10 Best Things to do in York in 2020 – York is a magnificent city to live in or visit, with so many things to do and see. We have sites of historical importance, beautiful streets, fun attractions, cracking theatres and fab restaurants. As well as a pub for almost every day of the year and amazing amounts of festivals!
York Minster is one of the world’s most magnificent cathedrals, and towers above all the rest of the buildings in York. It can be seen on the horizon for miles around. It is a stunning building to visit. You can also explore its undercroft or climb the high central tower for some magnificent views. Plus, your entrance ticket is valid from a full year from your first visit. “York Minster is the second-largest Gothic cathedral of Northern Europe and clearly charts the development of English Gothic architecture from Early English through to the Perpendicular Period. The present building was begun in about 1230 and completed in 1472.”
The Bar Walls
The Bar Walls are the thick stone walls that circle the city. They are not entirely complete but are a great (free!) activity to do with older children. There are steps to climb and not all of the walls are fenced (meaning a drop to one side) so bear that in mind if there are accessibility issues or wild toddlers! You get a view of the city and The Minster from the walls that you just don’t get to see otherwise.
See our detailed post about and map of the Bar Walls here.
The Shambles is one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe. Although none of the original shop-fronts have survived from medieval times, some properties still have exterior wooden shelves, reminders of when cuts of meat were served from the open windows. We now have three Harry Potter shops and a Ghost Shop in The Shambles!
The Museum Gardens
Another free activity in the centre of York, the Museum Gardens are a lovely place to explore. On a summer’s day you can bring a picnic here and relax on a bench or the grass. You can also explore the ruins of the medieval St. Mary’s Abbey, or visit The Yorkshire Museum.
“There is so much to see and do including a chance to see inside Yorkshire’s oldest working observatory, wander round the gardens and see the vast botanical collection, spot some of the 40 species of bird within the gardens and visit the award winning Yorkshire Museum, which showcases some of Britain’s finest archaeological treasures and many rare animals, birds and fossils, in exciting new displays.”
York Castle Museum
The York Castle Museum is brilliant with lots of things to look at and explore. They have Kirkgate, a Victorian street, as well as actual prison cells. They also have lovely Christmas events too.
10 Best Things to do in York in 2020
Clifford’s Tower is very central in York, and situated between the Castle Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre. It’s looked after by English Heritage so will be included if you have an English Heritage card. “The stunning panoramic views over Old York from the top of Clifford’s Tower, make it the ideal starting point for any visit to the city. There’s plenty to discover at this imposing tower standing proud on its high mound. It is almost all that remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, and has served as a prison and a royal mint in its time. Enjoy unrivalled views of York Minster and the city of York, with its medieval churches and buildings. In the distance you can see as far as the North York Moors.”
Visit the Theatre
There are several theatres in York. The biggest two are the Grand Opera House which has a varied programme of musicals, plays and tribute acts, as well as a pantomime at Christmas with famous faces from the TV. The York Theatre Royal has two stages, the main stage and a smaller, more intimate studio. The main stage tends to be plays and touring theatre companies while the studio often has done great children’s theatre. Their panto is very unique to York and sells out quickly to a very loyal audience.
There are four cinemas in York. There are two in York City Centre, the Everyman, and the City Screen which is more central on Coney Street, overlooking the river. There are also two out of town multiplexes. There is Vue at Clifton Moor that has been around since the But has just had a major refurbishment in 2019, with a new modern foyer and all screens have recliner seats. Cineworld at Monk’s Cross opened in December 2019 and is very modern with a VIP room, IMAX and Screen X.
There are so many festivals in York – we are a big festival city! To name a few there is the Jorvik Viking Festival, York Christmas Festival, the York Festival of Food and Drink and the York Resident’s Festival.
See our list of all the great festivals in York here.
Dine in or out – York Restaurants
We have lots of fabulous restaurants in York from our humble but delicious fish and chips eaten from the paper on a park bench to fine dining in one of our many upmarket restaurants. Or why not try one of the many fabulous afternoon teas the city has to offer?
Pubs and Bars
York has a fabulous array of places to drink and socialise. Famously, in our relatively small city you can drink in a different pub every day for a whole year!