Despite the fact that Yorkshire has long been divided into four counties, York remains the capital of this picturesque area of Northern England. It is also the Church of England’s ecclesiastical capital, with the Archbishop of York ranking second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Lord Mayor of this historic city has the same standing as his counterpart in London, and the Duke of York title is bestowed to Britain’s sovereign’s second oldest son.
The city is brimming with exciting activities and sights that show the many facets of its ancient history. York Minster, England’s biggest mediaeval church, is also located here. A convenient hop-on, hop-off touring bus covers the majority of the major tourist attractions.
One of the reasons York remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in England is that it has the country’s longest circuit of ancient city walls, covering nearly three miles and providing spectacular views of the city. Walking the walls should be high on your list of things to do in New York.
Read through our list of the best tourist attractions in York for more fantastic ideas about these and other areas of interest to visit in this beautiful part of England.
York Minster, also known as the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, honours the monks who converted those living in the surrounding area to Christianity.
York Minster’s bishops even sat on the council at Arles in AD 314, despite being dedicated to St. Peter. Following this, little is known until AD 627, when the first attested (wooden) church was erected here for King Edwin of Northumbria’s baptism.
Following Saxon and Norman structures were demolished, and the current Gothic cathedral was erected in the 13th century.
Seeing the Minster’s stunning stained-glass windows, particularly the Pilgrimage Window, is a highlight of each trip.
The window, which dates from around 1312 and sits above a beautiful dragon’s head, displays Peter surrounded by pilgrims, as well as strange features like as a monkey’s burial.
The Treasury, with its interactive exhibits depicting the building’s rich history from its Roman beginnings to the present, is also worth a visit.
The exhibits comprise nearly 2,000 years of fascinating objects discovered nearby that give insight into the cathedral’s vital function throughout the centuries.
If you like heights, you may reach the city’s highest point, York Minster’s majestic mediaeval Central Tower, by climbing 230 feet up 275 stairs.
Along the journey, you’ll get up up and personal with some of the cathedral’s most intriguing ornamental elements, such as its pinnacles and gargoyles. Once outdoors, all of your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views of York’s mediaeval city centre.
A walk through York’s ancient city walls will leave you with a lasting image of this lovely city. The fortifications, which were mostly built in the 14th century, include some of the city’s ancient Roman features and stretch for three kilometres.
Walmgate Bar, Monk Bar, and Bootham Bar, all with their original portcullis, as well as Micklegate Bar with its three knights, have been maintained.
The wall between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar provides spectacular views of York Minster. If you have time, visit the Richard III Experience in Monk Bar and the Henry VII Experience in Micklegate Bar.
These two top York attractions provide an intriguing look into the life of two of England’s most well-known mediaeval rulers.
York’s Monk Bar and Micklegate Bar.
York Castle, located between Fishergate and Skeldergate Bridges, was built of wood by the Normans in 1068. Clifford’s Tower is the oldest section still standing.
It was named after Roger de Clifford, who was murdered here in 1322 as the head of the Lancastrian faction, and was built in the 13th century as a replacement for the timber fortification.
The tower was also notorious for being the location where the king would show individuals he had killed. Today, the tower is well-known for its breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Picnic areas are offered, as well as a gift shop.
York’s Tower Street is the location.
York Castle Museum, built on the site of the mediaeval castle, provides a fascinating glimpse into the English way of life over the ages. Kirkgate, a precise reconstruction of a Victorian street replete with stores; Toy Stories, a history of children’s toys; and a Victorian parlour and 17th-century dining room are among the highlights.
The Cells at the ancient Debtors Prison is another intriguing display. The old Condemned Cell, previously held by highwayman Dick Turpin, is a highlight of each visit.
In truth, the location has been a prison for more than 1,000 years, with the York Crown Court still keeping prisoners accused of major crimes.
Following that, make sure to search the museum’s database of former inmates and victims dating back hundreds of years for any mention of family!
York is the location of the Eye of York.
The Shambles, a tiny 14th-century alley with magnificent overhanging timber-framed houses, is one of York’s most popular tourist attractions.
The neighbourhood was once known as “The Great Flesh Shambles” because of its many butcher shops and stalls (meat hooks can still be seen outside many store fronts), but it is now a mix of businesses, restaurants, tearooms, and boutiques.
The Shambles also has five of York’s interesting Snickelways. This network of little streets and meandering walkways links the ancient city and is a joy to explore, especially during the city’s annual Christmas Festival, when the streets are lighted up.
The Jorvik Viking Centre in Coppergate chronicles the daily lives of Vikings in 9th-century York, or “Jorvik.” The complex, which is built atop the remnants of 1,000-year-old wooden buildings, contains reproductions of Viking residences and mediaeval workshops.
The museum also conducts on- and off-site reenactments, as well as chances for young and old to dress up and pretend to be Vikings (without, of course, any of the pillaging).
If at all possible, try to time your visit to coincide with the center’s annual Viking Festival, which takes place in February.
The National Railway Museum houses a large collection of locomotives and carriages ranging from 1820 to the present.
