The City of York - Tips for a Budget Holiday in York

Mickelgate, York
Mickelgate, York | Source

Budget-friendly tips for holidays in York

A holiday to York is priceless but it needn't cost you a fortune

A budget holiday in York need not by any means be second best. You can spend a small fortune visiting York. The cafés and restaurants in the city centre are expensive, there are plenty of museums and exhibitions that charge high entry fees and if you are a family of five, these all add up to quite a tidy sum, but it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg to have a fabulous holiday in this ancient city. Here is more than a week's worth of ideas for things to do and see, places to eat and to stay and even to get your hair and beauty treatments done all on a budget.

** Star budget tip**

Plan an off-peak visit One general, if obvious, piece of advice; try to travel outside the peak seasons, summer and school holidays. York is a great place to visit when it's cold and not so sunny as there are lots of things to do indoors. Visiting York England, is cheaper out of season.

Where is York UK?

A markerYork -
York, Royaume Uni
[get directions]

Take advantage of the weak pound to visit York, England

This is a fantastic time for anyone from the eurozone to visit England. Over the last three years (time of writing 25 12 10) the pound has been about 30% lower than previously. That means your money will go much further.

(Having said that, if you look at our prices in Limousin, you'll see that we offer fantastic value for money here!)

Where is York?

York is situated in the north east of England, between the east coast and the hills of the Pennines. To the north are the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire dales with their hills, rivers, quaint villages and pretty market towns.

The Yorkshire Museum is situated in the Museum Gardens
The Yorkshire Museum is situated in the Museum Gardens | Source
Walk around the city walls
Walk around the city walls | Source

10 Free things to do in the City of York

There are tons of excellent things to do o, York and you don't have to pay a penny. I would say that, with the possible exceptions of the Castle Museum and the Minster, you should do all the free things first and only start paying afterwards. Here goes:

  • You need two or three days just to walk around the city itself - really!
  • Walk around the city walls - all the way around
  • Walk along the river front and pop your head in to see the most flooded pubs
  • Visit the Museum Gardens, St Mary's Abbey and York Observatory
  • Have a look at York Churches: The Holy Trinity, Goodramgate & St Olaves, Marygate to start with
  • Take time out in Deans Park, just behind the Minster
  • Visit York City Art Gallery - it's free!
  • Watch the street performances in King's Square
  • See fudge being made the traditional way in Fudge Kitchen in the shambles
  • Have a look at the station - It's impressive and Harry Potter was filmed here

View from the road: Racecourse and Terry's Old Chocolate factory
View from the road: Racecourse and Terry's Old Chocolate factory | Source

Go to York races

York horse races are famous! You won't be able to get into the stand when the races are on but you can go and have a look around when they're not running. You can also walk around the race course, (but not on the actual course) and see Terry's Chocolate factory, (sadly, no longer with us and due for development into posh apartments), which is just behind the race stands. When the races are on there's nothing to stop you watching from outside the stand area.

The race course is on the way to Bishopthorpe (see below)

The snickleways of York

Discover the secret snickleways of York
Discover the secret snickleways of York | Source

A Guide book for a DIY Tour

Organise your own DIY tour of York

Better still, organise your own tour! I can recommend the tours by York Walk, they are good value, (a walk is about two hours and combines fun and facts).

The York chocolate tour

I loved the Choccie and Sweetie walk that I took when I was last in York, but at £5 a head it can be pricey for a family, so why not DIY? Start with my article York City of Chocolate

Discover the snickelways

The snickets and secret passages that thread themselves through the centre of York are fascinating as well. York Walk do a tour of these as well, but you can buy a guide to the snickets. The original guide was written by Mark W Jones A Walk Around the Snickelways of York (see Amazon link below), and I found it quite comprehensive enough. I bought one and did manage to navigate my way around, camera in hand, but have not yet felt strong enough to embark on the herculean task of writing it up yet. Watch this space! I found guides in but for a Budget Trip these are way too expensive. Instead buy from or contact the York Tourist Office where they sell guides for £5.99 on line.

Check out my article Secret things to see and do in York

Dare you to do the ghost trail?

Again there are lots of organised Ghost and Haunted York tours and, again they are good entertainment, but if you just can't stretch to one of these, then follow the route outlined here Horrible holidays in haunted York

Buy your York Snickleways Guide on line

Dean's Park is situated at the foot of the Minster
Dean's Park is situated at the foot of the Minster | Source

Take a picnic in York - you'll save pots of cash!

There are so many great places to picnic in York you'll be spoilt for choice and you'll certainly need a sit down after all that walking!

