30+ Things to do and see in York 2024: A Guide of the Best Bits
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Things to do and see in York 2024: A Guide to the Historic City

York landscape

Tucked safely within its ancient stone walls, the city of York is flooded with rich history, vibrant culture and plenty of things to do. Whilst camping in York, you can expect to see the city's iconic landmarks, walk along cobblestone streets and hear plenty of ghost stories that are lurking around the city.

Whether you’re travelling with your partner, family, friends, canine companion, or you’re on a solo adventure, you’ll find something for everyone with our list of spectacular things to do in York.

Quick links:

York Travel Information | Where to Stay | Walking Tours and Trails | Museums and Art Galleries | Cruises | York Attractions | Places to Eat and Drink

Quick fire facts about York:

Size: 33.7 square kilometres

Population: 141,671

Tourism numbers: Approximately 8.9 million a year

York travel information

There are plenty of ways to get in and around York. Whether you enjoy walking, cycling, catching public transport or driving, you’ll easily be able to navigate your way around the city.

Getting to York

York directions

Driving: York sits between Edinburgh and London, and whether you’re getting to York in a caravan, motorhome, campervan or car, the city is within a comfortable driving distance for most regions in the UK. Here are some useful drive times for reaching York:

  • London to York: 3 hours and 50 minutes (210 miles)
  • Newcastle to York: 1 hour and 47 minutes (87 miles)
  • Cardiff to York: 4 hours and 23 minutes (250 miles)
  • Liverpool to York: 2 hours (102 miles)
  • Bristol to York: 3 hours and 53 minutes (223 miles)
  • Manchester to York: 1 hour and 34 minutes (73 miles)
  • Edinburgh to York: 4 hours and 12 minutes (210 miles)
  • Glasgow to York: 3 hours and 56 minutes (211 miles)
  • Birmingham to York: 2 hours and 26 minutes (134 miles)

Train: Getting to York via train is super simple and great value for money. Plan your journey using Trainline, where you can find direct trains from cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle to York train station. A quick insight into how quickly it’ll take you to catch a train into York is below.

  • London to York: 1 hour and 50 minutes
  • Newcastle to York: 55 minutes
  • Cardiff to York: 4 hours and 35 minutes
  • Liverpool to York: 2 hours and 13 minutes
  • Bristol to York: 4 hours
  • Manchester to York: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Edinburgh to York: 2 hours and 23 minutes
  • Glasgow to York: 3 hours and 24 minutes
  • Birmingham to York: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Coach: National Express runs services from many cities in the UK and stops at York Coach Station. You’ll get to enjoy a scenic journey full of English history.

Bike: You can bring your bike with you on your train ride (although you may need to reserve a spot in advance) or cycle to York via the National Cycle Network routes 65 and 66.

Travelling in and around York

York is a great place to get your steps in and tour the city on foot. There are plenty of public transport links within York, so if you’re feeling tired, hop on one of the many bus services and get to your destination quicker. Click here for bus routes around York, timetables and more.

Where to stay in York

Hardstanding pitches at Sheriff Hutton Campsite

We have over 40 campsites in and around York that make for the perfect stay. Two popular Club Sites include;

Both campsites are perfect for all units, and they have public transport links less than a mile from the campsite. So you can pitch up your unit and kickstart your adventure around York immediately.

Explore York on foot


You’ll have to get your walking boots out for this adventure. Whilst visiting York, you can book a guided or self-guided tour before you set off on your journey or perhaps be spontaneous and enjoy getting lost in the historic city. Some highly recommended walks include:

The Shambles

Introducing York’s most famous street, one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe and an absolute hit with Harry Potter fans. Visiting the Shambles is a great way to kick off your York adventure, as there’s plenty to do and see in this 400-foot stretch. Visit quaint cafes, bars, boutiques, and The Shop That Must Not Be Named.

Whilst walking through the Shambles, keep an eye out for the hooks at the front of shops. These were once used to hang meat. You’ll also notice how the upper storeys of the building overhang throughout the street. This was so tenants could have larger living spaces and avoid paying extra for taking up room on the street. It was also done to protect the stores and the meat hanging outside from rain and the scorching hot sun.

