Is York worth visiting? Top 10 reasons to visit historic York

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IS York worth visiting? Top 10 reasons to visit historic York

Steeped in history and brimming with timeless charm, York stands as a living testament to centuries of captivating stories. Nestled in the heart of England, this city wears its medieval past with pride, inviting modern explorers to uncover its rich heritage. Delve into the mysteries and marvels that make York an unmissable destination for history enthusiasts and curious wanderers alike. So, is York worth visiting, what do you think? 😉 Here are my top 10 reasons to visit historic and lovely York!

Check out hotels in York for a wonderful weekend away!

OTHER posts about York YOU MAY LIKE…

1) The long and fascinating history!

The number one reason to visit York is its incredible history! When you visit York, it’s like stepping back in time and unlike anywhere else in the world!

With roots dating back over 2,000 years, York boasts a long and fascinating history that’s woven into its ancient streets. It was first established as a Roman settlement in AD 71 and named ‘Eboracum’. Serving as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior and a hub for military, political and economic activities.

York then became a significant Viking settlement in the 9th and 10th centuries after being invaded in 866 AD. It was renamed “Jorvik” and became a major trading and cultural centre.

You can visit all of York’s key historic sites whilst learning more about its history on the York Walking Tour. Stops include, the walls of York Minster, medieval and Roman ruins, the Shambles and a visit to Clifford’s Tower for panoramic views of the city.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the past, a visit to York promises an unforgettable experience!

Book your tickets:

View of York from above the Cathedral with trees and rows of old buildings

2) The awesome Foodie scene

York boasts a vibrant culinary scene that celebrates local produce and international flavours!

Sample traditional Yorkshire dishes like Yorkshire pudding and parkin, indulge in afternoon tea at one of the city’s charming tea rooms, or dine at award-winning restaurants serving gourmet cuisine. The city offers a diverse array of dining experiences to suit every palate!

Being famous for Sunday roasts and Yorkshire puddings, you wouldn’t immediately think of York as a vegetarian or vegan-friendly destination. But! With 4.63 vegan restaurants for every 15,000 residents, York has become one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the UK too!

If you’d like to discover more of York’s amazing food scene, you can go on a Hidden Gems Food Tour of York with a local expert. You’ll discover some of the city’s best-known independents and best-kept secrets!

But if you’d rather go with the flow whilst visiting York, here are some of my top vegan eatery recommendations below.

Top vegan and vegetarian restaurants in York:

  • The Orchid Vegan Restaurant – vegan Chinese food restaurant offering an extensive menu with a variety of mock meats. In addition to choices such as stir-fried noodles, pan-fried dumplings, fried rolls and rice.
  • Kohaku Vegan Sushi – vegan sushi take away operating from the Wawin Vegan Chinese restaurant. Options include: sashimi, curries, fried rice bowls, fried noodle bowls, maki, uramaki, furomaki, teppanyak and sushi rolls.
  • Herbivorous Spark – vegan comfort food specialising in house-made meat alternatives. Options include: philly cheesesteaks, mac & cheese and loaded fries.
  • Goji Cafe Vegetarian Cafe & Deli – vegetarian cafe with lots of vegan dishes! Options include: burgers, tofu, salads, sandwiches, Indian-inspired dishes and cakes (including vegan ones!).
  • Doner Summer – vegan fast food and drink offering inspired by the street food of Berlin. Expect plant-based kebabs, vegan fried chick’n and loaded fries!

Book tickets for foodie experiences in York:

Vegan fish and chips with mushy peas in a pot

3) The many cool and diverse museums

York boasts a number of museums that cater to a wide-range of interests. With each offering a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history and cultural heritage!

Here are some of York’s top museums:

  • Jorvik Viking Centre – explore the world of the Vikings through immersive exhibits and reconstructed Viking-age streetscapes, offering insights into York’s Norse heritage.
  • York Castle Museum – discover over 400 years of York’s social history through immersive exhibitions, including recreated Victorian streets and exhibits on crime and punishment.
  • National Railway Museum – home to a vast collection of historic trains and railway artefacts, showcasing the evolution of locomotives and the impact of railways on society.
  • York Art Gallery – housing a diverse collection of fine art, including paintings, ceramics, and sculptures from the 14th century to the present day, with a focus on British artists.
  • York’s Chocolate Story – delve into the sweet history of chocolate in York, from its origins to the present day, with interactive exhibits and delicious tastings.
  • Yorkshire Museum – explore Yorkshire’s rich natural and archaeological history, including exhibits on Roman and Viking artefacts, geology, and wildlife.

Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply curious to learn more about York’s rich heritage, the city’s museums and historic attractions provide an engaging and educational experience for visitors of all ages!

If you’re staying in York for a couple of days, I recommend getting a York City Pass as it gives you access to 20 attractions for just £59.

Get a York City Pass.

Male viking dummy holding a spear and a chain with a wolf attached to it at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York

4) It’s super spooky and notoriously haunted!

Visiting York for its haunted history adds an intriguing and spooky dimension to the city’s allure! It’s also renowned as one of the most haunted cities in Europe! 😱

York boasts endless ghostly tales and haunted sites that are sure to send shivers down your spine! Embark on a guided ghost walk through the city’s dark alleyways and hidden corners of York. Or take the Ghost Bus to hear all of the city’s most gruesome tales whilst taking in the spooky atmosphere of historic York at night!

Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, York’s haunted history will leave you questioning what lies beyond the realm of the living!

