York is one of the prettiest Cities in England (Or at least in our eyes!) and it’s certainly our favourite city to visit when we’re home. Old buildings, little unique coffee shops and beautiful walks, there isn’t much else you would want from an old English city. If you’re planning your first ever trip to York, here’s everything you need to know and activities you absolutely cannot miss while you’re there!
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Chocolate… what more can I say! Spend an hour walking around their museum-style factory and learn everything there is to know about chocolate. You’ll see where coco-beans come from and even be able to taste chocolate in its raw form. Discover England’s old chocolate brands, see how the designs and flavours have changed before taking the opportunity to make your very own bar!
On the door entrance is £13.50 per adults and £11 per child but if you buy a York City Pass, entrance is included.
The Shambles is one of Yorks best preserved historic streets. These narrow winding road (foot-traffic only now) dates back to 14th-crentury England when this street would have been mostly butchers… if you look up, you’ll see most shops still have the original butchers hooks on the walls! If you find yourself wondering why the buildings here are wonky, it wasn’t s huge mistake by the builders – it served a purpose back then! They were built this way to stop the hanging meat from being in the sunshine! The Shambles is a great way to get a glimpse at what England used to be like.
Jorvik Viking Centre
I’ve lost count of how many time’s I’ve been here! As a child, we would make a beeline for here (and Castle Museum – more on that next!), it didn’t matter when our last visit was. The Jorvik Viking Centre will take you back to York during the Viking period. They have used discoveries from archeological sites around York to put together interactive displays to help teach visitors about the Norse People who called Jorvik (York) Home. It’s a museum kids will never tire of – trust me on that one.
Adult prices start from £15.50 which includes 12 months entrance. For $£20 however, you can buy a PastPort which will give you entrance to all 5 of Jorviks attractions, including the Henry VII + Edward III experiences and DIG – An immersive Archeological Exprience.
Another attraction that I have never tired of and another way to submerge yourself in history. Inside the Castle Museum you will find fully a functioning Victorian Street – Kirkgate Street – which has been designed to let visitors dive completely into English life as it once was. See how the police stations, banks, schools and shops used to look as well as how the rich and poor used to live.
That isn’t all Castle Museum has to offer though. There’s also heaps of exhibitions that show how things have changed over the years, Toys from your grandparents era are alive and well here, as is the technology they grew up with. It’s a great museum to get lost in and one I can easily spend all day walking around.
Castle Museum is free to enter but please remember they run on the generous donations of visitors. Without these contributions, they wouldn’t be able to stay opperating.
I both love and hate York Dungeon. It’s a fascinating place to walk around but if you’re not fond of jump-scares and all things gory, this might not be the place for you. If that’s exactly the kind of York Attraction you’re looking for then you’re in for a treat.
With the use of actors, York Dungeon delves into the cities past to bring tourists a live reply of historic life in York. You’ll come face to face with Yorks most notorious criminals and heroes. The stories told here include the battle of roses, the secrets from the Shambles and the historic tales of Guy Falks. Off all the things to do in York, the York Dungeons offer perhaps the best experience when it comes to learning about English history.
Adult tickets start from £17 on the door but there are special offers for online bookings (reduced to £14) and Sunday bookings (reduced to £12), so it certainly pays to book in advance. They also offer a SeaLife combo for £21 which gives you access to Scarborough’s SeaLife.
From the top of the hill you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city centre, york minster and even the Yorkshire Moors on a clear day. After the previous timber building was burned down in 1190, the famous stone building that we all know and love was erected in the 13th-centrury to be used as government storage before later being turned into a prison. It’s the largest remaining part of York Castle and possibly the cities most famous attraction. No visit to York is complete without at least walking to the top of the hill.
Entrance to Clifford’s Tower is £4.50 per adult. If you’re travelling around England for a while and intend to visit lots of historic places (I highly recommend it, this country is full of history) you can buy an overseas visitors pass from the English Heritage site for £44pp which will give you access to all of England’s iconic locations – including Stonehenge – for 16 days. For UK residents it’s £105 a year (per couple)
We hope this list of our favourite things to do in York has given you some inspiration for your first trip! This city is so full of English History, I really wish it was on more tourists itineraries for England! Are there any of these York attractions you had never heard of before? Let us know in the comments which you’re most likely to visit.
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