City Guide

Things to Do in York

Karis Nash  · May 5th 2022

If you’re a history buff or a Harry Potter stan, a trip to York is a must.

York Minster, the Cathedral of York

York is one of the most historic cities in Britain. The walled city is of Roman origins and is a haven for century old buildings and structures.

what to do in york uk


York is one of the smallest cities in the UK. As of the most recent count, its population was 215,536. On the outskirts of the city centre you will find the University of York, which is part of the prestigious Russell Group. The second university in the city is York St. John University. With two universities within the city walls, York has a buzzing student scene.


York is the fourth most expensive city in Britain for renters. Average rent for a one bedroom flat averages at £700 a month, while for a two bedroom flat, the price is between £800 and £1,000 per month.

If you’re hoping to study at the University of York, it is likely that you will be living on campus for at least your first year of study. The accommodation at the university is organised into separate colleges. A college is essentially a selection of buildings in an area surrounding the campus which has accommodation, social spaces and catering facilities. Each college also has its own common room for students who live in that college. The rooms in the colleges differ between price and room type, for example some colleges offer rooms with en-suites. There are 11 college types at the university, so you’re guaranteed to find the right room for you. The colleges are:

  • Alcuin College
  • Anne Lister College
  • Constantine College
  • David Kato College
  • Derwent College
  • Goodricke College
  • Halifax College
  • James College
  • Langwith College
  • Vanbrugh College
  • Wentworth College

The university also offers a small number of studio rooms for couples. To apply for these only one person in the couple needs to be a full time registered student at the university. For families, the university has on campus accommodation in the form of two bedroom, fully furnished houses and flats. These have internet included, however other bills are not. Off campus, the university also offers a small number of fully furnished three to four bedroom houses for students who have bigger families. Unlike the on campus housing, these do not have both Wifi and other bills included.

If you’re studying at York St. John University, there’s also an array of student accommodation to choose from. Each of the accommodation sites are less than a mile away from the campus, which is located in the city centre.

If you decide to live off campus, there are plenty of student houses and flats around the city which are close to campus. Most landlords will offer 52-week lets, however if you’d like a shorter let length the universities recommend using websites such as Spare Room and Homestay, or looking for student adverts on both universities' websites.

The city has the best mediaeval walls in the country - some parts date back almost 2000 years to the Romans

Living Cost

Prices in York can be steep. Only London, Brighton and Oxford top the city, making York the most expensive city to live outside of the south of England.

If you’re living on campus, the University of York has estimated your annual living costs to range between £8,020 - £12,300. If you’re living off campus, then the figure is steeper, with the highest estimation being £17,173 annually. These costs include rent, bills, food shopping and sports/social events. It does not take into consideration travel.

Despite its high prices, the city is considerably cheaper than southern cities, such as London and Brighton. If you’re smart with your money and choose the inexpensive options, you shouldn’t break your bank.

things to do in york today


York railway station is the city's biggest train station, with regular services to big cities such as London, Edinburgh and Newcastle. You can also hop on a direct train and be in the buzzing city of Leeds in less than 30 minutes.

The station is owned by Network Rail and managed by London North Eastern Railway. The station has 11 platforms and offers services from a variety of operating companies including CrossCountry, TransPennine Express and London North Eastern Railway. Trains run regularly, so whatever the time of day you should be able to get to where you need.

If you’d like to get about by bus, York has an extensive local bus network. The buses in the city are run by a variety of different companies, offering both local services and services to further afield locations such as Leeds and Pocklington.

The city also has six park and ride services. You can park your car for free at any of the park and ride car parks and hop on a bus into the city. The standard return fare is £3.50. Services are frequent so you won’t be waiting long for your ride into the city.

The closest airport to York is Leeds Bradford Airport. Just under an hour's drive from the city, the airport has flights to several European destinations. Airlines who operate at Leeds Bradford Airport include easyJet, and Ryanair. If you’re looking to travel further afield then you will need to travel to Manchester Airport, which is around an hour and a half drive. From here you can travel to all sorts of locations across the globe.

