15 Amazing Things to Do When You’re in York, England

Right! need to talk about things to do in York, since that is what you searched to get here.

It was a breath of fresh air when I came here. Well relatively. I arrived here,  from London. So you can see how compared to London this city is much less congested, small, walkable everywhere, the trees, and everything. I was happy. I do get this feeling whenever I get away from London, after getting frustrated with the city, even if it is my favorite city so far. It can be lonely and boresome for me in London if I stay there continuously there for a long time. Or perhaps it is just the dread of being static, stagnant and not going anywhere. So traveling gives me a sense of moving. At least the illusion of it. 

Anyway, this post is not to talk about the misgivings of my psychological structure, but rather to share, what the heck you can do here, should you consider coming to York. Either for a weekend or any other end.

York is a charming city with its cute, cobblestoned streets in the town center. You don’t need many days to see the major sites here, but if you are traveling slowly I would recommend 4 to 5 days, otherwise, 2 days is enough.

When you are not busy being a tourist, you can just simply waste your time wandering through the streets or having a picnic in the museum gardens. 

I have compiled here a list of things that you can do in York.

Visit the york minster

I thought minster had something to do with the Parliament, probably because the parliament in London is in Westminster. I had no idea it could be a church. Silly me.

I have to be honest, not a big fan of churches here. I have had seen my fair share of churches and other religious establishments by now. I mean, I had been to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, even that did not wow me. The only thing that excited me was the fact that it is an unfinished piece of work that was being worked on for more than two centuries-ish. 

things to do in york - york minster
Look at those details
And there was this pretty building next to it

So this was just another church to me. I ended up taking only some pictures from outside. But its appeal is quite visible in whoever I talked to that had been inside the church. They said, ‘it was gorgeous’, ‘marvelous’ and other words.

This is a gothic style catholic church, the biggest of its kind in Northern Europe. There’s some story with the stained glasses of this church, I can’t remember now, but worth checking on the history.

Oh yeah, I googled. The east window stained glass is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. And the pieces were restored recently with protective UV coating and stuff and when they removed the glasses and laid them out it was the size of a tennis court. Now, this is a fun fact. 

You can climb up to the top of the church tower, it is a big climb. On a clear sky day, you can see the city of York and beyond up to 25 miles.

This is a very good spot to take Instagram worthy pictures of this beautiful city.

To get in, adults have to pay £11.50 to just see the minster and for both the church and the tower the prices are £16.50 for adults. 

Students are lucky here with £9 to see the minster and £15.50(just a pound difference) to see the minster and to climb the tower.

Children under 16 can see the minster for free with a paying adult but they must pay £5 to climb the tower. Children must be at least 8 years old to climb the tower.

Here is the official site

Walkthrough the Shambles

The shambles is the oldest street in York. It looks like a street from Harry Potter, some told me. And since then that phrase is stuck to my head whenever I think of the shambles and want to describe it to someone else. I stole someone else’s words. I am not even a big fan of Harry Potter, haha.

This street used to be a butchers market and slaughterhouse. That is what shambles means, the term is obsolete now, but it means butcher house and meat market.

Many buildings here are from the 14th century.  

The street is usually crowded especially in summer I would guess because I have been only there in summer. It was crowded. And if you want to take a decent picture without so many people in it, I would say, come early in the morning or late at night before the crowds start to roll in.

things to do in york
Crowded during daytime
Evenings or early mornings are better if you want to get a photo of the shambles without a lot of people in it

Buy something from the shambles market

The Shambles Market is attached to the shambles street, there are two entrances, one from Parliament street and one from the Shambles. 

The market has flower shops, shops that sell hats, fruits, vegetables, there are even food trucks inside and benches where you can sit down and enjoy a meal. 

york things to do - shambles market
Shambles market – Entrance from Parliament St.

Stroll through Museum Gardens and check out St Mary’s Abbey ruins. 

You can go to the museum gardens if you like outdoorsy, green places. I saw people having a picnic there with their families with their kids etc, having a relaxing time there. There are ruins of an Abbey inside. 

