how to spend a weekend in york

What to do on a Weekend in York

Few cities in England, or indeed the globe, can compare to York in terms of the amount of history preserved inside its walls. This beautiful riverside city dates back over 2,000 years. York has something for everyone, whether you want to spend your weekend visiting museums, learning about Viking history at the Jorvik Museum, or enjoying the old-world attractions of its tea cafés. York is about 2 hours away from London by train. Here’s our guide on what to do on the perfect weekend in York!


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Where to Stay in York

There are some great places to stay in York – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in York, mid-range places to stay in York, and budget accommodations in York.

Stay at the Hampton by Hilton, York for a great location right in the city center. Rooms are spacious here and well furnished. You’ll get a great breakfast included in the room rate and you can walk to all of York’s key attractions. Check room rates and availability here.

The Fat Badger by Best Western is a glorious boutique hotel in the center of York. Rooms here are extremely stylish and well-appointed, with amazingly comfortable beds and bedding. The bar here serves great food and local ales. Book early, this is a popular location!

For a superb self-catering option, the Lawrance Luxury Aparthotel can’t be beaten as accommodation in York. These amazingly stylish apartments are just fabulous for exploring York. There are full kitchens and everything you need for a fantastic weekend in York. Check rates and availability here.

How to Spend a Weekend in York

York, England’s picturesque walled city, is ideal for a weekend getaway. It’s conveniently accessible from most of the UK, has lots to see and do, and is small enough to wander around. On a weekend in York, you can learn about the city’s history, see the remaining portions of its medieval walls, and visit the UK’s biggest railway museum. There is so much to do in York over a weekend that you won’t have time for a dull moment.

The top things to see in York

Everywhere we go, we try and start with a walking tour.  It helps to orient you and find your way around the city or town.  And York is no exception.  York is a great city to take a walking tour in and you have a heap of options!

Orient yourself with York’s best walking tours

There are a host of walking tours available in York (and also some non-walking tours, which I’ll cover later in this article) – and we’ve tried lots – and the best are below.

Free Walking Tour of York

The regular trip starts at Exhibition Square’s fountains and ends at St Andrew’s gate, near York’s famous Shambles area. You’ll enter the Museums Gardens, where you’ll see the Multangular Tower, remnants of late-1st-century Roman fortifications, and St. Mary’s Abbey, the site of York’s world-famous Mystery Plays in August 2012. In addition, you’ll visit King’s Manor, which was formerly home to Henry VIII’s Council of the North. Also, check out the ‘Edible Wood’ and the ‘Walk-on Geological Map,’ both located in the newly opened public space behind the York Art Gallery. Through a ‘snickleway’ into Precentor’s Court with stunning views of York Minster, you will enter the walled City through Bootham Bar (Roman doorway, Porta Dextra), one of the four major medieval gates into the city. Followed by Constantine the Great’s monument, St. William’s College, and the haunted Treasurer’s House. We’ll also visit Bedern Hall, the medieval Vicars Choral’s home.

  • Free Walking Tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:30 am and 1:15 pm
  • Address of Free Walking Tour: York City Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York, YO1 7EW, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Free Walking Tour: Admission is free, pay your guide with your tip!
  • Website for Free Walking Tour:

Witches and History Walking Tour of York

On this walking tour, you’ll join a charming witch guide to learn about York’s history and the mysteries of the Shambles, with the chance to engage in potion-making. Keep track as you stroll through York Minster, Petergate, and Stonegate. You’ll hear historical stories and folklore about witches and explore the Shambles as you go back in time to learn about the unsavory roots of this now-picturesque street. You can reserve a place on York’s Witches and History Walking Tour here. Along with visiting York, you’ll be able to visit the Potions Cauldron for an authentic potion-making experience. Discover the hidden area and get immersed in another world as stunning effects transport you on a journey to create the ideal potion.

