York has to be the most popular city in Yorkshire, maybe even the UK when it comes to tourism. With a range of things to do, it’s hard to device where to start. Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time or live here and want to be a tourist for the day here at The Yorkshireman we’ve created a roundup of the 50 best things to do in York that you have to try in your life.
From heritage activities such as learning about the city’s Viking past to visiting one of its many pubs, restaurants and bars – you could do something different on each trip to the city. If you think you’ve got something to add that we haven’t covered give us a shout and we’ll add it to the ultimate bucket list of activities.
1. Take a stroll along the River Ouse
York is one of the most romantic cities in the UK and, while it might not be the Seine, there’s something special about the River Ouse. Stretching throughout the middle of the city, the idyllic river has a number of waterside paths that you can stroll down – the perfect way to spend a morning in the historic city.
We recommend taking in the views from Lendal Bridge before descending the stairs and walking along the River Ouse alongside the Museum Gardens on Dame Judy Dence Walk. It’s beautiful all year round, but we especially love it in autumn when leaves litter the ground. But it is just as nice to sit and enjoy an ice cream while watching the world go by.
2. ‘Potter’ along The Shambles – Things to do in York
Arguably one of the most famous tourist attractions in York, The Shambles is worth a visit every single time. This spot is York’s own Diagon Alley from harry Potter, and you may potter through it for two minutes or twenty-five – either way, there’s a certain serotonin boost that comes along with the peculiar architecture of the famous cobbled street.
There is. areason this street is always bustling. The whole place is magical from The York Ghost Merchants to the the array of curious gift shops and independents who call the Shambles home, including our friends at The Potion’s Cauldron.
3. Take in the architecture at York Minster
A stop off at the York Minster is a given when visiting York – even if you don’t go inside. Boasting impeccable architecture that dates right back to the 1200’s, the historic building is simply awe-inspiring, the say the least.
You can explore one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, and experiences its vast spaces and breathtaking medieval architecture. You can also discover the cities Roman routes and learn about the Minster’s role in Viking York.
4. Experience Afternoon Tea at Bettys
Bettys has become a Yorkshire institution over the years, so it should come as absolutely no surprise to see it on this list. Located on the bustling St Helen’s Square, guests can watch the world go by while enjoying the team room’s array of fine cakes, bakes and hot drinks, with plenty of Fat Rascals on offer if you really want to get into the Yorkshire spirit.
Make sure you try A Fat Rascal, created at Betty’s Tearoom. If you’re looking for gifts, Bettys is definitely the place to be, with tons of artisan chocolates and cakes available to take away. Find them at Bettys, 6-8 St. Helen’s Square, York, YO1 8QP.
5. Take a stroll around the City Walls
An obvious choice for a roundup of York activities, York’s historic city walls still stand today, providing a great walkway for guests to enjoy. The elevated circular route provides stunning views of the city, taking guests around famous sights such as Monk Bar, the Minster, and the River Ouse.
The city walls otherwise known as ‘bar walls’ are the most complete example of medieval city walls standing in England today. The original Roman walls can be found underneath the medeival stone work. The Vikings buried existing walls under earth and topped with a palisade.
6. Step into a Van Gogh painting at the new immersive exhibition
Taking place at York St Mary’s Church until March 31st 2022, the Van Gogh Immersive Experience brings to life the artist’s most famous paintings for the first time in the city, allowing art enthusiasts to experience the works in a whole new way.
Step inside and become completely immersed in Gogh’s iconic brush strokes, while taking in the impressive projections that have been taking the city by storm since earlier this month. Get tickets here.
7. Take a step back in time at Clifford’s Tower – Things to do in York
Wanting to unearth some of York’s history? Then visit one of York’s most iconic sites and experience the stunning views over the historic city. Positioned on top of a hill overlooking. the city, Clifford’s Tower was built to subdue the rebellious north by William the Conqueror.
Learn about the beautiful tower’s dark past where a huge massacre occurred back in 1190 when York’s Jewish community were trapped there by a violent mob and many Jews chose to commit suicide rather than be murdered.
