York travel guide

York Tourism | York Guide

You're Going to Love York

From northern Britain's Roman capital to Viking hub and a medieval marvel, York has been many things in its long history. Much of its heritage remains intact, and superb museums provide a window onto what didn't survive, giving this relaxed, self-confident city a timeless quality. If you love history, you'll love York.

But there's more than history to enjoy in modern York. The city has successfully styled itself as the North's shopping capital, and there are few more atmospheric places to shop for fashion, food, and craft souvenirs than York's walled center.

Above all, York is easygoing and friendly. The locals will always recommend their favorite pub (out of many highlights), the nightlife is great, and you can rent a car and be in the middle of a wild, windswept moor in minutes.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit York

1. The Beautiful Medieval Walled City Center

The heart of York is (still) surrounded by walls built over a thousand years ago. In fact, parts of the masonry date back to 71 AD, when the Romans fortified their northern capital. You can walk the walls, and climb down to check out what's inside: a vibrant mix of pubs, markets, churches, and museums.

2. A Rich History and the Museums to Show it Off

York has seen many different eras, from Roman rule to Danish domination and medieval splendor and Victorian railway hub. You can find out about all of it at museums like the Jorvik Viking Center (dealing with Viking York), the Yorkshire Museum (with its Roman exhibits), and Barley Hall, a reconstructed 15th-century home.

3. Superb Beer and a Thriving Dining Scene

For many visitors, York and beer go together like a hand and glove. Breweries like York Brewery, Samuel Smith's, and Black Sheep export across the world. It's something about the water of the Ouse, or the skill of local brewers. Either way, the results are delicious. As are the products of York's blooming restaurant scene, from the Star Inn the City to Mumbai Lounge.

4. The Wild Beauty of Yorkshire Is on Its Doorstep

Get outside York if you can: it's stunning. Visit the home of the Bronte sisters, walk the desolate moors, hike to waterfalls like Mallyan Spout, and duck into country pubs for a warm welcome and some hearty Yorkshire cuisine.

5. The Stunning York Minster

York Minster is an incredible work of medieval architecture, with its cavernous interior, beautiful Gothic facade, and dazzling Great West Window. Visit early to avoid the crowds, but expect to linger in this serene, inspiring place of worship.

Where to Eat in York

York is Yorkshire's culinary capital, and the city has attracted some exceptional chefs in recent years. If you want to head to elite brasseries, the Star Inn the City and Melton's are the places to go. There's great pub food at the Maltings and the Guy Fawkes Inn and veggie delights at El Piano. You should also find time for afternoon tea at Betty's Cafe Tea Rooms - a York institution (but expect to queue for half an hour before being seated). Meals at the best places will cost around £40 per head, but expect to pay half that at the excellent small cafes of the city center.

When to visit York

York in November
Estimated hotel price
$138
1 night at 3-star hotel
York in November
Estimated hotel price
$138
1 night at 3-star hotel

York is probably at its best in late spring and early fall. April and May are great times to go. The weather may be chilly at times, but the narrow streets won't be jammed with tourists and you should find some space to relax in the Minster. Late September and October are almost as good. Both times of year also offer fine hiking weather, although summer will suit those who plan to camp on the moors.

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How to Get to York

Plane

Many visitors from North America choose to fly into London Heathrow or Gatwick, and then fly to Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA). From there, you can take the 757 bus into Leeds (£3.80, 30 minutes), and catch the train to York. Fares vary, but short notice off-peak tickets will cost around £13 and the journey lasts for 25 minutes. Taxis are an alternative (expect to pay £50), but driving is probably a better option. There are Enterprise and Avis rental outlets at the airport and the journey time is approximately an hour.

Train

Getting to York by train is simple and (usually) fast. If you fly into London's airports, you can catch the train from King's Cross St. Pancras into one of the country's most attractive stations. Expect the journey to take around two hours, if you catch an express service. Operators include Virgin Trains and Grand Central.

