TOP 40 things to do in York (Ultimate list for 2021!)

April 3, 2021

Are you looking for the best things to do in York? If so keep reading for all our recommendations!

There are plenty of great things to do in York, so if you’re on the lookout for ideas and inspiration, hopefully this list of things to do in York will be all you need!

Below are 40 great choice for things to do in York, from historical monuments, to shopping and quirky places… This list has it all! So, let’s get into it…

40 Things to do in York, England…


York Minster

York city’s cathedral tops our list of 40 things to do in York. This stunning church is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe! Though there are tons of things that make this spot worth visiting, it’s the Medieval stained-glass windows that take the cake. York Minster is an absolute must, and should definitely make your list of things to do in York.


Clifford’s Tower

If you’re looking to tick off York’s best historical attractions, then you need to add Clifford’s Tower to your list of things to do in York during your trip. Though the rest of York Castle may have been ruined, the ruined keep still stands to this day!

As Clifford’s Tower is a major part of York’s identity, it’s one of the best things to do in York by a mile. It’s a great choice for things to do in York, and a beautiful sight too!


The City Walls

Next on my list of things to do in York, it’s the city walls! York has been surrounded by walls since the Roman times, and you can still walk along the city walls today. We highly recommend setting aside an hour or two to walk the full 3.4-kilometre circuit.

As you’ll see a bunch of attractions along the way, it’s one of the best things to do in York if you’re looking to cover a bunch of ground in very little time. 


The Shambles

York’s Shambles is the city’s stunning shopping street, and it’s one of my favourite things to do in York. With buildings dating back to the 1300s, you’ll be able to get a cultural education while you grab some bargains. Talk about a win-win! It’s just wonderful, and feels like stepping back in time – so don’t miss this off your list of things to do in York.


Head on a Hop on Hop Off Tour

See the best of York on a Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour! This is one of the easiest ways to see any city, so if you’re looking for a hassle-free touring experience, then this is a great option. A great choice for things to do in York if you’re only there a couple of days – as this ticks off lots of sights in the city!


The Original Ghost Walk of York

Of course, we had to include a ghost tour on our list of things to do in York. If you’re all about the spooky stuff, then you should add a ghost walk to your list of things to do in York in 2021.

Combining the best of the city’s legends, history’s and ghostly sightings, the Original Ghost Walk of York is a tried and tested tour that won’t disappoint. And hey – it rhymes too! This is a seriously great option for things to do in York!


The Museum Gardens

If you’re looking for some free things to do in York, then put the Museum Gardens on the top of your list! This is the perfect spot in York to enjoy a leisurely picnic and indulge in some birdwatching. 


York Castle Museum

The York Castle Museum is a great choice for things to do in York if you’re looking to learn more about the area’s history. If you’re brave enough, you can check out the castle’s historic prison cells! Basically, this is perfect choice for things to do in York, for history buffs and enthusiasts.


Thor’s Tipi

If you’re looking for things to do in York during the winter months, then be sure to visit Thor’s Tipi. This unique pop-up bar is a cool place to visit that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else!


Van Gogh Immersive Experience

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience is an incredibly interesting thing to do in York in 2021. Using modern virtual projection technology, this experience allows visitors to become part of Van Gogh’s spectacular works. A great choice of things to do in York for art lovers.


National Railway Museum

If you want to find things to do in York for adults and kids alike… the National Railway Museum is great. Home to over a million items of railway memorabilia, this museum is one of the top things to do in York. If you have time, you can even indulge in the museum’s unique Railway Afternoon Tea!


Beningbrough Hall

Though this spot is located 15 miles or so from York, we highly recommend visiting it while you’re in the area, and adding it to your list of things to do in York. Run by the National Trust, Beningbrough Hall has acres of gorgeous grounds to explore! 


The Yorkshire Museum

The Yorkshire Museum is one of the top things to do in York, and its insightful collections are sure to teach you a thing or two during your trip. Be sure to check out the nearby gardens while you’re here too. 


