York England is a fantastic old walled city in northeast England with over 2,000 years of history. York was founded by the Romans but has a rich Viking history as well. Its medieval city wall is incredibly well preserved.
Top things to do in York England for Couples (and everyone else!)
Whether your looking for date ideas in York, to plan a trip with pals, or a fun solo trip, York is a great place, maybe one of THE best places, to vacation in Europe.
There are lots of things to do in York England for couples but it’s also a great place for a solo trip or even groups.
Keep reading for great ideas on how to make the best of your trip to the wonderful city of York! In this article you’ll find a list of the top 22 things to do in York England, the perfect UK vacation spot!
Why is York such a great destination?
Why go to York England??? My travel style is to steer clear of big cities but I also like plenty to keep me busy. Enter, York England!
York is a small city but there are an abundance of things to do making it an ideal place for a trip.
Most attractions are concentrated in the City Centre of York, making it incredibly easy to tour!
How much time should you spend in York?
How many days do you need in York England? I’d definitely give it at least two days to fully appreciate all that York has to offer. If you care to slow it down a little you could easily spend more time exploring York.
Just one day to spend in York? If your wondering what to do in York for a day, you’ll find a 1 day suggested itinerary at the end of this article, or simply choose your favorites!
How many days in York England is really up to you. Whether you’re looking to day trip York or spend several days, York is a perfect spot for an English holiday getaway!
Arriving in York (getting to York)
York is a great day trip from some popular cities in the UK.
Edinburgh to York: It’s an easy 2.5 hour train ride. London to York: it’s just two hours by train between these cities! (need tips on easily finding the best transit routes and booking tickets with the help of google maps? You may find my Beginners Guide to Easily Navigating Public Transportation helpful.
The city Centre is just a short walk from the train station
If you’re driving, the best place to park your car is one of the 6 different park and ride sites around town. Frequent (free) buses go between the lots and the city center. Buses are all low floor and wheelchair accessible. No overnight parking.
For parking lot locations and up to date prices / timetables: see the Visit York website
What’s the best way of getting around if you don’t have a car? There’s no need for a car to see the best attractions on York! No matter how you arrive, the best way to see York is with feet on the ground so be prepared to do a lot of walking!
Tip: There are about 50 Snickelways (small cobbled streets and footpaths) left over from Medieval York. Feel free to explore them for a bit of adventure.
Now that you’ve arrived in York, here’s a list of the top best things to do in York for couples, families, groups or individuals! Let’s get to the fun stuff!
Things to do in York England Map
What are some good places to visit in York England? and how far apart are they walking distance? Check out this handy map of the best thing to do in York to answer those questions!
Explore the imposing York Minster
The imposing York Minster Cathedral is in a category all to itself!
#1 The York Minster
The York Minster, the largest Gothic church north of the Alps, is billed as one of the world’s most magnificent Cathedrals.
The Minster is one of York’s most famous landmarks with it’s imposing towers, and also one of the top things to do in York. Its stained glass windows are impressive works of art. So if you have only one day in York the Mister should be at the top of your list.
There were Roman structures in this spot but construction of the current structure began in the year 1220 ( it took nearly 250 years to complete this behemoth of a church!) Normal capacity: 2,000 catholic worshipers but on Easter and Christmas they can cram 4,000 people into the Minster!
The undercroft of the cathedral contains the remains of Roman barracks and 1,000 year old artifacts.
Explore on your own or take the guided tour for an informative experience. In addition to regular tours they also offer medieval stained glass tours and tours that explore hidden areas of the Minster.
A word of caution. There is a LOT to see in the Minster. We lost all track of time and got off schedule. It would be prudent to decide exactly how much time you want to spend in the Minster and stick to it. Better yet if you have the time in your schedule just give it a half day!
Location: Deangate, York
Opening hours: Mon to Sat 9:30 am – 4 pm, Sun 12:45 – 3:15
Cost: Minster only: adults £12.50. York residents admitted free. Minster and Tower: £18.50
Times and fees are always subject to change. For the most current and up to date information including additional hours of worship, and tour times see the York Minster website.
Visit one of York’s impressive Museums
There are several very good museums in York. Here are some of the top choices.
#2 York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum is located at the site of the York Castle, which was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. This museum presents recreated scenes from the years of York history, including Kirkgate, a recreated Victorian street. The museum also has 18th century jail cells, replicas from the 1960’s and more.
