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5 Fun Things to Do in York, United Kingdom

Updated on July 18, 2017

York is a student-friendly city in North Yorkshire, two hours from London and two hours from Edinburgh, filled with history and medieval attractions. It was voted the European Tourism City of the Year in June 2007, and also voted safest place to visit in the 2010 Conde Nast Readers' Traveller awards.

This article introduces five fantastic things to do in York, some of which are free and easy to visit all year round.


1. Walk on the York Walls

The York Walls have been built, destroyed, rebuilt and maintained over hundreds of years, and are a great way to see the city for free. There are many places to get onto the walls, whether it's at one of the four bars, or at an access point, which can be easily found at most points in the city.

A highly recommended place to start is at Monk bar, which is just by the main road that leads into the main part of town, not far from York St John University.

A walk on the walls will take you round near a hotel where you can easily see the wooded land on the left and parts of the city on the right. Onward, you can see the parts of the outer city, including houses, a school and the train station. No dogs or bicycles are allowed on the walls, allowing it to be pedestrian-only.

If you get tired of walking the walls, most places where you descend are near a bus station or taxi rank. It's a lovely day out if you're looking to stretch your legs and see the city without spending a lot of money.


2. Pay a Visit to the Castle Museum Gardens

The Castle Museum itself is £8.50 for adults and free for children, but the grounds are a beautiful area with gardens and a small park to explore, all for free. The museum sits on the site of the former York Castle, and it's possible to see some of the old ruins for free.

Since it's so close to the city centre and other attractions, it's a perfect place to have a picnic on a sunny day.

3. Check Out the National Railway Museum

Only a ten-minute walk from the Castle Museum is the National Railway Museum, which is also free to enter, and open all year round except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

There are many tours throughout the day, or you can explore the different parts of the museum yourself. The museum is home to many engines including a replica of the Rocket, the Mallard, a Japanese bullet train and, in some parts of the year, the express train that featured in the Harry Potter series.

Because it's free to enter and close to the train station and city centre, it remains a popular tourist spot all year round. There's plenty for children to do too, such as scheduled shows, events, and games to ensure it's entertaining for the whole family.


4. See York Minster

One of the most highly recommended attraction on any travel website is York Minster, the famous church in the heart of York, and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. It is constantly being reconstructed with genuine stone work, the workshop of which is behind the Minster. The church attracts thousands of tourists per year from many different countries.

The minster both on the outside and the inside is breathtaking, and for an extra fee you can climb to the top of the tower and see the city from above. It is thrilling to experience the thousand-year-old cathedral in one of England's most beautiful cities.

Entry is free for York St John University students, who graduate inside the Minster.


5. Wander the Shambles

The Shambles are also highly recommended on most travel websites. The small, cobbled streets are popular for traditional little shops, a pleasant atmosphere and the feeling of having stepped back several centuries.

The Shambles are right next to the Minster and right before the high street shops, so they're easy to locate and walk around without getting lost. On the Shambles you'll find jewellery shops, advertisements for the famous Ghost Walks and shops selling things like rare types of ale and beer, traditional sweets such as toffee and fudge, and gifts.

Other Places

The above five attractions aren't the only places recommended to visit during your stay in York. The Jorvik Viking Centre, the Designer Outlet, York Dungeons, and York Racecourse are just a few of the famous attractions for visitors. This article was written from personal experience; there are many more fantastic attractions just waiting to be explored!


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      Tom 2 years ago

      Oh my god, it looks beautiful and sounds fascinating. Ill have to check it out if im ever in england!

    • Danext profile image

      Dan Lema 3 years ago from Tanzania

      It is such a historic city, i'm sure it will be a privilege to visit those sites.....thank you for wonderful tips...

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      Jonathon D 3 years ago

      My wife and I are hoping to visit York sometime this summer. The walls look like a lovely day out. Excellent advice, thanks!