A short break in York

York is city filled with a rich heritage and well-preserved history with a wonderful array of activities, both old and new. Thanks to the railway built in 1839 the city’s tourism has flourished and there’s some wonderful quirky little gems here that you wont find anywhere else in England. Here’s our guide to the best things to see and do in York.

Things to see in York

Probably the most famous landmark here is York Minster. A very grand cathedral and a truly astonishing piece of Gothic architecture. From the outside its dominant tower fills the skyline and there’s even an observation deck with unrivaled views of the city. Inside you’ll find pristine interior with amazing carvings but also a modern gallery with interactive displays and some great artifacts from the city’s past.

Yorvik Viking Centre

In the late 70s excavations were carried out in York’s city centre to unearth more of its Viking history. Their discovery was so fruitful the city decided to build a museum on the land with reconstructions of the viking settlement. In 1984 it’s doors opened and was one of the world’s first “smelly” museums with artificial smells created around the displays to enhance them. Since then it’s been visited by more than 20 million people. It’s a fun experience for all the family with impressive displays and lots of information, all presented in an entertaining way.

Take a walk through the iconic “Shambles”. A street in the heart of York with perfectly preserved buildings that loom over you like a scene from a Harry Potter movie. There’s some great little shops down here too and a wonderful place to take some photos. Visit York Shambles official website for more details.

Other attractions

York’s National Railway museum is one of the largest collection of British steam engines and modern trains too. With over 300 years of railway history in one place it’s a great place for the family too. Lots of interactive displays and some of the most famous trains in the world. Visit nrm.org.uk for more information

Ghost walks in York have quickly become a fun way to spend an hour or 20 in the evenings. Guided by entertaining and often very theatrical guides, they’ll take you on a tour of York, down some of the lesser known alleyways and gardens. Many of the walks start from the steps of York Minster so it’s easy to find a guide and join in with a group.Visit ghostwalkyork.co.uk for more on York ghost walks.

Ever been to a Quilt museum? No me neither, well you’re in luck as York has a fine collection of quilts and quilt making artifacts too. See quiltmuseum.org.uk for more info.

There are some fine mansions and houses to visit in the area around York as well. Our picks are Barley Hall, Fairfax house and The Mansion House  which offers daily guided tours and stunning preserved mansion rooms

How to get there

From London and the South, by Train is the easiest way to arrive. York station is large with frequent trains to all parts of the UK including fast services from London Kings Cross station.

The nearest airports are Leeds Bradford airport about 45 minutes away and Manchester Airport which is 2 hours away. There are regular buses from most major cities around York.

By car you can access York via the M1 Motorway which connects London to Leeds. York is just 15 minutes from the motorway on the A64. It takes around 4 hours to drive from London to York.

Best time of year to visit York

The summer months are the busiest so expect crowds especially on sunny days when the British are out in force. Spring is a great time to visit too. The city attractions are open all year round so any time of year is a great time to visit York.