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Renowned for its exquisite architecture, Gothic cathedral and tangle of quaint cobbled streets, historic York is the setting for a perfect romantic retreat. But as old meets new, the city also has many surprises in store as vibrant cafés, colourful street entertainers and boutique shopping lie waiting to be discovered.
City walls Walk around York's Roman walls and gatehouses for an elevated view of the city.
Clifford's Tower Clifford's Tower stands as a proud symbol of the power of England's medieval kings.
A day at the races Enjoy the thrill and excitement of the chase at York's famous racecourse.
The Minster Gothic architectural wonders abound at the famous York Minster.
You can discover a secret side of York when you explore the city via its hidden snickets, ginnels and alleys.
Holy Trinity Priory has stocks with five holes. Some say the fifth hole was for a drunken, one legged sailor who was serial offender!
An old inn said to be built on the place where the notorious plotter was born. Still lit by traditional gas lamps, it stands in the shadow of York Minster.
York is a city of incredible contrasts and exciting discoveries. It's where old meets new, everyday meets the unexpected and grand architecture meets revered ruins. From the moment you enter the city walls, you'll be captivated by the sight of museums, country houses and delightfully unique shops that greet you at every twisty turn.
Wherever you are in the city, you'll feel like you're at the centre of new discoveries. With the river Ouse at its heart and framed by its ancient Roman walls, York invites you to open your mind to Jorvik's Viking streets, the Yorkshire Museum's archaeological treasures and York Dungeon's gruesome secrets. And that's just for starters. Not forgetting York's chocolate past, immerse yourself in York's Chocolate Story. Learn to taste chocolate like a professional, reveal chocolate's exotic origins, uncover the stories of the families who brought chocolate to York and the people of York who made sweets loved all around the world.
With so many things to see and do, you'll get more from your visit with the York Pass. It gives you entry to over 30 of York's top attractions, including York Minster, Clifford's Tower, Fairfax House and the Yorkshire Air Museum. So whether you fancy being transported back in time, carried away by grandeur or experiencing the wonder of aviation, this is your ticket to the action.
York City Sightseeing Bus - What better way to see York than to take a tour on an open top bus? You'll be shown around the City, with all major tourist attractions pointed out to you and an on-board commentary giving you an introduction to the history of York. Tours are daily throughout the year (except 24-26 December and 1 January). The full tour takes 45 minutes - 1 hour and are valid for 24 hours so hop on and off as much as you like. Tickets can be purchased on the bus
Need help with transport around York? visit Travel York for the latest information.
If there's one building that epitomises York, it's York Minster. And if this majestic Gothic cathedral could talk, it would tell stories of Emperor Constantine, St Paulinus and famous Archbishops. Luckily the famous tower and undercroft are well versed in bringing history to life. Visits to Fairfax House and Beningborough Hall are a must for lovers of everything Georgian and for those looking for an uplifting experience (and spectacular views), Clifford's Tower - almost all that remains of York Castle - is well worth a visit.
If you're in the mood for something a little more daring, York is happy to oblige. First stop has to be the famous Jorvik Viking Centre which is one of the UK's most popular attractions outside London. And it's no wonder when you get to travel back in time to see 1,000 year old streets, smell ye olde home cooked stew and even meet a Viking! Next stop is the frightfully gruesome York Dungeons, followed by the even scarier Original Ghost Walk. It sets off at 8pm, if you dare.
Day or night, there's always an opportunity to experience something extra special. Trot over to York Racecourse for the thrill of the chase and see famous jockeys in action. Take in a show at York Theatre Royal - the best of the best dramas, comedies and dances are literally lining up to keep you entertained. Or perhaps the York Grand Opera House has a touring production that will catch your eye. Or why not escape the city rush and enjoy York from a different perspective on a YorkBoat Guided River Trip.
Offering everything from fine local cuisine to international delicacies, dining in York is a gastronomic experience. Newgate Market will tempt you with its local cheeses and chutneys, vibrant pavement cafés are great for a spot of people watching and restaurants in the cosmopolitan quarter will entice you in with their stylish and tasty menus.
No visit to York is complete without a refreshment stop at one of its renowned cafés. Betty's Tea Room is just a stone's throw away from York Minster and is famous for its mouth-watering cakes and never ending selection of teas. Or mooch towards York Theatre Royal and drop into Café Concerto instead. This music-themed café is so quirky - think sheet music wallpaper and treble clef menus and you'll get the vibe of this friendly establishment with its melodic 50s background music. For a taste of the here and now, visit Xing Smoothies on The Shambles where you'll get a taste sensation soup or a excite your mouth with a exotic fruit smoothie.
