37 Fabulous things to do in York England

One of my favourite beautiful cities in England is York one of the oldest cities in the UK, in fact, I’m in love with the whole county as they say here “This is God’s country”. I’ve been to York many times and have put together this complete guide to the top things to do in York on your visit.

From the ancient Viking finds at Jorvik to the medieval streets of The Shambles, William the Conquer’s York Castle, the Roman walls and the stunning York Minister there are so many things to see in York and the city of York’s many attractions will keep you busy for days.

York evening cityscape view from the street with York Minster in the background. Thing to do in York

Is York Worth Visiting?

If you have been to the UK but only seen London then it’s time to get out and see the rest of the country and York is absolutely an extraordinary place to visit. York is famous for the Shambles which is known as the UK’s Harry Potter streets, and of course the York Minister. 37 Fabulous things to do in York from vikings to medieval history York. York is famous for the Shambles the Harry Potter streets, and York Minister.

The Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York (AVG) offer daily free 2-hour walking tours to visitors from all over the world. For Harry Potter and Wizardry fans you can join the Wizard of York for a magical Wizard Walk of York.

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37 Fabulous things to do in York England

My favourite York Attractions

  • The Shambles
  • Clifford’s Tower
  • York Castle
  • Jorvik
  • Roman Walls
  • Clifford’s Tower
  • York Farmers Market held on St Sampson Square on the first Friday of the month
  • The Food – Fat Rascals, Yorkshire curd tart, Yorkshire pudding and black pudding to name a few
  • Christmas Market

Best time to visit York England?

York is known to be one of the rainiest cities in England so there is no really good time. You will probably know already that the weather in England is not the best and the summertime is unpredictable. So, you can’t plan a summer break in York and be guaranteed good sunshine. So let’s have a look at some of the best York attractions.

The Shambles in York, beautiful, old architecture in York, England, United Kingdom, 2015

37 of the best things to do in York

I always take a hop-on hop-off bus when in a new city and the city sightseeing York bus was no exception. I enjoy the fact that I get to know the area and the places I want to go back to and it saves my poor walking feet from suffering too much.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Wandering the medieval streets of York in the Shambles

One of the best things to see in York is The Shambles in York city centre which won an award from Google for Britain’s Most Picturesque Street and it’s the oldest and best-preserved medieval street in the world.  Home to Diagon Alley York (Harry Potter ring a bell?)  & the Shambles Market.

things to do in York the Shambles at night

The Shambles as a term is used to describe a maze of narrow twisty lanes in the centre of York. At the heart of the Shambles is the actual lane called The Shambles and it is obviously the best-preserved medieval street in the world. The Domesday Book of William the Conqueror mentions the Shambles in 1086. Many of the existing buildings date back to 1350-1475 and contain fascinating legends and captivating histories.

Margaret Clitherow – the York Saint

One of the historic attractions in the Shambles York is Margaret Clitherow’s house. A butcher’s wife who lived on this street, Margaret Clitherow was brought up in the reformed religion (Protestant). In 1574 she became a Catholic and allowed her home to be used for the shelter of persecuted priests. Over the course of 12 years of hiding them, she was arrested on several occasions and spent over 3 years imprisoned. Margaret refused to speak or plead at her trial and was condemned to be crushed to death, naked under a heavy stone on the Ouse Bridge in York.  Margaret was later made a Saint by the Church.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Walk down York Shambles Market

A market has taken place within the Shambles since Viking times in the 8th century. The current Shambles Market is home to over 80 different stalls and a street food market.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

At the market, you can pretty much buy anything from vintage clothes to fruits and veg, mobile phones, and much more.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

For Harry Potter Fans – Gift Shops in the Shambles

The Shop That Must Not Be Named

Located at 30 The Shambles, York – The Shop That Must Not Be Named is fabulous. With its free broom parking to the Potterized ice cube trays, this place is a wonderland of Potter merchandise.

Opened in May of 2017 they offer all the official Harry Potter merchandise including cloaks, wands, spell books, and wizard hats, for Potter fans young and old. The shop sells everything a wizard could need, including cloaks, wands and official merchandise. However, I do recommend getting there early as the crowds of muggles do gather early to check it out. 