Location: Eye of York, York, YO1 9RY
(located in the centre of York, close to Clifford’s Tower and the Coppergate Shopping Centre)
Opening hours: Monday: 11am – 5pm Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm
Cost: Adults: £13 online / £14 Walk up price
For the most current and up to date information, including additional rate categories and other discounted prices please see the York Castle Museum website.
#3 Roman Bath Museum
Get a glimpse of the Roman ruins at the Roman Bath Museum in York. The museum is below ground, under the Roman Bath Pub.
Location: 9 St Sampson’s Sq, York YO1 8RN
Opening hours: approx hours are noon to 11:30 pm
Cost: adults £2.50More information on the Roman baths can be found at Yorkshire .com
#4 The Yorkshire Museum
At the Yorkshire museum they have Roman, medieval, and natural history (fossilized dinosaurs and prehistoric finds) artifacts on display and more!. If you have time in your schedule go at a leisurely place and give it the better part of a day, especially if you add in the Botanical Gardens and abbey (both up next!)
Location: Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Cost: Adults: £8 online / £8.75 Walk up price
For the most current and up to date information including discount prices and other rate categories see the Yorkshire Museum website.
Find free things to do in York England
Looking for free things to do? Good news! There are lots of free things to do in York. Here are some top choices.
#5 St. Mary’s Abbey Ruins
In the gardens of the Yorkshire museum you’ll find the ruins of an 11th century Gothic Benedictine Abbey. The Abbey, built in 1088 under William the Conqueror, was once one of the wealthiest and most powerful abbeys in England. During the reformation in the 1500’s Henry the 8th temporarily converted it into a palace. Spend some quality time wandering among what remains of the haunting silhouette of the abbey.
location: in the gardens surrounding the Yorkshire Museum
Opening hours: open 7 days a week – 10:30am to 6pm
# 6 Explore the Botanical Gardens
If you haven’t already, now is a great time to explore the botanical gardens that surround the Abbey and the Yorkshire Museum. There are over 10 acres of pristine gardens and while not a public park, the botanical gardens are free. It’s a lovely place for some alone time, a romantic break for couples, or to spend an afternoon with friends.
Monkey puzzle tree!
Location: The Abbey is located in the gardens of the York Museum.
Opening hours: open 7 days a week – 10:30am to 6pm
Visitor information: York Museum Gardens
#7 Holy Trinity Church
The best way to describe this 12th-14th century Gothic gem is “divine!” I love historic buildings and especially when they have an undeniable patina of age that screams OLD! If that’s something that gets you excited then you’ll love this little church! It’s definitely worth a peek.
Location: Address: 70 Goodramgate in York city centre, off Goodramgate; King’s Square and Shambles 200 yards
(it’s poked back off the street a little. pass through an eighteenth-century arch that’s tacked onto fourteenth century buildings along Goodramgate)
Wheelchair access is via Petergate next to Poundland.
Opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday 11:00am – 3:00pm (hours dependant on volunteer availability, and may be subject to change)
Cost: free but donations are welcome to maintain this adorable little gem
Want to know more about the Holy Trinity church and its history? The church has some very good informational leaflets available: Church of Holy Trinity
#8 Walk the Castle ramparts for the city’s best views!
Take a romantic stroll along York City walls, a great way to take in panoramic views of the historic buildings around York.
York’s city walls date in large part from the 13th century and are the longest and most complete medieval walls in England.
The wall is just over 2 miles (3.4 kilometers) and takes approximately 2 hours to walk the entire wall.
If you’re short on time from Bootham Bar (NOT a bar but a gatehouse in the wall) to Monk Bar (gatehouse) is a very scenic portion of the wall and makes for a much shorter walk. (about .4 miles one way or .65 kilometers)
Location: see the map below
Opening hours: daily excluding 25 December, icy/slippery conditions, very high winds. Gates to access the wall usually open at 8:00 a.m. Gates are closed in an counter-clockwise direction at dusk starting at Fishergate Bar.
Important information: No dogs allowed except for assistance dogs. Wheelchairs and pushchairs are not practical up on the narrow wall-walk but they are fine in the Museum Gardens where you can see York’s best Roman walls.
