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York is one of the UK’s most well-preserved medieval towns, with bucket loads of charm and beautiful sights to go with it. There are things to do in York for absolutely everyone, whether you’re a local or just visiting. Stuck on where to start? With a helping hand from Groupon, you’re set for a great time in this gorgeous city, whether that’s learning about the history in one of the many museums or solving puzzles in an exciting escape room.

#1 York Minster

Large Gothic Cathedral

The York Minster is one of the city’s more famous landmarks and is the second largest cathedral in Europe. Its imposing gothic architecture and size dominate the York skyline, but even that doesn’t contend with the splendour that you’ll find inside. The York Minster is a favourite destination for snapping some gorgeous photographs.

 

#2 York Castle

York’s Medieval Castle

Sitting on top of its motte, York Castle offers fantastic panoramic views across the entire city. The York Castle Museum offers lots of information about the important role the castle has played in York’s history since it’s construction by the Normans. You can even climb to the top of Clifford’s Tower (its other moniker) for the great view.

york castle

 

#3 York Dungeon

Frightening Tourist Attraction

Looking for something on the scarier side? The York Dungeon is a deep dive into the darker history of the city. Beneath Clifford Street, The York Dungeons are filled with interactive performances, detailed exhibits and more covering the often-horrifying past of York. The perfect attraction if you’re looking for a spooky educational experience.

york dungeon

 

#4 National Railway Museum

Antique Locomotive Museum

The National Railway Museum in York is a unique opportunity to dive into the history of the UK’s train industry with a large collection of historic trains to check out. The museum is a great insight into industry, but it’s also a great experience for kids too with a miniature railway and hands-on activities to keep them entertained.

national railway museum

 

#5 Ilkley Moor & Bolton Abbey Trip

Popular Day Trip Destinations

Yorkshire has so much for you to see outside of the city. Ilkley Moor is a popular destination for moor-walking amongst the splendour of the surrounding Yorkshire countryside. For some more history infused walking, Bolton Abbey offers the chance to see its steam railway and the ruins of Bolton Priory.

 

#6 York’s Chocolate Story

Attraction and Chocolate Museum

One of the tastier attractions in York, this museum is focused on the history of chocolate and how it was made, with a particular focus on the local Rowntree factory. Complete with tours, tasting samples and a café, York’s Chocolate Story is a unique way to spend a day in York, especially if you’ve something of a sweet tooth.

york chocolate story

 

#7 York City Walls

Historic Stone Walls

The York City Walls surround the city centre and date all the way back to the original Roman settlement of York. The walls can be walked every day from 8am until dusk, and there are walking tours if you’d like to learn more about their storied history. Be sure to stop by the grand gates or “bars” too.

york city walls

 

#8 York Art Gallery

Public Art Gallery

York’s extensive public art gallery hosts a large collection of fascinating paintings, sculptures, ceramics and more. The York Art Gallery is a quiet respite from the city and a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Regular interactive exhibits offer a hands-on session creating your own art.

 

#9 St. Mary’s Abbey

Ruined Abbey

Another legacy from York’s historic past. With their picturesque surroundings, the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey are an essential visit for a gentle stroll. The changing seasons show clearly in the surrounding park, so there’s lots of opportunity to catch some seasonal photos.

ST. MARY ABBEY

 

#10 York Museum Gardens

Attractive Botanical Park

Covering 10 acres beside the River Ouse, York Museum Gardens is a gorgeous burst of colour and life amongst the buildings of the city. This park is the ideal location for a gentle walk or picnic – try to spot as many of the 40 different species of birds that call it home as you can.

york museum gardens

 

#11 Jorvik Viking Centre

Viking Based Educational Experience

York was once known as the Viking town of Jorvik. The Jorvik Viking Centre celebrates this history with a detailed experience which includes a ride through a reconstruction of how Viking York may have looked. Jorvik is great for kids, and hosts touring exhibitions from around the country.

 

#12 Fountains Abbey Excursion

Ruined Monastery Abbey

The largest ruined abbey in the UK, Fountains Abbey is a glimpse into the monastic past of Yorkshire, and just a short trip from York. A Fountains Abbey Excursion offers the chance to learn about the history of the abbey’s monks and even live like they did, with activities such as pond dipping and camping.

fountains abbey excursion

 

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MAKING THE MOST OF york WITH GROUPON

There are so many things to do in York today that you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with choice. Luckily, we’re here to help you spend your time best, covering everything from exciting family days out, to romantic strolls through York’s medieval streets.