For liquid refreshment of a completely different kind, take a guided tour around the fantastic York Brewery where you can indulge in some generous beer sampling! And if that's not enough, why not call in to York's smallest pub, The Blue Bell, for last orders!
Whether your family has a budding archaeologist, a Thomas the Tank Engine fan or a history buff, York has something to indulge everyone's passions. And with many activities located in the city, it's easy to hop from one to the other and keep everybody happy. Or for a full day out, it's easy to lose yourself at either York Maze or nearby Castle Howard, one of England's finest Baroque mansions and filming location of Brideshead Revisited.
Stepping back in time has never been so much fun. DIG offers little ones the chance to become real archaeologists and follow clues to unearth Roman, Viking and Victorian artefacts and they may even get to meet a Roman warrior on their travels! For more hands-on history, the free National Railway Museum is packed with activities for kids (young and old!). Discover over 300 years of railway history and a collection of over 100 locomotives. You can watch engineering work in progress in the Workshop, browse their object-filled Warehouse, or let off steam in the outdoor play area.
For a more leisurely day out, why not take to the river. There is a positive raft of boat trips along the river Ouse, giving you and your family the chance to kick back and see the sights sail by in comfort. You could even choose one of the lunch cruises and stop off at a riverside pub for a snack before you jump aboard again for the return trip.
From the pre-historic to the present day, you'll find traces of York's colourful history everywhere you go in the city. You can feel it when you walk down The Shambles, often regarded as Europe's best preserved mediaeval street. You can see it as you walk along the ancient Roman walls offering great views of the city below. And you can get carried away by it in any one of York's incredible array of museums.
You can also take a themed afternoon walks with YorkWalk such as 'Snickelways'-the hidden backwaters with colourful stories; 'Secret York' taking you to hidden ancient buildings off the beaten track; and 'Roman York' where you can follow in the footsteps of the Roman Legions as you discover the origins of York.
Some of Britain's finest archaeological treasures and many rare animals, birds and fossils are housed in the newly refurbished Yorkshire Museum. With ten-acres of botanical gardens surrounding the museum, it's well worth a visit. You can step forward a few centuries at York Castle Museum and walk down a real Victorian street with shops and even a prison. Or why not dig a little deeper and uncover a more unusual side of the city's heritage at the York Cold War Bunker.
Fly over to the former World War II RAF Bomber Command Station at Elvington and visit the Yorkshire Air Museum. Fascinating exhibits span the whole history of flight, including the early pioneers of aviation. And from big planes to tiny trains at the York Model Railway - perfectly located next to York's historic main railway. Or if you're more interested in tracking York's agricultural roots, don't miss the historic vehicles and carts at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming.
Tucked away in the cobbled streets you can discover some of the city's hidden secrets. Marvel at the interior of Fairfax House, the finest Georgian townhouse, or explore Merchant Adventurers Hall, the finest preserved Guild Hall in Europe. Barley Hall lets you experience life in a mediaeval household or discover the Treasurer's House, said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the city. If that's not enough there is also the only museum in Europe dedicated to quilting and textile arts, which is home to the earliest known signed and dated patchwork!
Found in the heart of the city in St Helen's Square, the Mansion House is an architectural masterpiece which plays host to an extensive collection of civic regalia and artefacts.
Shopping in York is an experience in itself, with a web of winding streets flaunting a wide variety of wares. You'll find gorgeous little independent shops selling everything from clothes to crystals, fabulous vintage stores, and High Street names to boot. York's unique Shop and City initiative will help you on your way with four themed trails leading to some of the best shops and eateries.
Winner of the most picturesque street in Britain, the cobbled Shambles is an ideal place to start the day. It was originally a street of butchers shops and houses, but now York's bustling centrepiece is thriving with art, books, knitwear and pastries. And it's perfectly placed to lead you on to the many fancy boutiques, gift shops and antique havens that lie in the streets beyond.
If you're hungry for a bargain, York Designer Outlet is just a 10 minute drive by car from the city. Here you'll be dazzled by over 120 famous name stores, with up to 60% off designer fashions and accessories. Armani, Lacoste and Timberland are just a few of the labels that will make your eyes light up. Alternatively, visit Monks Cross Shopping which is located 2 miles from York city centre just off the A1237 northern ring road. Park your car for free and step onto their expansive malls featuring many of the UK's top high street shops including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Next, New Look, H&M, Laura Ashley, Monsoon, Top Shop, Blacks Outdoor, Boots, Game, Outfit, TK Maxx, River Island and more!
History and culture
York’s museums transport you back in time to a world where the Vikings ruled and the Victorians made ice cream.
How can you say no to tea and cake in a city with tempting cafes around every corner?
To the races
Gee up for a day at York Races and see if you can back a real winner.
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