  • Witches and History Walking Tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm
  • Address of Witches and History Walking Tour: Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, York YO1 8BL, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Witches and History Walking Tour: Adult: £10, Child:£6
  • Website for Witches and History Walking Tour:   Book your place here

Harry Potter Themed Walking Tour of York

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then this is the place for you!  There are some fabulous magical places to enjoy Harry Potter in York. J.K. Rowling not only used the medieval Shambles to create Diagon Alley in the novels, but they also shot specific sequences from the films here. Better still, York has fully embraced the Harry Potter vibe. Ready to see more? Here you go. The Shambles is home to well-known establishments such as The Shop That Must Not Be Named, Boy Wizard, and the Potions Cauldron. So, you may really feel as though you’ve gone through Platform 9 ¾, boarded the Hogwarts Express, and rolled up to Diagon Alley to park your broom, enjoy a butterbeer, or go wand hunting. Reserve your spots on York’s Harry Potter Walking Tour here.

  • Harry Potter Themed Walking Tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 11:00 am and 2:30 pm
  • Address of Harry Potter Themed Walking Tour: The Cholera Burial Ground, Opposite The Principal York Hotel, Station Road, YO24 1AA, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Harry Potter Themed Walking Tour: Adult: £10
  • Book your Harry Potter Themed Walking Tour:

Take an evening walking tour of York

Early evening is the most exciting time to visit York; the shops have closed, the tourist crowds have left, and the old streets are yours to explore. This hour-long walking tour is ideal for anybody looking for a quick, casual, and enjoyable overview of York with a knowledgeable local guide. Learn why York’s streets are called Gates, and its gates are called Bars. Begin in Exhibition Square and loop around to see 2000 years of history. Visit the Minster, the old fortifications, and the Shambles, which inspired Diagon Alley. Enjoy the opportunity to explore the maze of ancient cut-throughs and back-passages known as Snickelways. It’s not a ghost tour, but you’ll hear lots of horrifying true stories. With Viking dirt on your boots and a taste of cocoa in the air, you’ll be ready for your dinner reservation at the end of the walk.

  • Evening walking tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 5:00 pm
  • Address of Evening walking tour: York Explore Library and Archive, Library Square, Museum Street, York YO1 7DS, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Evening walking tour: Adult: £15, Child: £6
  • Book your York Evening walking tour here

Self-guided audio tour of York – Romans, Vikings, and Medieval York

With this budget walking tour that allows you to explore on your own time, you can see York and some of its most notable sights without joining a tour group. York has been at numerous historically significant crossroads. This self-guided tour will tell you about the incredible 2,000 years of history that shaped the city into what it is today. You’ll visit Roman, Viking, and medieval York and some of the city’s lesser-known attractions. And while you stroll, you’ll learn about the history of this wonderful city and its importance in the history of England. From its modest origins as a riverside Roman colony through its turbulent Viking invasion and on to its booming medieval age of trade, let us explore some of the famous personalities and lesser-known individuals who have formed this lovely city by the Ouse River.

  • Self-guided audio tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 12:00 AM – 11:59 PM
  • Address of Self-guided audio tour: 2A Bootham, 2A Bootham, York YO30 7BL, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Self-guided audio tour: Adult: £6.66
  • Book your Self-guided audio tour of York here:

See the sights from an open-topped bus in York

York, founded by the Romans, quickly became England’s Second City and has experienced battles, peace negotiations, and prosperity throughout its 2,000-year history.  York’s open-topped bus tour is a great way to explore and see the main sites of the city easily.  “The history of York is the history of England,” King George VI observed of the city’s vital role throughout the years. Visit the majestic York Minster, which has a valuable collection of stained glass. Take a stroll through ancient streets or along the 800-year-old Bar Walls. Visit award-winning museums, the York Botanical Gardens, or indulge in fantastic restaurants and shopping. There will never be a shortage of sites to see in this lovely city.

  • City Sightseeing York Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 09:00 am to 5:30 pm
  • Address of City Sightseeing York Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: Exhibition Square, York YO1 7,United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for City Sightseeing York Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: Adult: £16.00, Senior: £13.00, Child: £9.00
  • Website for City Sightseeing York Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: You can book your tickets here.