Free things to do in York

There are lots of fantastic things that you can do in York at no cost at all. Some of York’s biggest and best attractions, like the National Railway Museum, have entirely free entry so you can see the Flying Scotsman in all its glory at no cost.

As a well-preserved medieval city filled with picturesque parks, you can also enjoy a day walking around York and taking in some of the city’s best attractions for free. In fact, this can be the perfect time for you to snap some pics from around the city for your Instagram.

What to do in York at the weekend?

York bursts into activity at the weekend with thousands of visitors coming to see the sights and enjoy local attractions. The weekend is a particularly good time to dive into some of York’s best museums, like Fairfax House, a flawless example of a Georgian townhouse, or the Castle Museum with its recreated Victorian street.

If you’re looking for romantic things to do in York this weekend, then why not head out on a date and enjoy York’s excellent food culture? The city is filled with gastropubs, or you could head to The Shambles area and pick from the fresh food market. If street food is more your style, then The Shambles Food Court has a varied menu of different cuisines, from French to North African.

What can I do in York with kids?

Fit to burst with museums and educational centres, York is the ideal place to be when you’re looking for educational things to do with kids. The dynamic exhibits on display in The York Dungeon and the Jorvik Viking Centre are particularly good for giving children an exciting glimpse of life in historic York.

Alternatively, York also has a number of escape rooms, such as GR8escape York, which are perfect for some family fun time as you solve the various challenges and puzzles inside.

Things to do in Central York

Central York is the medieval heart of the city and where you’ll find many of its most recognisable landmarks, including the York Minster. The Shambles is a narrow medieval shopping street and one of the more popular destinations in Central York. Whether you’re looking to browse the shops, or you just want to enjoy the scenery, The Shambles is an essential visit.

A short walk from The Shambles is St Sampson’s Square. This particularly handsome area hosts local events and the York Christmas Market during December – ideal for some seasonal treats or fun festival rides.

Central York is also where you’ll find some of the city’s most well-preserved buildings, including the Barley Hall, a complete medieval townhouse with a great hall and timbers. You might also want to pop into the Yorkshire Museum in the Museum Gardens to learn more about one of Britain’s most historic regions.

Essential travel tips & hacks for York

If you’ve never been to York before, then you might want to try following some of these tips and hacks:

  • If you’re looking for alternative things to do in York at night, try one of the many spooky ghost walks.
  • Central York is almost entirely pedestrianised, so make sure you have good walking shoes on.
  • It you’re not a local, don’t forget that this is where Yorkshire Puddings come from! Make sure you get one either as part of a roast or from one of the trendy spots like The York Roast Co you’ll see dotted around town.
  • Visiting the likes of The Shambles on a Saturday afternoon can get a little crammed as it has a combination of tourists and shoppers all descending on the area. It’s best to go to popular attractions like this earlier in the day.

What’s the weather like in York

York is a little drier and warmer than the rest of Yorkshire, although it can be prone to outbursts of fog. It often lightly snows in York in winter, so you can look forward to some particularly picturesque snowy days.

Season 

Min. temperature 

Max. temperature 

Winter 

+0.8°C 

+6.9°C 

Spring 

+3.9°C 

+12.6°C 

Summer 

+11.8°C 

+21.2°C 

Autumn 

+6.6°C 

+13.9°C 

How do I get around York?

York’s main travel hub is York Railway Station which is just across the river from the Museum Gardens and Central York. Buses run from the train station into the city centre every ten minutes. The city centre has large areas which are only for pedestrians, so the best way to get around is by foot.

If you’re travelling by car you can use the Park & Ride available just outside the city to guarantee a parking spot and catch a bus straight into the city centre.

If you’re ever stuck for transport in York, you can always rely on one of the local private hire taxi services to get around. You can usually grab a black cab from the taxi rank on Duncombe Place in front of the York Minster. Alternatively, Uber is also available in York.

We hope these tips are going to make it easy when you’re out and about in York. And with a little help from Groupon you can now make the most out of your time in this beautiful city.