York is a historic city full of life – from the bustling, quaint, old cobbled streets to the spectacular architecture and historic buildings with picturesque views on every turn there is loads of things to see and do in York.
Don’t worry if you are travelling on a budget, we were and yet we still managed to enjoy and take in all of the things to see and do in York, only paying for admission to the JORVIK Viking Centre.
Below are six things to see and do in York with a little insight from my experiences and handy tips and advice to help you on your own visit to York.
The York Minster is a large gothic cathedral and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. This beautiful piece of architecture is the main attraction in York – it is massive and majestic! Admission prices are £11.50 per adult, £9 for students and free for children under the age of 16. But don’t worry if you’re on a budget, simply taking in the cathedral from the outside is worth it.
The JORVIK Viking Center is not just a museum, it also incorporates a ride that acts like a time capsule taking you through the every day life of Viking settlers. The ride takes you through their houses and work spaces using brilliant life-like animatronics to portray everyday life using movement, lighting, noises, and even Viking smells! You will also see ruins and objects discovered beneath the building dating back thousands of years.
It’s an educational and fun attraction for all ages, costing £12.50 for adults and £8.50 for children under 16. It was something different and Shannon and I thought it was great, it only took about 1 hour from start to finish. The Covid-19 measures were great with everyone socially distanced and wearing masks. My advice – make sure you book your tickets and time slot in advance online as it can get busy, especially during holiday periods.
Since roman times York has been defended by walls of one form or another. Substantial portions of these walls remain and are a great way to take in spectacular views of the city. Shannon and I walked the full length of the walls in different stages and stopped for a rest in the pub.
The walls are free to walk along and there is currently a one-way system due to Covid-19, so make sure you’re walking the right way! You don’t need to walk all of it in one go as they are in sections around the city, but it’s worth walking them all across the duration of your stay.
Found in the middle of York’s busy shopping district and next to a big food market is the Shambles, an old street with beautiful overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. It is an enchanting street filled with fascinating little shops, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan then there are plenty of shops for you!
Right in the heart of York, beside the river Ouse, you will find the Museum Gardens. The gardens are the former grounds of St Mary’s Abbey of which you can see the interesting ruins within the gardens. These beautiful sweeping gardens are very well maintained and perfect for a peaceful break from the bustling streets of the city.
Like much of York, these picturesque gardens feel like a walk through time and history with plenty of benches if you wish to sit and take time to relax or observe the wonderful surroundings. Set within the gardens you will also find an intriguing botanical walled garden. The gardens were free to enter at our time of visiting but I think there is a small entry fee at peak seasons, which would be well worth it.
This medieval Norman castle is commonly known as Clifford’s Tower and placed on top of a mound of grass within the city walls. You can pay to enter but Shannon and I decided that observing the tower from the outside was enough for us, however if you do wish to enter this quirky tower to take in the history as well as the views of the city, the pricing is £4.20 for adults and £2.50 for under 15’s.
Another budget tip – When it comes to parking your car in York it can be pricey and everywhere seems to be monitored. If you are willing to walk for a free parking space there are a few limited free parking spaces in amongst the charged spaces in the road that runs directly next to York City Football Club’s. If you’re an avid football supporter like myself and haven’t yet been to Bootham Crescent it gives you a good excuse to have a mooch. From here it is about a 30-minute walk back into the center of York.
Disclaimer: All the entry fees and prices listed in this article were correct at the date of writing (16th January 2021) and may be subject to change.
For more travel guides similar to ‘Things to see and do in York’ click the link below and check out my other UK travel guides!