See York on Two Wheels

With an amusing and knowledgeable guide, see the historic city of York on a fully modernized bike. This trip will take you off the beaten path to intriguing landmark locations that you will not see on a typical bus or walking tour. It is an excellent way to see York. You will go at a safe and relaxed speed, staying mostly on cycling routes and authorized lanes. York has always been a popular spot. Although today’s people are considerably more enjoyable to be around, individuals from the past have all left their imprints and memories and you’ll hear all about them on this bicycling tour of York. Although historical, the cycling tours are intended to be a lighthearted look into York’s interesting and sometimes horrific history. The excursions last roughly two hours, and they say that their average pace is 900 years per hour.

  • Guided Cycling Tour Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:30 am
  • Address of Guided Cycling Tour: YO31 7EQ, Gillygate, York YO31 7EQ, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Guided Cycling Tour: 2 Adults: £25.24, Youth: £12.70
  • Book a Guided Cycling Tour of York here.

Get a York Pass to explore York in a Weekend

York has almost 2000 years of history to explore; select your own trip to this incredible city. Your York City Pass, once purchased, entitles you to free admission to over 20 sites in York. You’ll save a packet!  Enjoy a full day of exploring in York and experience the best that the city has to offer. JORVIK Viking Centre, York Dungeon, York Minster, Barley Hall, and more attractions are available. You may also take the York City Cruises or the City Sightseeing Bus. You can completely explore York with a variety of different things to do and see. Taxi costs, , City Cruises Evening Tour, York Cycling Tour, escape rooms, and ghost tours are also discounted with the York Pass.

  • York Pass Opening Time/Tour Time: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
  • Entrance Fee for York Pass: 3 Day – York City Pass: Adult – £85.00, Child – £50.00, 2 Day – York City Pass: Adult – £70.00, Child – £40.00, 1 Day – York City Pass: Adult – £55.00, Child – £32.00

Don’t Miss York Minster when you visit York

Discover one of the most stunning churches in the world here in York. Visiting York Minster, you’ll learn about the city’s Roman origins and the Minster’s significance in Viking York as you explore beautiful medieval architecture. York’s cathedral church is one of Europe’s greatest medieval structures. The Minster is sometimes referred to as St Peter’s, and its full name is the ‘Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York.’ Previously, the church was located inside its own walled precinct was known as the Liberty of St Peter and the location of the great medieval structure has always been significant for the city as the remnants of the Basilica, the Roman fortress’s ceremonial center, have been discovered under the Minster structure. Entrance to York Minster is covered on the York Pass which you can buy here.

things to do in york in a weekend see york minster
  • York Minster Opening Time/Tour Time: Mon to Sat: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm, Sun: 12:45 pm – 3:15 pm
  • Address of York Minster: York Minster, Deangate, York, YO1 7HH, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for York Minster: Adult/Senior – £12.50, Students (not studying in York) – £9.50
  • Get entrance to York Minster for free with the York Pass

Experience the Jorvik Museum

Visit JORVIK Viking Centre to experience York’s intriguing Viking history. Jorvik was groundbreaking when it opened a couple of decades ago, and it’s moved with the times, but still brings you an incredible story.  Its world-famous ride brings visitors through the sights, sounds, and smells of Viking-age York and state-of-the-art galleries showing its unique collection of 1,000-year-old treasures. Some of the most remarkable discoveries in contemporary archaeology are on display at the JORVIK Viking Centre. The Coppergate Dig is your first stop at JORVIK, with a completely immersive exhibit transporting you back to the 1970s. Travel around 10th century York, experiencing what it was like to live there. The sights, sounds, and even fragrances of the Viking Age are faithfully recreated as you go back 1,000 years. Entrance to the Jorvik Museum is covered on the York Pass – save money by buying it here.

