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York, United Kingdom

Cruises & boat tours

Our most recommended York, United Kingdom Cruises & Boat Tours

York: River Ouse City Cruise

1. York: River Ouse City Cruise

The York City Cruise provides an entertaining and informative tour of the historic city as seen from the River Ouse. Enjoy the sights from a different perspective as a friendly and knowledgeable team guides you leisurely up and downstream. Your cruise departs from the King's Staith landing. Admire the scenery from the comfort of the enclosed saloon or the upper deck and treat yourself to a refreshing drink from the bar. The duration of the cruise is either 45 minutes or 1 hour and is determined by the weather on the day and by demand. Your ticket will be valid for whatever duration is offered on the day of your visit. Typically the 1-hour cruise follows a route that heads upstream to Clifton Bridge on the northern outskirts of York city and then downstream as far as the Millennium Bridge on the city’s southern outskirts, before returning back upstream to the original landing stage. The 45-minute cruise operates in the same area without going quite as far in either direction, passing through the center of the walled city. During the cruise, the captain will keep you entertained with live commentary about the sites you pass. Learn about York’s history of flooding and its prosperity as an inland port, as you sail along the river that brought the Romans and the Vikings to this site. You’ll sail on a vessel that features an enclosed and heated saloon, restrooms, and a fully stocked bar serving beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks, and snacks.

York: River Ouse Floodlit Evening Cruise

2. York: River Ouse Floodlit Evening Cruise

Relax and enjoy a romantic end to your evening in York on this 70-minute Floodlit Evening Cruise. Your ticket includes a choice of refreshments; adults and concessions aged 18 and over can choose from a hot drink and a biscuit or a glass of Prosecco. Children and concessions aged under 18 can choose from a hot drink and a biscuit or a soft drink and a biscuit. Boarding commences at 20:45 and the boat departs at 21:15 from the King’s Staith Landing in central York. The boat returns to the departure location at 22:25. Sail a circular route on the River Ouse, as you enjoy a relaxing mix of jazz and swing background music. The on-board floodlights will illuminate landmarks along the water edge, as you take in the historic sights of York from a different perspective. You’ll sail on a vessel that features an enclosed and heated saloon, rest rooms and a fully stocked bar serving beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks and snacks.

York: River Ouse Early Evening Cruise

3. York: River Ouse Early Evening Cruise

This 1-hour Early Evening Cruise is an entertaining and informative tour of historic York from the River Ouse. Enjoy the city from a different perspective as a friendly and knowledgeable team guides you leisurely up and downstream. During the cruise, the captain will keep you entertained with live commentary about the sites you pass. Learn about York’s history of flooding and its prosperity as an inland port, as you sail along the river that brought the Romans and the Vikings to this site. You’ll sail on a vessel that features an enclosed and heated saloon, rest rooms and a fully stocked bar serving beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks and snacks.

York: Self-Steer Boat Rental

4. York: Self-Steer Boat Rental

Enjoy a leisurely one hour hire, exploring York from the helm of your own self-steer motorboat. Become a captain and explore the sites of York’s riverside in style. Your private boat can accommodate up to 8 people and will provide plenty of room for you all to head out on your own aquatic adventure, exploring the same river that brought the Vikings to this beautiful city. You will receive full instructions on how to operate your motor boat along with safety and river rules, whilst life jackets will be provided for any children. Your boat operating area is along a route that will along you to take in the whole city from the river within the one hour. Additionally, on a half hour hire you can operate within this area and will be able to take in most of the built up section of the Ouse, or make your way down stream to the Millennium Bridge and back to the moorings again. Please note that the boats cannot be taken past Clifton Bridge or the Millennium Bridge. You are not allowed to moor the boat up and disembark at any point on the river other than at the at King’s Staith (where your hire first began).

York: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

5. York: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

Contained within a ring of medieval stone walls, York concentrates 2000 years of history into a remarkably small area. This ninety-minute tour begins at Bootham Bar, the city’s northern entrance, from which every period of York’s development is visible, from Roman times to the present day. You’ll then enter the tranquil, green oasis of the Museum Gardens - a Victorian botanic garden which contains an 18th Century observatory, the remains of a Roman fortress and the spectacular ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. From here it is a short walk to the Minster - the largest medieval gothic cathedral in the country - which has dominated the city’s skyline for over 900 years. The Minster lies at the heart of a warren of ancient streets whose layout is Viking in origin. You’ll hear tales of Viking invasion while delving deep into the maze of secret passages known as ‘Snickelways’; passing an unhappy mermaid and a little red devil as well as catching a glimpse of a 15th Century banqueting hall. Finally you’ll emerge into the Shambles,York’s best-known cobbled street - once a row of butchers, now instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans as the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