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The World of Wizardry

A few shop fronts down is another Harry Potter fan treat The World of Wizardry. So much Harry Potter merchandise the shop is literally overflowing.

This is more Potter heaven, similar to the Shop that must not be Named you will find Hogwarts students to wait on you and as much Potter paraphernalia as you can carry.

Tucked away in the back of the shop though is some other merchandise for fantasy series fans such as Game of Thrones.

©The World of Wizardry

The Boy Wizard

The Boy Wizard has locations in Edinburgh, York and London and in York is the Harry Potter shop with the bright red front. Lots of great merchandise can be found here with some really

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©The Boy Wizard

The Cauldrons Potions

The Cauldrons in Shambles York is the place to mix up your own magical potions and become a trainee wizard. A drinks emporium for Wizards serves the ancient recipes of Agnes de Molay a French witch from the 14th century. They have Serpents Venom, Lions Roar Elixir and Dragon’s Breath potions.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Cauldrons Potion

Hidden away in the witch’s hole at the back of the shop you can visit beyond the magic wall to see a 6000-piece Hogwarts lego set. Why not drop by and mix up your own versions of Basilisk Blood and Elixir of Love.

St. Nicholas Fair Christmas Market

If you’re visiting York at Christmas there’s one place you absolutely can’t miss: York St Nicholas Fair. Having earned titles like “Best Large Specialty Market” and “Britain’s Most Festive City”, you don’t just need to take our word for it – York is amazing at Christmastime!

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

With over 100 Christmas market stalls here, you’ll find a wide array of handcrafted gifts and festive treats, and the aroma of mulled wine and freshly-baked gingerbread is inescapable! 

York Minster

One of the top attractions in York is York Minster one of England’s most famous cathedrals. Technically called The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York it is the largest Cathedral in Northern Europe. The name “minster” comes from the Anglo-Saxon period as these were Missionary teaching churches.

York Minister

Dating back over 1000 years the first church on the site was a wooden structure built in 627 to provide a place to baptise Edwin, King of Northumbria. A stone building was completed in 637 and was dedicated to Saint Peter. Its school and library were started in the 7th century. York Minster took over 250 years to build between 1220 and 1472. 

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Jules & Jenny from Lincoln, UK, CC BY 2.0

York Minster has the largest expanse of medieval stained glass windows in the world with a rose window a heart-shaped design known as the Heart of Yorkshire and the Five Sisters Window. The building is breathtaking in all its gothic glory. If you have the stamina your visit can include a trip up the Tower which is 300 steps but the views are breathtaking. There are so many things to discover about the incredible York Minster that it is a must-see when visiting. Admission to the Minister and Tower is £18.50 per adult.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
Roman column outside York Minster

20 Magnificient Cathedrals in England to see

Clifford’s Tower

The remains of York Castle now known as Clifford’s Tower was the centre of Norman medieval defences. York Castle formed an important royal fortification in the north of England and was built by William the Conqueror, his first castle here was a wooden one that became incorporated as part of York Castle which was stone built..

Cliffords Tower Yorkshire

The Tower has a tragic history on March 16th 1190 a wave of anti-Semitic riots culminated in the horrific deaths of the entire community of Jewish citizens in the Tower. Rioting had taken place during these times and the resentment of the Jews who were blamed became so horrific that around 150 of them took sanctuary in the Tower. Sadly the citizens of York stormed the Tower and the Jews all committed suicide.   Those storming the castle were in the act of burning the place down and the Jewish families inside felt they had no alternative.

These events at York angered King Richard and a royal inquest was held soon afterwards. This resulted in the city receiving a heavy fine, but by that time the instigators had escaped and no individuals were ever punished for the crimes committed on that fateful night. Probably some of them joined the King himself on crusade, as he was by then en route to the Holy Land through France.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Tower was repaired by 1194 and the mound it sits on was raised to its present height. A ticket into the Tower costs £9.00 and you can explore the new internal walkways and restored staircases. Inside you will see the medieval garderobe built for King Henry III the only one of its kind in England.

