Visit York provided me with a complimentary York Pass to assist me in writing this article. As always, all recommendations remain my own. I only review activities I would happily pay for and inspire others to use on their own travels, whether I partner with a brand or pay for it during my visit.
Why You Should Take A York Tour
When it comes to charm and historic cities, York is where any traveler to the U.K. should be exploring. Dating back to 71AD, during the time of the Ancient Romans, York remains one of the oldest walled cities still standing today. It is located in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, just over 90 minutes train ride from London. (Which I wholeheartedly recommend as a transport option!)
This past April, on a whirlwind trip back to a country I called home for almost 2 years, I finally made it here for a York tour when I took the train from London to Glasgow – with an overnight stop in York. I can’t believe I waited so long to make it here! What a mistake that was – this is a diamond in the rough city that will make anyone appreciate history. It’s that impressive.
Now that I have been, I can honestly say that York is the perfect place to stop on any South-North train journey in the U.K. I am so glad I decided to do a proper stop in this picture perfect city – rather than just a day stop like I initially considered doing. This is one perfect town, steeped in history – and you will honestly love it!
A Tour Of York With The York Pass
Prior to my arrival in York, I knew that I would have a number of attractions to see – in a very short amount of time (I was there from lunchtime and left at 7am the following morning)! After researching the York Pass, I saw just how valuable this would be for any traveler that would be visiting York. I approached Visit York about using a York Pass while I was in town; so I could test it out and see what its value was like for those wanting to use it – even for just one day – rather than paying for individual admissions. And I am so glad I did.
Visit York provided me with tons of information and a pass which I used every chance I could during my stay; and I can wholly vouch for using this pass on your visit. As a traveler, this is such great value, no matter how many days you need it for. Had I not received it complimentary, I would have purchased this based on all the places I knew I had to see and pay admission for – all of which are included in this pass. It is a real money saver as the rest of this article will attest to!
Visit York are an awesome tourism board who truly want people to see, eat and explore their way through their city. I’ve seen a ton of city passes all over the world, and this pass truly covers everything one could want. It also offers dining discounts in York and travel discounts should you want to venture just outside York for even more sightseeing – though York has plenty to see!
-1 Day Pass: £42 Adults, £26 Children
-2 Day Pass: £60 Adults, £30 Children
-3 Day Pass: £70 Adults, £35 Children
-6 Day Pass: £130 Adults, £70 Children
For each of the attractions I feature, I will show you what I would have spent in 1 day, so you can see how much of a saving the York Pass actually was for what I saw – particularly for a first time visit where you need to ensure you see as much as possible!
Top Things To See In York (With The York Pass)
If you have a limited time frame for seeing things – or just want to make sure you visit all of the top attractions in York, these are the places that I made sure to see – unfortunately, I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to see – but for 6 hours in one day, I managed to fit in quite a number of attractions and eateries.
York Minster Cathedral is the number 1 attraction in York. Today, it remains one of the finest medieval buildings within Europe and one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, having been initially built from 1220 AD. Thus, it is a truly unmissable attraction.
A visit to York Minster is not meant to be quick. There is so much to see here – so plan to spend a good hour walking around and enjoying it all.
The stained glass windows and the handcrafted stone work are truly stunning features which highlight the stories of this cathedral. The central aisle is breathtaking. The ceiling is an architects dream. The tower is an aerial treat for those looking to really see York. But it is the undercroft, which lies beneath the cathedral which is a highlight for many – a place which was first unearthed 50 years ago and today it’s open to showcase over 2000 years of Roman and Viking history.
With the York Pass, York Minster is included in your fee. Without the York pass, admission for adults starts at £10 if you purchase online / £11 at the location. Accompanying children are free – up to 4 children per 1 adult. If you wish to visit the tower the cost for adults will be £16 (£15 if paying online), children £5.
York Minster is located at Deangate, York.
Barley Hall is a very family friendly option in York – as many attractions are.
The major claim to fame for Barley Hall is that it showcases exactly what it was like to live in Medieval England, with a replication of what the time period 1483 would have looked like in a medieval townhouse.
Barley Hall is a really underrated attraction. It is not a children’s only place at all. Adults can very much enjoy it as well, especially if you are a lover of anything historic.
Barley Hall was first constructed in 1360 by monks from the Nostell Priory, but it was restored back to it’s prime after many years of decline in the 1980s – and is now on show for all of us to enjoy.
With the York Pass Barley Hall is included in your fee. An adult admission will cost £6, a child admission is £3 (family of 4 tickets are £15).
Barley Hall is located at 2 Coffee Yard, York.