For comprehensive information on the York Wall walk see the Visit York Website
#9 The National Railway Museum
If your still in search of free things to do, and you have interest in trains, the railway museum in York is free
Location: Leeman Rd, York
Opening hours: Weds – Sun 10:00 am – 17:00
Cost: free but donations are always appreciated (free tickets can be booked in advance)
For current and up to date information see the Railway Museum website.
#10 Free Walking Tour
If you’re looking for free tours in York, The Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York (AVG) offers free two-hour walking tours. A Waking tour is a great way to get familiar with the town and learn something about the ins and outs of York and its ancient history from a knowledgeable guide.
Tour highlights include St. Mary’s Abbey and surrounding gardens, Bootham and Monk Bars (town wall gates,) the Minster, Holy Trinity Church, and a walk along the wall.
Location: all tours depart from outside York City Art Gallery in Exhibition Square
Tour times: tours begin at 10:30 am and 1:15 pm daily (except Christmas Day)
Cost: free but pre booking is recommended
For more details on York’s free walking tour see the AVG York website.
Take one of York’s Walking Tours (for a fee)
Are you a big fan of walking tours and want more options? If there is one thing for certain it is that there is no shortage of walking tours in York!
#11 tour the town with a paid guide
Paid tours run the gamut: historical tours, ghost tours, Harry Potter themed tours, tasting tours and tours about witches! group tours, private tours…pick your poison!
Looking for decidedly romantic things to do in York for couples?
York has two particularly romantic places, both located on the Ouse River.
#12 Boat trip on the River Ouse
One way to spend a romantic day in York is to snuggle up on a boat cruise on the River Ouse. City Cruises York offer a 45-minute sight-seeing cruise with commentary. Boats leave every 30-45 minutes.
What is there to do in York at night? In addition to daytime cruises they also run: evening and night time floodlit cruises, dinner and party cruises and during the Christmas season they run a “festive cruise.”
pre booking available, walk-ups welcome. Tickets purchased online in advance need to be printed.
Location: You can catch your boat at two different locations:
Boats return to the same landing which they departed from
- Lendal Bridge (accept credit cards at this location)
- King’s Staith Landing near Skeldergate Bridge (at last check they only accept cash. wheelchair access only available at this location)
For hours, prices and a full listing of cruise options see the City Cruises York website.
keep reading on the next page!!!
#13 How about a walk on the Ouse River?
The River Ouse is one of the most romantic spots in all of York and the perfect place for a romantic stroll! There are walking paths that run along the banks of either side of the river and evening is the perfect time for a stroll along the floodlit path.
Activities to titillate your taste buds!
Let’s face it, one of the best things about traveling is exploring new and tasty food. Here are several activities in York that will get your taste buds singing.
#14 York Chocolate
If you love chocolate then York is the place for you. They call it the chocolate city!
- What’s the story with York and Chocolate? Kit Kat Bar was created in York….so you better get one!
- York’s Chocolate Story is a full chocolate lover’s experience! They have 3 floors of chocolaty interactive exploration for your pleasure, and offer a guided tour through 4,000 years of chocolate. Activities include truffle rolling and personalized chocolate bar making, now that’s my idea of a good time!
Location: King’s Square York (at the top of the Shambles)
Opening hours: daily 10 am to close
Cost: adults £15.95
For current information on opening times, costs, available discounts, and holiday hours check the York’s Chocolate Story website.
#15 Wine Tasting
Pairings Wine bar is an award winning wine bar located in the city centre. In addition to wine they have an outstanding food menu.Tastings are offered to partons in flights or with recommended food pairings.
Location: 28 Castlegate, York
#16 Yorkshire pudding
I like the when in Rome approach to travel so on this trip Yorkshire pudding was on the to do list! Similar to a popover, Yorkshire pudding is a batter made with eggs, flour, and milk that is baked till it’s puffy. It is then served with savory toppings like meat and gravy.
At the York Roast company you can get a Yorkshire pudding wrap with your choice of ingredients like roasted pork, turkey, ham, and beef. The English have been roasting meat since the dawn of time and they really have perfected the art. The roasted meat the York Roast Company was tender, juicy and DELICIOUS! For an added treat try the pork cracklings.
Location: they have two locations in York
- 78 Low Petergate
- 4 Stonegate, York
#17 afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea House
Any time of day is the perfect time for tea! If you’ve never had afternoon tea in England you’re in for a treat!