The Chapel is also open for visiting and you can take in the interactive exhibits that detail the uprising on 1069, experience a 14th-century kitchen and climb to the top of the tower to take in the incredible views of York Minister, the City of York, and even across to the North York Moors National Park and the Yorkshire Dales.

York City Walls – Roman walls in York

From Clifford’s Tower, you will see the full extent of the city or ‘bar’ walls of York which are actually the longest medieval walls in England, being just over 2 miles in length. You’ll get splendid elevated views of the city below. Beneath the medieval stonework lies the remains of earlier walls dating as far back as the Roman period.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Roman-built walls survived into the 9th century when, in AD 866, York was invaded by the Danish Vikings.  The Vikings buried the existing Roman wall under an earth bank and topped it with a palisade. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the walls have been restored and maintained for public access, including the planting of spring flowers on the old Viking embankment. Today the walls are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade 1 listed building.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The York Castle Museum

York has several unique museums that go beyond art and artifacts and the York Castle Museum across the road from Clifford’s Tower is one of the fun things to do in York. I highly recommend is The Castle museum it’s one of the best places to visit and is around 400 yards from Clifford’s Tower and is well worth spending some time in. Here you can see hundreds of years of York’s history from the Victorian street of Kirkgate which is a recreated Victorian Street and one of the oldest indoor recreated streets in the world.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Kirkgate Street

The street was created in 2012 and encompasses the time frame of 1870 to 1901 and each shop and business is named after a real one that operated in Victorian York.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©York Museums Trust

York Castle Prison

The museum buildings were once a Georgian Prison, and your visit down in the felons’ cells means you can visit the era’s thieves and murderers. The most notorious inmate was the legendary highwayman, Dick Turpin.

1914 WWI

From the recruiting office to the horrors of the front line, experience the objects and stories of the First World War. New technology and research are combined with the museum’s extensive military, costume and social history collections to tell the heartbreaking and fascinating stories of the Yorkshire people who lived and died during the war.

The Sixties

This exhibition recreates the spirit of this exciting decade which saw momentous change in so many areas of public and private life. This gallery uses objects from social history, art, miliaria, fashion and astronomy to demonstrate the world-changing 60’s.

Shaping the Body: 400 Years of Fashion, Food and Life

The museum’s newest permanent exhibit is one after my own heart 400 Years of Fashion and Food. The exhibits include an iron corset, crotchless pantaloons from the time of Jane Austen, bum rolls and a killer dress are a few of the items featured that chart the way fashion, food and fitness have shaped the body over the last 400 years. To see more information about your visit including opening times and tickets, click here. £13 online / £14 Walk up price.

York Museum

The Yorkshire Museum was one of the earliest purpose-built museums in the country that opened in 1830. The museum is built on the grounds of York’s Abbey, St Mary’s, on land given by royal grant in 1828.

The York Museum, also known as the Yorkshire Museum was established in 1830, and is one of the oldest museums in the country. The museum’s primary focus is on archaeology, geology, and natural history. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts, fossils, and specimens that span millennia. Notable highlights include its dinosaur fossils, Anglo-Saxon treasures, and a remarkable Viking exhibit. The museum also features beautifully landscaped gardens, providing a serene escape in the heart of the bustling city.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Today the museum houses galleries showcasing some of Britain’s finest archaeological treasures from the city’s Roman, Viking and medieval past including the magnificent Viking Ryedale Hoard.

York – Jorvik Viking Centre

The biggest tourist attraction in York might just be the Jorvik Viking Centre. Jórvík is Danish/Norwegian for the Viking city of York located in Yorkshire or as it was known in those days as Northumbria. In the late 9th century and the first half of the 10th century York was dominated and ruled by the Norse warrior-kings. In the 1970s there were some outstanding archaeological finds made in the City of York that changed the world’s perception and knowledge of the ancient Viking warriors. Learning about the Viking history of York is just one of the many things to do in the York city centre.

viking helmets what to do in Yorkshire

When the digs at Coppergate (which is now a shopping centre) in York were finished in the early 80s it was decided to create a centre to display the findings and knowledge that had been gained from these years of digs. Jorvik Viking Centre was built over a period of 4 years and debuted in 1984. Unfortunately during the storms of 2015, Jorvik suffered a great deal of damage and had to be reconstructed. Opening in April of 2017 the new re-imagined Jorvik will take you through time capsules of Viking history. This is a living museum that has to be seen to be believed.