8. Enjoy a cocktail at one of York’s many bars – Things to do in York
York is filled with incredible quirky bars and cocktail spots where you can enjoy a few drinks in the day by the river or frequent one of its many nighttime spots. One of our favourites is Impossible, and although it might be fairly new on the bar scene in York, but it’s surely worth a visit if cocktails are your thing. Located near Bettys on St Helen’s Square, the opulent cocktail bar sits within the old Terry’s building, and boasts plenty of nods to the chocolate orange heroes we all know and love.
Offering a sense of theatre with everything that they do, guests can enjoy afternoon tea, delectable British dishes and Instagrammable cocktails when visiting Impossible, with both a tearoom and ‘wonderbar’ to enjoy when visiting. Impossible, 3 St. Helen’s Square, York, YO1 8QN.
9. Satisfy your sweet tooth whilst you learn about York’s Chocolate Story
A certain times of year, the smell of chocolate lingers in the air. That’s the smell of history my friend. You can take a trip down York’s sweet past and uncover the history of chocolate from its exotic origins to its part on the cobbled streets of York.
They hold great events all year round for father’s day, Mother’s day or just for chocolate days. If you’ve got that sweet tooth then this is the one for your.
10. Dine by the river at The Star Inn The City
Run by Michelin-star chef Andrew Pern, The Star Inn The City sits right on the river by Lendal Bridge, offering stunning waterside views for guests to enjoy.
Serving up a menu of Yorkshire-inspired dishes, guests can dine on perfectly presented plates designed by Pern himself, expanding further on his acclaimed offering that can be found down the road at The Star Inn At Harome. The unique restaurant is perfect for a special date night or occasion, with plenty of seasonally-changing dishes to try out. The Star Inn The City, Museum St, York, YO1 7DR.
11. Get together with friends at Thor’s Tipi
Now a York institution, Thor’s Tipi not only pops up at Christmas, but in the summer, too, offering varying experiences for visitors to enjoy.
In the wintertime, expect cosy alpine-themed tipis with mulled wine, hot chocolates and beers, while, in the summer, guests can expect their Sól Ást offering, which consists of an open tipi, Ibiza vibes and plenty of summery cocktails. Find them seasonally at the Principal Hotel.
12. Enjoy a tipple in one (or two) of York’s oldest pubs
Ever felt like the floor has gone wonky after a few beers.? In York, it’s not you, these old pubs have low celiings with fantastic beams, uneven floors and a few friendly ghosts. Good job they’ve got great ales to match the authentic pub vibe.
Each pub has its own story to tell, so pick up a beer and listen. The historic city of York’s pubs are some o f the oldest in the country and we love every one of them. There are over 450 pubs in the York area, and around 400 of those sell real ale.
13. Wander around York’s Shambles Market
Shambles Market is a must-visit for anyone heading to York. You can get anything from fresh flowers, crafts, and handbags and fresh produce from indepedent retails.
Shambles Market is home to York’s largest group of independent traders. It also has its very own food court full of fantastic street food vendors from around the world including Italian, asian, bbq and much much more.
14. Try locally brewed beers at Brew York
Consider yourself quite the beer fan? Brew York’s popular beer hall is the perfect spot to try out something new, with around 40 beers on tap to try and make your way through. It’s perfect for those who are well acquainted with craft beers, and there’s even a fantastic street food offering to enjoy, too.
Currently, Brew York has partnered with the cult favourite Yuzu Street Food, serving delicious Asian-inspired dishes from their friendly, open-kitchen. Brew York, Unit 5, Enterprise Complex, Walmgate, York, YO1 9TT.
15. Catch a show at the stunning York Theatre Royal
An underrated part of history in York, York Theatre Royal dates all the way back to the 1700s, with much of its original features still in tact.
Take in the breathtaking opera-style architecture inside, while catching one of the theatre’s many mesmerising shows – most of which hail from the iconic West End in London. Get tickets here.