Not only do the English know how to roast juicy tender meat, they are just as adept at presenting tea service that’s fit for a queen! They’ve been doing a bang up job of serving tea with light and tasty food pairings since the days of Queen Victoria! Betty’s has been serving customers since 1919 and it shows! Everything was simply scrumptious.
Order tea service and they bring out a 3 tiered tray of delectable treats from clotted cream (may sound strange but it’s a yummy whipped butter) jam, finger sandwiches, and pastries. All delicious! And service with a smile.
Betty’s serves afternoon tea all day. We stopped in for a breakfast that did not disappoint!
Location: There are two Betty’s locations.
- The 46 and Stonegate location is smaller and less crowded with a super cute traditional English storefront style exterior. (I am broken hearted to inform that this location closed in September of 2021 but ever the optimist, I will continue to hope they will reopen)
- The 6-8 St. Helen’s Square location is in a more modern looking building with a coffee shop vibe.
Opening hours: Tea rooms opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 9-5:30 pm, Friday 9–6 pm, Saturday 8:30–6 pm
See Betty’s Tea House website for most up to date information
Looking for fun things to do in York?
These are the top picks for fun activities to do for adults in York.
#18 The Shambles
The shambles is a crooked looking little street in York with cutesy little shop fronts and it’s a must see when spending the day in York! Although much older, the street assumed its present day character around the year 1400.
Harry Potter fans will be interested to know that the Shambles was the inspiration for Diagon Alley. The shops that line the Shambles have embraced the Harry Potter theme. Consequently, you’ll find shops with names like “The Shop That Must Not Be Mentioned” ( that carries wands, robes and brooms!) and a gift shop by the name of “The Potions Cauldron.”
The moment that I arrived at the Shambles I felt as if I had been dropped down right in the middle of a Dickens novel!
The Shambles is a great place to shop too!
What to buy in York England? Well the English are famous for their delicious teas, so why not take some home?! During our time in York, I fell in love with York Breakfast Blend Tea and found some in a neat little tin box to take home with me.
Tip: If you stay overnight (and I recommend you do!) you come back late at night or early in the morning and get some cool photos of the Shambles, sans crowds!
Location: put “the Shambles” into your GPS and it should take you right there!
#19 JORVIK Viking Centre
JORVIK Viking Centre, created by the York Archaeological Trust, has lifelike Viking mannequins, animatronics, and life sized scenes that depict Viking life. Board small carriages that take you through these scenes and immerse visitors in the viking experience!
In addition to the recreated scene from the Viking era, there are over 40,000 real viking artifacts that were dug out of the peat bog here.
Tip: JORVIK is a very popular attraction in York. It is recommended that you pre-book your tour to avoid long lines and ensure your entry. It can get very crowded so it is advisable to go early late in the day to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Location: 19 Coppergate, York
Opening times: opening times are pretty random so be sure to check the website
For current and up to date information check the JORVIK Viking Centre website.
#20 York Umbrellas
Be sure not to miss the colorful and whimsical Umbrellas of York.
Location: in the Coopergate shopping centre (12 Coppergate Walk, York)
# 21 Clifford’s Tower
York Castle, commonly referred to as Clifford’s Tower has sat watch over the town of York since the 11th century. Climb to the top of this medieval stronghold for panoramic views of the city.
Location: Tower St, York YO1 9SA, United Kingdom
Opening hours: open daily 10 am – 6 pm
The English Heritage Museum has complete information about visiting the tower.
Cozy up in an English Pub
#22 The English Pub Experience
There are several pubs in the romantic York city that will make you feel as if you’ve walked back in time. Still wondering what there is to do in York at night? Step into one and spend a cozy afternoon or night with your travel partner.
Valhalla York is a gorgeous somewhat pleasingly dark space with rich wood, brick, wooden beams and super tasty food. It’s the perfect spot to sit and recover from your busy day with a cup of mead or a hot drink.
Best things to do in York has a list of the oldest pubs in York!
Not to be missed restaurants in York (delicious food!)
There are many good places to eat in York but if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary these are some good options:
If you’re looking for a rooftop bar to visit on your day in York The Habit Cafe bar fits the bill! They have a rooftop terrace that offers fantastic views of the Minster! Looking to catch live shows in York? check their website for their “live music” schedule too.