York Cold War Bunker

One of the most unique things to do in York is visiting the Cold War Bunker. The most modern and spine-chilling of English Heritage’s properties, the York Cold War Bunker uncovers the secret history of Britain’s Cold War. Enter the blast-proof doors and investigate the more unusual side of York’s heritage.

In active service from the 1960s–1990s the bunker was designed as a nerve centre to monitor fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. Adult admission is £10.00.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Nilfanion, CC BY-SA 4.0

Fascinated by the history of WWII and the aftermath? Visit the home of the codebreakers, Alan Turing and the history of computers at Bletchley Park.

York – National Railway Museum

When you visit York don’t forget to take in the National Railway Museum this museum covers over 300 years of rail history and has 1,000,000 objects that changed the world. A great day of exploring even if you never thought you were a trainspotter.

The Museum is free but there is a donation box which is worth dropping in a few quid as you get to see The Flying Scotsman which is the train that was used in the Harry Potter movie.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The creepy York Dungeon

The York dungeons were opened in 1986 and here you can spend a terrifying 75-minute journey into over 2000 years of the Horrible History of York. The York Dungeon brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages and scenes.

In the Dungeons you can walk through 10 live actor shows, telling the story of 2000 years of York’s dark history with specially designed sets, special effects and gripping storytelling. You will meet famous characters from York’s dark past including Vikings, witches and Guy Fawkes. You might even meet Dick Turpin the famous highwayman who was tried and hanged in York in 1739 for horse theft.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Malcolmxl5, CC BY-SA 4.0

You will have to survive The Curse of the Witch to make it out alive. This is based on the real-life story of Isabella Billington – a woman who was tried for Witchcraft in the small village of Pocklington (Just about a 20-30 minute drive away from York city centre). A ticket for adults at door is £19.95 | Online £17.95.

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Dick Turpin’s Grave

Nestled on a serene lane across from St. George’s Roman Catholic Church in York lies the resting place of England’s notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin. Renowned for his audacious exploits, Turpin met his ultimate fate on the gallows at York 1739 after a nefarious career encompassing poaching, burglary, armed robbery, murder, and, most notably, highway robbery.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Dick Turpin, born in 1705, was the son of John Turpin, a butcher and innkeeper, and his wife Mary. While it is believed that Turpin may have assisted his father in his trade, he eventually embarked on his own path. In 1725, he married and established his own butcher shop in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.

York St. Mary’s

York St Mary’s is a beautiful medieval church which opened as a contemporary art venue in 2004. The church itself could date back as far as 1020 and a dedication stone inside bears an inscription saying it was built by ‘Efrard & Grim & Aese’. The main part of the building dates to the early 13th century, with 14th and 15th-century modifications and alterations.  Admission is  Adult: £13.

St Mary’s Abbey -York Museum Gardens

St Mary’s Abbey was first built in 1088 and what you see today are the ruins of one of the wealthiest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The story of St. Mary’s ties together two of the most important events in English history: it was begun by William the Conqueror to reinforce his hold on the north after 1066 and ended by Henry the Eighth as a consequence of his Reformation of the church.

Visitors can see the remains of the walls of the nave and crossing of the abbey church, where the monks prayed and sang, and the cloister, where the monks washed their clothes, contemplated and were allowed to speak.

The stone walls that surrounded the abbey were built in the 1260s and they remain the most complete set of abbey walls in the country. They were built to defend the abbey and were used several times when the city and the abbey came to blows over land ownership and taxes.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©York Museums Trust

The gardens cover over ten acres of stunning botanical gardens established in the 1830s by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, the gardens are famed for their fantastic collection of trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs set against the stunning backdrop of the medieval ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. The gardens are free to visit.

16 Evocative Ruined Abbeys in Yorkshire

York Art Gallery

York Art Gallery’s collection of paintings spans more than 600 years and works range from 14th-century Italian panels and 17th-century Dutch masterpieces to Victorian narrative paintings and 20th-century works by LS Lowry and David Hockney.

