York
Culture & History

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Our most recommended York Culture & History

The York Dungeon Admission Ticket

1. The York Dungeon Admission Ticket

Journey through 2,000 Years of York's dark and grizzly history. Surprises await you in the dungeon: fear the Vikings as they invade and conquer York. Discover Guy Fawkes' famous Gunpowder Plot and what really happened that November night. Step inside the carriage to the Knavesmire, where one of history's most infamous Highwaymen returned. This 75-minute journey brings together horrible characters for an exciting walk through immersive sets and thrilling special effects for an experience that you will hear, feel and smell. The York Dungeon is a must-see, uniquely thrilling attraction that will take you back to the city's darkest history. 

City Sightseeing York Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

2. City Sightseeing York Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Founded by the Romans, York soon became England's Second City and has witnessed wars, peace agreements, and prosperity throughout its 2,000 years of existence. King George VI reflected on the city's central role throughout the years when he said, "The history of York is the history of England". Visit the magnificent York Minster, with its priceless display of stained glass. Walk along medieval streets or on the 800-year-old Bar Walls. Visit award-winning museums, the York Botanical Gardens, or enjoy excellent restaurants and shopping facilities. You'll never be short of places to discover in this wonderful city. Your Tour Itinerary: Stop 1 - Exhibition Square Stop 2 - GillyGate Stop 3 - Monk Bar Stop 4 - Foss Bank Stop 5 - Peasholme Green Stop 6 - The Stonebow Stop 7 - Clifford's Tower Stop 8 - Margaret Street Stop 9 - Walmgate Bar Stop 10 - Barbican Centre Stop 11 - Fishergate Stop 12 - York Railway Station Stop 13 - Memorial Gardens Stop 14 - Museum Gardens

York: Witches and History Old Town Walking Tour

3. York: Witches and History Old Town Walking Tour

Join a characterful witch-guide to discover York's history and unearth the secrets of the Shambles on a walking tour, with the option to participate in potion-making. Tread lightly as you walk through York Minster, Petergate, and Stonegate—the very grounds on which these mysterious events occurred. Meet your guide and begin your walking tour. Hear historical tales and legends that focus on witchcraft. Explore the Shambles, as you step back in time and discover the unpleasant origins of this now picturesque street. Watch out on the cobbles as you lend your ear to terrible tales of the witches of Yorkshire. Walk to Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, the smallest street with possibly the longest name in York. It is said the name means "What a street." Then, view the remains of the St Crux Church, originally the largest medieval parish church in York. Continue to King's Square, learning more about the area and hearing the tale of the magical tree with a witchy connection. Next, follow your guide through the old quarter of York, the Minster Quarter, where you pass the vibrant shopping area of the city. Stroll through Low Petergate and High Petergate and listen in awe at the fascinating and chilling stories of the past. Marvel at the grandeur of the world's most magnificent and iconic cathedrals, York Minster. Right opposite that, see the St Michael Le Belfrey Church. Hear some more spooky and witchery tales and a name that might spark some recognition. Gaze at the architecture of medieval buildings, gorgeous Georgian townhouses, and other period styles in Stonegate, one of York's most historic roads. Discover the alleys, ginnels, and snickets of the city and walk through York's longest snickelway (narrow alleys running between York's streets). Feel the chills in the air in the hidden courtyard of Barley Hall. Back to where it all began, this spellbinding old town walking tour lets you discover the wicked history of medieval York. In addition to exploring York, you can also opt to enter the Potions Cauldron for an immersive potion-making experience. Uncover the secret room and get lost in another world as special effects take you on a quest to make the perfect potion.