things to do in york in a weekend visit the jorvik museum

Walk around York’s City Walls

The medieval City Walls (or “Bar Walls”) of York are 3.4km (2 miles) long and include 3.4km (2 miles) of masonry, they are the longest English town walls. They were built in the 13th century of magnesian limestone and had clay ramparts, which were rare in England. York’s City Walls provide an excellent elevated walk around the city. The surrounding moats have mostly vanished, but the rampart slopes are well known for their daffodil display in March and April. The Museum Gardens include the longest preserved Roman fortification wall and the Roman Multangular Tower with medieval masonry above it. Remains of St Mary’s Abbey and precinct walls surround two sides of the Museum Gardens. These walls, which were constructed at the same time as the City Walls, are the best remaining example of Abbey walls in the country. While the City Walls are free to walk on, if you want to visit the City Walls Experience at Micklegate, you can do this for free if you have the York Pass.

things to do in york in a weekend walk york city walls
  • York City Walls Opening Time/Tour Time: 8:00 am to 5:30 pm
  • Address of York City Walls: Coppergate, York, YO1 9WT, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for York City Walls: Admission is free.
  • Website for York City Walls:

Take in the view from Clifford’s Tower – York’s Castle

Indulge yourself in centuries of history in one of York’s most famous landmarks and enjoy breathtaking views of the city. Clifford’s Tower has been in the center of the city since the Norman Conquest, serving as a royal mint, a medieval fortification, and a Civil War garrison. There is incredible and often dark history here, as one of the biggest anti-Semitic massacres of the Middle Ages occurred on the site of the tower in 1190 when York’s Jewish population was trapped there by a violent mob, and many Jews committed suicide rather than be killed. There’s an incredible history here and you can visit Clifford’s Tower for Free as a member of English heritage.

You can also visit Clifford’s Tower for free with the York Pass.

things to do in york in a weekend visit cliffords tower

Today, a new roof deck now provides unrivaled views of York’s historic skyline, complete with medieval structures and the famed Minster. Inside, new corridors and stairs have opened areas of the tower that had been closed off for centuries, and immersive soundscapes and tales have brought the tower’s dramatic past to life like never before.

Visit the Shambles in York

The Shambles is a must-see while in York. The name ‘The Shambles’ is occasionally used to refer to the labyrinth of winding, tiny streets that make York so appealing. At its core lies the Shambles Lane, possibly the greatest preserved medieval street in the world. It was listed in William the Conqueror’s Doomsday Book in 1086. Back in the day, there were butcher shops and houses with slaughterhouses in the back of The Shambles, ensuring a regular supply of fresh meat. The meat was hung outside the establishments and sold on the windowsills – you should look out, as some of the original butcher’s meat hooks still exist. In certain places of the Shambles, stretch your arms out and your hands can even touch both sides of the street as you walk along! The now-quaint architecture had a purpose. The buildings’ close-set timber-framed fronts offer shade for the wattle and daub walls below. This would have protected the meat from the sun.

  • Address of Shambles: Shambles, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 7LZ, United Kingdom
things to do in york in a weekend visit the shambles

Visit York’s Cold War Bunker

The York Cold War Bunker, the most contemporary and spine-chilling of English Heritage’s buildings, reveals the hidden history of Britain’s Cold War. This is actually quite a chilling and fascinating place to visit (it’s covered on our English Heritage Annual Pass, and so we were intrigued to visit!)  You enter through the blast-proof doors to discover the bunker, which was in use from the 1960s until the 1990s.  The Cold War Bunker in York was constructed as a nerve center to monitor fallout in the event of a nuclear strike.  On the guided tours you learn how volunteers would have played a critical part in securing Britain’s survival in the event of a nuclear strike – it is truly fascinating! If you have the York Pass you can also get FREE Entry to York’s COLD War Bunker.

things to do in york in a weekend visit Yorks cold war bunker
  • Cold War Bunker Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:00 am – 05:00 pm
  • Address of Cold War Bunker: Monument Close, York, North Yorkshire, YO24 4HT, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Cold War Bunker: Adult – £10.00, Child – £6.00 – English Heritage Members get in for free – join here and save now.
  • Website for York’s Cold War Bunker:

