A day trip to York by train couldn’t be easier.
York city centre is a short, ten minute walk from York’s centrally located rail station. You will not need to take taxis or public transport during your day out in York.
This one day itinerary for York has been designed to introduce you to the best that the city has to offer – diverse historical attractions, beautiful architecture, quirky streets, great food and drink.
A day trip to York is guaranteed to inspire you to return for an extended stay.
Itinerary for a Day Trip to York by train
The itinerary includes –
How to get to and from York city centre from York railway station
York City Walls
York city centre
The River Ouse
Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner
Please note, all timings in this itinerary are approximate and encourage a slow pace to appreciate the beauty of the city of York.
York Railway Station
York railway station is an ornate Victorian era station and it was the largest train station in the world when it opened in 1877.
There are free public toilets and ATM cash machines on the station forecourt.
The proximity of York Railway station to the city centre is what makes York so easy to visit by train. This makes it popular for day trippers or weekend visitors alike.
Directions to York city centre – walking time 10 minutes
Exit York station via the main entrance, turn left to walk past the The Principal Hotel along Station Avenue. York city walls will be on your right.
Walk down Station Avenue, cross straight over the traffic lights to continue past Memorial Gardens on the left (the city walls will still be on your right) and under an arch in the city walls.
Turn left to walk across Lendal Bridge.
Here you will get your first glimpse of York Minster directly ahead of you.
Lendal Bridge was built in 1863 and is one of nine bridges that cross the River Ouse, the river flowing through the centre of York.
Stop to appreciate the views on both sides of the river. In all weathers, you will see keen rowers gently gliding up and down the River Ouse.
There are several independent cafes and restaurants here that make an ideal stop for breakfast or morning coffee.
For mouth watering cake, stop at The Perky Peacock, set into the 14th century round watchtower on your left, or there is the charming Circles Cafe on the other side of the road.
Or, continue over the bridge, walk down the slope on the left towards the river to the Star Inn The City and enjoy a cooked breakfast on their riverside terrace.
Further along the main road, opposite the gated entrance to the pretty Museum Gardens is the excellent (and very popular) Brew and Brownie.
After breakfast or coffee, continue walking to York Minster.
York city centre
York Minster (1-2 hours)
I have lived in York for 15 years and I will never tire of visiting this incredible building; it is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in York.
York Minster is an ornate Gothic style cathedral which was completed in the 15th century.
Join a regular daily guided tour to discover the stories and fascinating detail of this religious edifice.
Learn about the largest expanse of stained glass in the world, the Great East Window, handle historical artefacts in the Undercroft Museum or sit in a bishop’s seat in the decorated Chapter House.
On a sunny day, climb the 275 steps of the Minster’s central tower for a birds eye view of York.
Tickets cost £11.50 for adults; buy online in advance to avoid queues.
Exiting York Minster, walk around the exterior of the cathedral to pretty Dean’s Park for a well earned foot rest with picture perfect views of York Minster.
Directions – Dean’s Park to Monk Bar – walking time 10 minutes
With York Minster on your right, walk through Dean’s Park, turn right out of the exit onto Minster Yard, past the quirky Treasurer’s House on your left.
The Treasurer’s House is well worth a stop if you have time in your schedule.
This quirky National Trust property was renovated in the late 19th century to emulate a historic house so that the owner, Frank Green, could ‘authentically’ house his collection of historical artefacts.
The Roman road beneath the cellar of the Treasurer’s House is allegedly one of the most haunted locations in York.
Adult ticket £8.90
Continue to walk away from York Minster towards the black and white Tudor buildings of College Street.
Take a break for morning coffee at one of the pretty tea shops on College Street -you won’t be able to resist one of the cupcakes at Crumbs Cupcakery.
With the Minster at your back, turn left onto Goodramgate and ahead you will see Monk Bar, one of the four medieval gateways of York.
Monk Bar and York city walls (45 mins – 1 hour)
The city of York has four medieval gateways that were once used as the main access to the city.
These imposing stone gateways are called ‘bars’ and, just to confuse you, the roads that lead up to the bars are called gates!
Monk Bar is the largest and most ornate bar. The cramped, atmospheric entrance to Monk Bar is, in my opinion, the best entrance to any of the medieval bars.
A wooden door set into the left hand side of the bar reveals a set of steep narrow steps that brings you up to the level of the city walls. You will have to wait for anyone coming down the stairs before you venture up.
The 14th century, four storey Monk Bar was a self contained fortress and is the only bar in York that still has it’s portcullis, though sadly the portcullis is no longer in use.
Monk Bar still has its original medieval arrow slits and murder holes (used for dropping nasty things on to invaders below).