If you’re looking for taxi services, there are a few local taxi services dotted around the city. You won’t be able to order for an Uber in the city, as the company hasn’t held a licence in York since 2017.


Fancy a pint down the pub with your mates? If so, there’s over 365 pubs within the city walls, so there are plenty to choose from. Many of these pubs are rich with history, dating back hundreds of years.

It is not known for its wild nightlife, but for a small city York offers a diverse and friendly social scene. If you’re a student you can attend one of the student nights. The university is teamed up with York Parties to bring four student nights a week across different nightclubs in the city.

what to do in york england


When it comes to food shopping, you have plenty of supermarkets to choose from. There are many Sainsbury’s and Tescos dotted around the city, as well as larger Morrisons, Asda, Lidl and Waitrose stores. If you’re looking for cheaper prices, you can head down to the Shambles Market in the city centre. Here you can purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, cheeses and herbs. Another market in the city is York’s Farmers Market which is held on St Sampson Square every first Friday of the month.

For a small city, York has an abundance of stores to fit every shoppers needs. From big brands to independent shops, York offers a diverse mix. If you want to venture out further, York has a designer outlet on the outskirts of the city which is easily reachable by bus.

Local Sport

The local football club in York is York City Football club. Currently, the team plays in the National League North. The closest Premier League club to York is Leeds United, so you’re likely to bump into a few fans in the pub on matchday.

York is also home to the York City Knights who are an English professional rugby league club. The club was founded in 2002 and its home ground is York Community Stadium. In 2018, the club succeeded in winning nearly all of their matches and were crowned league winners. They were automatically promoted to the Championship League where they still compete now.

Rowing is another sport which is popular in the city. York City Rowing Club has around 300 members and are based in the centre of York on the River Ouse. The club has several squads, from junior to masters levels. Another rowing club based in the city is the University of York Boat Club. The club was founded in 1963 and has five squads, four of which compete at various levels.

If you’re looking to get active in York, the city of York council website has lists of sport and physical activities that residents can get involved in. Whether you’re a keen walker and are looking for some countryside walks, or you’re looking for a spot to play football, you can find all the information you need on their website. If you have a disability or additional needs, you can also find a selection of inclusive sport clubs you can get involved in.

With two universities within the city walls, York has a buzzing student scene

Things to do

York is a city rich with history - perfect for sightseeing. The best way to explore is to get your walking boots on and walk the walls of York. The city has the best mediaeval walls in the country - some parts date back almost 2000 years to the Romans. You can walk the entirety or just visit the parts with the best photo opportunities, such as from Bootham Bar to Monkgate Bar. You can walk the walls for free making it a perfect activity for students.

Staying on the walking theme, another one of York's attractions is The Shambles. There’s even four Harry Potter shops down the mediaeval street. Take a stroll, pop into some of the quirky shops and cafes along the way.

York does not fall short with fun activities. Gather your friends together and try to crack an escape room, or perhaps try your hand at some chocolate making. The city also offers bowling, mini golf and plenty of cinemas.

If you’re a history lover, take a trip to one of York’s museums. Visit the National Railway Museum to explore the engineering brilliance of rail transportation, or, walk on a genuine Roman mosaic floor at The Yorkshire Museum.

Job Prospects

If you’d like to develop your career in York, the city has a few key job sectors. The industries that are represented particularly well in the city are:

  • Biotechnology
  • Digital, creative and IT
  • Rail
  • Finance and Professional Services
  • Tourism and hospitality

Within these sectors, the city is home to established companies who offer an array of job opportunities. For example, in the Rail sector companies including Network Rail and LNER are based in the city. Currently, there are over 5,500 residents in York employed in the Rail sector.

York has plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and attractions meaning there is an abundance of job opportunities within the city walls - part-time or full-time. The hospitality and tourism sector alone offers more that 24,000 jobs and contributes £765M to the local economy.

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