The building which houses the gallery opened its doors to the public in 1879 for the second Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, inspired by the Great Exhibition in London of 1851. In 1892 it became the City Art Gallery. This is just one of the many things to do in York for free but the special exhibits do have a varying admission fee.

Merchant Adventurers Hall

Discover one of the finest original medieval guild halls in the world, still home to the Merchant Adventurers whose 660-year unbroken tradition of entrepreneurship, wealth and experience has built York: from the 14th century, via railways and chocolate to the 21st century Science City.

The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is a Grade I Listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. It was built between 1357 and 1361, before most of the craft or trade guild halls in Britain. The superb art collection on display covers over five centuries.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Mramoeba, CC BY-SA 4.0

The land around the Hall was for centuries full of houses and shops with a trackway or road running down to the River Foss. From the Hall, you can follow The Two Rivers trail and discover the legacy of the rivers of York. Admission to the Hall and the Trail for an adult is £6.50.

York’s Chocolate Story

The city of York was once known as the Chocolate City, the air would smell of chocolate and thick chocolate dust would cover every surface as it erupted from the city’s chocolate factories. Every York family had a connection to Terry’s, Rowntree’s, Cravens or Lazenby’s.

At York’s Chocolate story, you will learn how a simple cocoa bean is transformed into the finest chocolate in our virtual chocolate factory. Also, you’ll discover the history of some of York’s most iconic chocolate brands.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

You’ll also learn the secret of why chocolate makes us feel so good and why it has an ethical and sustainable future. Then it’s time to master the secrets of the chocolatier, as you create hand-made chocolates for yourself, before seeing how our very own experts do it. Watch our Chocolatiers as they showcase the art of chocolate-making and sample the fruits of their labour: fresh hand-made chocolates. Adult Admission for the tour is £15.95.

Visit the York Races

York is one of the Premier tracks in Europe and horses raced at York during the days of Emperor Severus in Roman times. However, many of the 360,000 racegoers who will visit the reigning “Northern Racecourse of the Year” this season are unlikely to realise they are taking part in a spectacle that first took place over 2,000 years ago.

While the new buildings and landscapes offer modernised facilities for horses, horsemen and spectators, they have not diminished the historic spirit of the racecourse. Racegoers at York like to make it a special occasion and choose to dress accordingly. Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket, collared shirt and tie in County Stand.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Most gentlemen would choose to wear smart trousers and formal shoes so whilst there is no formal restriction on wearing jeans and trainers, these are rarely seen in the County Stand.

In Grandstand & Paddock and Picnic Enclosure, the dress code is more relaxed; shorts and t-shirts are worn by racegoers enjoying the sun. The only common sense restrictions would be those of taste and decency which would apply to all areas, for example regarding style and slogan t-shirts. Bare chests are not acceptable.

Different raceways offer different experiences, different atmospheres and different activities. 

Music Showcase Weekend, is a racing and music event offering a little extra entertainment; top-quality action on both the track and the live music stage.

The Ebor Festival, the track’s oldest, richest, fastest, and most famous race provides sporting excellence combined with fashion and fun over four fabulous days.

Family Sunday, is fun for all including seven thoroughbred races and a host of activities for all the family.

Cruise the River Ouse

A fabulous way to see York from the River is a self-drive cruise navigating the waterways of York. You can rent a boat for an hour that holds up to 8 passengers. After a safety briefing from the staff, you are on your own navigating the same river the Vikings travelled to take over the city of York

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Book your River Cruise here

The York Maze

This one is for the kids or simply the child in you. Created from over one million living, growing maize plants, the York Maze is not just the largest maze in the UK it’s an award-winning fun-filled, day out in the country. With over 20 different rides, attractions and shows to enjoy.

The York Maze offer an amazing fun-filled full family day out. Tickets must be booked online and are per person, adult or child 3yrs and over. Children under 16 cannot enter York Maze without an adult 18+ and must be supervised whilst in the Giant Maze itself. Toddlers aged 2 and under are admitted free of charge but need a booked ticket. The prices are –  £19.95.

Beningbrough Hall, Gallery and Gardens

Surrounded by parkland, with riverside and woodland walks on all sides, the view of the hall as you turn on to the long drive evokes images of an intriguing past. Beningbrough has been shaped for more than 300 years by the people who lived here. 