St mary’s abbey was the richest monastery in North of England once upon a time until it was destroyed by King Henry VIII (What is that? 8?) when he wanted to ‘upgrade his wife’, the words uttered by the boat captain when I was taking the riverboat tour. That’s right you have a view of the Abbey, though small from the river as well. I think the wife was the story of Anne Boleyn.

St marys abbey - things to do in york
Ruins of St Marys Abbey.

The ruins are a good spot to get some Instagram pictures. When I was there, I saw a wedding photo shoot which was fun to watch.

Then there is the York museum inside these gardens. It has paid entry and I think it is about the history of the museum, I did not go inside of it. I am not a big fan of paid visits to museums. Because I have seen many, and I have seen the British Museum in London, which has a very large collection of items all around the world. 

things to do in york - yorkshire museum
York museum


If you’re into museums and want to know the history of York, you should check it out. 

Adults pay £7.27 and Kids go free. Students pay £5.60.

If you do the riverboat tour first, you will get a discount here.

Get a riverboat tour in York

The riverboat tour costs 10 pounds, which I think is cheap. It takes you on a 45 minutes boat journey on River Ouse. The river, I thought was a canal, but is a long river. 

river boat tour cruise in york - things to do
River cruise in York. Just £10

The driver was really funny for my taste so the narration was a little bit enjoyable. He talked about the history of York mister, abbey and the river, the flooding, and the haunted pub and the pub that floods and has a canoe party when it does, etc. It was informative.

There are certain times when the boat leaves, you can find these times at the place where the boat docks, there is one just near the bridge by the entrance to museum gardens. Walk down the steps and you will reach there. 

If you take the riverboat tour, you get 10% off on other attraction like the mister. So do the boat tour first.

Go on a ghost walk tour

What it is is that the guide talks about various places in York that are considered to be haunted, and stories told by people who claim to have seen these ghosts. Weirdly, almost every story, if the ghost was a male involved them appearing in Ladies toilets and groping them. 

The body shop in the shopping center is considered to be haunted, and the cock and bell pub. The ones I remember from his stories.

There are several of these ghost walk tours. You can see someone at every main street or junction in York, holding a placard about the tour.

I went for the one that starts at the King’s Arms pub (the pub that floods) and starts at 7.30. It cost me £5 pounds, it was okay with my taste. 

A lot of people enjoyed the ghost stories, I enjoyed more taking pictures on the walk. It was nice protection for me because I dread to explore a city at night.

Have the Yorkshire Pudding Wrap from Yorkshire Roast

This is a must-do. It is in the food’s name. And you are in Yorkshire. You would not go to Italy and not eat Pizza, would you?

The wrap itself was slightly above average. Delicious, not so bad. I liked the gravy especially, that may be just the Indian in me favoring anything curry-like.

where to eat in york
When in York eat Yorkshire pudding.

Jorvik Viking center

This is, I don’t know, I kind of liked it, but it was also a bit too artificial for my taste.

I will tell you why you sit in a car that goes around built structures, that is reconstructed from the evidence that suggests how the Vikings used to live, and there is narration going on in the car you are sitting, describing what you are seeing in front of you. 

I would rather prefer to see much more of the real things, like the stuff they used in the Viking period, etc. There is a small collection of these real things. I think it is small, of items after the cable tour finishes and before the exit. I don’t usually like the deep history of things and places. I am not interested unless it is a cool fun fact. No, I don’t want to know when something was built or which King the what number built it.

If there is a nice story with it, like that of Troy or the Spartans I am all ears.

Anyway. There is a small collection of some things at the end of the car tour. 

One thing that drew my attention was this ancient poo sample. And it was what brought the attention of many, among other items. But how could poo last so long, wouldn’t it be disintegrated? I could n’t wrap my head around it. Somehow fossilized, underwent some natural phenomenon? I don’t know.

