York is a fantastic place for a day or weekend trip. It’s easily accessible by road and rail, which is why so many people from all over the UK come to see its wonderful sights and attractions. Whether you’re getting the train to York from London or driving from a little closer by, here are some of the best activities to enjoy during your stay.

Marvel at York Minster

One of the most iconic landmarks of the city is its cathedral. York Minster is one of the finest examples of Medieval architecture and the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. It’s an imposing structure, with intricate stained glass windows and stunning structural features.

Standing outside and admiring the huge structure is an activity on its own, but there are unguided and guided tours available that you can book on your way in.

Walk the impressive City Walls

York is famously a walled city, with its defenses some of the most complete and impressive in England. The majority of the remaining walls date back to the Medieval period, but some sections of ruin still stand from the time of Roman occupation.

The walk around the city walls is a couple of miles long and is a great, FREE experience if you’re looking for something to fill a morning or afternoon. York Castle sits within them and can be an interesting addition to your tour.

Venture down Shambles

This charming street is a popular attraction for tourists from around the world. Shambles is one of the best-preserved shopping streets dating back to medieval times, with charismatic cobbled streets and peculiar architecture.

It’s claimed to be the inspiration behind Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies and has a few themed shops to give you a taste of life in the HP universe. Browse confectionary shops, cosy cafes and a range of other retail offerings.

Experience the Jorvik Viking Centre

Get a Viking experience unlike any other in the heart of York. You’ll be exploring the site of the Viking Age city that stood nearly a millennium ago when the Norse invaders conquered much of England. York gets its name from the Viking city, Jorvik, which they made their own for over 100 years.

This attraction takes you back in time with a mix of archaeological remnants, clever recreations and engaging exhibitions to bring the experience to life. Don’t miss your chance to immerse yourself in Viking-conquered England.

Visit the National Railway Museum

A fantastic and FREE option is the National Railway Museum, perfect for the whole family and train enthusiasts alike. Journey back through British and global locomotive history and learn more about the engineering and ingenuity behind our rail systems. 

It’s the largest railway museum in the world and houses one of the most impressive collections. Get up close and personal with some of the most famous trains throughout history, including the fastest-ever steam train, Mallard, and the only bullet train to be found outside of Japan.

You can risk turning up on the day or book your free admission in advance to avoid disappointment.