York Art Gallery

One of the best things to do in York for art fanatics is the York Art Gallery. With paintings that span more than 600 years, you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy! For art lovers and museum lovers, this is the perfect choice of things to do in York.


The Mansion House

The buildings in York are beautiful and they make wonderful choices for things to do in York. Exploring them is mesmerising!

This grand building is home to the Lord Mayor of York and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Though this may just look like a mansion, it’s home to magnificent treasures and interiors that are totally worth checking out.  


Jorvik Viking Centre

How could I write a list of things to do in York, without mentioning the Jorvik Viking Centre. It’s a classic suggestion for things to do in York!

The Jorvik Viking Centre is one of the most popular things to do in York for a reason. Giving visitors the opportunity to check out 1,000-year-old houses, Viking-age timbers, and much more, it remains one of the UK’s top attractions, so obviously needs to make your list of things to do in York.


The Grand Opera House

Next on my list of things to do in York, it’s the Grand Opera House. If you can catch a show at the Grand Opera House, then we highly recommend doing so. Known as one of the best things to do in York among the area’s art buffs, it’s certainly one to add to your list. 

Read more about UK travel: Top 25 things to do in Northumberland


York’s Chocolate Story

You’ve probably heard of both Rowntree’s and Terry’s, but you might not know that they started their stories in York!

At York’s Chocolate Story, you can go on a fully guided tour to learn about the origins of chocolate. Don’t worry, you do get to taste plenty of it at the end! It’s something a bit different and a great option for things to do in York that are a bit more unique.


Grab Fish and Chips

A classic idea for things to do in York, is fish and chips. It’s an iconic British dish – and you need to try it if you’re not local. For a truly stunning fish and chips, head down to Drake’s Fisheries. Serving up perfect crispy cod and chip-shop chips, a visit to this incredible restaurant should absolutely be on your list of things to in York in 2021.


Afternoon Tea 

There’s nothing more classically British than a great afternoon tea, which is why that’s next on my list of things to do in York. If you’re looking for things to do in York which are mellow and satisfying, then afternoon tea is the perfect option. We recommend checking out Betty’s Café Tea Rooms for a traditional afternoon tea – it’s one of the best in the UK, hands down.


Hire a boat

Next on my list of things to do in York, it’s hiring a boat for a few hours! One of the best ways to see the city of York is by boat, and you can hire your own little red boat to drive down the river if you wish to. For only £20-40 for an hour, you can finally live out your sailing dreams! A great choice for things to do in York, especially in the sunshine!


York City Cruises

If you’re looking for fun things to do in York, that are easy and carefree – then the York City Cruises are perfect. If you don’t want to peddle yourself down the river, you can head on a wonderful City Cruise! This is one of the best things to do in York, as not only do you get a fully guided tour of the city, but you get to cruise along the river too!


Check out the countryside!

York is home to some beautiful outdoor areas, so it’s a great idea to spend some time in nature while you’re here. Why not take a day trip to the Yorkshire Dales National Park or the Yorkshire Moors? A perfect choice for things to do in York!


York Dungeon

If you’re looking for spooky things to do in York… this is the one. Like London’s Dungeon, the York Dungeon is a great place to learn more about Britain’s grisly history. Packed with entertaining historical characters, special effects, and cool sets, this is a great one for the kids. 


Rowntree Park

Located by the south of the river, Rowntree Park is one of the greenest places in York, so perfect if you’re looking for things to do in York outdoors. Offering plenty of open space to families, it’s the perfect place to let kids blow off some steam during the day!


York Maze

The York Maze is the largest maze in Europe, so it’s no surprise that this place is so popular and makes my list of things to do in York! Though the Maze of Illusions is one of the most popular attractions, you can play Crazy Golf here too! It’s a great day out and if you’re looking for things to do in York for the entire family, it’s ticks all the boxes.