York City Walls

Dive into the city's history on a walk around York’s City Walls. The wall is roughly 3.4km long and takes 2 hours to walk around. On this walk, you’ll come across four medieval fortified gateways known as ‘bars’, two smaller gateways with modern stonework and one postern, a very small gateway defended by a tower.

You’ll also see many famous sites during your walk, including:

Walking ghost tours

You don't have to wait for Halloween to go on a spooky adventure. York has been labelled ‘the most haunted city in Europe’, and you’ll get to meet the ghosts of York throughout the year with the city's resident ghost walks and tours. You’ll walk through thousands of years of history, uncover frightening stories, and discover the city's folklore and legends.

York’s Murder Mystery Trail

Many crime mysteries are set within the four walls of York, and now it’s your turn to solve them. Take part in an immersive murder mystery walk where you’ll explore the city, finding clues, listening to spooky legends and solving puzzles.

The York Cat Trail

If you love cats, this one’s for you. The history of the cats in York dates back to 1920 when Sir Stephen Aitcheson placed two on one of his buildings. Allegedly, the purpose of these cats was to scare off mice, but most believe he just really liked cats. After that, cat statues started cropping up around the city, and now you can take a walking tour to spot them.

Start your free walking trail at The Cat Gallery, and see if you can spot all 22 cats. On your way, you’ll stroll past the York Museum Gardens and walk on the city walls, where you’ll find great views of York Minster.

3 fun facts about York

1. Remember, remember the 5th of November. A day marked in many of our calendars as Bonfire Night stems from Guy Fawkes – A man famous for attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Guy Fawkes has strong links with York as he was born in the city on the 13th of April 1570. You can visit The Guy Fawkes Inn near York Minster to hear the tales.

2. The city of York is the UK’s chocolate capital and home to some famous confectionery. One of the most famous chocolate companies that was founded in York by Henry Isaac Rowntree was Rowntree's. Although you may now know them for their fruit-tasting sweets (such as Fruit Pastilles and Jelly Tots), Rowntree's were the creators of iconic chocolate bars such as KitKat and Aero.

3. York is considered to be one of the world’s most haunted cities. It has a gory history of conflict and murder, and so with the terror comes the ghosts that never leave. There are over 500 ghosts in the city, including those of Roman soldiers.

Museums and art galleries in York

York museum

With so much rich history surrounding York, you won't want to miss the city's captivating museums and art galleries. You’ll travel back in time to get a feel for life during the Roman and Viking eras. Some must-see museums and art galleries include:

Yorkshire Museum

As one of the earliest purpose-built museums in York, the Yorkshire Museum takes you on a journey through time. Explore the many exhibitions, including Yorkshire’s Jurassic World, Medieval York, Roman York, and The Ryedale Hoard.

The Yorkshire Museum is located in the York Museum Gardens, where you can walk around and take in the peaceful atmosphere, see an array of wildlife and explore historic features such as the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, the Multangular Tower, the Roman Column and parts of the Roman Wall.

York Castle Museum

If you could travel back for a day, what would life look like? Well, you won't have to wonder anymore as the York Castle Museum takes you back several decades, allowing you to walk through York's dimly lit streets, meet interesting characters and explore the rebuilt Victorian roads. You’ll hear horses trotting, smell intriguing scents (some more pleasant than others) and step into shops replicated from historical records. Tailors, hat makers, confectioners and chemists are just some of the many you’ll see along the way.

Depending on when you visit the York Castle Museum, you can check out what's on and book an exhibition. There are plenty to choose from throughout the year, including Mechanical Marvels, York Castle Prison, 1914: When the World Changed Forever and Toy Stories.

Jorvik Viking Centre

Are you curious to know more about the Vikings? For over 30 years, the Jorvik Viking Centre has welcomed visitors from around the world to share their immersive experiences. You can hop on a ride and visit the reconstructed city of Jorvik, which is filled with 360-degree views of scenes from the Viking age. You can also visit their state-of-the-art gallery, which displays significant artefacts from the Viking age.

