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It is great to visit new places. And new cities, especially, as there can be so much to see and do. But what if you have a very tight budget? Well, here are a few ideas for free things to do in York.
Free Things To Do In York
York is one of my favourite cities. Full of history and splendid architecture, there are lots of museums and attractions in the area. But these can be pricy, particularly if you have a large family. So what are some other ways of spending the time that cost nothing/virtually nothing?
York Railway Museum
This has to be at the top of the list of free attractions in York. Found just behind York mainline railway station, the Railway Museum is dedicated to all things rail orientated. With large exhibitions of engines and carriages throughout the ages, including ‘Mallard’ and a replica of Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’, it is a brilliant day out for railway and history buffs of all ages.
York City Walls
York has the most intact city walls of any city in England. Most of them date from 1200-1400, but some of the foundations are Roman (when York was called Eboracum) and when the Danes took over in the 10th Century AD they made the defences their own.
A full walk of the walls takes about 2 hours. You get some wonderful views from the top. Take the perfect picture of the Minster, or get some lovely glimpses into peoples back yards! There are even some museums on the walls and bars, and it is quite amazing to think that you are walking in the footsteps of so much history.
See more about the walls and find a map on the Visit York website.
The Monks Of Micklegate Exhibition
This is an interactive exhibition based in the Holy Trinity Church on Micklegate. Find out what is was like to live as a monk in a Benedictine Priory. The monks came to Micklegate in 1089, founding schools, hospitals and tending to their farms. Fun games and quizzes in this interactive exhibition bring it to life for visitors of all ages.
Find out more about the monks and the manuscripts they made (now held in St John’s College, Oxford) at the official website for Holy Trinity Church.
There are a lot of churches in York that are free to visit. Unfortunately, York Minster is not free. But you can still enjoy the stunning architecture of its exterior.
Another important fact about York is that is was once the home of the Rowntree factory. Here, they made all manner of confectionery, from chocolate to candied orange. Rowntree Park was created by the factory owner Joseph Rowntree in the memory of factory workers who went to war in WWI and did not return.
Situated right on the banks of the River Ouse, it is a large site with children’s playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts, a skateboarding area and lots of green areas in which to enjoy a picnic.
Take A Free Walking Tour
York has seen so many famous people and events in its history that it is impossible to walk anywhere in the city where fame hasn’t preceded you. From Dick Turpin, Guy Fawkes and Anne Lister, to various kings and queens. And not forgetting the Romans, Vikings and Anglosaxons that have all ruled this city. There are so many stories to be told.
Do Some Window Shopping
Yes, you do find all the usual high street shops. But there are also lots of unusual gift shops, from a shop that sells just items about and for cats, to another shop devoted to teddy bears. Also find a Mulberry outlet shop and plenty of items selling souvenirs. Who says that you have to purchase a thing?
There are lots of street entertainers around and about.
One of the best places to window shop is The Shambles, a narrow little street where the buildings from either side almost meet in the middle.
St Mary’s Abbey and Yorkshire Museum Gardens
The grounds of The Yorkshire Museum are home to the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, and part of the old city walls. Although there is a small charge for the museum and its displays, the grounds are a lovely place for a picnic or people watching.
Other Free Things to Do In York’s Surrounding Areas
- Yorkshire Lavender. Just outside York, this is an attraction of gardens, a maze and shop – all predominantly about Lavender. Free at certain times of year, and a small charge from May to August.
- The Howardian Hills area of Natural Beauty. Found on the North York Moors, this is a wonderful area for walking, hiking and nature spotting.
- The Homestead Park. In Clifton, York, The Homestead is another park set up by the Rowntree foundation. With lots of little ponds and formal gardens, it is a pretty place to spend a couple of hours.
So whether the weather be glorious or horrid, there are plenty of free things to do in York. I hope that one of these appeals to you.
And If you do wish to pay to visit attractions in York. Read here about my perfect day trip to York, and some of the other attraction you can pay to visit.
Fancy some other free places to visit in West Yorkshire? Why not see my post on Free Things To Do In Leeds?
Or find some Free Things To Do In Bradford.
Have you visited any of these? What did you think? Have I missed any places that you love? Why not comment, or find me on social media?
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