Places to visit in York
Without a doubt, York is one of the most fascinating and varied cities in Britain. From its stunning Minster to its ancient walls and turbulent history, it's full of fascinating and appealing places to visit, especially if you’re a history buff.
We’ve put together a short list of the places to visit in York, including both indoor and outdoor options, many of which are dog-friendly.
Of course, as a city with an almost 2000-year history (the Romans founded it in AD71 as Eboracum) we’re only scratching the surface. You can enjoy a delightful day out simply by wandering the old town centre and letting chance be your guide.
As one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe, York Minster is a remarkable architectural masterpiece. It houses intricate stone carvings, a huge archive of over 300,000 items, and features spectacular stained-glass windows.
Completed in 1472 after several centuries of work, the cathedral provides tours, presents talks about historical preservation and medieval art, and holds classical concerts. There’s also an open-air theatre in the adjacent Dean’s Park in Summer. Do check their website before you plan your visit and dedicate some time to appreciate this spiritual and cultural icon in the heart of the city.
National Railway Museum
A day out in York would be incomplete without the National Railway Museum. Dive into the intriguing world of locomotives, observe the grandeur of royal carriages, and discover the evolution of railways. It’s a trainspotter’s paradise, but there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy here.
Step on board the famous Flying Scotsman steam locomotive and try the immersive VR experience. Located near York's city centre, the museum is a captivating journey through time, and best of all, entry is free.
York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum offers an immersive journey through centuries of York's social history. Stroll along the Victorian street, Kirkgate, or explore York's past through a variety of exhibits.
Current displays include an exploration of York’s wartime story, and a cultural exploration of the town’s gypsy and traveller heritage. With over half a dozen rotating exhibitions, there’s always plenty to see, as well as interactive activities for the little ones.
Arguably the most famous street in York, The Shambles is a picturesque, narrow, paved medieval lane lined with timber-framed shops and boutiques.
Dating back to the 13th century, the Shambles was originally full of butcher’s shops, each offering a different type of meal. Today it’s host to a mix of independent retailers including chocolatiers, goldsmiths, and a traditional sweet shop.
A true essence of old York, this pedestrian-friendly street is a must-visit for history and shopping enthusiasts.
Jorvik Viking Centre
York isn’t just about its Roman founders – in the 9th and 10th centuries, the Norsemen invaded and made it their home. They called it Jorvik, which later became York.
The Jorvik Viking Centre transports you back to the city’s Viking era. Explore a Norse city with lifelike holographic models who tell their individual stories, including mean blacksmiths and cheerful housewives. Discover the Viking legacy through exciting artifacts unearthed here over many years of archaeological explorations. This exciting historical adventure is a must-see.
York City Walls
Embrace York's rich history in a more energetic manner by walking the well-preserved ancient city walls. The 3.4km stretch that survives is the longest medieval wall in England and was built in the 13th century.
Offering panoramic views of the city, the walls are an excellent way to acquaint yourself with York's layout and landmarks.
For those seeking sinister thrills, the York Dungeon offers a unique, interactive journey through York’s darker history. Encounter notorious characters from the past and uncover their creepy stories in this eerie adventure.
Daily family-friendly tours are led by actors who bring the spookier side of the city to life with special effects, sounds, and even smells.
York's Chocolate Story
Sweet tooths won’t want to miss York's Chocolate Story. Learn about the city's famous chocolate-making families and their confectionery heritage. Rowntree’s, Terry’s, and Craven all made their homes here, their histories celebrated in the varied exhibits.
Chocolate is an ancient food, going back 4000 years, as the museum explains, and you can take a guided tour to become a true aficionado. Complete your visit with a chocolate-making demonstration and tasting, then leave with some tasty treats.
With a city so rich in history, you’ll forgive us for including yet another museum. This one is the crème de la crème.
Located in the beautiful Museum Gardens, the Yorkshire Museum houses some of the finest collections of archaeological and geological finds in Europe. They recently opened the Ryedale Hoard exhibit, a collection of Roman relics including an 1800-year-old bust of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Explore Roman, Viking, and Medieval artefacts during your visit, or if that’s all too recent, you’ll also see dinosaur relics from the Jurassic era.
The last remaining part of York Castle, Clifford's Tower, offers sweeping views of the city. Immerse yourself in its turbulent history and enjoy a unique perspective of York.
Once a royal mint and Civil War garrison, in 1190 it was the site of a shocking massacre. Learn about all these events while enjoying panoramic views from its lofty location, and access areas of the site recently opened up with new walkways and terraces.