Things to do in York

York, a historic walled city at the confluence of the rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England, is renowned for its rich heritage, iconic York Minster, and well-preserved medieval architecture. Founded by the Romans in 71 AD as Eboracum, it has a complex history that includes Viking rule under the name Jorvik. Today, York combines its ancient past with contemporary culture, making it a vibrant city that attracts tourists from around the globe.

The city’s narrow streets and traditional buildings create a charming atmosphere that transports visitors back in time. The Shambles, one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe, is just one example of York’s ability to blend historical beauty with modern day living. With its museums, galleries, festivals, and culinary offerings ranging from traditional pubs to fine dining establishments, York offers a dynamic experience for all who visit.

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  • York Minster: One of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe, York Minster is renowned for its stunning Gothic architecture. Visitors can explore its vast nave, beautiful stained glass windows including the famous Rose Window, and climb to the top of the central tower for breathtaking views over York.
  • JORVIK Viking Centre: This museum offers an immersive look into Viking-age York through innovative exhibitions that include life-size dioramas, artifacts from archaeological digs in the area, and even a ride-through experience simulating Viking-era city life.
  • National Railway Museum: Home to an impressive collection of trains from across railway history including Mallard – the world’s fastest steam locomotive – this free museum is perfect for train enthusiasts and families alike.
  • York Castle Museum: Situated on the site of York Castle which was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. The museum showcases hundreds of years of York’s social history through fascinating exhibits like Victorian streets and prison cells where notorious criminals were held.
  • The Yorkshire Dales National Park: Just a short drive from York, this national park offers stunning landscapes of hills, valleys, and villages. It’s perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling and photography.
  • Bettys Café Tea Rooms: No visit to York would be complete without experiencing afternoon tea at Bettys. Famous for its elegant interiors reminiscent of Edwardian times and delicious treats like scones with clotted cream and jam.
  • York’s Chocolate Story: Learn about York’s history through chocolate at this interactive museum. Discover how chocolate made its way to Europe and how some of Britain’s favourite confections were created here in York.
  • Rowntree Park: A beautiful green space close to the city center offering tennis courts, skate park facilities as well as lovely walks along the river Ouse – ideal for picnics or leisurely strolls.
  • YorkBoat River Cruises: Enjoying a cruise along River Ouse is one of the best ways to see York from a different perspective. These cruises offer informative commentary about York’s fascinating history while you relax on board.
  • The Shambles: Often referred to as Europe’s best-preserved medieval street; it was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles due primarily to its butchery shops. Now it hosts various shops selling souvenirs amongst other things within buildings that lean into each other almost touching above.
  • York Maze: Created from over one million living maize plants; it’s one of Britain’s largest mazes offering fun for all ages with puzzles and games throughout – open seasonally during summer months only.