This historic city in the north of England makes for the perfect weekend break. York is fairly compact, so three days is the perfect amount of time to see all the city has to offer. From the iconic York Minster to some of the oldest pubs in all of Britain, here are our favourite things to do in York.
Discover the best reasons to visit York.
Kiss in the York Minster
Arguably the most famous of the York attractions, no trip is complete without a visit to York Minster, located right in the heart of the city. A magnificent medieval cathedral, York Minster is one of the largest Gothic-style cathedrals in Europe and the seat of the Archbishop of York. The cathedral dates back as far as the 8th century and is known for its stunning stained glass windows and stone masterpieces. You can visit the interactive display in the underground chambers, see a performance by the world-famous Minster choir, and climb the 275 steps in the Central Tower. There you can take in the York skyline from the highest point in the city. Don’t miss the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’, a heart-shape in the Great West Window. Legend has it that couples who share a kiss here will stay together forever…
Get a fright with your pint in a historic pub
York locals are quick to claim that there are more pubs than days of the year – whether or not that’s the case, there’s definitely no shortage of watering holes! Most of the traditional English pubs here have long histories, dating back centuries and often filled with bloody stories and freaky tales. The Golden Fleece, built in the 16th century, has a reputation for being the most haunted pub in York, with no less than 15 spirits calling this place home. Other spooky spots include the The Snickleway, Ye Olde Starre Inne and The Black Swan. You can also book ghost tours that will convince even the biggest sceptic that things go bump in the night when it comes to York!
Venture down into the dungeons
As one of the oldest cities in the UK, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of ghost attractions. If drinking in a haunted pub didn’t scare the socks off you, then you’re sure to get a fright in the York Dungeon, featuring an interactive show with special effects, convincing actors and all-too realistic exhibitions. See the Vengeance of the Vikings, get lost in the Labyrinth, check in with the Plague Doctor and watch some gruesome executions. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, and you’ll learn all about York and its bloody past.
Walk the York streets
York’s history dates back as far as 71AD when Romans founded the city on the banks of the River Ouse. Today, it’s a beautiful medieval city that has managed to retain some of its original buildings and foundations. The best way to see it is to walk around the city walls on the pedestrian-only streets which circle central York. It takes about an hour to complete the circuit which shows you ancient Roman ruins as well as wonderful views of the city and its surrounds. Another must-see is the Shambles, a 14th century street boasting Tudor-style architecture and overhanging buildings. Once the strip where butchers hung their meat, today the Shambles is home to cafes, restaurants and tourist shops.
Catch a festival
York has been dubbed England’s City of Festivals as there is always something on, no matter when you visit the city. Some of the biggest festivals include the York Festival of Food and Drink in September, the Viking Festival in February, the York Festival of Traditional Dance, also in September, and Illuminating York, which lights up the city in the lead-up to Christmas.