York has many points of interest for you to visit and enjoy and being one of the United Kingdoms biggest tourist attractions, you could say that York itself is a point of interest in the United Kingdom.
So as you would expect, it is crammed with interesting and fun things to see and do, so the question is, where do you start? To help, we have listed some of our favourite points of interest for you to put on your itinerary the next time you visit York.
1. York Minster
York Minster is a definite must see point of interest for anyone visiting York. The good news is that if you are short on time, you can pretty much see this magnificent cathedral from most of York whilst you are taking in many of the other attractions. But, if you get the time, be sure to at the very least have a walk around the outside to see this Gothic Cathedral in all it’s glory.
The chances are that if you are going to see York Minster, then you are going to head up through the Shambles. The Shambles are a series of 14th century cobbled streets with over hanging buildings. Once home to the city’s butchers they now have all manor of shops, restaurants, pubs and Snickelways which connect the old city.
3. City Walls
Another great way to see York Minster and in fact, all of the heart of York, is to take a walk along the city’s 14th century walls. Like all of our points of interest so far, walking on the walls is free and is a great way to get around the city and get away from the busy streets below. With regular places to get on and off, you are able to enjoy some of the ancient Roman remains of York and take in the sights at leisure, as well as stretching your legs. One of our favourite times of year to walk on the walls is in Spring with all the daffodils out on the steep green grass banks. If you want to get a view of the Minster as we described earlier, the best view from the walls is between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar.
4. York Castle and Clifford’s Tower
York castle was built out of wood by the Normans in 1068, the only remaining part of the castle which you can visit today, was built in the 13th century and is located between Fishergate and Skeldergate Bridge. Clifford’s Tower gets its name from Roger de Clifford, who was the leader of the Lancastrian party and was executed here in 1322. Interesting to think that such a prominent part of Yorkshire is named after the leader of their greatest rivals! Of course the House of York was not established till after Roger de Clifford’s death in 1385, but it still amuses me.
5. York Castle Museum
You can find York Castle museum at the Eye of York and it is well worth a visit if only to see the recreation of Kirkgate, a 17th century street, complete with shops for you to peruse with all their authentic fixtures and fittings. There is much more to the museum than just Kirkgate, so whilst you are there, check out the prion which was built in 1705 and housed the likes of Dick Turpin, just be sure that they do not lock the cell doors with you in them!
6. York Dungeons
If you manage to escape the prison, your next stop has to be York Dungeons which is back on Clifford Street. York Dungeons is what you could call a ‘living museum’ with 9 live actors and 10 live shows each day. You follow the story of York’s 2000 years of darkest, dirtiest history and get close up and extremely personal with characters like Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin from York’s deadly past. In all honesty, it is great fun and you will laugh a lot, one not to miss.
7. Jorvik Viking Centre
Jorvik Viking centre is a point of interest which you have to experience before you leave York. You are transported via a slow rollercoaster car back to 800 AD when the Vikings first settled in York. Your 20 minute trip takes you through a Viking settlement complete with streets, a market place and all the sounds and smells. In our opinion, Jorvik Viking Centre is one of the most unusual things to do in York and also one of the cool things to do in York.
8. York Cold War Bunker
Talking of unusual things to do in York, have you ever wanted to visit a Cold War bunker? If so, you are in luck, as the York Cold War Bunker is here to cater to your every need. Located in Monument Close, the bunker was built in 1961 to monitor nuclear explosions and fallout in Yorkshire, should there be a nuclear war. Today, it is a museum and helps you uncover the secret history of Britain’s Cold War with guided tours, videos and a trip to the ‘decontamination room’.
9. Yorkshire Museum and Gardens
On a lighter note, the Yorkshire museum and gardens can be found next to Lendal Bridge, the main river bridge between the Railway Station and the Minster. The museum itself houses Roman and Anglo-Saxon archaeological artefacts and superb natural history collections and the jewel in the crown is the best preserved Viking weapon in the world, the 1000 year old Cawood Sword. The gardens themselves are free to walk around and perhaps enjoy lunch by the river with over 40 species of birds and lots of squirrels. You can take a walk around St. Mary’s Abbey, the remains of a Roman fortress and visit the oldest working Observatory in Yorkshire.
10. The Guildhalls
The 15th century Guildhalls are located on the banks of the river Ouse and along with their gardens provide an opportunity to see some wonderful architecture, as well as a stroll along the river. York is famous for it’s Guilds and here you will find the 14th-century Merchant Taylors’ Hall in Aldwark which was home to the cloth merchants and St. Anthony’s Hall which is home to the Quilter’s Guild and Quilt museum.