Don't make the mistake of thinking you can buy food in York. There are practically no real shops in the city centre, so if you are travelling into the city, then shop in supermarkets before you arrive.

If you do find yourself in the centre and don't want to splash out on expensive restaurants and cafés, then you can buy real food in Marks and Spencers Parliament Street, and the market just behind Marks and Spencers.

You can buy wholefood type snacks at The York Nut Centre, 21 Market Street

Top Picnic Spots:

  • The Museum Gardens
  • Deans Park
  • The Riverside in the city centre
  • Leeman Road Park, near the Station
  • St George's Fields next to the river near the Castle Museum

York Hog Roast
York Hog Roast | Source

Buy a take-away in York city centre

If you can't bear to make your own sandwiches or manage to buy something in the supermarket then you can grab a bite in a take-away.

There are two York Hog Roast shops, (Goodramgate and Stonegate), selling hot roast pork sandwiches which are very good, and fish and chips are always a good bet, (in my opinion!).

You could also go to the otherwise pricey Betty's, the shop and not the Restaurant, and buy a Fat Rascal. This is a giant rock bun, not a terribly well-balance lunch but one that will fill you up for quite a long time.

After that try the pubs that are not right in the town centre but are tucked away on the periphery:

King's Manor, York
King's Manor, York | Source
York College Restaurant
York College Restaurant | Source

York's bargain places to eat and drink

What happens if it rains or is howling with wind or freezing cold - worse still all three and you just can't bear to sit outside? Well, here are my suggestions:

  • Kings Manor Exhibition square is part of York University and the canteen is open to the public
  • St Crux This church serves snacks and teas at a very reasonable rate and is situated in Stonebow next to York's shortest street, Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate
  • The City Hospital I'm not sure if it's ethical to mention this, but the hospital serves good food in a nice canteen at a good price. I discovered it as a hospital visitor, but I'll leave you to decide if you're exploiting the system or helping to fill the coffers of the National Health.
  • York College of Further Education Let their catering students experiment on you in their luxury restaurant for lunch or dinner.
  • York University Can you pass as a student? You could join them for a beer at their famous Campus in Heslington.
  • York City Library is situated right next to the Museum gardens and has a snack bar where you can get a drink and a biscuit - even a book if you join!
  • Having said this, I have it on good authority that while it's possible to drink on campus and it is relatively cheap, you're probably just as well off going to Wetherspoon's, The Postern Gate Picadilly or The Punchbowl, Blossom Street.
  • You could get a nice sandwich for a pound from Mr £andwich in the shambles
  • Try The Golden Lion pub, 9 Church Street, which I'm told has the cheapest pub food in York.

Where to shop in the city of York

Your Designer Outlet near Bishopthorpe
Your Designer Outlet near Bishopthorpe | Source

Bargain places to shop in and around the city of York

York Designer Outlet Centre Situated just outside Bishopthorpe, at the junction of the A19 (York-Doncaster road) and the A64 (Leeds-Scarborough road). Here you can access cut price designer labels from 120 stores all in a pleasant indoor centre. Snack available from several well known providers.

Charity Shops There are lots of charity shops in York, and, as York is a prosperous town, there are rich pickings!

The Pound Shops are much loved by the locals and they sell a wide range of goods for a pound; veritable cornucopias. You'll find Poundland at 70 Low Petergate and Pound World in Coney Street.

Bishops Palace
Bishops Palace | Source
New Earswick town hall
New Earswick town hall | Source

Visit a Village near York

Just one short bus ride away, there are several pretty and interesting historic villages. Two villages that I know well are Bishopthorpe and New Earswick. Bishopthorpe because my family live there now, and New Earswick because I went to school there as a child. Here are a few reasons why they are worth a visit:


  • Historic village
  • Site of Bishops Palace
  • Lovely riverside walk and marina
  • Pretty buildings
  • Good, traditional pubs
  • Attractive church
  • Own ghost
  • Near the Designer Outlet
  • Near York College
  • You pass Terry's chocolate factory and York Race Course on the way

Read more about Bishopthorpe

New Earswick

  • Built by Joseph Rowntree of chocolate fame for the chocolate factory workers
  • One of Englands famous model villages
  • Quaint and pretty
  • Nice riverside walk
  • Fabulous snickets
  • Large village green
  • (But the Rowntree family were Quakers, so no pub - not even a nice café, so take a picnic)
  • You pass Rowntrees chocolate factory on the way

Why not walk?