Book tickets:

  • Comedy Horror Show: York Ghost Bus Tour – enjoy 75 spooky minutes of sightseeing in York on board the Ghost Bus! Your creepy conductor will show you the city’s top sights and give you bone-chilling and humorous insights into some of the more gruesome events in York’s past!
  • York: Witches and History Old Town Walking Tour – experience Yorkshire’s wicked history on this spellbindingly unique walking tour, led by a bewitching guide. Explore the old town, see King’s Square, and more!
  • York: The York Dungeon Entry Ticket – see, hear, smell, and feel York’s dark history come to life with an entry ticket to the York Dungeon! Step into the past as frighteningly funny and engaging characters transport you back in time.
Clifford's Tower at night with the moon bright behind it

5) The lovely Yorkshire hospitality

York’s charm extends beyond its historic landmarks; it lies in the warmth and hospitality of its people.

York is known for its warm Yorkshire welcome, with friendly locals ready to share their love for their city. Whether you’re exploring the historic streets, chatting with shopkeepers, or enjoying a pint in a traditional pub, you’ll feel right at home in York!

Find out more about Yorkshire culture, past and present, from the perspective of a local on the York Walking Tour.

Book tickets for the York Walking Tour.

Mel stepping out of the 'Shop that must not be named' grabbing a broom from outside down The Shambles in York

6) Loads of colourful Festivals

One of the many reasons that people love to visit York is its vibrant festivals! Throughout the year, York plays host to an array of lively celebrations that cater to every interest and passion.

From the bustling York Food and Drink Festival, where foodies can indulge in gastronomic delights from around the world, to the lively York Pride Parade, which celebrates diversity and inclusivity, there’s a festival for everyone to enjoy!

Additionally, the York Festival of Ideas offers a platform for thought-provoking discussions and inspiring events, while the York Early Music Festival showcases the city’s rich musical heritage.

Whether you’re a food lover, music enthusiast, or simply seeking a taste of local culture, York’s colourful festivals will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired!

Check out hotels in York for a wonderful weekend away!

Pride letter balloons with a crowd of people with rainbow flags

7) All the fabulous shopping

Shopaholics will rejoice in York’s eclectic mix of independent boutiques, high-street stores, and bustling markets!

From the quaint shops of the Shambles, with their timber-framed facades and unique offerings, to the modern shopping centres along Coney Street, York offers a diverse retail experience that caters to every taste and preference.

Enjoy exploring hidden gems tucked away in medieval alleyways, browse for treasures in intimate markets, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll as you peruse the city’s vibrant shops and boutiques.

Whether you’re searching for artisanal crafts, designer labels, or one-of-a-kind souvenirs, York’s shopping scene has it all!

You can see some of these top shopping spots as part of the York Walking Tour or just ask your guide!

Book tickets for the York Walking Tour.

Medieval main street in York, UK with brown facades, windows and signs which looks like Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter film series

8) picturesque green spaces and relaxing parks

Visiting York offers more than just historic attractions and cultural experiences. It’s also a city blessed with abundant green spaces, providing peaceful retreats amidst its urban life.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks, taking in views of historic landmarks along the way, or escape to the tranquility of the city’s parks and gardens, where colourful blooms and green landscapes create a serene atmosphere.

Whether you’re picnicking in Rowntree Park, exploring the woodland trails of Hob Moor, or simply soaking up the sunshine in Homestead Park, York’s green spaces provide the perfect backdrop for unwinding and connecting with nature amidst the bustling cityscape.

You can see some of these green spaces as part of the York Walking Tour or just enjoy discovering them as you explore York!

Book tickets for the York Walking Tour.

St Mary's Abbey York ruins beige arch and green grass

9) Quaint and historic pubs

Visiting York for its historic pubs and alehouses offers a cool journey through centuries of tradition. Visiting one of York’s atmospheric taverns, with their timber-framed facades and cozy interiors, feels like stepping into a bygone era!

From centuries-old alehouses like the Ye Olde Starre Inn, reputedly the oldest licensed pub in York dating back to 1644, to traditional taverns like the Golden Fleece, with its rich history and ghostly tales, each establishment exudes its own unique charm and character!

Whether you’re seeking a taste of authentic Yorkshire hospitality or simply looking to quench your thirst with a fine ale, York’s historic pubs and alehouses offer a warm welcome and a cozy atmosphere to unwind in.

Medieval main street in York, UK with brown facades, windows and signs which looks like Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter film series

10) Lastly…It’s the gateway to Yorkshire – duh! 😉

Visiting York offers the perfect gateway to exploring the stunning landscapes and charming towns of Yorkshire. Which makes it an ideal base for day trips and excursions!

From the picturesque Yorkshire Dales to the rugged North York Moors, the region surrounding York is teeming with natural beauty and outdoor adventures, including: Whitby, Scarborough, or Harrogate.

Each destination offers its own unique attractions and experiences. Whether you’re craving a peaceful countryside retreat or a day of seaside fun, York’s central location makes it easy to explore the best that Yorkshire has to offer.

top picks for day trips from York:

  • The Yorkshire Dales Tour from York – discover the best of the Yorkshire Dales on an eight-hour sightseeing tour from York. Drive to picturesque villages in the Dales, such as Masham, and Reeth whilst passing historic castles, waterfalls, and more!
  • From York: North York Moors and Whitby Guided Tour – discover the best of North Yorkshire’s villages, market towns and moorlands on a full-day tour to Whitby, Helmsley, North Yorkshire Moors National Park and more!
  • From York: Moors, Whitby, and the Yorkshire Steam Railway – explore the picturesque North York Moors National Park and the moorland villages of Hutton-le-Hole and Goathland. Enjoy two hours of free time in Whitby and take an optional ride on the steam train.

Check out hotels in York for a wonderful weekend away!

View of the Yorkshire Dales landscape with rolling green hills

OTHER posts about York YOU MAY LIKE…

So, is York worth visiting? Of COURSE! I hope you have a great time in York! 😉

Quick FYI guys – this post contains affiliate links to some tours and hotels I recommend. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

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