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Top Things to do in York, England

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York Minster in York, England

A walk down York's historic streets feels like you've stepped back in time. Areas such as The Shambles and Stonegate help you imagine the Medieval era as it was in the 16th century. Roman and Viking influence consumes York, which is part of the charm that makes it so beautiful. From the postcard-ready York Minster to the haunted Golden Fleece, here are the top things to do in York, England.

Clifford's Tower

Clifford's Tower in York

Clifford's Tower, which sits atop a possible burial mound, was once part of the larger structure of York Castle. It's best known as the site of the 1190 Massacre, a riot which resulted in the death of 150 Jews. Built by William the Conqueror, the castle wore many hats over the years. It was used as a mint, a prison, and an English Civil War base. The inside is mostly gutted due to an explosion in 1684. Still, the structure, and especially the roof, is worth a visit.

York Minster

York Minster

Many things make York Minster one of the top things to do in York, England, but perhaps its most impressive features are the beautiful rose windows and the remarkable Medieval Gothic facade. The cathedral, which is the seat of York's archbishop, took more than 250 years to build. Over the years, it's been a victim of numerous fires, but it has been built back and restored stronger each time. Like many cathedrals, York Minster has a crypt that houses the remains of several past bishops.

Merchant Adventurers' Hall

Merchant Adventurers' Hall in York

Another Medieval building, Merchant Adventurers' Hall was built by charity-driven and religious individuals in 1357. Today, The Company of Merchant Adventurers of the City of York uses it for charity events. It's broken into three parts; a chapel, a charity hospital, and The Great Hall, a place where merchants once held important business meetings. This historical building is open to the public as a museum and cafe.

York City Wall

York City Wall

The York Walls are 13th century stone walls that protected the city in Roman times. Stretching 2.11 miles, the walkable walls follow a trail that leads to the four city gates - Micklegate Bar, Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, and Walmgate Bar. The York Walls take about 2 hours to explore and provide incredible views of the city and the Minster.

Shambles & Stonegate

Stonegate in York

Shambles and Stonegate are two of the most touristed passageways in York. They're lined with historic, architecturally significant buildings that date back to Medieval times. The Shambles lays claim to the popular Harry Potter themed store, The Shop That Must Not Be Named. You'll also find houses, cafes, pubs, and other shops.

York's Chocolate Story

York's Chocolate Story

Many aren't aware that York was once a major hub for chocolate production, so naturally, trying chocolate is one of the top things to do in York, England. One way to do this is by visiting York Chocolate Story, an attraction that teaches you the history and current status of chocolate in York. In the end, you'll sample chocolate and make your own sweet treat.

Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece in York

Dating to the 16th century, Golden Fleece is an inn and bar near York's city center. However, its age isn't the only thing that makes it special. Golden Fleece is said to be one of the most haunted places in the city, once appearing on the paranormal TV show "Most Haunted." One of its ghostly residents, the Victorian Boy, was trampled by horse outside its doors. Another, called the Grumpy Man, likes to sit at the bar along with his living counterparts. Haunted or not, the building is creepy - the cellar was once as storage for dead prisoners.

JORVIK Viking Center

York's Jorvik Viking Center is a reconstructed version of an old Viking city of the same name. Visitors discover the city via ride before heading into a museum filled with authentic Viking artifacts. It's rated as one of the top things to do in York, England.

York Cold War Bunker

Though it's a tourist attraction now, it wasn't long ago that this building was an active bunker. From 1961 to the 1990s, York's Cold War Bunker was built as a defense in the case of nuclear war. If nuclear bombs were to detonate, the bunker would monitor fallout, or radioactive waste that could fall upon York.

Where to Stay

Moxy York was one of my favorite hotels I've ever stayed in. Its swanky lobby had swinging chairs, a full-service bar, and video game consoles. If you aren't too scared, you could stay at one of the upstairs rooms of Golden Fleece. If these aren't for you, there's a good old-fashioned Holiday Inn in the city center that might suffice.


Most of the things that make York great are history-based, so if you're anything like me, the city should leave you awestruck. I hope this guide to the top things to do in York, England influences your time in the Medieval masterpiece.

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