Great Britain

Things to do in York

Once the capital of the North, York is one of England’s greatest treasures. Founded by the Romans, the city is surrounded by wonderfully preserved castle walls and is full of winding cobbled streets, making it an enchanting place to visit. 

York is a historic city with amazing sights to see around almost every corner. Founded by the Romans, it has a fascinating history and you can see many features around the city associated with this period. Vikings also played a key part in York’s history from when trade prospered here as a main port city for the North of England. Museums such as the York Museum, Castle Museum, and Jordvik Centre provide great insight into what this city used to be like. 
 
One of the lovely things about this city is that there are plenty of parks and green spaces for you to enjoy, as well as cafés and restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by. Or maybe you want to spend a little bit of time wandering around The Shambles, a medieval cobbled street with plenty of places to shop.
 
There are so many things to do in York that you will be spoilt for choice. Some of our top picks for you to visit are the Castle Museum, York Minster, the Museum Gardens, and the National Railway Museum. 

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York cathedral Yorkshire England

About the city

Explore the inner city of York

Whether you want to explore by foot or take advantage of the hop-on, hop-off bus tour, there are plenty of things to do in York. We would recommend that you start at York Minster, a stunning piece of gothic architecture, as even if you’re not religious it’s definitely worth taking a moment to take in the size and specialness of this building. Climb the central tower for an awe-inspiring view across the River Ouse or head down to the Undercroft to discover a fascinating interactive exhibition about the area's history.

From there you could walk through The Shambles and stop by the Treasurer’s House, a Grade 1 Listed Building, which has a beautiful garden where you can take five minutes to sit and enjoy the tranquillity; or, if you’re peckish, they have a café where you can grab a bite to eat. 

Alternatively, visit the Museum gardens which are home to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey and over 40 species of birds. It’s a great place for a romantic picnic or for some young children to play and burn off some energy. You could also get the hop-on, hop-off bus to visit a range of locations around York including Clifford’s Tower, which is the final remains of York Castle. Our best tip is to go to the top of the tower if you want to get a stunning, panoramic view of the city. 

The shambles in Yorkshire, England

York Opera House in England

Grand Opera House by Gareth Buddo/Visit York

Cultural Activities

If you or your children love trains then the National Railway Museum is not to be missed. The home of the iconic locomotives and home to an unrivalled collection of trains, there is so much to see you will get lost in here for hours. They also have a café in the Grand Hall where you can take in the atmosphere of being around so many historic trains. 

In the evening, why not head to the Grand Opera House and take in a show? They have a range of events throughout the year, so whether you’re looking for a play, musical, opera, ballet, or comedy show it’s worth seeing what they have on.

 

History of York

The Romans arrived in York in AD71 and the city was born under its Roman name, Eboracum. York was a strategic location for the Romans as it was the perfect site for a fortress. If you’re interested in learning more about the Roman settlement then we would highly recommend that you visit the York Museum, which also covers other periods of York’s history. The Vikings invaded York in the 9th Century and the Jordvik Centre has done a lot of work to expand our knowledge of this period. It is a museum with a definite difference, accessible to the whole family; just sit back and travel around the museum with ongoing commentary (in your chosen language), explaining the history behind it all. 

York Castle Museum also gives an interactive view into York’s history with its 19th Century high street featuring mock shops, people in costumes, and an actual sweet shop you can buy a present from. It makes a great location to visit if you love history or simply want to do something fun together as a family. 

 
York Minster Cathedral in the UK

River Ouse in York, Yorkshire England

York River Bar by Gareth Buddo

Places to eat and drink in York

With so many things to do in York you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. There are plenty of independent cafes you can visit that overlook the cobbled streets and historic sites which are great for sitting down and watching the world go by.

Alternatively, there are a range of restaurants in the city centre, offering something to suit everyone’s tastes. 

There are plenty of parks and green spaces for you to enjoy, as well as cafés and restaurants where you can sit and watch the world go by

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