Currently, the gardens are experiencing a renaissance; new planting schemes and garden rooms will enhance the herbaceous borders and walled and American gardens.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©PJMarriott, CC BY 3.0

The House and Galleries are currently closed for restoration but when it is open again in 2023 you will be able to explore all three floors. There are interactive exhibits showing how the house looked when it was built in the Georgian era with art exhibitions and information on some of York’s most infamous and famous folks. These include Patrick Stewart of X-Men fame, Arthur Scargill and Guy Fawkes. The current price is for access to the gardens, play area, restaurant or brew house, and shop adult admission is £13.20

The Bloody tour of York with Mad Alice

Join Mad Alice as you wander the streets and snickleways to historic landmarks.  With 2000 years of history, York has fascinating stories of the macabre and the extraordinary.  Uncover the tales of the Romans, the Viking invasion and the Plague amongst tales of torture and execution.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The history of the city is brought to life in this award-winning 90-minute tour which is suitable for gruesome little ones. The tour takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and lasts about 90 minutes.

You can book a scary tour here.

North York Moors Railway

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) heritage steam trains run on the NYMR line from Grosmont to Pickering and include a stop at the famous Harry Potter station in Goathland on its journey. Travelling across the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales onboard a steam train is like a step back in time. These trains are all maintained and operated by volunteers.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

It may not stop in York itself but this train journey is simply the best way to get some fabulous views of the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales.

Grand Opera House

Originally not intended as a theatre, the Grand Opera House York has undergone many changes since and is now the county’s biggest fully operational theatre and the home of live entertainment in the region. Here you can find every kind of live show imaginable from Tribute Bands to Broadway and West End Shows.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©John Robinson, CC BY 2.0

The Grand Opera House opened as a variety theatre in 1902 and played host to many of the stars of the day including Lillie Langtry, Florrie Ford and Charlie Chaplin.

It was extensively restored in 1988 and since then has presented a range of shows including drama, musicals, comedy and a popular annual pantomime as well as working with many local societies and organisations.

Get a York Pass

The best way I can think of to see York and Ideal for travellers looking for the flexibility to determine their own itinerary, the York Pass provides access to a number of the region’s top attractions, including The Deep, Beningbrough Hall, and more. Don’t worry about buying individual admission tickets; instead, use the convenient and hassle-free York Pass to save time on the day, allowing you more time to enjoy the sights.

Don’t feel limited by set itineraries and visit the attractions which appeal to you Choose from a one-day or multi-day York Pass to fit your schedule Save on travel time with the included 24-hour city sightseeing bus ticket and river cruise Enjoy extra value discount offers like a free meal at a local restaurant.

Get your York pass here

York Pubs & Restaurants

If you are looking for things to do in York then you absolutely must visit some of York’s famous historic pubs.  There are plenty of best places to eat in York to choose from and you will find everything from vegan to international dishes available.

The Golden Fleece York

The Golden Fleece is very central and located opposite the bottom of the Shambles. It’s one of York’s earliest recorded coaching inns dating back to 1503. The Golden Fleece proudly claims to be the ‘Most Haunted’ pub in York.  “A ghost named One Eyed Jack, wearing a 16th Century red coat and carrying a pistol has been seen in the bottom bar.” 

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Snickleway Inn

The Snickleway Inn is a very old, historic pub, this has been called many names since it was known as the House of Tudor. During the siege of York in 1644, it was used as the Royalist magazine. Reputed to be the most haunted pub in York, especially in the cellar where a malevolent spirit causes havoc at times.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Chabe01, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ye Olde Starre Inn

Ye Olde Starre Inn claims to be the oldest pub in York. The main part of the pub is a timber-framed structure, dating from the mid-16th century, and a wing to its left was added in about 1600. By 1644, it was an inn named “The Starre”, this makes it the only pub in York which can prove the earliest date for its licence.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Guy Fawkes Inn

Guido Fawkes was born on this very spot in 1570 in the shadow of York Minster and was baptised in St. Michael Le Belfrey, just across the street.  Centuries have passed, but this historical building is so well preserved you could be forgiven for thinking it happened just yesterday.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Did you know that as a former property owned by Guy Fawkes and his family, we are prohibited from celebrating Bonfire night? Yes, all buildings formerly owned by the man himself cannot celebrate this annual date in the diary.

