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York, England For first-time visitors

Our most recommended York, England For first-time visitors

Comedy Horror Show: York Ghost Bus Tour

1. Comedy Horror Show: York Ghost Bus Tour

Let the darker side of York's history send a chill down your spine as you discover the city’s dark and terrible secrets. Board the Necrobus and get ready to embark on a 75-minute theatrical sightseeing tour. Enjoy a comedy horror journey around York's seedier past as your creepy conductor shows you the sights from a classic 1960s Routemaster bus. The on-board actors and eerily decorated bus will ensure you have the spookiest ride in town. Learn about the sinister side of many of York's most famous landmarks including Clifford’s Tower, York Minster, and Dick Turpin's grave. Let your imagination run wild as you hear about the ghosts that reside within the medieval walls of one of England's spookiest cities.

York: The York Dungeon Entry Ticket

2. York: The York Dungeon Entry Ticket

Journey through 2,000 years of York's eerie history with an entry ticket to the York Dungeon. Immerse yourself in the city's dark past with ten live shows and encounter unsettling historical characters as you stroll through specially-designed immersive sets. Start at the beginning as the dreaded Vikings invade and conquer York. Uncover the details of Guy Fawkes' infamous Gunpowder Plot and what really happened that November night. Step inside the carriage to the Knavesmire, where one of history's most notorious Highwaymen returned. Embark on a journey brimming with terrifying characters and feel a chill as you walk through immersive 360-degree sets with thrilling special effects. Learn about real events and people that shaped the city in a unique and exciting way.

York: Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour

3. York: Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour

Get sorted, play quizzes and games, and experience some fantastic costumed re-enactments on this guided walking tour in York. Learn about the Harry Potter universe and history of York. See sights like Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express platform. Set off on your journey around town, enjoying Harry Potter trivia quizzes from your guide along the way to earn points for your house. Stay engaged with an animated scoreboard, video clips of movie scenes, costume pieces, and reenactments. Have the chance to use your spell knowledge to outwit members of other houses. Marvel at locations, such as the fictional Diagon Alley, and the platform for the Hogwarts Express. Soak in the views from the city walls. Explore the fantastic Harry Potter shop and uncover some of York's hidden gems.

North York Moors and Whitby Tour from York

4. North York Moors and Whitby Tour from York

See the best of Whitby and the North Yorkshire Moors on this fascinating and exciting full-day tour to one of Britain's most scenic areas. See the charming market town of Pickering before heading off the beaten track into the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, where there will be plenty of chances throughout your day to capture memorable photos and time to enjoy the picturesque scenery. Visit the scenic moorland village of Goathland and see the station turned into ‘Hogsmeade’ for 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone'. Discover the traditional seaside town of Whitby, enjoying a lunch of fish and chips and then taking a stroll along the harbor or visiting the dramatic ruins of Whitby Abbey, which was the inspiration for the novel ‘Dracula’. Drive through more classic Yorkshire countryside as you make your way through Egton and Egton Bridge towards Glaisdale. This peaceful village is home to Beggers Bridge, a 17th-century bridge with a fascinating romantic story behind it.  Enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views on the moorlands before stopping to view a collection of historic furnaces and explore the quaint market town of Helmsley. Visit the bustling market square, dramatic castle ruins, charming tea rooms or inviting inns.

York: Witches and History Old Town Walking Tour

5. York: Witches and History Old Town Walking Tour

Join a characterful witch-guide to discover York's history and unearth the secrets of the Shambles on a walking tour, with the option to participate in potion-making. Tread lightly as you walk through York Minster, Petergate, and Stonegate—the very grounds on which these mysterious events occurred. Meet your guide and begin your walking tour. Hear historical tales and legends that focus on witchcraft. Explore the Shambles, as you step back in time and discover the unpleasant origins of this now picturesque street. Watch out on the cobbles as you lend your ear to terrible tales of the witches of Yorkshire. Walk to Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, the smallest street with possibly the longest name in York. It is said the name means "What a street." Then, view the remains of the St Crux Church, originally the largest medieval parish church in York. Continue to King's Square, learning more about the area and hearing the tale of the magical tree with a witchy connection. Next, follow your guide through the old quarter of York, the Minster Quarter, where you pass the vibrant shopping area of the city. Stroll through Low Petergate and High Petergate and listen in awe at the fascinating and chilling stories of the past. Marvel at the grandeur of the world's most magnificent and iconic cathedrals, York Minster. Right opposite that, see the St Michael Le Belfrey Church. Hear some more spooky and witchery tales and a name that might spark some recognition. Gaze at the architecture of medieval buildings, gorgeous Georgian townhouses, and other period styles in Stonegate, one of York's most historic roads. Discover the alleys, ginnels, and snickets of the city and walk through York's longest snickelway (narrow alleys running between York's streets). Feel the chills in the air in the hidden courtyard of Barley Hall. Back to where it all began, this spellbinding old town walking tour lets you discover the wicked history of medieval York. In addition to exploring York, you can also opt to enter the Potions Cauldron for an immersive potion-making experience. Uncover the secret room and get lost in another world as special effects take you on a quest to make the perfect potion.