From York: Day Trip to Whitby and The North York Moors

6. From York: Day Trip to Whitby and The North York Moors

The tour heads out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a scenic drive through the Vale of York. The first stop is at the Kilburn White Horse hill figure on the boundary of the North York Moors National Park, where your guide will tell you the story of how it was carved into the hillside in 1857. The next stop is in the picturesque market town of Helmsley, where you can view the medieval castle, explore the quaint shops, or just have a leisurely Yorkshire brew in one of the cafés. After Helmsley, you will head off through Hutton-le-Hole into the heart of the scenic North York Moors National Park for some photo stops, passing the 16th century Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge (the highest point on the Moors) and Ralph’s Cross.   Then, stop in the quaint and picturesque Yorkshire village of Lealholm to see the stepping-stones over the River Esk — a great photo opportunity. It is then just a short journey into Whitby. Whilst hearing stories about the seaside town’s history from your guide, you will also learn about the main places of interest that you may want to visit. As you arrive in Whitby, there will be a brief stop at the Captain Cook Statue and Whalebone Arch on the West Cliff then alternative drop-offs at the harbour or Whitby Abbey (recommended if you wish to start your visit there and avoid having to climb the 199 steps).   You will have a leisurely 3 hours of free time in Whitby where you can visit the town’s newest attraction, The Endeavour Experience — 1 of only 2 full-size replicas of the HM Bark Endeavour in existence. See also the Captain Cook Museum, take the Bark Endeavour scale replica boat trip around the harbour, or view Whitby Abbey, inspiration for the Dracula books. You may also just explore the shops and market of the seaside town and experience fish and chips from the famous Magpie Café. After Whitby, you will head back onto the North York Moors and arrive in the picture-postcard village of Goathland (filming location for Aidensfield in the Heartbeat television series and Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter movies) where you can explore the filming locations, or maybe just grab an ice cream from the village store. The tour leaves Goathland for a final stop to enjoy the stunning views at the Hole of Horcum before heading back to York.

Guided Cycling Tour of York

7. Guided Cycling Tour of York

Explore the ancient city of York on a thoroughly modern bike with an entertaining and knowledgeable guide. This tour will take you off the beaten track to fascinating historic places you won’t see on a typical bus or walking tour. You will travel at a safe and leisurely pace, staying on cycle paths and designated lanes for most of the ride. York has always been a magnet for visitors. There were the Romans, of course, who first settled in the area in AD 71. In the 9th century, the Vikings dropped in for an eventful 200-year stay. The year 1068 saw the arrival of the besieging forces of William the Conqueror, and in the 17th century, York was a hotspot in the English Civil War.   Although today’s residents much more fun to be around, those of the past have all left their marks and their stories. Although factual, the cycle tours are designed as a good-humored look at the fascinating and often grisly past of York. The tours take about 2 hours, and our average traveling speed is 900 years an hour.

York: Bishopthorpe Palace Christmas Cruise

8. York: Bishopthorpe Palace Christmas Cruise

The Bishopthorpe Palace Christmas Cruise is an ideal way to escape the busy shopping streets and step into the Christmas spirit. Your ticket includes a choice of hot drink (tea, coffee or hot chocolate) and a mince or apple pie.The one-hour relaxing cruise features traditional Christmas songs, punctuated with live captain’s commentary. Leave from old port district at King’s Staith, pass underneath the Millennium Bridge before leaving the outskirts of the city and sail past the site of the Battle of Fulford, arguably one of the most significant in the history of the United Kingdom. Experience a fantastic chance to look out for wildlife including swans, cormorants and kingfishers, as you leave the city centre and sail downstream to the village of Bishopthorpe. The vessel turns at the glorious 13th century Bishopthorpe Palace, official residence of the Archbishop of York. Your vessel will be equipped with an enclosed heated saloon, at least two toilets and a fully stocked bar serving beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks and snacks.

York: Self-Guided City Sightseeing Treasure Hunt

9. York: Self-Guided City Sightseeing Treasure Hunt

Embark on a self-guided treasure hunt for a fun and unique way to explore York outdoors at your own pace. Get clues sent to your phone and search your surroundings for the answers as you are led on a beautiful route through fabulous places. Start your treasure hunt in the fabulous Museum Gardens in the center of York. Play using your phones, on which you’ll meet Captain Bess, a snarky pirate who’s testing out new recruits to join her ship. Receive beautiful treasure maps leading you from one spot to the next. Find yourselves sneaking through a series of small streets and footpaths, passing medieval churches, and guildhalls. Use the sent clues to search for your surroundings. When you get the right answer, move on to the next place. Don’t worry, if you get stuck you can ask for a hint to help you on your way. Learn some interesting facts and stories along the way about the things you're spotting and get a better understanding of the history of York.

York: Romans, Vikings, and Medieval Marvels Audio Guide

10. York: Romans, Vikings, and Medieval Marvels Audio Guide

See York and its most iconic sights without the expense or time constraints of a group tour with this affordable audio guide. Stroll past the city's most iconic landmarks, including the Shambles and York Minster. Start at York Art Gallery and travel back in time through 2000 years of history as you stroll. Experience Roman, Viking, and medieval York, and see the city's great sights as well as its hidden gems. Learn the history of this city and the central role it has played in the history of England. Continue past iconic sights like the Shambles, one of the world's best-preserved medieval streets, and spot the story of Adam and Eve carved into York Minster’s Great West Door. Uncover some of the most important characters in York's development along the way, from its humble beginnings as a riverside Roman settlement, to its turbulent takeover by the Vikings, and on to its thriving medieval period of commerce. Feel free to start, pause, or restart at any time and complete your visit at your own pace. If your travel plans change, you can use the audio guide at any date of your choice or use the virtual in-app option for an at-home experience.

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What people are saying about York, United Kingdom

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 200 reviews

What a great experience. Each lovely member of the tour company staff was excellent and took good care of us. Captain Laurie made this trip fun—with his awesome live commentary. He had everyone giggling and we learned a lot. He also spotted a seal on the banks! Was that ever incredible. It was a great way to sit back and relax and to see the city from another perspective.

We had a lovely gentle trip along the river, it was well organised and informative, it was also excellent that our dog was allowed on the trip.

Excellent experience, very informative, they host was very knowledgeable of the area and the sites along the way, very friendly

This was a very pleasant relaxing cruise down the river Ouse with a very knowledgeable captain at the helm.

Great weather for an afternoon boat trip, great commentary from an experienced skipper! Highly recommended