The pub oozes atmosphere from its gas-lit bar and dining room. Bedrooms feature four-poster beds and a scattering of antiques, and the restaurant offers above-average pub classics.  

Celebrating 5th November Guy Fawkes Night in England

The Shambles Tavern

A great gastropub the Shambles Tavern is well known for its Wall of Ales they offer you a vast selection of Yorkshire cask, keg, and bottled ales for your enjoyment. The food is all sourced locally and the Tavern has won numerous awards.

tavern in the Shambles York

The Punch Bowl Pub

Said to be haunted the Punch Bowl is a traditional pub with a vast range of real ales and great food.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Punch Bowl has been a pub for over 4 centuries but it has suffered two major fires and has been restored.  The political connection comes from the Whigs party which preferred punch over claret which was a tory drink. 

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

 Gert and Henry’s

What a beautiful old building. Gert and Henry’s is timber-framed and dates from the 1600s. It has been a restaurant since 1929 and it serves classic English food. We had some traditional fish and chips and a steak pie and some great local ales.

With so many classic pubs, alehouses, restaurants and cafes to choose from and a wealth of heritage, historic and truly unique buildings it is worth a wander and perhaps a stop in every interesting place you find. You certainly won’t experience this in N. America lol.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Betty’s Café and Tea Room

The tea rooms of York are an experience all their own. With beautiful interiors inspired by the Queen Mary ocean liner, Betty’s has been around since 1929 Here you can have a traditional Afternoon Tea, a fabulous Full English Breakfast or some real Yorkshire treats and baked goods. Enjoy a Yorkshire Rarebit Rarebit made with Yorkshire Ale on Cobble bread and served with ham, leeks and tomatoes or how about a great breakfast made with Yorkshire Sausages?

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

11 Quirky Afternoon Teas In London

Guided Pub Tours

A guided pub crawl through York’s medieval snickelways, following in the footsteps of Roman soldiers and Papist plotters, Royalists and Roundheads, Whigs, Wool Traders, and Dick Turpin to boot. Walking just three-quarters of a mile and stopping at up to 7 of York’s most historic pubs you will hear tales of execution and murder, local saints and Irish giants. And if you like spirits, there are plenty and not just the bottled variety.

Read more about Guided Historic Pub Tour (York)

What to eat in York

So if you are in York you have to try some of the local British favourites such as Fat Rascals and obviously a great Sunday roast with Yorkshire puddings.

Yorkshire pudding

Known worldwide Yorkshires are the best accompaniment to a roast beef dinner. Light, fluffy and sky-high the Yorkshire pudding is a simple mix of flour, eggs and milk and soaks up gravy beautifully. These days you can get Yorkshire wraps or sweet versions with fruit and fresh cream.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Fat Rascals

A huge treat to have with a cup of Yorkshire Tea this is a bit like a fruit scone or rock cake served with tons of butter. At Betty’s, they are decorated with an almond smile and a glace cherry on top. This cheekily named treat is a bit like rock cake or a fruit scone. You’ll find them on a traditional northern afternoon tea, freshly baked and served with lots of butter. At Betty’s, they’re decorated with a glacé cherry and almond smile.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Fat Rascal recipe traditionally uses lard, hence the name ‘fat’. It’s thought to originate in the 19th century and comes from North Riding Turf Cakes, which are small cakes made with leftover dough or pastry and cooked over turf fires.

Yorkshire Cheese

There are more than 85 delicious cheeses made in Yorkshire, using everything from cow’s milk to goat’s milk. One of the most famous Yorkshire cheeses is of course the crumbly Wensleydale, which comes from Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. Cheese-making in the area dates back to 1150.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Yorkshire Curd Tart

One of the great British Desserts is this ancient recipe it is a tart with shortcrust pastry and curd cheese. Spices and fruit are added usually lots of nutmeg and currants. They say in York that Betty’s serves the best.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England
©Tamsin Slater

Yorkshire Sausage

The Yorkshire Sausage’s official recipe contains salt, white pepper, mace, nutmeg, ground coriander and parsley. It should be eaten at any time of the day.

