York, a city in northeast England, is steeped in history and boasts an array of heritage sites, museums, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a nature lover, or simply looking for a charming place to explore, York has plenty to offer.

For anyone planning a visit, this guide will highlight some unforgettable things to do in York.

1. York Minster

York Minster
Photo: Google Maps/Ben Whitehouse

At the heart of York, the majestic York Minster cathedral is one of the most magnificent things to do. This Gothic masterpiece is the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The intricate detail on the stained glass windows, the cavernous nave, and the hauntingly beautiful Chapter House are awe-inspiring. Don’t miss the chance to climb the Central Tower for an unrivalled view of the city.

For a unique experience, plan your visit to coincide with Evensong, where the echo of the choir fills the Minster, creating a peaceful and reflective atmosphere. Be sure to explore the Undercroft Museum as well, where the cathedral’s 2000-year history is revealed through interactive displays and ancient artifacts.

Entry Fee: GBP 16.00; Location: Check Map
Address: Deangate, York YO1 7HH, United Kingdom.

2. National Railway Museum York

National Railway Museum York
Photo: Twitter/Daily Picture Theme

Next on the list of things to do in York, the National Railway Museum York is a must-see for history buffs and train enthusiasts alike. This museum hosts an extensive collection of over 100 locomotives and almost 200 other items of rolling stock, showcasing Britain’s rich railway history.

Walking among the giants of the steam era, you’ll find legendary trains like the Mallard, the world’s fastest steam locomotive, and the majestic Japanese Bullet Train. The museum also provides interactive exhibits and workshops for all ages, making it a perfect family destination. Don’t forget to hop aboard the miniature railway for a delightful ride around the museum grounds.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ, United Kingdom.

3. JORVIK Viking Centre

JORVIK Viking Centre
Photo: Google Maps/Ania Davenport

The JORVIK Viking Centre is one of the most exciting things to do in York, especially for those intrigued by Viking history. Built on the site of an archaeological dig that uncovered a Viking settlement, the centre transports visitors back to the 10th century.

A time-capsule ride brings the sights, sounds, and even smells of the Viking-age city of Jorvik (old name for York) to life, making history incredibly tangible. Engage with knowledgeable staff members who depict Viking characters, explore the collection of Viking artifacts found on-site, and don’t miss the opportunity to see archaeologists at work in the centre’s lab.

Entry Fee: GBP 21.75; Location: Check Map
Address: 19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT, United Kingdom.

4. York Castle Museum

York Castle Museum
Photo: Google Maps/Grace Davila

Among the many things to see in York, the York Castle Museum offers a fascinating journey through time. The museum resides in two prison buildings, making the very setting part of its historical narrative. Visitors can explore recreated Victorian streets, complete with shops, schoolrooms, and homes, providing a vivid insight into 19th-century British life.

The museum also houses an impressive collection of historical artifacts, from costumes and military uniforms to toys and household items. The poignant exhibit located in the old prison cells, where infamous highwayman Dick Turpin spent his last night, adds a touch of chilling realism to your visit.

Entry Fee: GBP 16.00; Location: Check Map
Address: Tower St, York YO1 9RY, United Kingdom.

5. York’s Chocolate Story

York's Chocolate Story
Photo: Google Maps/TBC Photos

For the sweet tooth in everyone, York’s Chocolate Story is an indispensable entry among the things to do. York has a rich history in chocolate manufacturing, with well-known brands such as KitKat, Aero, and Terry’s Chocolate Orange originating here.

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During a guided tour, you will learn about the chocolate-making process, from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. Along the way, taste a variety of chocolates and even try your hand at making your own chocolate lollipop. Engaging and delicious, this journey through York’s chocolate history is a delight for all ages.

Entry Fee: GBP 17.50; Location: Check Map
Address: 3-4 King’s Sq, York YO1 7LD, United Kingdom.

6. York City Walls

York City Walls
Photo: Google Maps/JR Suarez

Exploring the York City Walls is a must-do when considering the things to see in York. These walls are the most complete medieval city walls in England and provide a unique perspective on the city.

The 3.4-kilometer circuit takes you past ancient gates (known as “bars”), towers, and offers stunning views over York and its landmarks. Make sure to pass through Monk Bar, home to the Richard III Experience, for an intriguing dive into the history of this controversial king.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: York YO1 7LJ, United Kingdom.

7. Museum Gardens

Museum Gardens
Photo: Google Maps/Willow Tkw

Nestled in the heart of York, the Museum Gardens offer a tranquil escape. Among the things to do in York, this 10-acre botanical garden hosts a range of plant species, beautiful flower beds, and remarkable wildlife.