Car

If you are driving to York from Leeds Bradford Airport, take the A658 and then change onto the A59. From London, all you need to do is catch the A1 (M), which leaves the M25 orbital motorway at Borehamwood. Those coming from Manchester should take the M62 across the Pennines, take the A1 (M) northbound at Knottingley, then leave it at junction 44, to take the A64 into York.

Bus

York is well served by affordable intercity buses, with National Express and Megabus both running daily services from London, Leeds, and Manchester, as well as many other British cities.

Airlines serving York

United Airlines
Good (69,461 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (47,643 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (28,355 reviews)
Delta
Good (30,715 reviews)
KLM
Good (3,796 reviews)
Air France
Good (4,354 reviews)
British Airways
Good (23,336 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (23,596 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (9,182 reviews)
Iberia
Good (6,149 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Excellent (11,515 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (25,037 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (4,858 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (15,757 reviews)
Ryanair
Good (18,705 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (2,480 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (5,576 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (5,438 reviews)
Finnair
Good (3,869 reviews)
JetBlue
Excellent (20,164 reviews)
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Where to stay in York

Visitors to York will find plenty of excellent accommodation options. Premium options in the city center include the 5-star Grand Hotel, with its luxury spa, the 4-star Principal (which is right next to the station), and the Hilton York, in the southern part of the city.

Popular neighbourhoods in York

The Shambles - shorthand for the medieval city center, the Shambles is actually a famous street in central York that is characterized by overhanging timber-framed stores. Lined with restaurants, pubs, and luxury boutiques, it's the best area to window shop and relax in between historical sights.

Museum Gardens - just to the north of the walled city center, you'll find York's civic center. Set in acres of beautiful gardens, the Yorkshire Museum is a cultural highlight, as is the adjacent York Art Gallery and the ruins of St Mary's Abbey (which are themselves often used as a striking art venue).

Micklegate - located across the River Ouse from the Shambles, Micklegate is still within the old city walls. It's right next to the station, making it handy for transportation and is also home to the York Brewery - a big plus for craft ale fans.

Where to stay in popular areas of York

Most booked hotels in York

The Resolution Hotel
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$139+
The Angel Hotel Wetherspoon
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
$158+
Hampton by Hilton York
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$193+
Elmbank Hotel & Lodge
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$177+
Queens Hotel
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
$180+
Park Inn York
Excellent (8.3, Excellent reviews)
$182+
See all hotels

How to Get Around York

Public Transportation

Buses are a good way to get around York's main sights, if you want to avoid walking and have a bit of spare change. Single fares cost around £2, but most visitors purchase day tickets for £4.50 (which cover all of the city's bus providers).

Taxi

The local government regulates taxi fares in York. Daytime rates start with a meter drop of £2.70, then £0.10 for every 85 meters (around £2 per mile). Rates rise at night and when the York races are taking place. Uber offers a cheaper alternative, typically charging £1.95 for the meter drop, then £1.40 per mile.

Car

York is a fantastic place to rent a car, and with local branches of Europcar, Enterprise, and Thrifty, plenty of choice is available. With a car, the moors and dales of Yorkshire are open to explore, you can get to the coast easily and even whiz into Leeds. Rates will be fairly reasonable, at around £15 per day.

Car hire agencies in York

Find car hire in York

The Cost of Living in York

Shopping Streets

York is a first-rate shopping destination, and most of the best streets are clustered around the walled city center. Obviously, you shouldn't miss the Shambles, if only for its architecture, but Coney Street (near the river) plays host to boutiques like Pylones and Leia Lingerie, and Stonegate is another street that is studded with luxury stores.

Groceries and Other

City center supermarkets are all over York, including branches of Londis, Sainsbury's, and Boots, so it's not hard to buy essentials if you need them. With a gallon of milk costing around £3.65 and 12 eggs costing £1.75, prices are very reasonable as well.

Cheap meal
$19.89
A pair of jeans
$99.41
Single public transport ticket
$3.98
Cappuccino
$5.04