Spark York

If you’re a foodie, then be sure to add a visit to Spark York to your list of things to do in York. Home to a bunch of quirky eateries, bars, and retail joints, this is the perfect spot to explore on a sunny afternoon. 


The Cookery School at the Grand

Looking to learn how to cook? Well then, you’ll want to check out the Cookery School at the Grand! This 5-star hotel hosts a selection of 43 classes that will teach you how to make everything from the perfect curry to delectable desserts. 

If you’re looking for fun and rewarding things to do in York, this is a great suggestion for you. You’ll have fun – and learn a thing or two!


Head to a spa

One of our favorite things to do in York is to visit a spa. There’s always going to be an excuse to pamper yourself, so book in to one of York’s many spas for a relaxing session. Pampering yourself is always going to be a top idea for things to do in York. Who would complain?


Castle Howard

We love a castle! Considered to be one of the UK’s grandest homes, Castle Howard is truly a sight to behold! Boasting beautiful gardens, fountains, statues, and even temples (!), Castle Howard is a place in York that you needto see to believe. Definitely a place to add to your list of things to do in York.

Read more: 15 amazing castles in England you NEED to visit


Treasurer’s House

This grand residence is a must-visit spot in York, and it’s next on my list of things to do in York. With building elements from the 11th and 12th centuries, Treasurer’s House is worth visiting for its exterior alone! Be sure to check out the half-timbered gallery while you’re here – it really is one-of-a-kind. 


Fairfax House

A visit to Fairfax House should absolutely be on your list of things to do in York. Though it looks like a regular Georgian townhouse (an elevated one, at that!), it’s home to a bunch of history. Did you know that this building was once used as a gentleman’s club? Well, you do now!


St Mary’s Abbey

St Mary’s Abbey is one of the oldest spots in York, and it is home to some awesome history surrounding Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Gothic architecture here! It’s a great option for educational and historical things to do in York.


Yorkshire Air Museum

Looking for educational things to do in York? Then the Yorkshire Air Museum is going to be a great choice. The site of the Yorkshire Air Museum used to be an RAF Elvington airfield and holds some of the best aircrafts in the north! With over 50 aircrafts to check out, the Yorkshire Air Museum is a great things to do in York for any aviation enthusiast!


York Cold War Bunker

If you want to learn more about the history of the Cold War, then be sure to add York’s Cold War Bunker to your list of things to do in York.

This bunker was built in case of a Soviet nuclear attack, and it’s an interesting way to experience just how serious the Cold War was. This is a unique and slightly different choice for things to do in York, but fascinating all the same!


The Ouse

Next on my list of things to do in York, it’s the Ouse. York’s beautiful river is one of the best places to visit in the area if you’re looking to have a lazy afternoon.

The views along the riverbank are stunning, and you can even pack a picnic and people-watch for a few hours if you fancy it! If you’re looking for things to do in York in the summer, then this has to be on your York itinerary.


York Racecourse

This award-winning racecourse is one of the top things to do in York. Though you can obviously catch horseracing here, this venue also hosts music concerts and festivals too! 


Invisible York Tours

If you want to see the best of York while giving something back, then book onto an Invisible York Tour. Each tour is driven by the experience of your guide and all money goes back to employment and practical help for the homeless. 

Read more about UK travel: 40 fun things to do in Warwickshire


Dick Turpin’s Grave

A slightly odd choice for things to do in York, it’s Dick Turpins Grave. Have you heard of the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin? This criminal was tried and hanged in York in 1739, and you can visit his grave in St George’s Graveyard if you want to quell your curiosity! 


Fine Dining

And last on my list of things to do in York, it’s trying out some fine dining! York is home to a bunch of incredible restaurants, so if you’re looking to take your food up a notch be sure to visit one of its many fine-dining spots. The Bow Room Restaurant is particularly popular and has even been awarded 2 AA Rosettes! 


Hopefully this list of things to do in York has been helpful and given you loads of ideas!

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