National Railway Museum

Perfect for the whole family, the National Railway Museum allows you to explore the past, present and future of railways and phenomenal engineering. You’ll see inventions like the Japanese Bullet Train and stand face-to-face with Mallard, the world’s fastest steam locomotive. This museum is free, and while camping in York, you can check out their ‘what’s on’ page to see if any workshops or exhibitions are cropping up.

More museums and art galleries in York

Cruise down the River Ouse 

River and boat ride

Discover York by boat on a sightseeing cruise of the River Ouse. You’ll see amazing sights around York, listen to the fascinating, and occasionally funny, captain's commentary and depending on what cruise you book, you’ll have access to onboard snacks and beverages.

York attractions

York minster

Whilst you wander the streets of York, make sure you stop off at these brilliant York attractions.

Ellers Farm Distillery

This state-of-the-art distillery is one of the largest in the country and aims to create incredible drinks in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. You can book a distillery tour before you visit and check out the magic behind the drinks.

York Minster

Although you’ll definitely come across views of York Minster whilst touring the city, there’s nothing quite like seeing it up close and personal. York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals that has been around since the 7th century. The medieval stained glass that reflects the life of Jesus and the carefully carved walls are a must-see on your visit.

York's Chocolate Story

Get ready for a sweet adventure at York’s Chocolate Story. You’ll uncover the history of chocolate, from its origins to how it came to York, and you can learn how York became the ‘home of chocolate’.

Depending on what time of year you visit the store, there are loads of chocolate-making events taking place, such as chocolate master classes, chocolate making with Santa, a truffle rolling tour and much more. If you’re short on time, still pop down and treat yourself to some freshly made chocolate or perhaps a blast from the past with some vintage chocolate.

Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park

The Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park is home to over 100 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The park is a great place to learn about these creatures and understand their habitats, as well as save them from becoming endangered or extinct. Before you visit, check out the park's ‘what’s on’ page to discover fun activities to do while visiting.

More attractions and things to do in York

Quirky and fun things to do in York

Cat in window

A trip to York is anything but ordinary. Check out these quirky and cool things to do in York.

The Cat Gallery

Treat yourself or a loved one to a puurfect gift at The Cat Gallery. You’ll find everything from unique gifts for cats to unique gifts of cats and everything in between.

The York Ghost Merchants

Fancy adopting a ghost? Or are you in for a spooky thrill? As you know, York is one of the most haunted cities in Europe and ghost stories have been told and shared for decades. At The York Ghost Merchants, each ghost on display is handmade and unique. It also has its own spirit, so make sure you pick the right one.

The Shop That Must Not Be Named

A familiar name to Harry Potter fans is The Shop That Must Not Be Named. This store sits on The Shambles (York's real Diagon Alley), and it’s the city's original and premier shop specialising in officially licensed Harry Potter merchandise. Take a look inside and explore the book collection, see which wand comes to you or treat yourself to some enchanted jewellery.

The Potions Cauldron

It's time to summon your inner witch or wizard and stir up some potions at The Potions Cauldron. Also located on England's oldest shopping street at 9¾ Shambles, this shop will teach you about the history of the World's Most Magical Drinks Emporium. You’ll get to visit the Secret Potion Room and try magical potion drinks, including slush potions (for junior wizards) and a poisonous option for more senior Wizards.

More quirky and fun things to do in York

Places to eat and drink in York

Tea party

After a day of exploring, you’ll want to put your feet up, sit back and relax at a cafe, restaurant or pub in York. Why not try freshly made Yorkshire puddings directly from York itself or drink like Viking's at one of the many pubs in York?

Here's a fun fact about York: The city has a pub for every day of the year. With over 365 pubs to choose from, it can be overwhelming, so we’ve listed the best pubs in York to make your options more manageable.

If you’re still after a feast fit for kings, attend the York Food and Drink Festival. This food festival is the largest in the UK, and it’s held annually in York. You’ll get to try a variety of locally sourced sweet and savoury dishes, pick up a skill or two at the live workshops and enjoy drinks with all your friends and family.

What's on in York

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