York Essentials

A cobbled world of contrasts

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.

A centre of new discoveries

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. 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.

For creative inspiration, head to York Art Gallery and spot the L.S. Lowry’s, Turner or Hockney and surround yourself with some of the best ceramic art in the world.

See York open top style

York City Sightseeing Bus - What better way to see York than 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.

Buildings steeped in history

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 Beningbrough 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. Clifford's Tower is currently closed to visitors for conservation work, and will reopen in the summer. 

Take a walk on the dark side

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.

A grand day out

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. For a completely different perspective of York, head to the river and cruise the Ouse on one of the City Cruises York sightseeing boat trips. Alternatively, hire one of their red boats for your own, self-driven, aquatic adventure.

York’s lush green spaces

The city is blessed with a number of relaxing green spaces to discover. The Museum Gardens, with its botanical plants, here you might even spot a #OnlyinYork Tansy Beetle an endangered species who only live in a 30km stretch of the River Ouse. Other delightful spaces include Dean’s Park at the foot of the majestic York Minster and the grounds of the Treasurer’s House. Rowntree Park is popular with families with its playgrounds and cosy Reading Café. Venture out of the city to explore the countryside and green spaces on York’s doorstep. Discover the stunning green spaces of Stillingfleet Gardens, the grand stately home and grounds of Castle Howard and Breezy Knees Garden. You’re spoilt for choice with the array of natural attractions, grounds and estates to enjoy.

York Pass

Make the most of your stay with York Pass, the Official Sightseeing Card for the city of York and North Yorkshire. The York City pass is great for short stays giving you access to 18 attractions located in the city.

Discover More: York & North Yorkshire.