Is York Worth Visiting? A Review Of My Trip To York, England

Have you ever thought about visiting York? Not more than just a few weeks ago, I visited York and in this blog post, you can read more about my experience.

First, we have to get straight to the point and summarize what you exactly need to know.

Is York Worth Visiting? York is worth visiting at least once. The city has several historic landmarks and has a very romantic and scenic old town. With attractions like visiting the York Minster, the chocolate factory, the historic castle walls or the Shambles, you are in for a treat.

I was in York recently as a business trip, sadly it was not with kids nor their mother, but I had a day to spend in York, so I went about to see the city.

Here is some of the stuff I learned, and my review is based upon what I got to see, I hope you enjoy it.

Have you ever been to the city of York, in England?

The Value and Worth of Visiting York

How do you exactly define, if a city or place in the world, is worth visiting? Does it actually has to be mind-blowingly beautiful or does it has to offer something completely unique?

Anyhow you define, if something is worth visiting, I would still define York as worth visiting. 

RECOMMENDATION: Go to York on a romantic 2 to 5-day trip with your partner.

Or if you have bigger kids that are into Vikings or Harry Potter, then York is a must visit.

Sadly I did not see all of York, and I really do want to go again.

From Denmark, the trip was quite longer than I would have liked it to be, and when I was only in York for about 48 hours, more than 12 hours of travel back and forth takes a toll.

When I was discovering the city on my own, I actually learned a lot.

I learned that the city is small enough to walk around. If you are not in a bad condition that keeps you from being able to walk, then walking the city is easy.

From York Minster to My hotel, To Cafés, and Around the Castle Walls. I would have loved to spend a day or two more, walking around to take in it all.

One thing I will tell you for sure: York is one of the most beautifully historic cities I have been to.

And, the first thing I did when I came home, was to recommend my parents to go there. They are both eager travelers, they like history and especially Viking history.

NOTE: If you too, like history, especially northern European history of Christianity and the Viking entering Great Britain, then York is an absolute must visit for you.

Image Credits: Private Photos from Vacations

11 Attractions and Things to Do in York

#1 York Minster

Now, I did not think that this was something I would be interested in, religion is just not my cup of tea. But this cathedral was huge, bigger than anything I had ever seen.

I went to the top of the tower, and my recommendation is, that going to the top of the tower of the York Minster Cathedral is some of the first things you do, maybe after you plan what you want to do, and then you can see the entire city, and see where you are going to go.

TIP: Either you do it first, or you do it as one of the last things to see where you have been.

Let me warn you!

The climb up the stairs is very narrow and not for the faint of heart. I know I am not in the best shape of my life, but going up those stairs was a job.

Also, if you are just a tiny bit claustrophobic, you are not going to have a good time climbing those stairs. It is almost impossible to regret your decision after you started the ascend.

Because passing another person on the stairs is not going to be easy, if at all possible.

TIP: If you are hesitant about doing it, I will recommend you going as the last person up the stairs.

The first guy going up the stairs was, maybe 10 to 15 years older than me, and with maybe 10 or 20 pounds overweight he really did struggle. He really felt pressured to keep walking, and not taking any breaks because he was holding up 20 people.

york minister cathedral

Image Credits: Private Photos from Vacations

#2 York Castle Walk

I did not go the entire Castle Walk in York, but all the locals at the bars kept asking me if I had “walked Castle Walk”. So I am guessing that this is maybe one of the most popular things to do in York.

From I quote “No visit to York would be complete without a walk around the City Walks”. And with about 2,5 million people doing the walk each year, I guess that I am not mistaken.

  • The Walk is 2.6 miles (4,2 km)
  • The highest point is about 20 meters.
  • It is free to walk the Castle Walk

Sadly, I don’t even have a picture of these walls, and I don’t like to use other people’s photos.

I recommend it, without having tried it. I would do it if I ever come back. Who doesn’t like a walk with a view?

#3 The Shambles (Harry Potter)

If you, like me and the rest of the world, enjoyed the Harry Potter movies, then you are in for a treat. You have the opportunity to experience “Diagon Alley” in York.

You read that right.

The Diagon Alley street from the movies is called “The Shambles” in real life, and is a very popular narrow street in York, with old crooked buildings and harry potter stores.

Maybe a bit too touristy for me, but it was fun and free to go see.

Image Credits: Private Photos from Vacations

#4 Lovely Food Court behind the Shambles

When you are in the Shambles, there is a small gap in the wall that will lead you to a food court and market place. The weather was really great when I visited York, so I got to sit down and enjoy some spring sun.

If you are in York, and the weather is great, do not pass the opportunity to sit on a bench with a beer and some street food. One thing I love about these places is, that if you are a group of people, you can eat from different food stands together.

shambles food court

Image Credits: Private Photos from Vacations

#5 Historic Landmarks and Houses

Image Credits: Private Photos from Vacations

I do appreciate historic and scenic sights, and there is just so much that I was able to go see, in only a single day. I was surprised to learn that York is the origin city of Guy Fawkes, who has been popularized by the movie V for Vendetta, and the hacker group Anonymous.