16. Singalong to live music at The Hop
The Hop, located on Fossgate, has done a fantastic job of making it the perfect venue to visit all day long – with a cosy, traditional bar serving real ales up front, and a bright and airy pizza restaurant at the back.
Constantly busy thanks to he delicious wood-fired pizzas, the venue transforms in the evening, with live music and a huge range of drinks to enjoy by nightfall. The Hop, 11-12 Fossgate, York, YO1 9TA.
17. Jump into York’s Nordic past at the Jorvik Viking Centre
Be transported back in time at Jorvik Vking Centre, one of York’s top attractions. You can learn all about. the history of Viking life in yorkshire’s capital. They even have the world’s largest fosilliesed poo – site to be hold
Jump on the six-seater time capsule and be transported back in time to the year 866AD fromwar-like Viking era through 100 years of Jorvik to 975AD.
18. Test your nerves on one of York’s ghost tour
York’s ghost tours are great any time of year. Test your nerve and explore narrow passageways, dark streets and tales. ofscandal, death and the supernatural. Your hosts will help you travel back in time across the centuries.
You can take a ride on York’s Ghost Bus or be guided on a late night walk. One things for sure is you’ll be given a scare – but that’s all part of the fun.
19. Get steamy at The National Railway Museum
Voted TripAdvisor’s best free atraction, you get to immerse yourself in the home of iconic locomotives including the world’s fastest steam locomotive, Mallard. You can explore the stories, places and engineer behind the railways – experiences some of the greatest trains ever made.
The museum is absolutely free and holds all kinds of events all year round. So you know something fun is always on the cards. It’s great for families with plenty of interactive things to do.
20. Have a day at the races
One of the premier tracks in Europe, York Racecourse recently won the Flat Racecourse of the Year Award, for the fourth year, and also came out top in The Times newspaper survey of all Britain’s racecourses. So you know you are in for a fun time enjoying placing a bet, having a drink and getting that adrenaline pumped as you watch the horses storm round the course.
21. Take a riverside pub crawl
It’s not hard to come across Riverside bars in York worth visiting with the magnificent River Ouse running through the centre of the historic city. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite haunts when we take a trip to York in the summertime for some inspiration for your next visit. Afterall, summer isn’t summer if you’re not drinking something alcoholic next to a body of water in the sunshine.
22. Enjoy an stroll through the Museum Gardens
The beautiful botanical gardens located in the city centre, York Museum Gardens is an idyllic haven all year round. Although, we do love a sunbathe during the summer months. You can explore an array of plant species, wildlife and plenty of historical features.
There is also the beautiful medieval ruins of St mary’s Abbey that is surronded by trees, shrubs, perennials and sits next to the River Ouse.
23. Fill your belly with a delicious Yorkshire Pudding Wrap from York Roast Co.
You can’t come to Yorkshire’s capital and not try a Yorkshire pudding wrap! The York Roast Co serves up the most mouthwatering street food ever – Yorkshire tyle. We are talking roasted veggies, beef, chicken roast potatoes and of course gravy. Get in my belly!
24. Take in the city skyline from this rooftop bar – Things to do in York
York city centre’s new addition boutique hote. Malmaison hotel chain helps breathe new life into the landmark Aviva insurance building next to the picturesque Lendal Bridge.
The iconic building that has thousands of tourists pass it every day offers stylish bedrooms, modern interiors. Best of all – the York Malmaison will features a state of the art rooftop bar, a very welcome addition to the city’s hospitality scene.
Our top restaurant recommendations:
- The Market Cat
- Rattle Owl
- York Roast Co
- The Whippet Inn
- Zaap Thai Street Food
- Cafe No. 8
- Grays Court
- The Star Inn The City
- The Ivy
Our top bar recommendations:
- Evil Eye
- House of Trembling Madness
- Brew York
- Cave du Cochon
- Malmaison Sora Sky Bar
- Spark: York
Our top pub recommendations:
- The Lamb & Lion
- The Market Cat
- The Golden Fleece
- The Guy Fawkes Inn
- Ye Olde Starre Inne
[Featured image: Unsplash]