out the Google map below:

9. Shopping in York

York shopping experience provides an outlet of designer shops. With shops such as Nike, Adidas and Fossil. The prices are cheaper than main street shops. There is a good range of shops available with everything from clothing to electrical appliances. Also, there is also places to eat for if the family is feeling peckish.

What time does the York shopping outlet open? Opened daily from 10am-8pm

It’s Free to enter the shopping mall

York shopping designer outlet

Check out the York designer outlet for some of the best shopping in York!

Where is the best shopping outlet in York? Check out the Google map for the best shopping in York;

10. The York Races

Do you enjoy a summer’s day watching the horse racing? Then why not check out the famous York races and splurge a few dollars on bets 🙂

This is one of the most popular things to see in York for visitors from all over the UK. Also, this is not just to see the horses, the race ground also holds many festivals and gets some big named acts performing here. I know over the past few years, stars such as Jess Glynne have performed here.

the awesome York races is one of the best attractions in York

Where is the York races? The races are just outside of the York city centre, check out the Google map below for the exact location;

11. Jorvik Viking Centre

If you’re looking for something unsual to do in York, then you should visit the Jorivk Viking centre. This is a museum of mannequins that represent the historic vikings. This is one of the coolest attractions in York that will take you back in time to learn about the history of the vikings.

How long does it take to visit the Jorvic viking centre? You can spend anything from 30-90-minutes exploring the museum.

jorvic york experience

Where is the Jorvik Viking centre? The museum is in the centre of York town near the shopping outlets. Check out the Google map below for the exact location;

There is also some awesome free museums in York for you to visit.

12. Vue Cinema York

Looking for relaxing things to do with children in York? Then head to the Vue cinema in York. All kids love a good movie at the cinema with some popcorn and a drink. This sweet cinema shows all the latest films for all ages of the family.

The vue in York also shows 3D films for most big movies which is an awesome experience.

If you’re looking to pass a few hours or relaxing things to do in York when it’s raining, then you have this sweet cinema as one of your best options.

Where is the cinema? Check out the Google map below for the location;

13. Afternoon Tea at the York Betty’s tea room

Afternoon tea in York is a must for all travellers who have been on their feet all-day and fancy a good ‘ol cuppa. The famous Betty’s tea room is probably the best and most visited places in York for a piece of cake and a tea or coffee.

This famous cafe is know for outstanding tea, coffees, lunch and best of all, the cakes. The sweets on offer here are amazing and there will be a cake suited to your taste-buds.

What are the opening hours? The Betty’s tea room hours are as follow;

  • Sunday to Friday 09:00 – 21:00
  • Saturday 08:30 – 21:00

lunch tea and coffee at bettys tea room in York

14. National Railway Museum York

You may not be the biggest fan of museums, but you should definitely visit York’s National Railway Museum on your travels.

You will find awesome trains here such as the Shinkansen bullet train and trains which was used bu Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

If you’re looking for unusual things to do around York for free, then this should be on your itinerary. The children would love it here.

best things to do in york - york train museum

Here is some frequently asked questions about the national railway museum york;

Is the York railway museum free?

Yes it’s free, however there is a donation box. This probably the best free activity in York for you to do.

Is the Flying Scotsman at York Railway Museum?

Yes may have a chance to see the Flying Scotsman when the train does tours around the UK.

Was the flying Scotsman in Harry Potter?

Yes there was a scen in the Harry Potter movie when the Flying Scotsman made in appearance.

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15. Yorkshire Museum

The Yorkshire museum is one of the most popular for you to visit. You get to learn on various areas such as; geology, archaeology, biology and astranomy.

This is also an awesome place to visit in York when it’s raining with the typical rainy weather in York.

covering biology, geology, archaeology, numismatics and astronomy

How much is admission to the Yorkshire museum?

The Yorkshire museum ticket prices can be seen below;

  • YMT Card Holder  FREE
  • Adult (with 10% Gift Aid Donation) £8.00
  • Adult (without donation) £7.27
  • Child (16 and under*) FREE with a paying adult
  • Student/Young Person** £5.60
  • York Resident (with 10% Gift Aid Donation)*** £6.40
  • York Resident (without donation)*** £5.82
  • Visitors on Universal Credit*** £4.00 / FREE for York Residents on Universal Credit
  • With a YorkCard 20% off day tickets

Where is the Yorkshire museum?

It’s actually located near the York information centre, you can see the location on the Google map below;

16. York Art Gallery

If you enjoy gazing at amazing art, then you need to visit the York Art Gallery on your visit to York.

This is a public art gallery and the team there welcome guests to enjoy the art that can be seen there.

You can check out the York Art exhibitions here.

best things to do in york - york art gallery

Where is the York art gallery?

It’s located near the York theatre. Check out the location on the Google map below;

17. York Maze

If you’re looking for activities in York to do with the kids, then you need to check out the York maze. An adventure area that takes you through a challenging journey through a large maze. This is one of them activities that all the family can get involved.

How much is the York maze?

You can see the price for maze in York below:

2018 On the Gate Tickets Online Advance *
Adult (16 & over) £16.00 £15.00
Senior (65 & over) £15.00 £14.00
Child (3 to 15) £15.00 £14.00

Check out the YouTube video below for an insight into the York maze:

Things to do in York at night?