However, the gardens are not just about flora and fauna. They are also home to some of York’s most important historical sites, including the ruins of the medieval St. Mary’s Abbey, the Roman Multangular Tower, and the York Observatory. The Yorkshire Museum, also located within the gardens, showcases archaeological and geological treasures.

Entry Fee: GBP 14; Location: Check Map
Address: Museum St, York YO1 7FR, United Kingdom.

8. The York Dungeon

The York Dungeon
Photo: Google Maps/Helen Casey

First on the list of unmissable attractions is The York Dungeon. More than just a museum, it’s a unique 75-minute journey into more than 2000 years of York’s horrible history. The Dungeon brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages, and scenes in a truly unique and exciting walkthrough experience.

Through dark humour, engaging storytelling, and interactive performances, you’ll encounter infamous characters from York’s past, such as Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin. It’s a thrilling way to learn about the darker side of York’s history.

Entry Fee: GBP 19.95; Location: Check Map
Address: 12 Clifford St, York YO1 9RD, United Kingdom.

9. SEA LIFE Scarborough

SEA LIFE Scarborough
Photo: Google Maps/Beckii Anne

While technically a bit outside York, SEA LIFE Scarborough is well worth the short trip. An underwater world teeming with aquatic life, this renowned attraction is an absolute treat for marine life enthusiasts of all ages.

Discover an astonishing array of creatures, from Blacktip Reef Sharks and Green Sea Turtles to Humboldt Penguins. The interactive rock pool experience allows visitors to handle creatures such as starfish and crabs, while the Ocean Tunnel offers an immersive experience of life under the sea. It’s an unforgettable day out for the whole family.

Entry Fee: GBP 180; Location: Check Map
Address: Scalby Mills Rd, Scarborough YO12 6RP, United Kingdom.

10. Clifford’s Tower

Clifford's Tower
Photo: Twitter/Henry Long

Part of York’s unique historical character, Clifford’s Tower is a prominent landmark and key sight to visit. This medieval castle, once the keep of York Castle, offers panoramic views over the city and surrounding countryside.

The Tower’s turbulent past encompasses sieges, fires, and even a mass suicide. Today, the Tower hosts an exhibition that tells its grim but fascinating history. As you explore the interior, you’ll be transported back in time to the Tower’s days as a royal mint, prison, and the heart of York Castle.

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Entry Fee: GBP 9.50; Location: Check Map
Address: Tower St, York YO1 9SA, United Kingdom.

11. Castle Howard

Castle Howard
Photo: Twitter/Teresa Reyna

Rounding out our tour of York’s unmissable attractions is Castle Howard, one of Britain’s finest stately homes. Situated just outside of York, it’s a perfect example of the area’s rich historical tapestry.

Constructed over 300 years ago, Castle Howard is an architectural masterpiece boasting grand interiors and a stunning collection of art. The house is set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape, including manicured gardens, serene lakes, and lush woodlands. Whether you’re an avid history buff, an art enthusiast, or just a lover of natural beauty, Castle Howard provides a rich and captivating experience.

Entry Fee: GBP 18.00; Location: Check Map
Address: Castle Howard, York YO60 7DA, United Kingdom.

12. Mother Shipton’s Cave

Mother Shipton’s Cave
Photo: Google Maps/Man In The Know

Begin your next adventure in York by exploring the oldest tourist attraction in England, Mother Shipton’s Cave. Named after the famous prophetess Mother Shipton, the park is steeped in mystery and legend. Mother Shipton was a feared and respected prophetess during the 1500s, known for her disturbingly accurate predictions of future events.

Visit the cave where she was born, and the petrifying well with its unique ability to turn objects into stone. Surrounded by ancient woodland along the banks of the River Nidd, it’s a magical location with a unique history that appeals to young and old alike.

Entry Fee: GBP 33.00; Location: Check Map
Address: Prophecy House, Harrogate Rd, High Bridge, Knaresborough HG5 8DD, United Kingdom.

13. York Maze

York Maze
Photo: Google Maps/Paul Barwick

For an amusing change of pace, head over to York Maze, the largest maze in the UK. Created from over one million living, growing maize plants, York Maze is not just enormous; it’s also an ever-changing challenge. Each year, the maze is redesigned, making every visit a unique adventure.

But the maze is only the beginning. With over 20 other attractions, including a corn snake slide, pig racing, and a giant sand and water play area, it’s a full day of fun for the whole family.

Entry Fee: GBP 12; Location: Check Map
Address: York Maze, York YO19 5LT, United Kingdom.

14. York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery
Photo: Google Maps/Fay West

Art enthusiasts won’t want to miss the York Art Gallery, one of the leading centres for art in the North of England. The gallery holds an impressive collection of paintings, ceramics, and sculptures spanning over 600 years.

