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The Ultimate York Travel Guide

York, where medieval architecture and modern culture combine with style.

Everyone knows the city is rich with cultural and historical abundance from bygone times, but not many realise that York has a wealth of boutique hotels, independent shops, restaurants, bars and a myriad of attractions for visitors to enjoy.

This ancient spider’s web of medieval streets and awe-inspiring architecture is a thriving cultural hub that pays homage to its heritage all the way. If you’re looking for a luxurious short break in the UK, York is guaranteed to deliver an unforgettable trip.

Here, we’ve put together the ultimate guide of the best York attractions, from where to visit, things to do and where to rest your weary head after a long day of being a history buff.

Places to visit in York

Need some sightseeing inspo? It’s time to get your history hat on. Here’s our pick of the best places to visit in York, from mind-blowing Gothic cathedrals to ancient, cobbled streets straight from the pages of Harry Potter.

Blue skies at York Minister in York

1. York Minster As the seat of the Archbishop of York, this stunning architectural masterpiece is one of Northern Europe's largest Gothic cathedrals – and a real beauty to behold. Decorated with beautiful stained glass, marvel at the immense detail of the Great East and West Windows, as well as the world-famous Rose Window that commemorates the 15th-century celebration of the end of the War of the Roses. Immerse yourself in York Minster's rich history as you explore the wonders of the Norman crypt and discover the depths of the Undercroft Museum and Treasury beneath the cathedral. And if the awe-inspiring interior isn't enough, why not climb the Central Tower for an unforgettable view of York in all its glory?

Historic shopping alleyway The Shambles in York

2. The Shambles No other place quite encapsulates the medieval magic of York like The Shambles – an ancient, cobbled street mentioned in the Domesday Book. Take a ramble along this stretch of history, explore its unique, boutique shops and admire how the upper storeys of the street’s 14th-century timber houses lean forward so far that they almost touch! In fact, you may not find it hard to believe that The Shambles is said to have served as the inspiration for the famous Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter film franchise.

Blue skies at Clifford’s Tower in York

3. Clifford’s Tower The iconic Clifford's Tower is a symbol of York's roots in the foundations of England's gruesome yet illustrious past. Built by William the Conqueror, Clifford's Tower is the largest surviving aspect of York Castle and is famous for its unique ‘quadrilobate’ design (that means four circles to you and us!)

Whilst this ancient, fortified mound and keep is all that remains of the Norman castle, there’s much to learn about its spine-chilling past. Plus, there’s no better vantage point to drink in breathtaking panoramic views of York than at the very top of the Tower. You can thank us later!

Things to do in York

Once you’ve had your history fix, it’s time to embrace the full cultural offering on display in York and discover why it deserves a top spot on your wanderlust list! From a fancy day at the York races, to a gravity-defying hot air balloon experience and a glitzy ride aboard the Northern Belle, York truly has something to inspire every visitor who loves to travel and explore.

Jockey’s racing on horses at York Racecourse in York

Classic Day at the Races for Two with Lunch

Giddy up and place your bets! The ultimate experience for horse-racing lovers and novices alike, soak up the atmosphere with a day at York Racecourse. Sip on your complimentary glass of fizz and settle into your seats with a fabulous view of the final furlong, before indulging in a delicious seafood or meat platter for lunch. Don’t forget your fascinator!

£129
(68)
ADelicious cakes and scones for afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie in York

Afternoon Tea for Two at Patisserie Valerie

After a morning well-spent exploring the charming streets of York, it’s time to rest your legs and enjoy a good cuppa and a slice of cake in the quaint surroundings of Patisserie Valerie. With a mouth-watering selection of finger fancies, from savoury sarnies to scones with jam and clotted cream, you’ll be spoiled for choice!

£25
(1922)
People tasting whisky at The Whisky Lounge in York

Whisky Tasting for Two at The Whisky Lounge

Quite the whisky connoisseur, are we? Say no more. Prepare for a heady, in-depth tasting session at The Whisky Lounge, where you’ll get to sample six delicious varieties of the good stuff, learning about the history and tasting notes of each dram. Think you can tell your Scotch from your Irish? It’s time to put your palate to the test and get ready to feel the burn!

£49
(44)
Waiter pouring champagne on the Northern Belle in York

Full Day Excursion with Brunch and Bellinis for One on the Northern Belle

A touch of 1920s glamour for you, ma’am? How about a complimentary Bellini, sir? With nostalgia by the bubbles-load, experience luxury rail travel at its very best aboard the Northern Belle train. Marvel at lush landscapes racing by your window from the comfort of your carriage on your full-day return trip, as you indulge in brunch with Bellinis and a delicious four-course meal with bubbles on the way back. After all, as the Great Gatsby may or may not have said, ‘a little party never hurt nobody.’

£370
Hot air balloon ride over Yorkshire

Weekday Hot Air Balloon Ride for Two

Feel like the true King or Queen of the North as you soar over the lush green landscapes of Yorkshire on this breathtaking hot air balloon flight experience for two. This magical adventure will take your trip (and relationship!) to new heights before you safely float back to the ground to enjoy a glass of cold Champagne after landing. Cheers!

£284
Golf pro teaching a golf lesson in York

60 Minute Golf Lesson with a PGA Professional

Score a hole in one with your golf-loving travel buddy on your trip to York with this intensive one-hour golf lesson with a PGA professional. Whether you’re looking to add distance to your drive or polish up on your putting skills, there’s never been a better excuse to work on your skills. Fore!

£65
(26)

Things to do in York with kids

Kids in tow? Don’t fret. York ticks off all the main wants for a wholesome and fun family escape as it’s both educational and exciting! Give yourself a self-five for such brilliant parenting. From hilarious ghost tours to outdoor adventures, York is sure to keep your little ones entertained and begging for more!

Explore York from the water

You’ve wandered the streets, climbed the Tower and braved the hot air balloon – it’s about time you saw York from the water, isn’t it? Float down the River Ouse in style with one of our memorable river cruise experiences. You’ll catch some of the best sights York has to offer, from the Millennium Bridge to Clifford’s Tower and maybe score some brownie points with your other half too!

Where to stay in York

Now you’ve packed your walking shoes and prepped yourself for a short break packed with culture and Champagne, it’s time to decide where you’ll be setting up camp on your trip to York. From chic hotels in the historic centre to luxurious manors in the surrounding Yorkshire countryside, you can book the perfect hideaway to suit your taste. Here’s our pick of the best of the best.