York City Pass: Access 20 Attractions for One Great Price

4. York City Pass: Access 20 Attractions for One Great Price

York is a city with over 2000 years of history to explore, choose your own adventure in this amazing city. After purchase, your York City Pass gives you free entry to over 20 attractions in York.  Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in York and see the best of the city. You can visit JORVIK Viking Centre, York Dungeon, York Minster, Barley Hall, and more. You can also hop on the City Sightseeing Bus or the York City Cruises. With a variety of different options of things to do in see, you can thoroughly explore York. The York Pass also gives you discounts on taxi fares, BOBH day trips from York, Mountain Goat Tours, City Cruises Evening Tour, York Cycling Tour, escape rooms, and ghost walks. Inclusions: • Pizza or pasta at ASK Italian (terms and conditions apply) • The Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre • Barley Hall • Bedern Hall • Beningbrough Hall • Clifford’s Tower • Castle Howard • DIG • Fairfax House • Golden Tours York 24-hour ticket • JORVIK Viking Centre • Mansion House • Merchant Adventurers’ Hall • Railway Museum Road Train • Roman Bath • Treasurer’s House • Van Gogh Experience • York Army Museum • York City Cruises • York City Sightseeing 24-hour ticket • York Dungeon • York Minster • Yorkshire Air Museum

The Yorkshire Dales Tour from York

5. The Yorkshire Dales Tour from York

Escape the crowded streets of York for a full-day sightseeing tour of the Yorkshire Dales, and discover one of England’s most dramatic landscapes. Departing York in the morning, trave; to Yorkshire Dales national park, well known for its beautiful rolling hills and lazy rivers which flow down the dales (or valleys). The first stop will be in the market town of Masham in Lower Wensleydale. Famous for its family-run breweries, steam engines, and annual sheep fair, its thriving market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) is still going strong 762 years since its 1st charter. Continue towards Middleham, nestled between 2 rivers. Travel through the gently sloping Dales towards Castle Bolton, where you will see some of the best scenery Yorkshire has to offer. Admire one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval castles at Castle Bolton, built by Sir Richard Le Scrope to rival the most luxurious homes in the land. See the scars of its 600-year history, including its involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace, Mary Queen of Scot’s imprisonment, and a Civil War siege. Afterward continue the journey through the stunning landscapes of Yorkshire traveling towards Aysgarth Falls on the River Ure. Here you will have the chance to view the famous waterfalls, which drop over three major falls in less than one mile. An amazingly scenic stop, the falls are a showcase of the beauty of nature. For lunch, head to the charming market town of Hawes. Nestled in Upper Wensleydale in North Yorkshire this beautiful place is surrounded on all sides by scenery the Yorkshire Dales is famous for. Travel over the Buttertubs pass which connects Hawes and the hamlet of Thwaite with spectacular views over the surrounding valleys and fells. In recent days, the pass was featured as the second King of the Mountains climb of the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France. Hawes is also home to the Wensleydale Creamery, famous for its array of cheeses which are much loved by fictional, animated characters, Wallace and Gromit. Hawes marketplace was first recorded in 1307 and still has a lively market every Tuesday. Enjoy the delights of Wensleydale Creamery including the visitors center and cheese tasting room. Explore the creamery and have a taste of the real Dales in their sample room. There is plenty of time to shop for your favorite cheeses and marvel at the beautiful surroundings. Finally, follow the Dales scenic route back to the medieval city of York, driving through picturesque villages and classic Dales villages, with stops along the way so you can photograph the memorable landscapes.

From York: Steam Train, Whitby, and North York Moors

6. From York: Steam Train, Whitby, and North York Moors

Depart York and travel through the quaint villages of North Yorkshire as you make your way to the medieval market town of Helmsley. Pass through the idyllic village of Hutton-le-Hole, and then enter North York Moors National Park. Learn the history of the people and natural surroundings as you travel up and down the hills. Go for a stroll amongst the heather and get breathtaking views across Rosedale. Arrive at the seaside town of Whitby, where Captain Cook learned to sail. Get about two hours to explore the ruins of Whitby Abbey and enjoy a fish and chips lunch. Take a boat trip from Whitby harbor to discover the town's vampire connections. Next, visit Goathland, where the TV series Heartbeat was filmed, and treat yourself to a drink in the pub that serves as the fictional Aidensfield Arms. Continue to Goathland railway station – Hogsmeade Station from the Harry Potter films – and board a steam train for a magical journey on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Board the minibus upon arrival in Pickering and journey back to York. Follow a scenic route through the countryside and stop to take photos of Kirkham Priory along the way.