Take a cruise on the Ouse on a weekend in York

The River Ouse runs through York.  The name Ouse is a common name for…. “water”!  And there’s no better way to enjoy seeing the city than by taking a river cruise.  Most cruises begin in King’s Staith and last for 45 minutes to an hour.  The boats have either a covered saloon or an open top deck and the distance you go depends on which ticket you buy!  If you take the ¾ hour trip, then you will pass the walled city of York, but won’t go as far in either direction as the longer trip.  There’s a running live commentary about the sights that you’re passing and you’ll learn about York’s flood history and its success as an inland port on a river tour. If you’ve bought the York Pass, then this cruise is included in it (go on, buy it, it’ll save you a fortune!)

things to do in york in a weekend take a cruise on the ouse
  • River Ouse City Cruise Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:30 am and 3:00 pm
  • Address of River Ouse City Cruise: King’s Staith Landing Departure or Lendal Bridge Landing Departure
  • Entrance Fee for River Ouse City Cruise: £12.50
  • Book your York River Ouse Cruise here.

Take a self-driven trip on the Ouse in York

If you prefer to go your own way on the water, then you can drive your own red boat along the River Ouse.  Take it out for a picnic, or just a potter along the water.  Each boat can carry up to eight persons, and yes, you’ll get a chart/map to help to stop you from getting lost, although to be fair, it’s pretty easy to navigate the Ouse here.

  • Self-Drive Boat Hire Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:00 am to 3:45 pm
  • Address of Self-Drive Boat Hire: King’s Staith, York YO1 9RZ, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Self-Drive Boat Hire: £35 / £40
  • Book your York River Ouse Self Cruise here.

Scare yourself silly in the York Dungeon

When you’re ready for something slightly darker, why not explore 2,000 years of York’s dark and brutal past. York’s Dungeon has surprises in store for you –  you’ll meet the Vikings as they assault and conquer York, then you’ll learn about Guy Fawkes’ legendary Gunpowder Plot and what happened that November night.  Oh, we’re not done yet, you’ll also get to step inside the carriage to the Knavesmire, the last resting place of one of history’s most notorious Highwaymen.  A visit to the dungeon takes about 75 minutes and you’ll meet terrifying characters and wander through immersive sets and spectacular special effects for an experience that you will hear, feel, and smell. I jump at scary movies, so I understand and contribute to the level of shrieks that you’ll hear!

  • The York Dungeon Opening Time/Tour Time: 11:00 am and 4:00 pm
  • Address of The York Dungeon: The York Dungeon, 12 Clifford Street, York, YO1 9RD, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for The York Dungeon: £19.95
  • Prebook your ticket for the York Dungeon here.

Best Museums to Visit in York

York’s small and captivating walled city is adored by many who visit its variety of cobblestone streets, boutique shops, and buzzing pubs. It is a fascinating city, overflowing with history and mystery, and it makes for a fantastic weekend away. Let’s have a look at some of the best museums in York to set the mood and show the diversity of the city’s museums and galleries.

Visit the National Railway Museum in York

The National Railway Museum has a lot to offer everyone interested in trains. We spent most of the day here.  (Well we do love trains!) There is something for everyone, from vintage locomotives to record-breaking engines, luxurious royal trains to ambulance trains used to transport sick troops home from battle! From early locomotives to present high-speed trains and examples of trains from throughout the world, there are hundreds of intriguing artifacts from the rail period. There is no guided tour of the museum, so be sure to review the map to ensure you don’t miss anything important – I simply worked my way around all the different halls – but made sure that I hit the highlights first!

things to do in york in a weekend visit the national railway museum

If you plan to get the Road Train to make visiting the Railway Museum easier (it runs from york City Centre to the front door of the National Railway Museum), then you’ll want to buy the York Pass, which gives you free access to the train.