I have listed some things you can see, I went to see an old teddy bear store, Clifford’s tower, and I walked just past the Fairfax house, which was actually free, but I was late to a meetup.

The old teddy bear store was very disappointing, I was hoping to go buy an old vintage-looking Paddington-bear teddy, for one of my kids, but I was just packed with the same toys as any other toy shop, in my opinion.

  • St Mary’s Abbey, York
  • The Origins of Guy Fawkes
  • York Museum Gardens
  • Clifford’s Tower, York
  • Fairfax House
  • Merchant Adventurers’ Hall

#6 Chocolate Factory Tour

I went to York as a part of group meetup in online marketing and bloggers. Actually, I was there learning how to make this very website better.

Two of the participants had been on a tour at a chocolate factory, I googled it afterward and it does sound like something I would like to visit as well.

York is the origin city of Kit Kat chocolate

#7 Jorvik Viking Museum

Funny story, just across the Jorvik Viking Museum, there was a big Danish sign, on a Danish store called Flying Tiger of Copenhagen. It’s funny because the Vikings are still in York.

I did not go to this, sadly. But I walked just past this, I would go if I had stayed for more than 1 day.

My son would love this place I am sure!

#8 The York Dungeon

This is kind of the same story, as with the Jorvik Viking Museum. If I was in York for more than 1 day, I would have gone to this.

I read on the sign what it was about, and as far as I know, its stories, brought to life by actors, of the horrors from a history of England, like Jack the Ripper.

NOTE: This is not for small kids.

#9 York Maze

Trying to find some family friendly stuff to do for you. I did not try this, but it looked like people are rating it quite well. I have nothing really to add to this, other than it would probably be something I would consider doing if I brought my kids.

#10 York Ghost Walks

I have never heard about this before. First, I saw it on Tripadvisor and wondered what it might be, and then a walk through town revealed that these ghost walks was all over the place.

More than 4 different vendors did this type of event. You meet up at a certain point of the town, old and historic town, late in the evening, and then a narrator/actor takes you on a guided tour and talk about all the ghosts and horrors of the town.

I just booked a trip to Prague and saw it again.

On TripAdvisor, at least a few of the Ghosts Walks. I have never tried it, but it seems like something people love to do, in old historic cities.

#11 The DIG

To be honest, I did not try this one either, but I walked just past this thing several times. As I understand it is a dig of old stuff, like Viking stuff and so on. Maybe more something my parents would enjoy than me.

Best Month to Visit York, England

England is a lovely country, but the weather is not perfect all times a year. I made a list of average temperatures so you can decide what is best for you. I visited York in late march and it was 20 degrees Celcius which is 68 Fahrenheit – so these average temperatures might not be the perfect for you.

Month Celcius Fahrenheit
January 1-5 34-41
February 1-6 34-43
March 2-7 36-45
April 3-10 37-50
May 6-13 43-55
June 8-16 46-61
July 10-18 50-64
August 11-18 52-64
September 9-15 48-59
October 6-11 43-52
November 3-7 37-45
December 1-5 34-41


How do I get from London to York?

I flew from Billund, Denmark to London Stansted, and then onward to Manchester Airport, it was far cheaper than going to Leeds, which is closer to York.

My travel buddy and I did the stupidest thing ever. We were in a hurry, so we thought that if we shared a taxi from Manchester Airport would be about the same, or maybe only 10-20% more than taking the train, but it would be a lot faster and directly to the hotel.

We were mistaken. The train was both a lot faster and would have cost us 1/4 the price.

TIP: Taking the train from Manchester Airport to York and save up to 75% on the price (compare to taxi) and at least 40 minutes time.

I went on the train back from York, to Manchester, it was more comfortable and I even booked a 1st class ticket for only 7 pounds more than a normal ticket.

What can you do for free in York?

There is plenty of stuff to do in York for free, not all things in life have to cost money. Free stuff makes you lower the bar of expectation which sometimes liberates you and makes it easier to enjoy the vacation.

Here is some of the stuff I remember as free.

  1. Castle Walk
  2. The Shambles
  3. I think the Minster was free, and they only charged for guided tours and a trip to the tower, but I am not sure.
  4. A number of scenics and historic sights

Related Questions

Does York England have an airport?

York, England does not have an airport, the nearest airport is Leeds only 30 minutes away. There is a train all the way from London, or from Manchester airport.

What is the nearest airport to York?

The nearest airport to York is the airport of Leeds city, approximately 30 minutes away by train. I traveled to Manchester Airport and it was about 1 and a half hour away, by train.

What is the worst thing about York?

The worst thing to experience as a tourist was the poverty and homeless people in York. I learned from the locals, that it is a problem in the entire country. I woke up early one day, and they were everywhere, and it was very very sad.

Is York the oldest city in England?

York is not the oldest city in England. According to numeral sources the following cities are older than York.

  1. Abingdon
  2. Amesbury
  3. Colchester
  4. Ipswich
  5. Thatcham