There is a small museum inside the bar dedicated to Richard III, the last Plantagenet King.
Entry to the museum costs £5 which also includes entry to the Henry VII Museum in Micklegate bar.
However, it is free to access and walk York city walls.
York City Walls
York city walls are the longest city walls in England. A full circuit of the walls takes around two hours though some street walking is required.
This short section from Monk Bar to Bootham Bar is the most scenic section of the walls.
At the top of the stairs at Monk Bar, turn left and walk along the walls towards York Minster.
The walls wind behind York Minster, the Treasurer’s House, Dean’s Park and the pretty garden of Gray Court Hotel.
Some of the walls and towers in this section – such as Robin Hood’s Tower – were built in the Victorian era, alongside the medieval walls which were themselves built upon Roman era walls!
When you arrive at Bootham Bar, exit to street level.
Bootham Bar to The Shambles and York City Centre
If you have time in your day trip to York by train, visit the newly renovated York Art Gallery located opposite Bootham Bar.
Alternatively, view the Tudor era King’s Manor (now part of the University of York) and, behind King’s Manor, the attractive Museum Gardens, home to the Yorkshire Museum and the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey.
Directions to The Shambles – walking time 10 minutes
Exiting Bootham Bar, walk back under the bar and towards York Minster along High Petergate. Veer to the right to continue along High Petergate past The Guy Fawkes Inn (where the infamous gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes was born).
At the crossroads, turn right to stroll along the paved shopping street Stonegate. The architecture along this lovely street is stunning – don’t forget to look up! My favourite building is Mulberry Hall, now home to Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop.
If you have time to spare, look out for the snicket (alleyway) on your left leading off Stonegate to the gorgeous medieval town house, Barley Hall (adult ticket £6.50) or pull up a communal pew for a drink at the unique The House of Trembling Madness medieval ale house (found above the beer shop of the same name).
From Stonegate, turn left into Swinegate (after The Botanist bar) and follow Swinegate around to turn left on attractive Coffee Yard and then immediately right onto Grape Lane. You will rejoin Low Petergate at the end of Grape Lane.
Turn right onto Low Petergate, continue to a pedestrian crossroads where you will pass the tantalising York Hog Roast company on your left. Here you can buy a takeaway lunch of a traditional English roast dinner wrapped in a giant Yorkshire pudding!
Cross over the cross roads into King’s Square, walk past York Chocolate Story on your right and you will arrive at the top of The Shambles.
The Shambles (30 mins)
The Shambles is one of the most popular tourist locations in York.
It is a short, narrow cobbled street lined with tightly packed together lopsided buildings whose overhanging first floors are the reason the street appears dark and gloomy!
Strolling along the medieval Shambles is like stepping back in time and The Shambles is said to be the inspiration for J.K Rowling for Diagon Alley in her Harry Potter novels.
Near the end of The Shambles, turn right into The Shambles Market to pick up lunch at one of several pop up food stalls.
Alternatively, on the far side of the market is The Market Cat. Enjoy a delicious, freshly made pizzas whilst enjoying the incredible view of York Minster from The Market Cat’s third floor.
After lunch (and a good rest!) you have a choice of attractions to visit all of which are within a close distance to each other.
Merchant Adventurers Hall (Medieval), Jorvik Viking Centre (Viking), Fairfax House (Georgian)
3 hours +
Directions – walking time 5 minutes.
Return to The Shambles. At the end of the cobbled lane, turn left and walk past St. Crux’s church on your left. You will arrive at the shortest street in York – Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate.
Opposite Whip Ma Wop Ma Gate is the descending lane of Fossgate. Use the pedestrian crossing to cross this busy road and walk down Fossgate.
Fossgate is a lovely street lined with quirky, independent boutiques, deli’s and restaurants.
Look out for a small lane on the right leading to the Merchants Adventurers House.
The Merchant Adventurers Hall (45-60 minutes)
The 660 year old timber framed Merchants Adventurer’s Hall was built in 1357 by members of the Company of Merchant Adventurers. It was used to hold company meetings, to worship and to carry out charitable works for the poor citizens of York. The hall is still used by the Company to this day.
Adult ticket £6.50 which includes an audio tour.
Directions to Jorvik Viking Centre – walking time 5 minutes.
Exit the Merchant Adventurers Hall onto busy Piccadilly. Cross the road using the traffic light pedestrian crossing on your right.
Continue straight on to the next small set of traffic lights where you will turn left onto pedestriansied Coppergate.
The Jorvik Viking Centre on your right hand side.