The prices I think, for what they are a bit steep, £12.50 for an adult. And the prices are cheaper for students and kids. There is also a ticket for 20 that allows you to visit 5 different attractions. I thought it would allow you to visit attractions like the Minster, the castle Museum, etc. But it only allows you to visit some other exhibitions and experiences run by the same company, which to be honest wasn’t very appealing to me. It was more of a marketing scam, I felt designed to see more of what that company had to offer.

Note: If you’re a student you don’t have to be studying in York. You need to be just a student that’s all.

Have a look at the Cliffords tower

The tower used to be part of the York Castle. The castle is not there anymore, but there is a museum that talks about the caste. The York castle museum.

Clifford’s tower itself is not much to see, but still, I went in against the nagging voice that said, ‘it is nothing much’. 

I paid, £5.80 to get in I saw a gift shop inside, and a lady selling wine and marmalades, etc. Don’t know why she picked that place to sell this. I asked, she said, it is a collaboration with the entity that runs the Tower.

You can climb the stairs and go to the top of the tower, which is only the height of, say a two-story building. Plus the tower sits on the top of a small hill. So that adds to the hight too. But I would not say it is a viewpoint etc. But you can still see a lot of york. 

It was still not that high. 

But standing there on top of the tower was a good feeling, the breeze, I love the breezes on a warm summer day. And the smell of the trees. Magnificient. Delicious. I don’t know how to describe it. It was a good feeling. The same feeling that I got when I was walking on the York city walls.

Walk on the York city walls

Once you have visited the museum gardens and saw the abbey and finished the boat tour, this would be the next logical thing to do. Because one end of the wall starts right by the entrance to gardens.

It felt fresh and good walking on top of it, I could see both sides of the city the inner and the outer sides, waving hello to whoever walked by me. The nice friendly people of York and other fellow tourists.

york city walls, things to do in york
A walk on the city walls is most refreshing

It was a good place for me to practice my vlogging skills because there weren’t many around me for me to get nervous while blogging.

There is no fee to walk on the walls. It is completely free.

I started walking through the entrance by the museum gardens.  You can also start at the Mickelegate entrance, near Micklegate social bar and finish at the museum gardens if you happen to stay in that area, it is also a nice walk to start your sightseeing day. 

Visit the Lord mayors mansion

This is a paid option, and I kind of liked it. The mansion is where the lord mayor used to host parties and entertain guests.

Now don’t ask me what a Lord Mayor is, it is like a Mayor today, but only a ceremonial title, I learned after asking the ticket seller.

I think it was about £6 pounds or something like that. 

The lady, who was volunteering showed me around. The main hall, I was told the stateroom, where the guests gathered, I was shown a mummified cat, a hammer and a shoe. 

The cat was there to protect the house from evil spirits, I think was a thing in york at the time, and the shoe, they don’t know, maybe was there because one of the workmen lost theirs. The hammer, I forget what the purpose was. 

I went to the kitchen, I saw a guy playing with the interactive play ‘thing’/workshop where an automated screen takes you through cutting a piece of meat, how they used to cut it a few centuries ago. 

Then there was the bedroom etc. 

The Lord mayor now still resides in the house, the current one, there is an apartment on the top floor of the mansion. 

You can also rent the mansion for any functions like parties and weddings etc. if you can afford it.

The mansion itself from the Georgian period and the lady said all the furniture inside is insured with a hefty amount. 

At the beginning of some weeks, the mansion is closed for actual gatherings and dinners by the lord mayor and they have to get rid of the fake food that is there for show, on the dinner table with actual food. 

When I visited I was the only person in the building plus the other guy in the kitchen, but he was far away.

Have Afternoon Tea at Bettys cafe tea rooms

When I walked past this cafe every single time, I saw it full of customers. This probably is something that every tourist do. The prices are not that cheap, but I guess you will get a good afternoon tea experience here. I did not go in there, simply because I can’t have a lot of sugar in my diet. 

breakfast in york - bettys cafe tea rooms
Have breakfast here. Or an afternoon tea.

But this seems like one of those things you should do here in York.

