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24 hours in York - best things to do?

I am spending one day and one night in York before starting my first RS tour in Scotland. Arriving late August about noon and will be leaving York by 3 pm the next day. I am definitely planning to visit the Minster, but wanted to know other suggestions on how best to spend my time. I like art, history, beer, and people-watching. Oh, and eating!

Has anyone been to the Jorvik Viking Centre? I like Viking history and wondering if it's worth the time and money.

Is the York City Sightseeing Bus worth the 13 pounds? I was thinking it might save me some time getting from place to place.

Any different or unusual things to see or do? Thanks for any suggestions.

Posted by
349 posts

I went there for the first time for a few days at the end of last year.

Top of my list for the best time spent was the railway museum ... absolutely terrific.

Jorvik, there was some rebuilding or such, (due to the floods the previous year?) - what there was a total waste of time (IMO, of course).

York is very compact, don't see the point of the bus. Get a map from the tourist centre.


Posted by
4948 posts

There are walking tours.
Free guided walking tours of the city. Leaving from Exhibition Square at -
Nov - March - 10:15 & 13:15
April - Oct - 10:15 & 14:15
June - Aug - 10:15, 14:15 & 18:15

In addition to the daily tours we offer ‘pre-booked’ group tours to suit your needs. To book contact us on 01904 550098 (24 hr answer phone) or preferably write to us at:
AVG Information Desk, 1 Museum Street, York, YO1 7DT or email
Map reference: SE 601521  Lat: 53.96148 Long: -1.08547
On Foot:
Tours start outside the York Art Gallery, just outside the city walls.

Posted by
3112 posts

No question , York is best done with shoe leather , and The National Railway Museum is an absolute must , along with the Minster .

Posted by
748 posts

Minster (climb the tower if you can if the day is clear), the Railway Museum, walk the walls, buy the 'Snickleways' book and follow all the tiny back alleys, discover exactly where Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma Gate is! Tea and fairly expensive but good food at Betty's - there are two, the big one on Coney Street, or better, and the one I prefer, 'Little Betty's' on Stonegate (near the Minster) and nearby for beer 'The House of Trembling Madness' if you can get in (it's not very big and popular), Clifford's Tower, and if you can get in, the Merchant Adventurers Hall. Plenty of pubs, choose one and dive in! Couple of good ones on the riverside and if it's a pleasant enough day to sit outside, a people watching experience. For a sobering and slightly weird experience visit York's Nuclear Bunker (English Heritage).

That should keep you going for a day! Have a great trip!


Posted by
172 posts

York is a tremendous walking city. Get out and walk the walls. The York Brewery was established in 1996. They make some beers that are more in the American style. Their tour is lots of fun. The building is neat. The people a joy. Betty's teahouse is very popular, but a cool experience.. Don't miss The House of the Trembling Madness, the best pub experience in York. downstairs is a bottle shop with more beers than you can imagine, and many good US beers. Upstairs the pub is neat, food pretty good, but the pub itself is awesome, it's located on Stonegate. For food we like Café Concero and the Maltings pub. York is one of those cities that is not touted as highly as some others, but when you leave it is the one that stays in your heart. Enjoy! Hank novato, Ca

Posted by
12389 posts

We had a short visit to York last May. We climbed the Minster tower, walked the city walls (complete circuit), and went to the Railway Museum--which was our favorite. It is right by the station, so you could do this before your departure, although you would have to stash your luggage at the Left Luggage office.

Posted by
568 posts

We took one of the free walking tours that met just outside one of the gates and loved it. The guide was so knowledgeable and helped us to appreciate the long history in York. I would also recommend walking the walls (or as much as you have time for), and visiting the York history museum.

As for eating, we very much enjoyed Little Italy when we were there about 3 years go.

Posted by
2849 posts

I haven't been to York yet but want to do the walking tour of cat statues-I think it starts at a gift shop of glass items and I think you can read about it on Tripadvisor

Posted by
2525 posts

Walk...a wonderful city to visit. As mentioned, the National Railway Museum is a must visit when in York. My favorite is the Mallard. It's a steam locomotive and holds the world record speed of 126 mph.

