York Unveiled: 10 Must-Experience Activities and Attractions

From iconic landmarks to quirky shops, York serves up history and adventure.
Boasting over 2,000 years of fascinating history, York unveils some of England’s top sights and attractions just waiting to be discovered down its ancient lanes and museums.

As the number one tourist destination outside London, this captivating city has exactly what visitors crave: time-honoured buildings, quirky shops and eerie ghost walks, English countryside charm with afternoon teas, local markets, and convivial pubs. From its Roman remnants to its Gothic Revival glories, York brings the history books alive. Gear up to step back through the centuries with this list of top things to do and places to see in York that unveil its magic.

The Best Things to Do in York, England

1. Descending into York Minster’s Crypts and Undercroft
While York Minster Visitor Center promotes views of its Great East Window, bypass the crowds to head downstairs instead. The crypts and undercroft provide a rare look at previous hidden grotesques and rediscovered artefacts. Stonemasons etched unusual hell beasts here alongside displays of luxury objects from ancient Rome like gemstones and ivory handles.

2. Perusing The Shambles’ Quirky Specialty Shops
Once filled with butcher stalls (“shammels”), The Shambles now brims with York’s quirkiest stores. Bespoke hatters, rare musical instruments, magical potions and cauldron, and 400-year old padlocks adorn its timbers.

3. Strolling York’s Medieval City Walls and Hidden Snickets
Walk along the 2.6 mile walls wrapping the historic centre for views of York Minster and River Ouse. Locals also love the narrow “snickets” (alleyways) connecting the streets to the heights along the route.

4. Exploring York Dungeon’s Horrific Plagues and Witchcraft
The creepy York Dungeon spotlights the darker side of York through live shows and archaeological discoveries like 400-year old witchcraft charms. Evening “Deathly Dark” tours even investigate ghostly sightings of the Headless Earl and Lady Alice.

5. Journeying Through Jorvik Viking Centre’s Excavation Site
At the Jorvik Viking Centre, journey back 1,000 years walking through recreations of excavated homes and workshops with sights, sounds, and smells of Viking-era York. Recent digs uncovered jewellery, pottery, bone ice skates, and other artefacts seen at the end.

6. Savouring Yorkshire Tea and Fat Rascals at Betty’s Café
Recharge at popular Betty’s Café, known for Yorkshire tea blends and Fat Rascals – fruit scones with chocolate chips and Swiss chocolate caramel centre. Betty’s is a great place for breakfast with a grand selection of breakfast specialities, served until 11.30am, brunch, and relaxed afternoon tea and Yorkshire cream tea served all day.

7. Wandering Roman Relics in Museum Gardens
The Museum Gardens provide a look at York’s Roman past with abbey ruins and fountainheads showcasing ancient empire engineering. Recent digs uncovered imported marble, painted glass suggesting a high status site. It’s also an idyllic haven to explore a variety of plant species and wildlife right in the heart of the town.

8. Panoramas from Clifford’s Tower Rooftop Battlements
While most admire York views from ground level, climb to Clifford’s Tower battlements, set upon a mound which was originally built by William the Conqueror, for 360 degree panoramas showcasing 2,000 years of landmarks from one unforgettable scene. Tower is open 7 days a week, however, times may vary throughout the year.

Plan Your Visit Year-Round

From seasonal festivals to ghostly lantern tours by night, York brings history dramatically alive. Shop quirky stores, wander Roman walls, and discover 2000 years of secrets waiting in York’s nooks and museums.

Looking for a beautiful home away from home during your adventure? We have great news for you. Mansley Serviced Apartments have announced opening their new property in York. The development will feature 19 self-catering apartments providing 23 bedrooms with external spaces created for guests. So if you are planning your visit to York in 2024, stay tuned and keep an eye on the updates from Mansley in York.

clock icon January 22, 2024
Sign up to our newsletter
Green tourism gold badge ASAP operator logo tripadvisor logo hoteliers' charter logo living wage logo eco smart logo trip advisor logo