Location: 40 Goodramgate (just around the corner from the Minster)
Current hours. See the Habit Cafe Bar website.
old English charm
Gert and Henry’s has that rustic charm / fairy tale vibe that I’m so crazy about. I’m not sure but it always puts me in mind of the witches cottage that Hansel and Gretel might have wondered into deep in the woods. It’s my pick for the atmosphere alone but the food is actually quite good! They serve classic English style stick to your ribs grub like fish and chips,
Location: 4 Jubbergate, York
other places to eat in York:
My #1 place to search for great food is tripadvisor.
Here is their York page and since you have interest in things to do in York for couples you may be looking for fine dining options so I’ve also provided a link to the York fine dining / best restaurants page.
Get the York Pass and save
The York Pass is a discount card that gets you access to 40 attractions in the city for a set fee. Some of the attractions listed in this article that are covered under the York Pass are City Cruises, Clifford’s Tower, JORVIK, the York Castle Museum, the York Minster, the Roman Baths, and the Yorkshire Museum. If you plan to visit several of the listed attractions it can save you money on your trip to York. For complete information see the York Pass website.
What is the best time to visit York?
Are you looking for the perfect time to visit York? I’m not sure there is a perfect time but there are times that may be better than others.
York is located in northern Europe and if you are planning a trip to England you probably have some idea of what the weather is like.
Britain is in the temperate climate zone, which means they in general do not have extremes of temperature or rainfall. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 35°F to 69°F and is rarely below 26°F or above 78°F.”
Winters are mild but cold, long, windy and mostly cloudy. Summers are short, partly cloudy and not excessively hot! (PERFECT IF YOU ASK ME!)
We visited York in the month of May and the weather was perfectly pleasant! However, the weather is often changeable so prepare for anything! Bring along layers and keep your rain gear/umbrella on hand.
If I had to say what the perfect time of year to visit York, based on the weather, it would be during their short but pleasant summer.
Shoulder season is the best time to avoid the crowds. Shoulder season in England is May and early June after it has warmed up a bit and before the summer crowds set in and September and October when summer crowds have abated and just before the winter cold sets in.
Day trip to York: a single day itinerary
Just one day to spend in York England?
This very good one day itinerary takes you on a walking tour of York, stopping at some of the must-see attractions. It’s intended to Iessen the walking distance. (Traveling is hard on the legs and feet! I try to lessen the amount of walking whenever possible.)
Even pared down you’ll want to start early, set a schedule and stick to it because this is still a lot to fit in one day.
After leaving the train station (or arriving via the park and ride)
- Head directly to Betty’s Tea Room for afternoon tea it makes a great breakfast (opens at 9 am)
- St Mary’s Abbey and explore the Botanical Gardens
- Yorkshire Museum (I chose this one for its Roman and Viking artifacts!)
- Now head over to Bootham Bar and walk the wall to:
- Monk Bar and take the stairs down off the wall
- Head on over to York Minster (don’t forget to set a time limit or you may run out of time for the rest of the stops)
- Holy Trinity Church (you can spend as much or as little time as you like here. If it’s not your thing just snap some pictures or skip it)
- JORVIK. Great! Your schedule for a late day visit and hopefully the crowds have diminished. Try to be there by 3:00 or switch up some of your stops)
- Head on over to the Ouse River for a stroll along the river, a boat cruise or both! (evening cruises are available.)
Total walking distance: approximately 2 miles! Not bad for a full day jam packed with activities.
There you have it, the best way to spend one day in York! You’ll hit the big highlights.
Obviously you can switch this itinerary up and customize it however you like.
York Visit Final Thoughts
Maybe this was your first time in York England? but my guess is you are going to fall in love with this perfect little town that is so steeped in history that you will want to return!
Because there are so many great things to do in York, it’s the ideal place to plan a getaway and worthy of many return visits. I know I can’t wait to find myself back in York England once again!
Is York good for couples? Yes absolutely! This was one of our best day trips! So whether on a first date or a 500th date York is a great place for couples and really anyone who is interested in exploring this beautiful city! If you were wondering “where should I go on a date in York” well you now have 22 fantastic choices!
Looking for more UK travel destinations?
How about hunting for Nessie on Loch Ness? add a boat tour on Loch Ness to your UK itinerary!
Want to hear more about my travels around our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Europe Travel page and be sure to submit your email address to my subscriber sign up at the end of the page to be the first to know when a new blog publishes!