If you’re wondering what to do in York, you’ve come to the right place. This historic city in northeast England is packed with enjoyable activities and unique attractions. Take your pick from axe-throwing and horse-racing to walking the city walls or venturing into a more sinister spirit world after dark.
What To Do In York
From our experts to you, here are the very best top things to do in York, UK.
1. Axe throwing at The Hilt
Get right into the Viking spirit with axe-throwing at The Hilt, a fun new venue that combines learning a new skill with tasty Nordic-inspired food and drink. But first, the action! Come as a family or group for this exciting experience that is fun for everyone over the age of 13. Meet your expert coach/warrior and make the most of your 20-minute training session as you learn how to throw an axe one-handed or two-handed at the target.
It’s like bowling or archery, only more hands-on! After your team training, you get 40-minutes of axe-throwing in your own lane as you compete with friends - loser buys the drinks perhaps? Finish what must be the most fun thing to do in York with snacks and tasty bites ranging from Viking meatballs to spicy Tater Tots and Nachos. Skol!
2. See, hear and smell history at Jorvik Viking Center
The award-winning Jorvik Viking Centre takes visitors beneath the streets of York aboard a 21st century capsule. It transports you through the archaeological dig with dioramas of Viking life complete with audio commentary and authentic smells of freshly cut wood, fish, horses, candle wax and even a whiff from the cesspit! Explore the galleries of Viking artifacts and tools or grab a trowel and join the DIG excavation. History was never so much fun!
3. Ghost walk around York’s oldest streets
Known as one of the most haunted cities in the world, York has a gruesome past best discovered on the Original Ghost Walk of York. It’s one of the most unforgettable things to do in York’s historic streets. Your experienced guide will reveal a dark and scary side to the city, starting in the grounds of York Minster with some bone-chilling ghost stories. Visit the Treasurer’s House, reputedly still echoing to the sounds of Roman centurions, pop into the tiny Hole in the Wall pub and examine photos of what appear to be ghostly apparitions. Don’t expect to sleep well after this scary ghost tour.
4. The York races at York Racecourse
If you’re looking for things to do in York that are more upscale, York Racecourse offers a change of pace. Check the calendar for racing fixtures, dress up in your gladrags (collared shirts for gents and perhaps high heels and a fascinator for ladies) and pocket your lucky shamrock. Get into the spirit with a bet or two, then watch from the stands with bated breath as the horses race. Celebrate or commiserate with a burger and a glass of bubbly.
5. Walk the walls with York’s Wall Trail
One of the best free things to do in York is walk around the old city on top of the Roman Walls. Built as a defence in AD71, the elevated 2.8-mile walkway has some steps and benches to rest along the way. You can get on and off at various points around the city, perhaps starting at Barker Tower. You’ll pass several “bars” (gates into the city) along with bridges, landmarks and Clifford’s Tower.
6. Dungeon Tours in central York
The York Dungeon bring 2000 years of dark history to life through a series of recreated events with live actors, special effects and gripping characters. Meet Vikings, Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin and anticipate a few scary surprises around every corner. Expect to scream out loud or laugh hysterically as this award-winning terror tour introduces you to York’s grizzliest past.
7. Ghost bus around York’s most haunted city
If you’re wondering what to do in York on a cold, dark evening, hop aboard the 1960’s Routemaster bus for a journey around the darker side of York. The trip last 75 minutes and you get to learn some very surprising facts as well as seeing all the main attractions: The Shambles, Clifford’s Tower, Knavesmire Gallows, York Minster and even Dick Turpin’s Grave. It’s best described as a comedy-horror experience on wheels.
8. Climb to the Top of York Minster
Visit York Minster and appreciate the 800-year-old history, magnificent architecture and brightly coloured stained glass that makes this place of worship such a wow. Admission includes free guided tours between 10am and 3pm. For the ultimate experience, join a Tower Tour. Climb 275 steps, passing many Gothic grotesques, to reach panoramic views from the highest point in York.
9. Museum Gardens and Yorkshire Museum
One final fun suggestion for what to do in York is a visit to the Yorkshire Museum. Kids of all ages will love the Jurassic World exhibition, the Map that Changed the World and early photographs of York. The gardens are free to enjoy and include the medieval ruins of St Mary's Abbey. As well as outstanding trees and flowers the gardens are a haven for birds and include Yorkshire’s oldest observatory.
There really are some amazing things to do in York for all ages and interests, whether you are looking for history, sport, architecture, spooky tales or fun experiences. The most unforgettable attraction in York has to be axe-throwing at The Hilt so book your spot now to avoid disappointment. The food is pretty memorable too!