11. Merchant Adventurers Hall
The next point of interest on your York itinerary should be the Merchant Adventurers Hall, which is another of the guildhalls and is a truly stunning timber framed building that was built in 1357. Constructed by the citizens of York to provide a house for charity, business and worship, the Merchant Adventurers Hall today houses many silver, furniture and painting collections. If you do get a chance to go in side, be sure to see the Medieval ‘Evidence Chest’, which is actually older than the guildhall itself.
12. Barley Hall
Barley Hall was built around 1360 and for many years it was forgotten. It was not till an old office block was about to be demolished that they discovered the remains of Barley Hall. After years of surveys and discovery, the original Barley Hall was painstakingly rebuilt and today is a living, working monument Yorks history. Remember the BBC tv series Wolf Hall which was based on the novels by Hilary Mantel? Well Wolf Hall has come to Barley Hall with the Power & Glory exhibition displaying some of the most beautiful costumes from the hit BBC series.
13. York Art Gallery
York Art Gallery is in Exhibition Square,opposite Bootham Bar and just five minutes’ from the Minster. Here you will find hundreds of paintings, ranging from the 14th-century right up to today; there are also watercolours, drawings, ceramics and prints and many collections to enjoy, so be sure to checkout the collections schedule to see what is on offer during your visit.
14. National Railway Museum
Another free point of interest for you to visit is the National Railway Museum which is on Leeman Road, just next to York Railway Station. The National Railway Museum is huge and houses a stunning array of trains and carriages including over 1,000,000 railway related objects from 300 years of history. Some of the trains you can expect to see are, the Flying Scotsman, the Mallard, a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket, the Duchess of Hamilton, which is a Art Deco styled locomotive built in 1938, one of Japan’s Bullet Trains and many, many more.
Tip – make sure to time your visit with the demonstration of the Victorian turntable, where they demonstrate how one of these massive trains were turned around.
15. York’s Chocolate Story
York has a great chocolate history, being the home to Cadbury’s, Fry’s, Terry’s and Rowntree’s/Nestle. During your visit to York’s Chocolate Story which can be found in Kings Square, you will get to see these world famous and renowned chocolatiers make mouth watering chocolate and best of all, try some of the free samples. You can even have a go yourself if you fancy!
16. River Cruise
One thing to do when you are down by the river Ouse, is to take a cruise on the river. Here, you not only get to rest your feet and relax but you can also take in the sites and architecture that you would not normally get a chance to see. Don’t worry about not knowing what you are looking at, as there is a great commentary covering every thing you see on your cruise, so you will be entertained and ready for your next point of interest.
17. York Racecourse
Talking of entertainment, York Racecourse is a great day out in its own right and is the home to some of the UK’s finest racing events like the The Juddmonte International Stakes, The Nunthorpe Stakes and The Yorkshire Oaks. Being the 3rd largest racecourse in the UK, in terms of total prize money offered per meeting, you are guaranteed to see some great horses and entertaining races during the 17 days of events on offer each year. If you are planning a trip to York in August, be sure to come along to the Ebor Festival for a great day out with music events after racing.
18. Jorvik Viking Festival
Jorvik Viking Festival is held every February school half term and is a week full of activities for adults and families culminating in the boring of the boat and fireworks. The city literally turns back to its Viking past and celebrates it’s heritage with the largest Viking festival in Europe. You will find lots of family events, guided walks, battle re-enactments and lectures to keep you entertained all week, as well as all the points of interest we have listed so far. One for the diary!
19. York Brewery
With so many things to do in York, you are bound to get a little thirsty so we saved these last two points of interest to last. York Brewery, which is located on Toft Green, just behind Micklegate, offers guided tours and events to entertain you as you get a chance to enjoy some excellent craft beer and quench your thirst. One of our favourites was the recent ping pong tournament with free pizza for all participants + obviously, some great beer.
20. Betty’s Tea Room
Last, but in no way least, is Betty’s Tea Room. An institution in itself, at Betty’s Tea Room you can take the weight off your feet and enjoy fine tea’s, coffee, amazing pastries and snacks. If you are looking for a relaxing afternoon, head to Helen’s Square and experience afternoon tea and wonderful British tradition.
Tip – you might want to book a table, otherwise the queues outside can be very long and gazing through the window at the pastries is agonising!
York Points of Interest Conclusion
So, we hope we helped you find some points of interest in York for your next visit, and to be honest, we have only just scratched the surface. There really is so much to see and do in York, that you are going to be coming back for years to come, and every time will be an adventure!
If you are still unsure of things to do in York, why not take a look at more of the attractions and events in our other York tourism guides:
- Top 10 free things to do in York
- Kids activities in York
- Whats on in York
- What to do in York Today?
- York tourist information guide
- More things to do in York