Bishopthorpe is a pleasant, flat, walk on and off road, (but mostly off) of about an hour. Easwick must be about the same, although I haven't walked it myself. A walk there, picnic, little tour, and a bus back would make a very nice day out;

TIP: To save even more money, buy a day pass.

Where is Bishopthorpe and New Earswick?

show route and directions
B markerBishopthorpe -
Bishopthorpe, York YO23, Royaume-Uni
[get directions]

C markerNew Earswick -
New Earswick, York YO32, Royaume-Uni
[get directions]

Avoid York's expensive parking fees traps

Talking about walking, Amanda Severn reminded me about the expensive parking in York (see comments below). Parking is at a premium. Remember York is an ancient town and the car a recent invention, so try to avoid using it. Choose accommodation near the centre with parking and then walk into the town, or stay outside the town and use the Park and Ride transport.

On no account try to drive through the centre of York. The one way system is a killer and foils everyone. As locals we used to amuse ourselves watching the same hapless tourist go past us time and time again.

Cheap Hotels in York

There are various hotels in York that aim to offer good value for money. For example, Travel Lodge York offers double rooms from £40 in June.

Cheap places to stay in York - alternative to the cheap hotel in York

York is not normally a cheap place to stay. A fabulous city to visit all the year round, there is never a quiet season and you can expect to pay about £60 - 80 a night for a room in a Bed and Breakfast - minimum. You can, however, try these strategies for cutting the cost:

Book a room at the University

During the academic holidays you can book rooms in the University Halls of Residence. The campus is a wonderful, wild-life reserve and it is situated just outside the centre of York, a walk or short bus ride away.

Try a Hostel

York has a Youth Hostel and some private hostel accommodation. If you don't mind sharing a room with strangers, why not?

Take hostel type accommodation in a B & B

There are some regular Bed and Breakfasts that have hostel style rooms with bunk beds and they charge you hostel type prices, £25 upwards for a room.

Bargain with the hotels and B & B's. It doesn't hurt to ask for a 'best price', especially if you are looking for a room in at a less popular time of year, of week or somewhere removed from the centre of York. Also if you are going to stay for several days, they might be willing to make a reduction. At Les Trois Chenes, for example, we offer 7 nights for the price of 6. If you were booking several rooms, for several days as one whole party, we may also be willing to give you a special price.


I have never tried house swapping, but several friends and clients have swapped homes with great success, and made life-long friends into the bargain. There are many sites on line to get both parties together, so why not just go for it?

Luxury Bed and Breakfast in Skipwith

Blackwood Hall, Skipwith
Blackwood Hall, Skipwith | Source

But if you can afford to splash out on something special ...

Why not pamper yourself with a touch of luxury of times gone by?

Blackwood hall Bed and Breakfast is a beautiful Georgian country home situated between Selby and York and owned by my sister (really!). There's plenty of secure parking in the fourteen acre grounds, complete with small lake, and the house is opposite Skipwith Common where you can see wild ponies.

Have a look at the website here: Blackwood Hall Contact directly Tel: 07734787831

Save for your vacations - More tips and advice to make your money go further

You might well say that it's all well and good saving money on your vacation, but getting the cash together in the first place is the problem. Well, you can't make money from thin air, but you can have a look at your finances and see if money is draining away unnecessarily. I've gathered together a few articles below that might help to conserve and save your cash.

Visit York - in just one day!

Is York a Bargain?

Will you be visiting York?

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Comments 38 comments

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks for leaving a message, Michael.

MichaelGallinger profile image

MichaelGallinger 4 years ago from Detroit, MI

Nice read. Thanks!

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 4 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

I agree, they're pretty tasty and not to pricy, considering.

Sasha 4 years ago

York Hog Roast is the best pork sandwich

I have ever tried!

caitmo1 profile image

caitmo1 5 years ago from Lancashire England

We had to buy the tickets for our visit (not cheap) but that entitles us to free admittance for the next year - we felt that there was so much to see and not enough time on the day particularly for Jorvic which was very busy. We hope to go again next year to use our free tickets. The National Railway museum is free and well worth a visit - allow plenty of time.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

So pleased you enjoyed your visit, caitmo1. York is a great place and plenty to do for many, many visits. How did you get the free entries? It would be nice to be able to add it to this hub.

caitmo1 profile image

caitmo1 5 years ago from Lancashire England

This hub is very good. We have just returned from a three day visit to York with our granddaughters aged four and nine. They loved it and can't wait until we go again - we have free entry for Jorvic and the Castle Museum for twelve months.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks, Derdriu, for these kind words and voting up. Always much appreciated.