The gallery also showcases the largest collection of British Studio Ceramics in the world. Regularly changing exhibitions mean there’s always something new to discover. Whether you’re a seasoned art critic or simply enjoy a casual appreciation of art, the York Art Gallery is a must-visit.

Entry Fee: GBP 8.00; Location: Check Map
Address: Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EW, United Kingdom.

15. Selby Abbey

Selby Abbey
Photo: Google Maps/Jane Leung

Lastly, a trip to the nearby town of Selby will bring you to the historic Selby Abbey. Founded in 1069, it’s one of the few surviving abbeys in England and a remarkable example of medieval architecture.

Inside, admire the stunning stained glass, the Washington Window (which links the Abbey to the ancestry of George Washington), and the Selby Treasure, a beautifully crafted silver-gilt chalice. The Abbey is not just a historic monument but also a living church, which adds to the charm and authenticity of a visit.

Entry Fee: Free; Location: Check Map
Address: The Crescent, Selby YO8 4PU, United Kingdom.

16. Treasurer’s House

Treasurer's House
Photo: Google Maps/Azalea O’Rourke

Among the charming things to do, the Treasurer’s House is an exquisite blend of historical eras. The house stands just behind York Minster and was the residence of the Treasurers of York Minster until the 16th century.

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Inside, visitors can explore 13 period rooms dating from the Roman times to the Edwardian era, filled with antique furnishings and unique artefacts. The property is also known for its reputed hauntings, adding a hint of the supernatural to its appeal.

Entry Fee: GBP 9.50; Location: Check Map
Address: Minster Yard, York YO1 7JL, United Kingdom.

17. Barley Hall

Barley Hall
Photo: Google Maps/G.J. Koppenaal

Nestled in the heart of the city, Barley Hall is a reconstructed medieval townhouse that once served as the residence of a leading York citizen. Walking through its rooms is like stepping back in time, with its authentically recreated medieval interiors providing an immersive experience.

Visitors can learn about the archaeological discovery of the Hall and how it was restored to its former medieval glory. Temporary exhibitions at Barley Hall often focus on aspects of medieval and early modern life, providing fascinating insights into York’s history.

Entry Fee: GBP 8.25; Location: Check Map
Address: 2 Coffee Yard, York YO1 8AR, United Kingdom.

18. Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

Merchant Adventurers' Hall
Photo: Google Maps/Sayful Islam

A testament to York’s prosperous medieval past, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is one of the finest examples of a medieval guildhall in Europe. This timber-framed building, erected in the 14th century, was used by the Merchant Adventurers to conduct business and socialise, as well as to provide charitable support to the community.

The Hall’s vast Undercroft was a hospital providing care for the sick and poor. Meanwhile, the Great Hall was where business and social events occurred, and the Chapel offered a place for spiritual solace. Each of these areas can still be explored today, revealing a captivating piece of York’s past.

Entry Fee: GBP 6.50; Location: Check Map
Address: The Hall, Fossgate, York YO1 9XD, United Kingdom.

19. The Yorkshire Arboretum

The Yorkshire Arboretum
Photo: Google Maps/Jean Lewis

Just outside York, the Yorkshire Arboretum offers an oasis of tranquillity and natural beauty. Spanning 120 acres, this carefully curated collection of trees from around the world is one of the most enchanting things to see in York.

Well-maintained paths guide visitors through a diverse landscape that changes with the seasons, making each visit unique. There’s also a delightful café and visitor centre, and a range of educational activities for children, making the Arboretum an excellent destination for the whole family.

Entry Fee: GBP 10.00; Location: Check Map
Address: Castle Howard, York YO60 7BY, United Kingdom.

20. Dean’s Park

Dean's Park
Photo: Google Maps/Mark

One of York’s best-loved green spaces, Dean’s Park is situated in the shadow of York Minster. It is one of the most peaceful places in the city, perfect for a relaxing stroll or a quiet picnic.

The park offers excellent views of the Minster and is home to a variety of wildlife. It also houses the ancient library of the Minster, which can be seen from the park. A walk in Dean’s Park provides a much-needed respite amidst a busy day of sightseeing in York.

Entry Fee: -; Location: Check Map
Address: 2 Minster Yard, York YO1 7JJ, United Kingdom.


York’s blend of ancient history and modern charm offers a multitude of attractions that cater to every interest. Whether you are an ardent history lover or a family seeking engaging and educational experiences, York provides an array of enriching activities. Discover the architectural magnificence of York Minster, step back in time at the JORVIK Viking Centre to taking a leisurely stroll in The Yorkshire Arboretum. These attractions only scratch the surface of the amazing things to do in York, promising a memorable journey for all who visit.