  • National Railway Museum Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:00 am – 05:00 pm
  • Address of National Railway Museum: Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for National Railway Museum: Admission is free.
  • Website for National Railway Museum:

Visit the Yorkshire Museum while in York

The Yorkshire Museum, which houses some of Europe’s greatest archaeological and geological collections, is a must-see on any trip to York. There’s prehistory, Romans, Vikings,  as well as medieval magnificence in the stunning galleries. Then you can see the incredible findings from Star Carr, Britain’s most important Mesolithic site, and follow in the footsteps of pioneering geologist William Smith with his world-changing map. Learn about the World Newton Hoard, the largest Roman hoard ever found in England, the statue of Mars, the nation’s best existing Roman sculpture, and Constantine the Great’s marble head. You can even see the most delicate features of an ichthyosaur and the earliest original sauropod bones ever found in the UK in Yorkshire’s Jurassic World. Meet the dinosaurs and sea dragons that once roamed the landscapes, brought to life by a cutting-edge science and technology display.

  • Yorkshire Museum Opening Time/Tour Time: 11:00 am – 05:00 pm
  • Address of Yorkshire Museum: Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York, YO1 7FR, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Yorkshire Museum: Adult – £8 online / £8.75 Walk up price, Child – £4 online / £4.40 walk up price
  • Website for Yorkshire Museum:

The Jorvik Museum

You shouldn’t miss seeing the Jorvik while in York.  It’s a world-famous trip through Viking-age York, with a unique collection of 1,000-year-old artifacts in state-of-the-art displays at Jorvik Viking Centre. Honestly.  Come here.  It’s a fascinating visit that you won’t regret.

  • Jorvik Museum Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Address of Jorvik Museum: Coppergate, York, YO1 9WT, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Jorvik Museum: Adult – £13.50, Child (5-16) – £9.50 – FREE if you have the York Pass.

Clifford’s Tower

Enjoy centuries of history at the Clifford Tower museum, and spectacular views of York from one of York’s most iconic monuments. Clifford’s Tower has been a royal mint, a medieval stronghold, and a Civil War garrison since the Norman Conquest. The museum inside has new halls and they’ve unlocked centuries-old doors, to create immersive soundscapes and stories which bring the tower’s dramatic history to life. You can get free access to Clifford’s Tower with the York Pass.

York Castle Museum

From the famous Victorian street, Kirkgate, to the spooky cells and the swinging sixties, you can experience hundreds of years of York’s history in one place. York Castle Museum provides something for everyone.  There are exciting exhibitions and innovative new ways to learn about York’s history. The most notable feature is Kirkgate, a Victorian street. The street is one of, if not the oldest, of its kind in the world, and the first in the UK. Each shop and business on Kirkgate is named after a real late Victorian York enterprise.

  • York Castle Museum Opening Time/Tour Time: Monday – Friday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Address of York Castle Museum: York Castle Museum, Tower St, York YO1 9RY, United Kingdom,
  • Entrance Fee for York Castle Museum: Adult£13 online / £14 Walk up price, Child – £6.50 online / £7 walk-up price
  • Website for York Castle Museum:

Visit the Roman Bath Museum in York

The Roman bathhouse is one of the few visible Roman remnants in York and is housed in the basement of a pub! The ninth Roman legion’s facility would have covered around 200 square meters between 71 and 122 AD, except for a single plunge pool. In the late fourth century, the cold room’s plunge pool was filled with limestone stones, indicating it was abandoned and the bathhouse would have been in ruins by the fifth century AD with the Roman evacuation from Britain. The bathhouse was initially dug in the 1930s during renovations to the pub and excavations opposite Swinegate in 1972 revealed further Roman stone houses, some three meters tall. You can enter York’s Roman Baths Museum on the York Pass scheme.