Merchant Adventurer’s Hall
When looking at the attractions on offer in York, one of the highlights is the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall. This is a real gem that anyone is lucky enough to visit in their lifetime given this building has been standing since 1357.
The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall truly lives up to its name, considering it was the very place that was constructed to cater to the merchant “adventurers” in York – those who were willing to take risks with their own wealth to connect York to the rest of the world through trade. These adventurer’s remain only one part of the history which exists here in York; and when visiting this attraction, you can truly appreciate that.
The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall offers visitors 3 main areas of interest: The Great Hall – where medieval merchants gathered to conduct business and socialise; The Undercroft – which was used until the early 1900s as a place to house the sick and poor; and The Chapel – which offered merchants and those seeking sanctuary, a place for worship and spirituality. Visitors can enjoy a free audio tour with their ticket.
The highlight remains the Great Hall however, which remains one of the most beautiful relics of medieval guild hall history in England. It is the largest timber-framed structure in the UK which is still standing and used for it’s intended purpose.
Admission for the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall is included with the York Pass. An adult admission is £6.50, concession is £5.50 (students and over 60), and children get in free with a full paying adult.
The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall is located at Fossgate, York.
Looking for a 360 view of the city of York? You can find here at Clifford’s Tower.
Originally built by William The Conqueror in 1068, the only remaining piece of York Castle, Clifford’s Tower has a rich history within the city, having served not only as a prison – but also as a mint.
Clifford’s Tower is a really cool experience – but it isn’t for the faint-hearted…there are quite a few stairs to climb before you get up to the entry point – but there is a rail to hold onto should you need it. This is a really cool way to end a day sightseeing in this marvelous city.
Entry to Clifford’s Tower is included with the York Pass. An adult admission is £5.40 and child admission is £3.20.
Clifford’s Tower is located at Tower Street, York.
York’s Chocolate Story
Chocolate lovers delight!
York may be historic – but it also has a mighty sweet tooth!
The York Chocolate Story invites visitors to learn about the origins of chocolate, how it is made and even allows visitors to make their own treat! York’s Chocolate Story won a Gold Award from Visit England for ‘Guided Tour Of The Year’ – so you know you’re in with a winner here.
Entry to York’s Chocolate Story is included in the York pass. Adult’s are £12.50, Children are £10. A family of 4 ticket is £39.95.
York’s Chocolate Story is located at King’s Square, York.
The Yorkshire Museum is one of the busiest in York.
This museum is the ultimate family-friendly attraction – full of interactive and engaging exhibits across the biology, astronomy, geology and archaeology areas. Highlights in 2018 include “The York Helmet”. Prepare to spend a good 1-2 hours here.
Go early too – in the afternoon the lines are longer – and if the weather isn’t great, they are especially busy!
Admission to the Yorkshire Museum is included with the York Pass. Adults are £7.50, children under 16 are free with a paying adult.
Yorkshire Museum is located at Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York.
JORVIK Viking Centre
When it comes to York, Viking history is very much on show here. Visitors have the opportunity to visit Jorvik, the Viking Centre which showcases over 1000 years of history with a ride experience as well as gallery displays and artefacts.
This is one of York’s most popular experiences, so York pass holders are advised to go either in the early morning or after 3pm – so they aren’t delayed in seeing other attractions during the passes validity.
An admission to Jorvik is included in the York Pass. An adult admission is £11 and a child’s admission is £8.
Jorvik is located at Coppergate, York.
Cost Of All Of These Attractions?
These York attractions are only some of what is on offer in your tour of York.
1 day York pass is £42 for Adults, £26 for Children.
2 day York pass is £60 for Adults, £30 for Children.
The cost to see all of the top attractions that were listed above individually is £58.90 for Adults, £29.70 for Children.
Thus, a 1 day York pass is really good value. But the 2 day York pass is exceptional value – which only gets better the longer you have it and the more you want to see. Not only do you get to see all of the top attractions – and then some; you also get a free day’s worth of sightseeing on top of it. All of the attractions I saw amounted to the equivalent of 2 days worth of attractions.
Why would you not buy this pass when in York?
Free Attractions To See On Your York Tour
York isn’t just about the paid attractions – there are tons to see here that are free and must sees, when taking a tour of York.
These are just some of the free things you can experience.
Take a walk down the most well preserved medieval street in the world.
The Shambles is a place photographers dream of, history lovers delight in and visitors can’t get enough of.
Many of the buildings date back to the mid 14th and 15th centuries. The Shambles were initially built as a street of butchers shops and houses, many with their own slaughterhouses. The meat was then hung up outside the shop ready to sell.
This is an awesome stop no matter what your reason for visiting York. Do not miss it.