A Victorian postal train from 1838, turn-of-the-century freight and steam trains, and luxury Edwardian Pullman cars are among the numerous exhibits in the Great Hall, which is designed up like an old-fashioned railway station.
A collection of Royal Trains, including carriages originally used by Queen Victoria, is also on exhibit. If feasible, attempt to arrange your visit to coincide with one of the facility’s daily demonstrations of its historic turntable for a close-up view at how these gigantic machines were spun around.
The museum also has about a million items. The collection contains posters, drawings, and over 1,000 hours of unique recordings linked to Britain’s rich railway heritage. Because entry is free, this attraction is the finest free thing to do in York (guided tours are available for a fee).
Castle Howard is a scenic 30-minute drive northeast of York. Castle Howard, set within 1,000 acres of parkland and magnificently adorned with antiquities and treasures, is without a doubt one of England’s most stunning country estates.
This beautiful Palladian palace, which served as the setting for the classic TV drama Brideshead Revisited, was designed by dramatist-turned-architect John Vanbrugh for the third Earl of Carlisle.
Its several magnificent rooms are filled with paintings and sculptures, antique furniture and costumes, and rare vases and statues. The grounds are grand in grandeur, containing a spectacular family tomb, an obelisk, a pyramid, and the exquisite Temple of the Four Winds.
And, of course, there’s the magnificent fountain in front of the home, ideal for the ultimate “selfie.” Feeling peckish? There are three terrific cafés (plus a coffee shop) on-site, each providing a delicious afternoon tea.
In addition to its outstanding geology and natural history collections, the Yorkshire Museum has several valuable Roman and Anglo-Saxon archaeological objects.
It’s also the location of the 1,000-year-old Cawood Sword, the world’s best preserved Viking weapon. St. Mary’s Abbey houses a collection of mediaeval sculptures and kitchenware.
Spend some time at the beautiful – and free – Museum Gardens. This lovely park, which spans 10 acres in the centre of the old city, is home to more than 40 kinds of birds, as well as trees, shrubs, and flowers, all beneath the ruined walls and arches of the ancient St. Mary’s Abbey.
The gardens have recently been enlarged to include an Edible Wood and an Artists Garden, an outdoor gallery with rotating exhibits.
York’s Museum Gardens are located on Museum Street.
The area around York Minster between Coney Street and King’s Square is a lively pedestrianised retail district known for its tiny cobbled alleyways and beautiful stores and cafés. It’s where you’ll discover the historic St. Helen’s Church, named for Emperor Constantine’s mother, and its 15th-century stained glass windows.
It is also the location of Lord Burlington’s planned Mansion House. It was constructed in 1725 and is currently the official house of the Lord Mayor. Barley Hall, a 14th-century townhouse that strives to offer a genuine glimpse at mediaeval life, is well worth a visit in Stonegate.
York’s address is 2 Coffee Yard.
Spend some time exploring the banks of the Ouse River, which divides York in two. Aside from its many gorgeous gardens, there are also outstanding examples of riverbank architecture, like as the stately 15th-century Guildhall.
Another fantastic way to see York is to take a river trip, either in an all-weather passenger boat or on a self-drive motor boat. In the summer, cruises frequently visit Bishopthorpe Palace, the Archbishop of York’s riverfront retreat.
St. Martin-le-Grand in Coney Street, with its lovely combination of mediaeval and contemporary architecture, and St. Michael’s in Spurriergate, with its 12th-century arcades, glass paintings, and stunning 18th-century altarpiece, are two of York’s most beautiful churches.
St. Mary’s in Bishophill Junior, with its Saxon tower and Temple Moore altar; St. Denys’ in Walmgate, with 14th-century stained-glass windows; St. Margaret’s (also in Walmgate), with its Roman doorway and tower; and the charming little Trinity Church (14th century) in Goodramgate, with its small garden.
North Street’s All Saints Church, built in the 15th century, is noteworthy for its stained-glass windows.
Beverley, a charming mediaeval market town in the foothills of the East Yorkshire Wolds, is only 29 miles from York.
The majestic Beverley Minster, a 334-foot-long church made even more renowned for its starring role as a stand-in for London’s Westminster Abbey in the blockbuster TV series Queen Victoria, is its most well-known landmark.
Its magnificent Romanesque marble font and the Maiden’s Tomb are notable attractions. The choir is a beautiful example of Early English architecture, with the most misericords in England in its choir-stalls (1520). (68).
Other activities in Beverley include visiting St. Mary’s, a cross-shaped church built in the 12th century, and attending the Beverley Early Music Festival in May, which celebrates both early music and the town’s architectural legacy.
Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, 38 Highgate
The Yorkshire Wolds Way, which is part of the National Trail Network, runs through the beautiful landscape of the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds, rising to heights of up to 800 feet in places.
This roughly 80-mile track stretches from Filey on the North East Coast near Scarborough south to Hull.
You may stop at lovely B&Bs or well-equipped campsites along the route (the entire path takes six days to complete) or only see one or two attractions, such as the deserted mediaeval town of Wharram Percy.