  • Roman Bath Museum Opening Time/Tour Time: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
  • Address of Roman Bath Museum: Abbey Churchyard, Bath BA1 1LZ, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Roman Bath Museum: Adult£ 25.00 Child – £17.50 – Free with the York Pass
  • Website for Roman Bath Museum:

York’s Chocolate Story

You must know the story of York and Chocolate.  No?  Oh come on in and learn about York’s famous chocolate families – and discover the home of the Chocolate Orange (yes really) and the Kitkat!  But the Chocolate Story is about much more.  You’ll get to understand how a basic cocoa bean is converted into the best chocolate in the virtual chocolate factory and then learn about the history of some of York’s most famous chocolate companies.  There’s also a lot of information on why chocolate makes us happy and why it has a sustainable and ethical future.  Yep, and then you get to make your own chocolates, as well as watch expert Chocolatiers, demonstrate the art of chocolate-making and you’ll experience the results: fresh handmade chocolates.

  • Yorks Chocolate Story Opening Time/Tour Time: 10:00 am
  • Address of Yorks Chocolate Story: York’s Chocolate Story
  • King’s Square, York YO1 7LD, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Yorks Chocolate Story: Adult£15.95, Child – £13.50

York’s Merchant Adventurers Hall

The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is a unique building in medieval York.  Originally a group of York townspeople created this unique timber-framed structure to serve as a center for charity, prayer, and trade on the banks of the River Foss. Today, it is a designated ancient monument, a Grade 1 listed building, and a fantastic museum. The Hall has undergone several changes throughout the years, but its basic functions of trade and charity remain unchanged. The Hall has three main rooms. The Great Hall was the first meeting place for medieval merchants. Until 1900, the Undercroft housed the sick and poor. The Chapel ministers to businessmen and almshouse inmates. The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall has several interesting collections. Silver, furniture, and paintings reveal the Hall’s and its colorful history. Its medieval ‘Evidence Chest’ is older than the Hall itself. Want free entry to the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall? Get the York Pass for your weekend in York.

  • Merchant Adventurers Hall Opening Time/Tour Time: Sunday to Friday, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday, 10:00 am–1:30 pm
  • Address of Merchant Adventurers Hall: The Hall, Fossgate, York, YO1 9XD, United Kingdom
  • Entrance Fee for Merchant Adventurers Hall: Adults – £6.50, Students – £5.50 – Entry is free if you have the York Pass
  • Website for Merchant Adventurers Hall:

After all that touristing, walking and museuming you’ll be hungry, so here are the best places to eat in York!

Map of Things to Do in York in a Weekend

Map of things to do in York

You can also see the map here.

Where to Eat in York

York has something for everyone, and if you’re a foodie, there are plenty of restaurants to pick from, and there are lots of great places to eat in York, but here are a few that you MUST visit! Want to know what you should eat when in Yorkshire? Here’s our guide to the best traditional Yorkshire food and drink.

Eat at Betty’s Café in York

Bettys is a must-see for every visitor to York. Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, which opened in 1919, are known for their amazing cakes, delicious teas, and warm smiles. Betty’s legendary afternoon tea is one of Visit England’s ‘101 things to do before you travel abroad’, and the price is also pleasantly mid-range too!

things to do in york in a weekend eat at bettys tea rooms

Afternoon Tea at the Grand

When it comes to eating in York, there’s nothing quite like The Grand, which won the 2022 Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence for ‘Best Afternoon Tea.’ For the Grand’s Afternoon Tea, you’ll get an elegant tower of savory and sweet delights, presented on a silver stand.  There are optional Prosecco, Champagne, and Gin & Tonic upgrades, and why wouldn’t you – you’re on holiday!

The Shambles Food Court

The Shambles Food Court is located inside the Shambles Market and serves fabulous street cuisine every day of the week.  It’s great for a quick stop at lunchtime, but it also hosts several late-night events throughout the year. You’ll find lots of vegetarian and vegan alternatives here and plenty of budget options too. Friday lunchtimes are great here, so it’s fab for a long weekend in York – there’s music and street food here each week on Friday. 