The Shambles is located at The Shambles (of course!)
The York Walls
The York Walls are another interesting element to the city – and no York tour would be complete without it given they were built around 71 AD – making these one of the most historic attractions to visit in the city.
Situated in different areas of the city, the York Walls allow visitors to see a more aerial snapshot of the city whilst at the same time allowing them to appreciate the history and architecture of York and its Roman defenses from all those years ago.
There are some amazing views along here – plus cool photos to take as you explore. There are 4 main bars or fortresses – The Micklegate Bar (pictured), Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Bootham Bar. There are 3 smaller gateways – The Fishergate Bar, Fishergate Postern and Victoria Bar (pictured below).
The York Walls are located at various points in the city. It will take about 2 hours to walk them all, should you wish to do so.
Holy Trinity Micklegate
Holy Trinity is a true gem in York. Visitors do make a bee line to York Minster, but the Holy Trinity Church is truly stunning – and on the much more quainter side. Initially built in the 12th Century – a little ahead of York Minster – and with additions in the 13th and 14th Centuries, Holy Trinity is a truly historic church in York.
Holy Trinity is a quick stop but one that will be remembered. The wooden roof design gives this historic church an unforgettable edge over many others within the city. If you are looking for charm and religion combined…this is where you’ll find it.
Holy Trinity Micklegate is located at 83 Micklegate, York.
Where To Eat In York
There are tons of places to eat in York – so many places that I wanted to try but ran out of time to get to.
But, I did stumble across a few diamonds within the city which I completely rate as options worth considering for your tour of York.
Spring Espresso has been serving the York community on Fossgate since 2006. Coffee lovers couldn’t get enough of Spring Espresso though – so they opened a second location on Lendal in 2016.
Both locations offer Square Mile Coffee Roasters seasonal Redbrick Espresso plus other blends produced by guest roasters. (Either way – it all tastes good!)
A trip to Spring Espresso doesn’t have to just be about coffee – they have a delicious menu of food on offer. I had an amazing piece of Nutella cake and I tell you – it is the best Nutella cake I have ever eaten! (And I LOVE my Nutella!)
This is a must stop!
Spring Espresso is located at 21 Lendal, York.
Teddy Bear Tea Room
The Teddy Bear Tea Room was a spontaneous find.
Walking through the streets of York, I needed a light lunch (this was prior to having my stop at Spring Espresso!) and I stumbled across the Teddy Bear statue outside of the store Stonegate Teddybears – which led me to seeing it had a tea room.
I do a lot of english cream teas and dessert and teas – but this had to be the quaintest tea experience I have ever had. The tea rooms are located above the Teddy Bear Store, and are completely quirky. You have to walk upstairs and once up on each floor – the rooms veer off into little rooms which make it a really lovely, quiet and charming experience.
I usually have a cream tea, but on this occasion i had some strawberry tea (which was really delicious!) and a slice of raspberry cake which was also really good. The menu options were hearty and made to order. It was the perfect little pit spot on my tour of York.
The Teddy Bear Cafe is located at 13 Stonegate, York.
The Punch Bowl
After a whole day of walking around, my tired feet didn’t feel like venturing too far from my accommodation. But it was good – because I really felt like a curry.
I walked around the local area of my accommodation near Micklegate, and found myself liking the look of The Punch Bowl which has been standing right here in York since the 1770s. There are a few pubs called The Punch Bowl in York, but they are all separate. This location is run under the Wetherspoons’s umbrella. It was full of people – many who appeared to look local, so it seemed like a great choice and the food looked good.
The Punch Bowl has quite a few deals – and since it was Thursday I was able to score a Curry (I went for the Chicken Tikka Masala) with a cider for £7.49. What a deal! The food was really good and I wasn’t left hungry. Many others were eating this too!
The Punch Bowl is located at 5-9 Blossom St, York
Where To Stay In York
Prior to my visit, I wasn’t sure where to stay – all I knew was I needed it to be as reflective of the city of York as I could fine – so I could fully immerse myself into the whole vibe of the city.
Thankfully, I found everything I needed and more at Middletons Hotel. Located in one of the best areas of York – Middletons is central to everything, it’s upscale in feeling, but still budget friendly.
My room was truly darling – the garden out the window was charming. The bed was comfortable and the bathroom modern. I loved all of the furnishings. and I will definitely be staying here again on my next visit.
Middletons Hotel is located at Cromwell road, York.
An Ideal Tour Of York
There you have it. Hopefully this little snapshot has inspired you to include York in your visit to the UK. I will most definitely be back – as one day was just not long enough. This city is just amazing.