Derdriu 5 years ago

Les Trois Chenes: Congratulations on a well-deserved Hub of the Day award! Your vividly well-written hub transported me to York, which, in addition to Lincolnshire, is the place of my ancestors. This is one of the most comprehensive, on-target travel guides I have ever read. Thank you for all your noteworthy efforts to make it easy for visitors to York to derive maximum enjoyment with minimal confusion. Voted up + useful + beautiful + awesome

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks, manthy, Thelma and registerdomains, for taking the time to drop by. York is situated in beautiful countryside, Thelma, but the city itself is so impressive you must try to get to see it some time.

registerdomains profile image

registerdomains 5 years ago from India

Awesome hub, just loved it. Very informative and written in nice way. Thanks and Kudos.

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

Great hub! I have not been to City of York only to the neighbouring Hull 20 years ago. Just passed through by car. But then, I saw the lovely landscape by passing. Thanks for sharing.

manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

Good Hub - Kudos on getting hub of the day

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Hi Peter, Kasthlin and uO1dtj6 and many thanks for your comments. Even though I was brought up in York and go back frequently to see family, there is always more to see and to discover.

u01dtj6 5 years ago

Lovely hub, and York is definitely a beautiful place to visit! I try and visit York a couple times a year, and I still haven’t seen everything yet. There is always something to see or discover.

kasthlin profile image

kasthlin 5 years ago

A Do it your own Hub.. :) im doing it for my trips too. way to go for your DIY tours!

PETER LUMETTA profile image


Looks like a beautiful city and a great place to visit. Congrats an Hub of the day. Thanks


Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks, Oceansnsunsets, for your kind words. York is well worth the effort.

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

I would like to visit York one day! Thanks for sharing these tips, and congrats on this hub winning in the finance contest as well! Enjoyed your photos.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thank you, Analana. It really is!

Analana profile image

Analana 5 years ago

Congratulations on your win--York sounds like a fantastic place to visit!

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Shame on you Gordon, you've missed a treat. Well worth the effort. Many thanks for stopping by.

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

York looks wonderful and I still find it hard to believe that although I have been so close to the city on so many occasions, I have never actually visited. Hope to rectify that some day. Great Hub and well deserved win.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 5 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Melbel and Johnny, thanks for your comments. York is definately worth a visit and enough for several day trips. I have done hubs on Haunted York (part 1 only so far), and Chocolate and York, and one on Bishopthorpe, just outside York. There is just so much history and so much to talk about that it would be a mamoth task. The good thing about HubPages is that you'll never run out of material.

Johnny Parker profile image

Johnny Parker 5 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England


York is probably a day trip for me and with all that info I think I might be checking it out.

There is probably a complementary hub on some of the fabulous history of the place, if you haven't already done one!

melbel profile image

melbel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

Wow, you make this money-saving vacation seem like a full-on vacation! Good work! I loved it! The picture of Mickelgate is impressive!

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

I've added a section about parking, Amanda, many thanks for the prompt.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Thanks for your comments Amanda. York is fabulous, I still love going home and having a rake around the town, but you're right, it can be very expensive. I don't think I mentioned parking. The thing to do is stay in accommodation with parking near enough to walk to the centre, or stay outside and use the Park and Ride transport. On no account try to drive through York.

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 6 years ago from UK

I was in York last summer, and found everything horrendously pricey. The cost of parking was positively extortionate, even worse than Brighton! But what a beautiful city! I could have done with reading this article before I went, but I'll remember to look it up for next time.

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Om Paramapoonya, Thanks, Om, congratulations are in order for you too with your Best Hub Win!

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

K9keystrokes, many thanks for dropping by. I was so pleased to be picked!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

Great tips and wonderful pictures. Congrats on the win. Well-deserved! :)

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

congrats on your win!

Les Trois Chenes profile image

Les Trois Chenes 6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France Author

Many thanks to everyone for all your kind comments. A lifetime of living like a student (the lot of most artists!) makes one very resourceful!

Purple Perl profile image

Purple Perl 6 years ago from Bangalore,India

As usual, your hub is very informative and very well put together. Congrats on the win!

stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Oh my gosh! This is one stellar hub in so many ways! I would love to visit York, and your information on all the money saving ways to vacation there makes it even more enjoyable to read. Cheers, Steph

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Very lovely and congrats on your win~!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

Goodness gracious, all of this sounds fantastic! York strikes me as a wonderful place to take a vacation, and you've shared some lovely ways to do so on a budget. Lovely photos, helpful map, great advice!

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