Things to do in York, Great Britain

York is very beautiful ancient city, located in north east of England.

When you visit York you will be submerged in history going back to Roman Empire, Viking era and Victorian time.

Ever since we moved to United Kingdom we try to explore as many cities, towns., villages, historic places and ancient sites as we can. From the very first visit, York captivated us so much that we have been back two more times after and we still haven’t seen everything we want there!

York is one of England’s most beautiful historic cities. During Roman times it was known as Eboracum. To the Saxons it was Eoforwick. The Vikings called it Jorvik.

York has many medieval buildings and streets so well preserved that it is hard not to feel as if you’re on a historic movie set! York is very walkable which makes it easy to explore it by foot even with kids! Although I have to say cobblestone streets are not the easiest to push a stroller or a wheelchair.

The city has a lot of attractions so anyone can find something to their liking!

Even when we had visitors from the states, we were debating what to show, where to take them, as the U.K. has so many beautiful and interesting places! We ended up taking them to York, because we really wanted to impress them!

If you would like to do some research about York before the visit, the great place to learn more about what the city has to offer is this website https://www.visityork.org/

As a family we always want to find attractions which are interesting not only for us, parents but also for kids.

Jorvik Viking Centre

The very first attraction we visited in York, which we all were very excited about, was Jorvik Viking Centre.

It is a great place to not just see amazing Viking artefacts, found right there in York, but it is also an interactive ride wich takes visitors on journey back in time to relive everyday Vikings’ life.

The friendly Center employees, who by the way all dressed in Viking clothing, play Viking era music instruments, show and tell about different items found during excavations (which you can hold, touch and ask questions about), and for £2 you can get a souvenir replica of Viking coin made right in front of you! Artefacts range, from collection of coins and music instruments, to few Viking skeletons and a petrified giant poop (yes it’s quite bizarre!).

Viking’s faeces
Coin making

The Center is not too big so it’s perfect for even the small visitors! It probably took us only an hour .

The entrance ticket can be used for the following 12 months for free entry! And if you pay a bit more you can include additional attraction and keep visiting them for the whole year! The JORVIK Group offer is enabling you to visit five of the best city-centre attractions in York including Barley Hall, DIG, Henry VII Experience and Richard III Experience, throughout the year, for one discounted price. Ultimately you can shop and get one of different city passes to explore even more of the city’s amazing historic places.

York Attraction Pass

DIG

By getting a multiple attraction ticket we were able to take kids to DIG, where we pretended to be archeologists and dig for different hidden objects in few big pits. We speculated of what the discoveries can tell us about passed life… then we had a go at identifying different categories of objects like bones, shells, pottery and other archeological findings. The most amazing piece was a small fragment which looked like an odd rock but lighter and all visitors had a turn in holding it so they could try guessing what it could be… to everyone’s surprise (although I had my suspicions after seeing one on display at the Jorvik Viking Centre) it was a part of Viking petrified poop. Where else would you have a chance to not only see but to hold Viking poop?

Richard III Experience

Both the Richard III and Henry VII Experiences are located in ancient Bars (Gatehouses) on York’s city walls.

Even with us returning several times to York we still haven’t made it to Henry VII exhibition but really enjoyed Richard III experience, where we learned more about the controversial king whose reign was only 3 years.

It is located at the Monk Bar wich is the tallest gateway in historic city walls of York. Over centuries it was used as guardhouse, prison and police house.

City Wall Walk

From the tower where Richard III exhibit located you can exit right on to the city walls and enjoy the walk along well preserved walls enjoying stunning views of York Minster and other historic buildings with beautiful architecture.

Waking through streets of York is by far my favourite thing to do. Old cobblestone streets with some building dating back to medieval times, small cute boutiques, inviting restaurants and cafes, street musicians and performers, all these give this city unforgettable charm!

Shambles

And while you stroll through winding streets of York, make sure to visit the most famous street of the city and possibly even England- Shambles.

It’s a must see street especially if you are a Harry Potter fan or anyone in your family is! Shambles Street was inspiration for Diagon Alley and now this real life HP street is boosting with tourists browsing in multiple shops that sell HP goodies!

Every time we visit York kids spent ton of time just looking around!

Many houses on the street date back to the late fourteenth and fifteenth century (around 1350-1475). Back in the days the Shambles was a street where butchers’ had their shops and houses, many of them had a slaughterhouse at the back, making it easy to have a ready supply of fresh meat. The meat would be hung up outside the shops for sale on what are now the shop window of all sort of exciting merchandise such as Harry Potter, Vikings and even Game Of Thrones! So in my opinion just this one street is worth a visit to York!!!

York Chocolate Story

There’s a nice square with different shops and often times some market is in full swing!

One of the stores we always tend to stop at is York’s Chocolate Story, which is not only a shop with an amazing selection of local chocolate but also a chocolate museum. York Chocolate Story

Surprisingly we still haven’t visited the museum, as we seem never have enough time…. only to browse the store and buy delicious chocolate.

Clifford’s Tower

The other historically interesting sight I would recommend to visit is Clifford’s Tower!

Clifford’s Tower proudly stands on a mound giving absolutely breathtaking views of York from its walls.

It is symbol of the power of England’s medieval kings. William the Conqueror, who was the first to built the castle here in order to keep the rebels of the north under control. The tower was twice burned to the ground, before it was rebuilt in stone by Henry III in the 13th century. Clifford’s Tower has fascinating history and I would suggest to visit English Heritage siteto learn some interesting facts and speculations about it, including the gruesome suicide wich took place within its walls.

If you have only few days in York, these attractions will keep you busy. But there is so much more and we certainly will be back to explore all others interesting places York has to offer!

There are quite few places we haven’t been yet:

York is truly one amazing city and I am sure it will win you over after just one visit! No wonder it used to be called The Capital of The North.

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