Yorkshire Tea

Forget your Tetley or Red Rose Yorkshire Tea is the only “proper brew”. It is the second most popular tea in Britain and although the tea leaves come from India and abroad this tea is blended and produced in Yorkshire.

Here is a list of my favourite places I stayed at and some other epic places to stay in York.

Where to stay in York 

From the ultimate in luxury to some pretty quirky places York has all kinds of accommodations. Best to stay within the City walls as it makes York and the Shambles that much more walk-friendly.

Grays Court

Between York Minster and the walls, with a history dating back to the 11th century. With views across York’s medieval walls, Grays Court is a beautiful historic house with leafy gardens, an intimate restaurant and free Wi-Fi. The grand house is located beside York Minster and was once home to King James I.


37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Bar Convent

As part of a still-working convent in a historic building, this is one of Britain’s more unusual guest houses the bedrooms are modest yet roomy and well-equipped, there’s a charming café, and peaceful garden and the city is walkable. You can take advantage of lower room prices with a shared bathroom – all in all great value for money.


37 Fabulous things to do in York England

The Grand York

York’s only five-star hotel has a luxury vaulted spa available and a swimming pool. Located in a Grade II listed Edwardian building the hotel maintains a splendid aura of luxury.


37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Trembling Madness Apartments

Located in a quiet little medieval courtyard behind the pub The House of Trembling Madness, The Old Gallery and The Chamber apartments offer visitors a quirky and delightful experience. With incredible interiors and ghost stories, this is a brilliant convenient place to hang out while in York. A 10-minute walk from the Shambles and the apartments overlook York Minister. 


37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Guy Fawkes Inn

Guy Fawkes Inn was the birthplace of the notorious British traitor. The Guy Fawkes Inn, by Best Western, retains many of its original features including gas lighting, real log fires and the timber staircase. You can also dine by candlelight in the restaurant, which serves classic pub food from locally sourced ingredients and the bar stocks a range of real ales.

The York Ghost Walk Experience leaves from York Minster each Saturday at 19:00 and both York Theatre Royal and the National Railway Museum are just a 5-minute walk away.


37 Fabulous things to do in York England

Day Trips from York

Just 20 minutes’ drive east of York, the Yorkshire Air Museum & Allied Air Forces Memorial makes a great short trip for those interested in the history of the European Wars from WWI and WWII.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a natural wonderland of rugged beauty and serene landscapes. Spread across 2,179 square kilometers, this protected area showcases rolling hills, limestone formations, lush valleys, and charming stone-built villages.

37 Fabulous things to do in York England

It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering countless opportunities for hiking, cycling, and wildlife observation. The park also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with historic castles, abbeys, and traditional farming communities that provide a glimpse into the region’s past. Whether you’re seeking tranquility in nature or a chance to explore its timeless charm, the Yorkshire Dales National Park promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

Castle Howard near York has remained a family home since it was built over 300 years ago, explore stunning interiors and 1,000 acres of grounds which include an adventure playground and children’s trails. Shop and eat in the 18th century Stable Courtyard with its café, farm shop, garden centre and gift shops.

The Atlas Fountain near Castle Howard in York England

Final Thoughts on Things to do in York

As I mentioned in the first paragraph York and North Yorkshire are my happy places and I would happily wander here for many years to come. So I cannot recommend a visit to explore York any higher – this is a must-see when you are visiting England.

Visiting York, England is a truly enchanting experience that offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its ancient walls and magnificent cathedral to its charming cobbled streets and picturesque landscapes, York transports visitors to a bygone era while still offering all the modern amenities one could desire.

The city’s rich history and well-preserved architectural wonders provide a sense of awe and wonder, while its vibrant arts scene, diverse culinary offerings, and welcoming atmosphere create a warm and inviting environment. Whether exploring the iconic York Minster, strolling along the River Ouse, or immersing oneself in the lively atmosphere of the Shambles, a visit to York is sure to leave an indelible impression and a longing to return to this extraordinary destination.

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37 Fabulous things to do in York England


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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