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Perfect Weekend in York Itinerary

Perfect Weekend in York Itinerary

Are you planning on spending a weekend in York, UK? In this guide we share with you the perfect day by day itinerary along with suggestions on where to stay, where to eat and our other top tips from habing lived in the city. 

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Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Table of Contents

Our weekend in York  Itinerary

We are lucky to have once called York home, and it is a place that we got a lot of weekend guests. So we have tried and tested a fair few itinerary combinations and we think this is the best one. 

We have started this itinerary on a Friday night and make the assumption that you will be leaving late on Sunday so have tried to make the most of your time in this beautiful city. 

Friday Night in York 

York Minster at Night

Best things to do in York at night (UK)

This itinerary assumes you will get here on Friday afternoon and are looking for something to do in the evening. There are lots of things to do in York at night, but on your first night we recommend having a more chilled evening and heading out for a nice dinner. 

And for me there is one eatery that has to be on every York itinerary no matter the length and that is Guy Fawkes Inn. The Inn is actually where Guy Fawkes was born in 1570 and has a traditional interior lit by gas lamp and is beautifully atmospheric. 

We recommend ordering an ale and one of their amazing pies which are in our opinion the best thing on the menu. 

Once you have finished dinner, we recommend wandering around the nearby York Minster which is illuminated beauitfully at night before heading back to your hotel. 

Day 1 York Itinerary

So for your first full day in the city we recommend getting up and out early. So either grab breakfast in your hotel or head to one of our favourite cafes in the city Brew and Brownie which is also very conveniently located for your first stop of the day – York Minster. 

Woman and toddler stood in front of York Minster

Weekend in York Itinerary

York Minster should be top of everyone’s York bucket list. The towers dominate the skyline, and planning laws for York mean nothing can be built that would obstruct the view of the Minster. It is truly stunning and is my favourite Gothic Cathedral in the World. 

There has been a church on this site since 627AD. However the building as you see it today dates from aroun the 14th Century,

For this reason we recommend taking a tour of the Minster to truly appreciate it. Once inside the church I recommend viewing the beautiful stained glass windows including the Great East Window which is the largest medieval stained glass window in the world, taking a tour of the undercroft and for the more adventurous of you climb the almost 300 steps up to the top of the tower for some of the most amazing views of the city. We did this a while ago and the views are well worth the walk but if you are visiting with children please note that the minimum age requirement is 7.

Admission to the Minster costs 16GBP as of time of writing or is included in the York Pass.

We recommend allocating a couple of hours in your morning to fully experience the Minster. Once you have finished we recommend heading to your next stop nearby the famous and iconic street The Shambles. 

Woman holding a toddlers hand walking down the Shambles Street in York with no crowds after rain.

Why the Shambles should be on your York itinerary

Full Disclosure: I took this photo at 8:45am when it was pouring down with rain! It is not usually this quiet. If you want to get a shot like this be sure to get up very early and head here first. 

The Shambles has over 900 years of history as is the oldest shopping street in York.  Originally The Shambles was a row of butchers shops and it is believed to have been where  the term “It’s a shambles” in reference to the blood and offal that would run down the street from all of the butchers shops. 

    empty image of the shambles shopping street in York after rain. York Itinerary

Although this is one street and it is a bit touristy now, it is well worth allocating at least an hour in your itinerary to fully appreciate the street. And you may want to stay longer if you have a Harry Potter fan in your group as you may want to spend time in:

Once you have finished at the Shambles we recommend heading to another York institution Betty’s for afternoon tea. Again there is usually a queue outside so be prepared to wait. 

Once you have finished afternoon tea, we recommend taking a brisk stroll around the city walls to work off those scones. This is one of the best free things to do in the city. This walls are largely intact and are over 3km in length and you pass by some of York’s most famous attractions. 

For your evening I am recommending do one of my favorite things in the city – the original York Ghost walk. This walk starts at the Kings Arms Pub by the river, which is the pub that is famous for flooding. I like this walk as it was the first in the city and isn’t led by a costumed guide and is a great way to learn about some of York’s darker history. 

Once you have finished head out for a late night dinner. 


Again, we recommend starting with breakfast in the hotel or at one of the many amazing cafes in the city. 