If you’re visiting York on a weekend city break in England, then you want to make the most out of your visit. So, I suggest seeing the nightlife in York and experiencing some of the historic pubs this unique city has to offer.

You don’t have to have a wild night, we didn’t. But, you can go out have a few beers and get merry. Okay, let’s look at some of the best pubs in York.

If you’re on a budget in York, then I would definitely visit the King’s arms. This is an awesome pub that you get a drink between (£2-£3.50), not expensive prices for York. Also, this pub is a hot spot in summer, with chairs outside you can really get in the summer vibe here.

The Ye Olde Starre Inn is another really popular place to drink in York at night. This is a classic old-styled pub that you need to checkout, even if it’s only for one drink!

Are you looking for a more up-beat night out in York? Want to shake your stuff to some music? Then I have just the place for you! So, you should check out the revolutions bar as this is one of the best places to drink in York at the weekend if you want a lively atmosphere.

Do you want a place that’s cool, trendy and does epic cocktails? Then check out the Nook on your break in York, this is not a big bar. However, it is a really cool trendy little place to relax and have a few beers.

Best restaurants in York 

When visiting York you are obviously going to be looking for a great place to eat. And you will be spoilt for choice at the amount of places of places to eat in York. I love the food available and York caters for all options, whether you are a vegan or a meat lover, you will certainly find something for your taste in York.

I have created this list for you of some of the best restaurants in York to visit.

  1. The punch bowl – This top place to eat in York that offers a great atmosphere for you to enjoy a true English pub in York. The punch bowl offers great tasty food with a good menu. It also offers a comfortable environment for you to relax and enjoy a few drinks. This is also a great place to visit at Christmas in York. 
  2. The park restaurants – If you are looking for fine dining in York, then this is one of your best options. At this fine restaurant in York, you will be served fresh and very tasty ingredients with all your meals. You will see this restaurants ratings on TripAdvisor are brilliant. If your on a luxury break in York, then I would highly recommend this restaurant.
  3. Corner grill house – Are you looking for a top grill house restaurant in York? Then this is it. The food is epic, the service excellent and you will find a great atmosphere here at the grill house. You will have an absolutely sweet evening. The customer service at this top restaurant in York is amazing and they will make you feel special from the moment you walk through the day. 
  4. Spring espresso – If you are looking for a top coffee shop in York, then I would highly recommend this epic tasting coffee spot. The coffee here is epic, I do like a good coffee. They also sell food for you and you can stop here for a tasty breakfast or afternoon lunch. 

Where to stay in York?

There is plenty of accommodation in York for you to stay at. Some of the hotels in York are amazing. There is plenty of cheap and luxury rooms available depending on what type of visit you’re on. If you are looking for great location, there is plenty of places to stay in the centre of York.

York also offers places to stay that offer an overnight spa stay for your visit. I have actually done an overnight spa break in York and it was amazing. You can enjoy the spa treatment and then head off into the centre of York for food, drinks and the all the best things to do in York.

Here is a list of my favourite place I stayed at and some other epic places to stay In York.

  • Premier Inn York – If you looking for a great hotel in York, then I recommend the York Premier Inn. There is a lush setting, based in a quite are and the customer service is awesome. Book a room
  • The Churchill Hotel in York – I stayed in the Churchill Hotel York and would like to share my experience at this central top hotel in York. A gift voucher allowed me a one night stay here. This hotel was a random pick to go with gift voucher, it turned out to be a fantastic pick. The hotel is a British classic, themed on the great Winston Churchill. The Churchill hotel is in a great location to York’s centre, situated close to the outside of the York’s historic walls. It took us around 6 minutes to walk from the hotel to the famous Shambles street, which is the centre of York more or less. I would highly recommend staying here on your visit to York. It’s in a perfect location, affordable and offers amazing service. Book a room
  • Another awesome place to stay is the York boutique house. Book a room
  • Riverside apartment York – The location is excellent and you can to walk in to central York quite easily within 10-minutes. You can even find plenty of York’s attractions even closer, for example the famous Castle museum of York is just around the corner of this top place to stay in York. Book a room
  • The fort boutique hostel – This epic accommodation is the first boutique hostel to be found in York. It can be found in the great location of the famous Stonegate. This is a perfect stay for a backpacker or tourist in York looking for a place to stay that offers WiFi, TVs, chillout room to meet other tourists and in a perfect location in the centre of York. Book a room 

Are you visiting Harrogate after York? You need to check out the Camberley hotel on your visit 🙂

Final Thoughts

So, what is the best of York? As you can see from this post, York is amazing place to visit in England and there is plenty of best things to do in York. Whether you are doing a 1, 2 or 3 night stay in York, you will have an epic time at this historic place in England. York is also brilliant for a good night out, you could also visit the York horse races in summer.

If you are wondering whether to visit York for the first time, then I would highly recommend making the visit. This is one of England’s best places to visit, no matter what time of year you are wanting to visit. New years eve in York is cool. If you need anymore information, then ask any questions you need. I am more than happy to help you. To summarise, there is plenty of top and free things to do in York.

Looking for the best cities to visit in the UK? Check out the best things to do in Wakefield or one my favourite places is Liverpool, check out the rooftop bars in Liverpool for an epic summer day out

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