Posted by
908 posts

Love York! It's a walking city as others have noted. What I did with an overnight trip:
York Minster
Walked walls between Gilly Gate and Monk Bar
Stopped in shops along the way to little Betty's
Stopped at Saint Mary's Abbey ruins
Went to railway muesum
Took an evening ghost tour

The Minster was fantastic. If there's something drawing you--like viking history--then I say go with your interests. Brutal honesty: I work in transportation and trains are great, and yes, I understand it's an impressive collection, but I was not as excited about the train museum as others on this board. If you miss the railway museum, it's not the end of the world.

Posted by
370 posts

I was just reading over these great suggestions and wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to post.

Posted by
754 posts

What a great thread. I am so excited to see the cats.....We are going to do the Cat walking tour. THANK YOU to the OP for asking this question.

Posted by
991 posts

IMHO The Minster, The National Railway Museum and the Castle Museum.. And tea at Betty's naturally.

Posted by
8004 posts

Our favorites were the York History Museum, Railroad Musem, walking all over and not to be missed... a ghost walk. We enjoyed the ghost walk so much we did a total of 3 (all different). We were there for 4 nights and hated to leave.

Posted by
3252 posts

On a single day visit, we spent at least 2 hours at the Minster, with children, there's a lot to see and it is a very impressive church. Did not climb the tower. We went to Jorvik (pre-flood) and although expensive we are glad we spent the money for the visit. And walked the Shambles in between.

We seemed to have missed the must sees, the railway museum, walking on the wall, and the rest, but still had an enjoyable visit.

There's a day pass for the public bus that costs 5 pounds, but not sure it's worth it unless you are staying at a hotel out of center or using the park and ride lots.

Posted by
108 posts

We did the self-guided Cat walking tour in York a couple years ago. With only the Minster on our must-see list, it was a fun way to get delightfully lost in a fascinating town. There was a major horse racing event in town the weekend we were there with lots of people dressed to the nines and a lot of partying going on. We were told by a fellow on the train that York is a popular bachelor/bachelorette party town, too. York should check all your boxes for history, beer, people-watching and good food. Jenny

Posted by
17 posts

We climbed the tower, walked the walls, and just wandered through the city. In hindsight, we should have done the walking tour and the rail museum. It was VERY windy and cold in June, so please check the weather.

Posted by
409 posts

Might be a bit off from what you're expecting, but look into a bus tour to Ampleforth Abbey. North of York, 500 years old, beautiful village, too and -- sounds like you'd like this - the monks make their own fantastic beer!!!

I also disagree with the comments on Betty's. Yes it's nice. But it's crowded, full of American tourists, and there are some fantastic local tea/cofffee shops that are close by and might use the business since they're not yet in travel books! The local arts cinema has a fantastic deck overlooking the river, and great food. You might catch an interesting art flick there, too! The last time I was there a new place had just opened across from the government tourist office (near the castle gardens entrance). It was in an antique store - wonderful vibe!

American living in Waterville, Ireland
visited York 8 times in the past 3 years

Posted by
2849 posts

sandy.b do you remember how cold "very cold" was? You are probably like me-don't expect cold weather in June!

Posted by
921 posts

Walk the walls, the Minster, the museum that encompasses the ruins of St Mary's Abbey, and the free town walk. Fit in evensong too if you have time.

Posted by
4955 posts

It only takes a few minutes to read the plaque on Clifford's Tower, about the Massacre of 1190 - a less known bit of history. We couldn't climb for the view because it was locked.

Posted by
4537 posts

Some days in the third week in June this year in York were 32+C / 90+ F.

By contrast some days in the fourth week were 13C / 55 F.

You can't tell which you might get or any point in between.

Posted by
6082 posts

The OP was in April, but may be tracking still. We found Betty's Tea Room had two locations. The main one with modern decor and large dining room was on a busy corner on a main street and full of tourists. We skipped that and went to the other location on a smaller street towards the minster that was in an old, small shop and was much more interesting. I mention it because everyone we asked was directing us towards the former.

Posted by
370 posts

Thanks for the tip on the smaller Betty's Tea Room location. That sounds more to my liking. Yes, I'm tracking responses to this until I get to York in August!

Posted by
6082 posts

Kathy, here is link to the Bettys we liked: Bettys on Stonegate
Its around the corner and up the street from the larger one. All of the York you want to see is walkable, so nothing is very far from anything else.

Oh, and you can see one of the cats across the street from front windows.