We recommend starting the day at the amazing York Castle Museum. Some of the best exhibits at the museum include: 

  • the toy exhibition, 
  • the recreation Victorian street, and 
  • seeing the jail cell that once held the famous highwayman Dick Turpin. 

It is a great place to spend a couple of hours in the morning before heading to your next stop, Cliffords Tower. 

Cliffords Tower can be viewed from the outside or you can pay to actually go inside. 

View looking up towards cliffords tower in York with daffodils on the hillside

Your York itinerary should include Clifford’s tower

Cliffords Tower is run by English Heritage and is one of the most poignant monuments in York. Clifford’s Tower was once part of York castle but it is the site of York’s darkest moment as in 1190 150 Jewish people were massacred on the site. 

The Tower also offers beautiful views of the city.  

After you have finished here we recommend heading to lunch. Our favorite Sunday Roast in the city – complete with an amazing Yorkshire pudding is at the Chopping Block on Walmgate. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance as this is a very popular spot. 

Depending on what time you need to leave York, we recommend either starting your journey home or making your last stop. And our favorite place to end our York itinerary is at the National Railway Museum which is handily adjacent to the train station. This museum is one of the best things to do in York with kids. 

There are four main areas to the museum:

  • The Station Hall,
  • The North Hall,
  • The South yard and
  • the open storage area.

I would recommend first heading to the Station Hall as this is closest to the city entrance but also my favourite area. The Station Hall is home of the Royal Carriages and are so interesting to get a sneak peek into. Other highlights at the museum include:

View of the mallard train at national railway museum

View of the mallard train at national railway museum

  • The Mallard
  • The Shinkansen aka Japanese Bullet Train and
  • a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket. 

After this, it is time for home after what for me is the perfect weekend in York Itinerary. 

However if there is part of this itinerary you don’t fancy then you could add these alternatives: 

  • Jorvik Museum – perfect for those visiting with kids who want to learn more about York’s Viking History, 
  • York’s Chocolate Story – a museum dedicated to to chocolate making in the city with hands on and tasting opportunities, 
  • York River Cruise – a great alternative to walking the city walls especially if you are in York on a rainy day. 

Also if you have more than a weekend in York why not check out our ideas for the best day trips to take from York! 

Weekend in York FAQs

What is the best way to get to York?

York is a well located city and easy to reach whether you are using public transport, car or air. 

York by Train

York has a centrally located train station with regular trains from London and other parts of the UK. The train station is walkable from all the major attractions and frequent trains. For this reason whenever we visit York we go by train. 

York by Car

York is easy to reach by car however be warned car parking is a premium in York and not all hotels have car parking facilities so be sure to check before you visit. 

Hotels we have stayed at with car parking facilities include:

  • The Grand Hotel and Spa
  • Premier Inn York
  • York City Hilton

York by Air 

York is well connected for international travellers with the nearby Leeds-Bradford Airport. 

Where is the best place to stay in York?

When we and our family stay in York there are a few hotels that we tend to gravitate too depending on your budget. Our favorite hotels in the city include: 

  • The Grand Hotel and Spa – good for a more luxurious break, 
  • Premier Inn York – great for those visiting York on a budget, 
  • Novotel York, a centrally located river view hotel

Have you done a weekend in York? What did your York itinerary look like?

Perfect Weekend in York Itinerary. 48 Hours in York Itinerary. Best Things to Do in York! What to do in York #visityork #yorkitinerary #besthingstodoinyork #yorkminster #cliffordstower

Perfect Weekend in York Itinerary

Perfect Weekend in York Itinerary. 48 Hours in York Itinerary. Best Things to Do in York! What to do in York #visityork #yorkitinerary #besthingstodoinyork #yorkminster #cliffordstower

Perfect Weekend in York Itinerary.

Wave to Mummy

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

York looks so beautiful! I'd love to visit there one day :)


Monday 22nd of July 2019

York is such a beautiful city and somewhere we continue to return too. I love wandering around the little streets. Your photos are beautiful.


Saturday 20th of July 2019

I love York bit haven't been for many years. This is a great itinerary and I will hope to use it soon xx