Summer is just around the corner, and with it - the best time for a holiday!

Choosing York as your holiday destination won’t leave you disappointed. York is a city full of history and character. Located at the heart of Yorkshire, it is just on a doorstep to some of the UK’s most picturesque national parks and lovely postcard-like coastal towns and cities.

Once you've decided that you are holidaying in York, your accommodation is booked and your travel is arranged, all you need to do is decide what should you do, and what’s the best way to see as much as you can while here. If you're looking for things to do in York, get yourself a York Pass. They differ in number of days they are valid for, but we particularly recommend the 3 Day York & Beyond Explorer Pass. With it, you will get full three days of sightseeing, while saving more than just a penny.

To help you plan your visit, we've even put together a suggested itinerary to see York's top sights without wasting any time.

Day One – York City Centre

Start your York adventure by exploring the city itself - established by Romans and once ruled by Viking invaders. Every street is full of history with centuries old buildings, now filled with modern cafes and independent shops.

With your York Pass at the ready, start your day early and visit York Minster - largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Doors open at 9AM (excluding Sundays) and you won’t regret waking up a bit earlier. Join the free guided tour and learn everything about the history of this architectural masterpiece. Marvel at the Great East Stained Glass Window in the peace and quiet of the morning.

York Pass includes a 24-hour City Sightseeing Bus hop-on hop-off ticket. Board the bus at one of 20 pick-up points around York and ride a full circle listening to the commentary or get from attraction to attraction, while learning about the places you pass by.

Next, make your way to the JORVIK Viking Centre. There you can see, smell and experience the life of York’s people in the Viking age. After travelling 1,000 years back in time, you can experience a different period of history by visiting Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, just a 5-minute walk from the Viking centre. This medieval guildhall boasts awe-inspiring architecture and some of the rarest artefacts.

After exploring the city on foot and by bus, all that is left is to explore it by water. Join the York City Cruises and see York from a different perspective, while enjoying the lovely summer breeze. To reward yourself after a full day of sightseeing, enjoy a free pasta or pizza at ASK Italian Restaurant York (terms & conditions apply).

Day Two - Explore North Yorkshire

Today we recommend taking a drive to see the sights beyond York. If you didn't drive to York, you can rent a. With York Pass you can get a free upgrade with Europcar to travel in more comfort, too.

Enjoy a leisurely, scenic drive through North Yorkshire to Rievaulx Abbey surrounded a tranquil valley. Discover the past of the rise and fall of one of England’s most powerful Cistercian Monasteries. End your visit with a cup of loose-leaf tea in the Abbey’s tearoom.

Close by, you will find yourself in Helmsley – charming market town packed full of independent shops, antiques and art. Start exploring by taking a walk through Helmsley Walled Garden and relax in its tranquil atmosphere. The road will lead you to Helmsley Castle with over 900 years of history. Learn how the castle evolved over the centuries: from almighty Medieval fortress to a luxurious Tudor mansion, to a Civil War stronghold and a romantic Victorian ruin.

If you love birds, just a 5-minute drive away from Helmsley is the National Centre for Birds of Prey. There, set in ancient oak woodland and rolling parkland, you will find 50 aviaries housing everything from tiny Burrowing Owls to massive eagles and vultures. Don't miss the daily flying show.

If magnificent castles and houses are your thing, Castle Howard is a must-visit. This family home is open to visitors to discover a treasure trove of architecture, interiors and world-renowned collections. The house is surrounded by 1,000 acres of parkland with meandering woodland paths, lakeside terraces, temples, fountains and the Walled Garden. It is a perfect place to have a late picnic and reminisce on the day you had exploring North Yorkshire.

Day Three - Yorkshire Coast

For day three we recommend venturing further to explore the Yorkshire Coast. The Eastern coast of England is dotted with lovely fishing villages and picturesque towns.

On your way to the coast, stop off at Pickering and visit the 13th century fortified castle. Pickering Castle proudly stands over the Moors-edge town of the same name and in its time served as a fortress, royal hunting lodge and a holiday home.

After exploring the castle, make your way to the Pickering Station where you can get aboard the North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam engine train bound for Whitby. The ride will last approximately an hour and 45 minutes, during which you can take in beautiful Yorkshire scenery, while enjoying some (you guessed it!) tea.

Whitby is a town of history as well as the unexpected. Backdrop to an infamous ‘Dracula’ novel and home to some of the best Fish&Chips in the country - have a stroll along the narrow streets and breathe in some sea breeze. Visit the Captain Cook Museum - the 17th century house in Grape Lane on Whitby's harbourside where the young James Cook lodged as apprentice.

If a traditional seaside resort more your thing, visit Scarborough. Located just a 50-minute train journey away from York. Start exploring this delightful Victorian seaside town from the castle on top of the hill. From Scarborough Castle you can enjoy panoramic views over the dramatic Yorkshire coastline with both North and South Bays are visible - perfect picture opportunity! Take the North Bay Railway to Scarborough SEA LIFE centre to learn more about the marine life and even get hands-on experience in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing your own turtle. Informative and incredibly cute!

All of the attractions mentioned in this post are included in a 3 Day York & Beyond Explorer Pass. Get yours today online at and begin your money saving adventure. To make even more out of your stay in North Yorkshire, get yourself a 6 Day York Pass and take a day trip with BOB Holidays. There is so much to see and do in York and North Yorkshire. Choose your adventure now and share it with us on social media using hashtag #onlyinyork.

To view all of the hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation in York, visit our Sleep page where you can book rooms straight through our website.
Share your adventures with us, using hashtag #OnlyinYork on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to tag us in your image @visityork. You might end up being featured on official page.

Visit York Blog Written By Ana Ignatova