York day trip

Image: York Walls and Minster, York, England

York is an ancient city which has known everything from Roman rule to life as a Viking capital. Later, it was medieval England’s bastion against attacks from the Scots. The mark of this colourful history is to be found all around you in this city in its great wealth of historic buildings — most notably the towering gothic York Minster. Its winding streets are full of traditional shops, cosy old pubs, delicious Victorian style tearooms, brilliant museums and great family attractions like York Dungeon.  Be sure to take a walk along the famous 15th century street, The Shambles, which was named Britain’s most picturesque street.

Start your journey

Direct trains to York from London Kings Cross take 1 hour 50 mins. From Manchester Piccadilly it’s 1 hour 20 minutes, and from Manchester Airport 1 hour 40 minutes. For short trips like this one, you can book your individual rail tickets in advance through the Trainline. If you’re making a longer journey, one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore Britain is with a BritRail Pass that allows you unlimited journeys, giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Things to do in York

It’s hard to miss the massive edifice of York Minster (a ‘minster’ is a church attached to a monastery, where the clergy are taught). Explore its grand gothic interior with a guided tour, then head down into the undercroft for its fantastic interactive museum, which will take you through 2,000 years of history on this site.

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Step into a vision of York’s gruesome past, brought to life with actors, sets and scary sounds! Experience everything from brutal Vikings to a medieval tavern, an execution, torture and witch burning! Not for the faint hearted or easily frightened.

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A city as old as York has more than its fair share of grisly tales and ghosts. Climb aboard the York Ghost Bus for a spine-tingling tour of this spooky city’s most haunted parts, including the grave of famed highwayman Dick Turpin. Expect actors and some technical trickery. The Ghost Bus leaves from stop RE by York Station on Station Road on the south side of the Royal York Hotel.

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The Shambles is arguably the best preserved medieval street in the world and mentioned in the Doomsday Book of William the Conqueror in 1086. In some parts of the street you can touch both sides of the street with your outstretched arms! Walk along the street and transport yourself back hundreds of years into medieval times!

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The Jorvik Viking Centre reveals the houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking city of Jorvik as it stood nearly 1,000 years ago. The centre has state-of-the-art galleries and a fantastic ride experience, so an attraction not to be missed.

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Travel back in time and discover a recreated Victorian Street and explore how 19th Century York residents lived and entertained themselves. This fun packed museum also has an interactive chocolate experience, so one for the whole family to enjoy!

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For those who want to extend their visit and experience other nearby towns and cities then the following places are very close by train and are there are regular and direct services daily.

Beyond York

Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire and very close to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. A quintessential English town with over 200 acres of grassland known as ‘The Stray’ in the town centre but also a vast array of shops and attractions to keep visitors entertained. Attractions include: Harrogate Turkish Baths and Health Spa, Betty’s Tearooms, Ripley Castle and Gardens, Valley Gardens, RHS Garden Harlow Carr and Royal Pump Rooms Museum. Harrogate is 35 minutes by train from York.

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Malton is a superb example of an English market town and is one of Yorkshire’s renowned foodie destinations with a number of food festivals, cookery schools, food markets and guided tasting tours. A culinary delight and surrounded by beautiful Yorkshire countryside. Attractions include: Malton Museum, Food tours, The Lanes, St Mary’s Priory Church, The Malton Cookery School, Malton Food Lovers Festival (May 2017). Malton is 24 minutes from York by rail.

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Hull was awarded the UK City of Culture 2017 title back in 2013 and has spent the last four years planning a huge number of events/exhibitions/festivals for 2017. They have a dedicated website focusing on the City of Culture 2017 activities - and this year will be a non-stop rollercoaster of events suitable for all ages. Attractions include: The Deep Aquarium, Hull Maritime Museum, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Old Town, The Humber Bridge and Hull Marina. Hull is 1 hour 5 minutes by rail from York.


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Britrail Pass

If you’re exploring Britain by train a BritRail Pass is the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel. For a single fixed price, you can make unlimited train journeys around the whole country or a region of your choice. BritRail tickets are exclusive to overseas visitors so you'll need to buy your ticket before you arrive in the UK.

BritRail 2 for 1 Attractions

From the Edinburgh Dungeon to the Tower Bridge exhibition, you can enjoy 2 for 1 entry with your BritRail Pass at more than 50 amazing attractions throughout the UK.