They also sell scones, macaroons, and other stuff.

Yorks chocolate story

I am not entirely sure what it is. But a lot of people have recommended this to me. So must be good. Especially if you are a chocolate lover. For me, I hate chocolate. Hate is a strong word, let’s just say I don’t like it.  Let me do some research.

Okay, it is ….

York is the UK’s home for chocolate. And they take you through the process of making chocolate and how it emerged as a business in York. Your guide will take you through the famous brands from here. It is priced at 12.95 for an adult and a pound less 11.95 for a student.

There is also a cafe there, so maybe you can check that out too after that tour, relax a bit. Allow 90 minutes for your visit.

Rent a boat and have a ride along the river, a self-ride red boat, as they call it

Yes, you can do that too. This probably was one of the things that I wanted to do but ended up not doing because I was alone. If I was with somebody I would have done it. It seemed a lot of fun. Plus I don’t know how to swim so I was extra cautious. 

If you are confident even if you are alone, you can do it. It is a lot of fun from the looks of it.

rent a personal boat and ride in york - things to do in york
Ride a boat yourself

I saw many families doing it with their kids on the sunny days here. 

The prices are from £20-£40 and you may save a little if you book online first.

National railway museum

Don’t miss this. I repeat, do not miss this!! This was the coolest thing that I did in York. When my hostel roommate told me when I asked him what was the highlight of his trip and what he liked the most, he replied ‘this might sound corny, but I really liked the railway museum’ 

Well, I knew then, that being a nerd, a little bit of a nerd, I would enjoy that too. Who wants to go through the history of places and things over and over again. Time to have a look at some old tech and how that worked. Well at least look at, even if I don’t have the patience to read how it worked. Learn some fun facts. 

I like information, but too much information, well that weighs me down. I am trying to regulate my information intake. 

So there I was, walking to the national railway museum with great excitement, I really wanted to see the bullet train.

The railway museum is easy to get to, it is near the railway station, which makes sense. And the train station is just about 10 minutes walk from the town center. 

You can look at the signs and follow them, it is on the southeast side of the river, and if in doubt always use google maps. 

The museum is free to enter. 

As I entered I saw the donation box which said, ‘it is free but we run on donations’. Well, I did not want to pay. So I awkwardly talked the woman at the counter even if I did n’t have to. I think she felt it and shouted, ‘it is free’. I was a bit embarrassed.

Well, I took the events information in the museum, that she gave me and walked along. Events like ‘the mallard experience’ which costs, that is basically a mallard looking enclosure in which you sit and it moves. Much similar to the flight experience simulators that you might have come across. 

Mallard is the name of a train.

I didn’t care for it. 

So I walked, took out my camera and got busy. 

I walked to the main hall, where there was a cafe and the cafe was big. Between platforms, with trains on them. 

I say various trains, modern ones, old ones, Australian ones. 

The walls had advertisements from back in the days. 

Trains looked a lot more luxurious back then. I saw a mail train back in the days and was delighted. 

After that, I made my way to the north hall, where all the cool stuff that I came here to see was.

Right by the entrance are the Eurostar and the bullet train. I took several videos and pictures of them.

bullet train in york - things to do york
Japanese bullet train in the railway museum, York

I learned that the one that is there, displayed, the bullet train, that is one of the first models from the 1960s. I did not know Japan had bullet trains as far back as that. 

I walked around I saw beautiful trains, weird trains, a train turning wheel, and the mallard. 

Now the mallard, I did not know what it was. I overheard someone saying it was designed by Bugatti. And I like Bugatti cars, so I rushed to see that. 

It is designed by Bugatti and it holds the highest speed record by a steam train, this was back in the 1920s. It still holds the record, because you know, there are no steam trains anymore. Obviously, not that common.

Mallard in railway museum - york things to do
Mallard, the fastest steam train ever.

And, I will end the post here. Hopefully, I managed to give you some helpful information for your visit. Or at the very least it is useful to those who want to live vicariously through me 🙂


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