York is one of England’s most charming cities. Visiting the city is like stepping back into the Medieval Age, with its beautiful winding streets, magnificent cathedral, and imposing stone walls. It’s a joy to walk around the city, but to guarantee an enjoyable holiday, you should include some fun activities on your itinerary.
Here are some things to do in York.
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1. Walk Around York Centre
York’s city centre is home to cobblestone streets overlooked by the Gothic-style York Minster Cathedral. Walking around the city centre is a great introduction to this beautiful city. The city centre is also home to some attractions worth a stop.
Since Roman times, York has been a walled city, although the striking stone walls surrounding the city centre have been around since the 12th and 14th Centuries, about the same time as the York Minster. These walls remain in good condition and walking through the ramparts around the city centre is one of the most popular things to do in York. The gatehouses are impressive, especially the Micklegate Bar at the south end. When you come here on rainy days, be very careful when walking since the stones are very smooth and can get slippery.
Yorkshire is famous for its beautiful gardens, and the York Museum Gardens are worth a stop as you explore the city centre. It’s a museum and a garden that contains the ruins of a medieval abbey, an ancient hospital, and an art gallery. The museum showcases items dedicated to the history of Yorkshire, dating back to when dinosaurs first roamed the area.
2. Jorvik Viking Centre
One of York’s most popular attractions is the Jorvik Viking Centre, a museum that will take you to when York was under Danish rule. Visiting the museum is a fantastic way to delve into York’s Scandinavian past. It gives a snapshot of life during the Viking times.
Inside the Jorvik Viking Centre, you’ll find moving carriages, ancient artefacts, and life-size dioramas that you will feel like you are taking a real trip back in time! Every February, the centre organises the Viking Festival, going a step further by bringing the dioramas into life.
When going to the Jorvik Viking Centre, come early to avoid the long queues since it’s a busy and popular place. You could spend around 30 to 90 minutes exploring the entire museum. Established in 1984, the museum is run by the York Archaeological Trust.
3. York Minster
The York Minster is another place that’s worth a stop as you explore the centre of York. At 235 feet, this Gothic-style cathedral dominates the old part of the city. Everywhere you go in York, you can catch a glimpse of the magnificent cathedral. But to truly admire its magnificence, you need to see it up close.
If you have the energy, climb the 275 steps to the central tower, where you will find the rooftop gargoyles. From here, admire the stunning views of the historical streets of the York City Centre. If you’re lucky, you could spot a peregrine falcon happily nesting next to the gargoyles. For visitors afraid of heights, step inside the cathedral, wander around, admire the magnificence of its interior, and enjoy the sense of peace the cathedral provides. Don’t forget to check out the stained-glass windows, the sparkling artefacts, and the carved stones.
Check out the Undercroft Museum, which houses 2,000 years of York’s history and is the only accredited museum in a cathedral in the country. Here, you’ll find the remains of a Roman barracks and learn about York’s Viking connection. The museum is also interactive, making the experience even more enjoyable.
4. Yorkshire Air Museum
The Yorkshire Air Museum is a unique museum dedicated to preserving the memory of allied aircrews of all nations, starting in World War I up until the present day. It is housed on the authentic WWII Bomber Command base.
Experience the incredible atmosphere of this unique attraction whilst admiring the fascinating displays, including a restored Control Tower, superb Bomber Command exhibition, Airborne Forces Display, and more! The scenic Memorial Gardens offer a wonderful place to relax and reflect on the lives of those who fought for the nation.
The exhibition of Pioneers of Aviation features the work of aviation’s famous figures with links to Yorkshire, including Robert Blackburn, Sir George Cayley, and Sir Barnes Wallis. In March 2016, the museum launched the fascinating exhibition of Gas Bags to Super Zeppelins, showcasing the development of lighter-than-air flights and the use of airships during World War I. After exploring the museum, relax at the cafe inside the museum, which serves hot and cold meals and refreshing drinks.
5. Visit the Dales
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is rugged and wild, a place of extreme beauty. Set in more than 680 miles of land area, it is the second largest national park within the Lake District and welcomes more than three million visitors annually.
Perfect for day trippers, cyclists, hikers, and campers, the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales offer something for everyone. Aside from the vast expanse of hiking trails that the Dales have, you can visit an activity centre where you can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities, from mountain biking to caving, motorcycling, and abseiling. To truly enjoy everything that the park offers, consider spending a night or two at the park. You will find several glamping options in the North Yorkshire Dales around Yok. These glamping sites have facilities to make your stay in the Dales even more relaxing.
Cycling is a fun activity in the Yorkshire Dales. Having a great network of small roads and terrains lending itself to mountain biking, the Yorkshire Dales is a true haven for cyclists. There are also family-friendly routes, perfect for families with little kids. Aside from cycling, you can enjoy other fun activities with your kids in the Yorkshire Dales. Take them to Holme Open Farm, a charming farm showcasing the traditional working Dales farm. Set between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Lake District National Park, the farm offers opportunities for kids to feed the animals.