A Guide to York: Things to Do

York is renowned for its stunning architecture and heritage. It successfully merges cobbled streets and ancient buildings with designer shops and an abundance of bars and restaurants, all of which are encompassed by historic city walls. It is due to York’s perfect mix of old and new that it was named ‘Britain’s best place to live’ by the Sunday Times in 2018. We certainly agree, but not only is it a great place to live, it’s also a fantastic city to study in!

York Minster

With so much to see and do in York, you will struggle to run out of ideas. Weekends are the perfect time for our students to explore the city and what better way to start than with the main attractions? If you’ve heard of York, you most likely will have heard of York Minster. The Gothic style cathedral boasts 128 stained glass windows and stands tall with the central tower being 235 feet high. It is stunning enough to soak in its size and beauty from afar outside, but if you’d rather get an inside view there’s only a small admissions fee between you and a tour of the Minster. If you’re up to it (and if you don’t mind heights) you could even walk up the 275 steps to the top of the central tower for breathtaking views of York.

On a rainy day, a great day out is the National Railway Museum. The museum houses a number of historically significant railway vehicles, with a purpose to showcase the history and development of railway transport in Britain. The various locomotives on display each tell a different story and have been preserved wonderfully. Fun fact: it is the only place you will find a bullet train outside of Japan! The museum is great fun for people of all ages and hosts a couple of cafés and a gift shop also. It is super affordable as there is no admissions fee, but rather donation boxes so that you can donate as much or as little as you like to keep the museum running. The picture featured above is the ‘road train’ that the museum operates, running from the Minster to the Museum and vice versa allowing an easy trip into the city centre and yet another opportunity for some sightseeing.

Trackless train
York's Chocolate Story outside

York was once known as ‘the Chocolate City’, with the Terry and Rowntree factories coating the city in a chocolate dust. The Terry family went on to create the iconic Terry’s Chocolate Orange, whilst Rowntree (now owned by Nestlé) gave us KitKat, Aero, Yorkie and Lion just to name a few. You can learn all about the chocolate history of York and its famous chocolate creators by visiting York’s Chocolate Story in the city centre. Tickets are around £13 and the tour itself is 90 minutes long. It’s a brilliant way to learn a bit more about York’s heritage and the chocolate creation process, whilst also getting the opportunity to taste some of the finished product!



Bettys Café Tea Rooms is a true Yorkshire gem, with the only branches being in York, Harrogate, Northallerton and Ilkley. They are arguably most known for their afternoon tea, which you can enjoy from £39.95 per person. Breakfast is served all day, and they have a wide variety of cakes and scones if you simply fancy a cup of tea and a treat. There’s also a shop filled with freshly made food, which is great for buying a gift or perhaps just a treat to enjoy when you get home. Top tip: don’t be scared off by the long queues, they usually go down pretty quickly! If you are a bit short for time however, try going later in the afternoon when it may have calmed down slightly. If that doesn’t prove successful, there’s always ‘Little Bettys’ situated on Stonegate which (usually) has a much shorter waiting time.

Bettys Cafe Tea rooms outside
YorkyPud shop

A ‘YorkyPud Wrap.’ Yep, you read that right! A Yorkshire pudding and a wrap. It might seem like a bit of an unconventional combination, but the York Roast Co. has been dominating the high street with the roast dinner hybrid for some time. The company has been family run since 2004, but it wasn’t til around 2017 that the YorkyPud became a viral sensation. It has featured on numerous media outlets such as BBC Radio York, ITV’s This Morning and The Guardian, all of which rave about its deliciousness – with some even describing it as ‘Christmas dinner in a wrap.’ Why not try it out for yourself?

Brew and Brownie is a small independent cafe serving a wide range of food from traditional breakfast dishes such as eggs Benedict, as well as pancakes, sandwiches and sweet treats. They have vegetarian and vegan options also, so there’s something for everyone! It also has a bakeshop just two doors down where you can get a coffee and sandwich or toastie to take away. It’s located in the city centre and is therefore a great spot to have breakfast or brunch before a day of sightseeing and exploring!

Brew & Brownie
York City Walls

After all of that eating, you may feel like stretching your legs. The York City Walls were erected by the Romans to defend the city in AD71. Now, they are one of York’s best attractions and are free to walk! You can start the walk wherever you wish as there is no designated route, and you can also choose a time most convenient for you as they are open from 8am until dusk. The walk itself isn’t very strenuous, you can go at your own pace and there are plenty of benches along the way for rest breaks. Usually, the walk will take around two hours. Completing the walk of the city walls is a fantastic way to gain a different perspective of York and its grandeur, as well as adding a more active venture to your itinerary.

If you’re a bit of a daredevil and always on the lookout for the obscure, The Hilt is the place for you. Having just recently opened on Goodramgate, they deliver a one of a kind Viking-themed experience of axe-throwing. You and your friends can book a slot and compete to see who can throw the meanest axe and hit on target. Disclaimer: the coaches are professionals and there to guide you and oversee the game. (Obviously don’t try this at home!) They then provide medieval meatballs and sharing snacks such as nachos for when you have worked up an appetite! It’s definitely unusual and a nice change from some of the more ‘ordinary’ activities you may think of.

The Hilt York shop front
Odeon Everyman cinema in York

Everyman is a redefining cinema which has a full bar and restaurant and delivers hot food right to your seat! It is sensible to book ahead either via telephone or online through their website. They have film showings running throughout the day which makes a cinema trip ideal whether it be during the day or on an evening – whichever one you happen to prefer. Everyman shows a wide range of films, from the mainstream blockbusters to more obscure, independent films.

York has so much more to offer, but these activities are a good place to start! The city is overflowing with history and culture and it is easy to see how it manages to attract around 7 million visitors a year. There is plenty to fill your time with on the weekends and all of these activities are a fantastic way for our students to practise their English and have authentic, challenging interactions!

It just takes one glance at our school building to appreciate how beautiful the architecture in York is. Our building is filled with character and charm, with stunning surroundings and a central location also!

If you have enjoyed reading all about fun things to get up to in York and like the look of these different places, why not join us? It’s never too late to make a booking and decide to study with us! You can use the following link: https://www.english-in-york.co.uk/book-now to get in touch, we look forward to hopefully welcoming you to both the school and the beautiful city of York very soon!


EiY school front

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