York is a city that demands many visits to take in its dazzling array of attractions and historic sites. From the great Gothic Minster to the elevated Clifford’s Tower, this is a Yorkshire city packed with historic sites guaranteed to offer fascinating days out. Archaeological gems from the Viking, Roman, Norman and Medieval periods have all been unearthed in York. The city is a major historic centre much fought over across the centuries. The result today is a legacy of York attractions featuring spectacular architecture from many periods.
York also has some beautiful parks and a top European racecourse, home of the famous annual Yorkshire Ebor Festival. Check out our list of York attractions not to be missed.
York Minster is York’s top visitor attraction with an architectural interior which will take your breath away! Open daily to visitors, the Minster hosts regular events and concerts. Choose from a selection of themed tours and ticket options to suit all. For some of the best panoramic views of the city centre the Tower Tour is a ‘must do’.
The great mound of Clifford’s Tower in the heart of York stretches back to William the Conqueror. This is all that’s left of the original Norman motte and bailey castle. Tours are self-guided and you can climb right to the top of the tower to walk around the open-air wall walk. It’s well worth the climb for more spectacular views of the city. The open-air wall walk was once a major lookout point for castle guards. The Tower has also served as a prison and some notable names have been jailed here including highwayman Dick Turpin!
Merchant Adventurers’ Hall
The Grade I Listed Merchant Adventurer’s Hall on Fossgate is still unbelievably one of the lesser known York attractions. Welcome to one of the world’s finest original medieval guild halls which has an unbroken tradition of entrepreneurship spanning nearly 700 years. Inside you’ll discover the magnificent Great Hall, the Undercroft and the 15th Century Chapel. A popular coffee house open to all is also inside, and this venue hosts many high profile events and fairs including regular York Vintage Fairs which attract visitors from far and wide. Find out what’s happening soon at beautiful Merchant Adventurer’s Hall.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Rowntree Park along the banks of the River Ouse. The park is a short walk from the city centre and covers 30 acres. It’s a major centre in York for events and entertainment. Facilities include cafes, a children’s play area, tennis courts and a skate park. If you’re visiting York with your dog, Rowntree is a great spot for walking, and a woodland walk and tree trails are onsite.
York Racecourse was voted Flat Racecourse of the Year Award winner in a recent Times newspaper survey of UK racecourses. Its history stretches right back to Roman and Viking times and today the course offers an exciting programme of racing fixtures from May to October annually. The most famous of these is the Yorkshire Ebor Festival in August. You’ll also find premier conference, wedding and hospitality facilities onsite.
York City Walls & Micklegate Bar
York City Walls, or Bar Walls, are one of the best free York attractions and The York City Walls Trail is open from around 8am until dusk each day. For new visitors the Trail is a great introduction to the city and the entire wall walk takes around 2 hours.
A popular starting point is Bootham Bar and then start walking clockwise. The walls mostly date from the 13th Century and they are England’s longest town walls. Visit in March and April to see the beautiful displays of daffodils on the wall ramparts!
Spectacular sites along the Trail include Micklegate Bar, one of York’s main medieval gates. For many centuries the severed heads of traitors were put on display here.
The River Ouse
The River Ouse flowing through York not only has a rich history stretching back to the times the Roman’s navigated it, today it offers a choice of boat trips. Many visitors appreciate the wonderful nature and wildlife along its river banks, and river bank paths are popular with walkers and cyclists. The Ouse actually meets the River Foss in the centre. Rowntree Park flanks the riverside making it easy to head to the park from the city centre via a scenic riverside walk.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.
Travel tips and tourist information
With so many beautiful and wonderful places to visit in the UK, how do you go about choosing the right one for you? We've got the lowdown on all the best places to visit, experience and enjoy and expert knowledge to make sure you're getting the best out of your UK holiday.