An adventure in York is an adventure in a historic walled city dating back thousands of years. It's famed for its gothic architecture, gatehouses and a variety of arts, culture, shopping and dining experiences, as well as historic sites dating back to the days of the Roman Empire. 

    One of the best things about a trip to York is that there is so much to see and do that's completely free or at least very budget-friendly. Check out these tips for things to do in York that won't break the bank but will deliver the kind of holiday experience you'll never forget.


    Richard III & Henry VII Experience

    Walk the steps of royalty

    • History

    At the Richard III & Henry VII Experience, you'll walk in the footsteps of medieval royalty. Richard III only reigned for 2 years, but they were 2 of the most rebellious and controversial years in British history, culminating in Richard's defeat at the Battle of Bosworth. 

    You'll learn all about his life and reign At Monk Bar, before walking over to Micklegate Bar to immerse yourself in the life of the first of the Tudors, Henry VII, starting with his great initial victory at Bosworth Battlefield. These attractions are part of the Jorvik Group, which also runs the Viking experience in town.

    Location: 6 Monk Bar Ct, York YO1 7LQ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 615 505


    photo by Chabe01 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Roman Bath

    Have a pint in an ancient locale

    • Couples
    • Group

    Enjoying a pint of bitter in a Roman bath might seem odd, until you realize that The Roman Bath is actually a pub that stands on the former site of an ancient Roman bathhouse. It's a unique and interesting tavern that's something of a hidden gem. Here, you can enjoy a great hand-cooked pub meal and a beer before heading in to see the still-standing Roman caldarium or plunge bath. 

    If that's not impressive enough, the original tiles show footprint indentations that may be from visitors thousands of years ago! It also features an insignia that legend has it is the insignia of the famed Roman 9th Legion dating all the way back to 71 CE.

    Location: 9 St Sampsons Square, York YO1 8RN, UK

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 620 455


    photo by Chabe01 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Holy Trinity Church

    Pass through the medieval arches

    • History

    If you really want to experience the early Middle Ages, the place to visit is Holy Trinity Church in Micklegate. There are actually 2 Holy Trinity Churches, with the other located in Goodramgate. The latter dates to the 12th century, while the Micklegate church originated as a Benedictine monastery in 1089, when it was known as Micklegate Priory. It still stands today and is a Grade I-listed historic site. 

    The stained glass windows are of major national significance and their dates of origination range from 1850 through 1953. Three are by noted artist Charles Eamer Kempe, and the trip to Micklegate is worth it to see the windows alone.

    Location: Micklegate, York YO1 6LE, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 593 608


    photo by Tim Green (CC BY 2.0) modified


    York Art Gallery

    View classic and modern art

    • History

    The York Art Gallery, opened in 1879, is renowned for its expansive collection of works by the famed artist William Etty, who hailed from York. In addition to Etty's work, the gallery features an expansive collection of arts and crafts, including over 1,000 paintings, over 3,000 pieces of art in various media designed for decorative purposes, over 17,000 pieces on paper and tons more. 

    The York Art Gallery features artworks from classical through modern in all styles and forms. It's open every day and is sure to be a stunning visual, historic and educational experience that your entire family will enjoy.

    Location: Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EW, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 687 687


    York Observatory

    See the stars

    • History

    The York Observatory, built between 1831 and 1833, is the oldest working observatory in Yorkshire. It's famed for housing the Thomas Cooke telescope that dates to 1850, which at the time of its construction was the largest telescope in the world. The observatory also features a range of exhibits that trace the history and development of various scientific instruments. 

    The observatory clock uses the position of stars to tell time and was once the clock by which every watch was set. To this day, it remains 4 minutes and 20 seconds behind Greenwich Mean Time. These are just a few of the interesting things to see at the observatory.

    Location: Museum Gardens, York YO30 7BH, UK

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 687 687


    photo by Mike Peel (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    York City Walls

    Walk the 2 miles of Roman battlements

    • History

    York dates back to the Roman eras, and the original walls surrounding the town were first erected in the year 71 CE. The walls grew and expanded over the years, and today the remaining walls span a full 2 miles, which you can walk along to see many features and points of interest and historical significance. 

    These include the 4 main gatehouses (called 'bars') – Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The oldest of these bars, Micklegate, was built in the 12th century, while the others were erected in the 14th century. You'll also find other minor bars along the way, including the 14th-century Fishergate Bar and the 19th-century Victoria Bar.

    Location: Bootham Bar, 2-4 High Petergate, York YO1 7EH, UK

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 621 756


    photo by Yvesdebxl (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    York Edible Wood

    Explore serene and elegant gardens

    • Families

    York Edible Wood is a garden that's just a few steps from the observatory in the Museum Gardens. It was first planted in July 2015 and designed to support principles of forest gardening and permaculture. It's there to educate and raise awareness of our relationship with food plants and the future of crop farming. 

    The plants in the wood all have an edible component and are both attractive to look at as well as useful in a variety of ways. The educational experience here is vital to those who are looking for plants in their home gardens that fulfil multiple purposes.

    Location: Museum St, York YO1 7FR, UK

    Open: 25 March–April and September: daily from 7.30 am to 7 pm. May–August: daily from 7.30 am to 8 pm. October–25 March: daily from 7.30 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 687 687


    photo by Zakhx150 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    York's Chocolate Story

    Discover the history and taste of chocolate

    • Families
    • Food

    York's Chocolate Story may well be the sweetest experience you have on your journeys through York. At this unique, quirky, fun, family-friendly and, most of all, delicious museum, you'll trace the entire history of chocolate, the treat that everyone loves. Trace the journey of the cacao (cocoa) bean from Central America thousands of years ago all the way to York in the modern day. 

    Visit an actual chocolate factory where you'll learn how a cocoa bean is changed to delicious, creamy chocolate, and why chocolate is an ethical, sustainable food source. Then, of course, you'll sample lots of chocolate and have the opportunity to find the perfect chocolate-themed gift. A visit here is sure to be a highlight of your visit.

    Location: 3-4 Kings Square, York YO1 7LD, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1904 527 765


    photo by Nilfanion (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    King's Square

    Marvel at talented street performers

    King's Square is the place to be to see outstanding free live entertainment. The street performers are a tradition here, and you'll enjoy dancing, singing, musical instruments and more. Of course, you're encouraged to throw a few coins their way, but it's a great way to experience an afternoon walking down a historic street in York. 

    There are legends about the church that used to exist at the square. Check out the remaining flagstones in the ground – they mark the site of the church and include grave markers and inscriptions from ages long gone. It's the place to be for an experience that's every bit as fun as it is educational.

    Location: York YO1 8BH, UK

    Open: 24/7


    photo by Malcolmxl5 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    York Minster

    Take a self-guided walking tour

    • Budget
    • History

    There are so many things to see and do in York that a self-guided walking tour of York City Centre can be a great way to see it all. Start at York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe, then work your way to St Michael le Belfrey Church. From there, it's on to Stonegate, a street full of small indie shops and jewellers.

    Next, work your way over to the Yorkshire Museum, where you can see the Cawood sword and many other exhibits. Just a few steps away from the museum, you'll find St Mary's Abbey, which lies within the York Museum Gardens. Maps of York are available, or you can just fire up your smartphone and check out all the sites within an easy walk.

    Location: Deangate, York YO1 7HH, UK


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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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