Jorvik Viking Centre (1 hour)
One of the busiest tourist attractions in York, the Jorvik Viking Centre tells the history of the Vikings in York, told through historical artefacts found on the actual site the museum currently stands on.
You can see the remains of Viking houses and streets under the glass floor of the museum, view shoes, household items, jewelry and coins – all of which were found under your feet!
The highlight of the museum is a ‘historical cab ride’ around a recreated Viking village.
Tickets cost £12.50 for adults – book online in advance as there are often long queues to get into Jorvik Viking Centre.
Directions to Fairfax House – a one minute walk
Exit Jorvik Viking Centre and turn right. Take the next immediate right, walking past St Mary’s Church on your right. When you meet the road, turn left and you will see the stepped entrance to the Georgian townhouse, Fairfax House.
Fairfax House (1 hour)
Fairfax house is a well preserved, immaculately presented Georgian townhouse.
Visit the elaborate dining room, the drawing room and the richly decorated bedrooms and the fabulous, fully working basement kitchen.
Adult ticket £7.50
Exiting Fairfax House, turn left to view Clifford’s Tower and to access the River Ouse.
Clifford’s Tower (Norman) and York Castle Museum (Victorian)
3 hours +
Directions -walking time 10 minutes
At the end of The Shambles, turn right onto Pavement.
Walk in a straight line towards, and then past, All Saint’s Church on your right to a small set of traffic lights.
Cross over to enter pedestrianised Coppergate. Walk through Coppergate past York Viking Centre on your right and take the right hand opening next to Fenwicks Department Store.
When you emerge at the end of this short lane you will see Clifford’s Tower ahead of you, incongruously located next to Castle Car Park.
Clifford’s Tower (one hour)
The English Heritage owned Clifford’s Tower is the remains of a Norman keep, built in the motte and bailey style.
Very steep stone steps lead to the open keep where you can discover the history of this iconic York building.
Take a further set of winding steps to the open parapet for a 360 degree view of York city centre.
Your next York attraction, York Castle Museum, is directly opposite the entrance to Clifford’s Tower.
York Castle Museum (1-2 hours)
York Castle Museum charts the history of the city of York.
There are entertaining sections on the 1960’s, toys and Yorkshire homes through the ages.
Plus there are thought provoking, sobering exhibitions on how York and its inhabitants were affected by World War One and Two.
The highlight of the museum is the recreated Victorian street, Kirkgate.
Wander this dimly lit cobbled street and enter the shops, police station and schoolhouse to meet the real life ‘Kirkgate residents’ to discover what life was like in York during the Victorian era.
York Castle Museum was once the courthouse and prison for the city of York.
Today, the eerie cells use holograms to introduce you to the cell occupiers who will tell you about crime and punishment in the 19th century.
Don’t miss the information board at the exit of the cells – it tells you what happened to each of the real life characters you encountered.
Turn left when exiting York Castle Museum and cross the road at the pedestrian traffic lights crossing. Enter the small park to access the River Ouse.
The River Ouse
The River Ouse is a popular spot for local residents for a stroll, cycle, jog or to meet friends.
Turn left to enjoy a tree lined stroll along the paved riverbank or turn right for a well earned rest and a pint at the historic The King’s Arms pub.
This famous York pub is known locally as ‘the pub that floods.’ Markers on the bar show the flood levels that were reached each of the numerous times the pub has flooded.
There are so many great restaurants to choose from in York city centre but on a day trip to York by train, I would suggest heading to Micklegate, in the direction of the train station, to find somewhere for dinner.
The River Ouse to Micklegate (five minute walk)
From the The Kings Arms pub, ascend the steps onto Skeldergate Bridge and turn left. Walk straight ahead and you will soon arrive at the ascending cobbled street Micklegate which leads to another medieval gateway, Micklegate Bar.
This charming street is lined with grand Georgian houses and independent shops.
You will be spoilt for choice between the excellent restaurants here including Skosh, The Rattle Owl, The Jinnah and Delrio’s (located on the other side of Micklegate Bar).
Micklegate Bar to York rail station (five minute walk)
Emerging under Micklegate bar, turn right at the traffic lights and follow the city walls to York railway station, just a few minutes away.
If you have any spare time before catching your train, finish your perfect one day in York with a farewell drink at the excellent York Tap, on the right hand side of the station.
This gorgeous Edwardian pub serves a fantastic range of real ales and delicious pork pies; there is no better way to wait for your train!
This itinerary for a day trip to York by train covers some of the best sights in York and incorporates attractions from different eras in York’s rich history.
After completing your day trip to York, you will realise how many fantastic things to do in York there actually are – and will leave York planning to return!