York: River Ouse City Cruise

6. 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.

City Sightseeing York Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

7. City Sightseeing York Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

Founded by the Romans, York soon became England's Second City and has witnessed wars, peace agreements, and prosperity throughout its 2,000 years of existence. King George VI reflected on the city's central role throughout the years when he said, "The history of York is the history of England". Visit the magnificent York Minster, with its priceless display of stained glass. Walk along medieval streets or on the 800-year-old Bar Walls. Visit award-winning museums, the York Botanical Gardens, or enjoy excellent restaurants and shopping facilities. You'll never be short of places to discover in this wonderful city. Your Tour Itinerary: Stop 1 - Exhibition Square Stop 2 - GillyGate Stop 3 - Monk Bar Stop 4 - Foss Bank Stop 5 - Peasholme Green Stop 6 - The Stonebow Stop 7 - Clifford's Tower Stop 8 - Margaret Street Stop 9 - Walmgate Bar Stop 10 - Barbican Centre Stop 11 - Fishergate Stop 12 - York Railway Station Stop 13 - Memorial Gardens Stop 14 - Museum Gardens

York: River Ouse Early Evening Cruise

8. 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: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

9. 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.

The Yorkshire Dales Tour from York

10. The Yorkshire Dales Tour from York

Escape the crowded streets of York for a full-day sightseeing tour of the Yorkshire Dales, and discover one of England’s most dramatic landscapes. Departing York in the morning, trave; to Yorkshire Dales national park, well known for its beautiful rolling hills and lazy rivers which flow down the dales (or valleys). The first stop will be in the market town of Masham in Lower Wensleydale. Famous for its family-run breweries, steam engines, and annual sheep fair, its thriving market (Wednesdays and Saturdays) is still going strong 762 years since its 1st charter. Continue towards Middleham, nestled between 2 rivers. Travel through the gently sloping Dales towards Castle Bolton, where you will see some of the best scenery Yorkshire has to offer. Admire one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval castles at Castle Bolton, built by Sir Richard Le Scrope to rival the most luxurious homes in the land. See the scars of its 600-year history, including its involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace, Mary Queen of Scot’s imprisonment, and a Civil War siege. Afterward continue the journey through the stunning landscapes of Yorkshire traveling towards Aysgarth Falls on the River Ure. Here you will have the chance to view the famous waterfalls, which drop over three major falls in less than one mile. An amazingly scenic stop, the falls are a showcase of the beauty of nature. For lunch, head to the charming market town of Hawes. Nestled in Upper Wensleydale in North Yorkshire this beautiful place is surrounded on all sides by scenery the Yorkshire Dales is famous for. Travel over the Buttertubs pass which connects Hawes and the hamlet of Thwaite with spectacular views over the surrounding valleys and fells. In recent days, the pass was featured as the second King of the Mountains climb of the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France. Hawes is also home to the Wensleydale Creamery, famous for its array of cheeses which are much loved by fictional, animated characters, Wallace and Gromit. Hawes marketplace was first recorded in 1307 and still has a lively market every Tuesday. Enjoy the delights of Wensleydale Creamery including the visitors center and cheese tasting room. Explore the creamery and have a taste of the real Dales in their sample room. There is plenty of time to shop for your favorite cheeses and marvel at the beautiful surroundings. Finally, follow the Dales scenic route back to the medieval city of York, driving through picturesque villages and classic Dales villages, with stops along the way so you can photograph the memorable landscapes.

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Frequently asked questions about York, England

What top attractions are a must-see in York, England?

What are the best day trips and excursions from York, England?

The best day trips and excursions from York, England are:

Whitby

Other Sightseeing Options in York, England

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What people are saying about York, England

Our tour guide was excellent. She was very good with kids and adults, making the tour a lot of fun.

A great way to spend an hour and a half interesting and a funny tour guide. Highly recommended

Absolutely amazing experience! The best way to experience haunted York

Wonderful experience, the guide was brilliant and full of knowledge

Fantastic is the only word to describe the experience