York: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

7. York: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

Contained within a ring of medieval stone walls, York concentrates 2000 years of history into a remarkably small area. This ninety-minute tour begins at Bootham Bar, the city’s northern entrance, from which every period of York’s development is visible, from Roman times to the present day. You’ll then enter the tranquil, green oasis of the Museum Gardens - a Victorian botanic garden which contains an 18th Century observatory, the remains of a Roman fortress and the spectacular ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. From here it is a short walk to the Minster - the largest medieval gothic cathedral in the country - which has dominated the city’s skyline for over 900 years. The Minster lies at the heart of a warren of ancient streets whose layout is Viking in origin. You’ll hear tales of Viking invasion while delving deep into the maze of secret passages known as ‘Snickelways’; passing an unhappy mermaid and a little red devil as well as catching a glimpse of a 15th Century banqueting hall. Finally you’ll emerge into the Shambles,York’s best-known cobbled street - once a row of butchers, now instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans as the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

From York: Full-Day Yorkshire Dales Tour

8. From York: Full-Day Yorkshire Dales Tour

Leave York at 9:00 AM to explore the stunning landscape of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Stop at the 14th-century Bolton Castle, former home of Mary Queen of Scots, to enjoy the magnificent views over Wensleydale. Next, enjoy some free time in Hawes. Sample the cheeses at the world famous Wensleydale Creamery, visit the Dales Countryside Museum, or explore the quaint shops and cafes. Move on to the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Pass through the picturesque villages on the way to Kettlewell, the main filming location for the Calendar Girls movie. Explore the village, learn more about the true story behind the movie, or relax with the locals in one of the pubs and cafes. Finally, stop in the charming town of Pateley Bridge, winner in the Great British High Street Competition in 2016. Visit the oldest sweet shop in the world before heading back to York, arriving at around 5:15 PM.

Guided Cycling Tour of York

9. Guided Cycling Tour of York

Explore the ancient city of York on a thoroughly modern bike with an entertaining and knowledgeable guide. This tour will take you off the beaten track to fascinating historic places you won’t see on a typical bus or walking tour. You will travel at a safe and leisurely pace, staying on cycle paths and designated lanes for most of the ride. York has always been a magnet for visitors. There were the Romans, of course, who first settled in the area in AD 71. In the 9th century, the Vikings dropped in for an eventful 200-year stay. The year 1068 saw the arrival of the besieging forces of William the Conqueror, and in the 17th century, York was a hotspot in the English Civil War.   Although today’s residents much more fun to be around, those of the past have all left their marks and their stories. Although factual, the cycle tours are designed as a good-humored look at the fascinating and often grisly past of York. The tours take about 2 hours, and our average traveling speed is 900 years an hour.

York: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Tour

10. York: Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus Tour

Enjoy a day of city-sightseeing in York in the comfort of a hop-on hop-off open-top bus. See the city’s most famous monuments and buildings from great vantage points and learn about the city’s history from a live guide on board. Sit back and relax as your hear fascinating information about York Minster, Micklegate Bar, Clifford’s Tower, and much more. Benefit from a 24-hour pass that offers you the flexibility to hop-on or hop-off anytime at any of the 20 stops along the tour route.

Frequently asked questions about York Culture & History

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What people are saying about York

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 373 reviews

Fabulous trip, need a good level of mobility as there's lots packed into a short time. Driver/guide was excellent, lots of stories to tell to keep us entertained. Accomodation provided was amazing, lovely BB. Highly recommended.

Fab experience, well worth it. The potion making was really fun & a walk around the city with all of the info was great too - we would definitely recommend others to give it a go. Allegra was a fabulous tour guide witch ‍♀️

Informative and interesting guide (Cecil). He paced things perfectly and our small party of 4 mixed ages enjoyed it very much. Highly recommend as an introduction to York.

Small bus tour with very knowledgeable guide. We had lots of free time with many choices of acti v items. I would absolutely use Rabbie's Tours again.

Allegro was absolutely hilarious witty and entertaining. Recommend this tour Well worth the money