York is a fascinating city to explore, and because of its size, you can see most of the key tourist attractions in just a few days. We visited during the August bank holiday in 2018 and had an incredible time, so I thought I’d share my top 8 things to do on a weekend there.
Disclaimer: all links to official attraction websites are here to make it easier for you to book your trip. I am not sponsored by them.
1. Buy a Jorvik Pastport
For just £20 an adult, you can gain entry to five fascinating York attractions. At opposite ends of the city walls, you’ll find the Richard III and Henry IV experiences, two mini museums that tell the story of the key figures in the Wars of the Roses. The Jorvik Viking Centre is a ride that tells the story of the Viking age city and Barley Hall is a giant medieval house. DIG is aimed more for children and gives them an opportunity to be bite size archaeologists.
I skipped on DIG, as we were a couple in our twenties and I thought we might look a little strange there, but I love history and culture, and this was the very first thing I bought in the city. As you can see, we had a great time!
2. Indulge in York’s Chocolate Story
This is by far one of the best York attractions, or attractions anywhere. At a £12.50 bargain price tag, you can take a tour through the history of chocolate in the UK. Be prepared to taste chocolate in every room you enter, and this is the only place I’ve ever been able to munch on 10 minute old fondant filled chocs! You can definitely tell the difference between fresh and packaged chocolate. You also end your tour by making your own chocolate lolly, so you can leave with a delicious souvenir too.
If you still haven’t had enough of the brown stuff, there’s more chocolate in the cafe on the ground floor of the tour.
Book your tour here
3. Hit the Comedy club
If you are making your way to York on the last weekend of the month, you can make your way down into the basement of City Screen Picturehouse for an intimate evening of booze and belly laughs!
We saw three absolutely smashing comedians in a room that seated no more than fifty people, although luckily, we weren’t picked to be torn to shreds by the acts. One of the comedians was a musician, and we did decide to purchase one of his CDs which kept us giggling on the drive home.
4. Take a solemn trip to York Minster
The cathedral that stands watch over the city and the north of England is well worth making a visit to. Even if you aren’t a big believer, the 7th century architecture is magnificent to look at from the outside. There are also a number of tours you could take, but it’s worth buying tickets online in advance.
Take a look here
5. Walk the city walls
Something free on this list is the trek around the city walls. It’s roughly 2 miles of stone, offering superb views of the city with some hidden surprises on the way. Keep an eye out for the red boards full of information on your route!
6. Ride the National Railway Museum
Another of the free York attractions is the National Railway Museum, which displays a range of artefacts from full royal steam trains to Japanese bullet trains. The museum is much bigger than it looks and has that wonderful oil smell throughout.
My favourite part of the museum was the workshop, where from a balcony, you could see the machinery and tools used to maintain the excellent condition of the locomotives. Any technology nerd would have a field day in this place.
Browse through the exhibitions here
7. Scout the shops
As well as the typical high street names, York has some of the quirkiest shops ever! Walk down the famous Shambles and break the bank to buy some delicious fresh fudge or quality souvenirs. You’ll also find three or four Harry Potter themed shops to browse, which is perfect for any Potterhead!
However, if you’re popping into this part of the city, be prepared to stand in a few lines or dodge a hundred people. I was amazed at how busy this one street was!
8. Grab some grub
My favourite part of any trip is trying new restaurants. There are hundreds of bars and restaurants in the city, many of them chains, but I love trying to find independent places to eat. Here are a few places you should try.
It’s a shame I found out about this restaurant after our trip to York. Chloe, a travel blogger and York local – so you know she’s an expert – reviewed The Go Down Restaurant on her blog, and I can say, just reading it made my mouth water. Read what she had to say about it here.
At lunch time on the first day exploring the city, we were starving, so entered the nearest place to eat: Sutlers Bar and Kitchen. When I saw that they did a meat sharing platter, I knew what we were buying. It was delicious and certainly filled a hole.
My last recommendation is Piccolino. On a rammed Saturday night during the York Races, the staff managed to seat us despite not having a reservation. Their menu is diverse, our food was great quality, and the staff were friendly and welcoming. They rescued what could have been a disastrous night!
I hope you have a wonderful time exploring York, and if you need a little more inspiration, check out Chloe’s blog – Imjustagirl16.co.uk – for some expert ideas and advice.
Perhaps you want to explore the Yorkshire area a little more. Here are some more locations worth a visit.