Los Moros

Tarik Abdeladim created a reputation for himself on Shambles Market with his North African and Levantine cuisine and has now opened a restaurant on Grape Lane as well. Small dishes of handmade merguez sausages, harissa chicken wings, and punchy dips like whipped feta with urfa pepper oil are served alongside bigger platters of shakshuka or grilled sea bass and batata harra potatoes with homemade chermoula, burned baby courgettes, and saffron aioli. The cuisine here is wonderful and inexpensive, making it a must-visit for those on a budget.

Things to do near York

If you’re planning to stay around in York a little longer, then it’s a fabulous place to base yourself to explore a little further out into Yorkshire.  And there are some great things to see here.  Here are just a few of the highlights of things to do around York if you plan on staying longer, but there’s plenty more in our article on the best day trips from York.

Visit Castle Howard on a day trip from York

One of the finest stately homes in the UK, Castle Howard is located in the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sir John Vanbrugh constructed it, and the Howards still remain there. Explore the House at your own pace, taking in its beautiful architecture and interiors. Enjoy almost 1,000 acres of Grade 1 listed parks and gardens all year. Enjoy magnificent countryside vistas surrounded by sculptures, temples, lakes, and fountains.   Castle Howard is one of the best Castles to visit in Yorkshire (read our guide here) – and you can easily visit Castle Howard on a day trip from York.

things to do in york in a weekend -day trip to castle howard

Explore Harewood House

Harewood House is a lovely 18th-century estate in Yorkshire. Its art collections, unique Bird Garden, Farm Experience, and 100 acres of magnificent topography make it one of York’s most exciting day trips. From the moment you enter Harewood, your imagination becomes awakened. It’s a place full of art, culture, and history that’s continuously developing. The inside is lovely, with a great music room and galleries to explore. There’s also an old kitchen that shows how a rural home works.

things to do in york in a weekend day trip to harewood house

Take the North Yorks Moor Steam Railway

Enjoy a day of timeless charm and breathtaking beauty on one of the world’s finest vintage railways. Allow their fleet of steam and diesel trains to transport you back in time through 24 miles of National Park scenery! North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a not-for-profit company run by volunteers. Every passenger helps protect one of the UK’s oldest railway lines and it is a magnificent day out.

Visit Fountains Abbey

Fountains Monastery, constructed in 1132, is England’s largest and best-preserved abbey. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the top locations to see near York in the United Kingdom. The River Skell runs past the abbey remnants and through Studley Royal Water Gardens, whose moon-shaped ponds and reflecting lakes, formal hedges, and laurel banks surround the medieval abbey ruins. In addition to the ruined abbey and water gardens, explore Fountains Hall, Fountains Mill, and St Mary’s Church in the medieval deer park. You could easily spend a whole day exploring here and still want to be back for something more!

Head to the Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is a wild and windswept landscape with hay fields, drystone walls, and barns. The Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale AONB, Forest of Bowland AONB, and North Pennines AONB surround it. These protected areas are not to be overlooked. Each Yorkshire Dale has its unique character. But the Southern Dales are just as magnificent. Highlands and valleys with hay fields, stone walls, and barns are found in the Northern Dales. And each of the West’s lovely villages and towns has its own unique charm. The Dales are worth a visit at any time of year, whether to warm yourself by an open fire in the winter or relax by a river in the summer. 

If you are driving then you can easily take a day trip to the Yorkshire Dales from York, – or let someone else do the driving and get to see the highlights in this Yorkshire Dales Day Trip from York.

Travel Tips for Exploring England

Final Words on Spending the Weekend in York

York is one of the most historically significant cities in England, if not the world, and the city is a great place to spend a weekend.  So whether you decide to spend your weekend in York visiting museums, learning about the Vikings at the Jorvik Museum, or relaxing in one of the city’s tea shops, you’ll have a blast!  We did! I hope this helps you to plan a weekend trip to this fabulous city, and that you’ll extend your stay and see a little more of what Yorkshire has to offer too!

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