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Short visit? Only 24-48 hours in York

Your guide to York / Things to do if you only have 24/48 hours in York

Only 24-48 hours in York


Just when you thought you'd never get away, you've got one or two days free. So, you've got the opportunity to spend one day in York, perhaps as a side trip from London. What do you do? Where do you go? How do you get the very most out of York in your short trip? Better yet, what can you see in 48 hours? Let us help you imagine the possibilities. 

Take Tea Time at the Railway Museum

Leeman Road


The National Railway Museum is part of the Science Museum Group. In addition to learning the story of rail history, it's the perfect spot for a cup of afternoon tea, freshly cut finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones, while sitting in the beautifully restored rail carriage. 

Experience York Minster



The York Minster is the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York. As one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe, it towers over the city of York. Its stunning stained-glass windows are iconic. As legend has it, your relationship will last forever if you stop for a kiss with your significant other at the Heart of Yorkshire stained-glass window. 

Explore Magic and Mystery at Barley Hall

2 Coffee Yard


Barley Hall is a must-visit attraction if you only have 24 hours in York. It's a reconstructed Medieval townhouse, once owned by Priors of Nostell and a Lord Mayor of York. It is the perfect stop for a short tour of York, particularly if you want to learn about magical lore from centuries ago or you want to discover the role of magic in everyday lives. The historical roots of Barley Hall were discovered in the 1980s, and subsequently, the building was restored. Step back in time with the reimagined medieval rooms and costumed staff members, designed to create an immersive historical experience. 

Head to York Castle Museum

Eye of York, Tower Street


York Castle Museum is on the original site of York Castle, first built by William the Conquerer in 1068. The castle has long since fallen into disrepair, but the museum now stands upon what once served as the prison building. The fascinating history of the castle, as well as the off-beat stories of its inhabitants (including its prisoners), is exhibited on-site. The exhibition even takes visitors on a historical romp through World War I, the 1960s and up to the modern era. 

Climb Clifford's Tower

Tower Street


Be prepared for panoramic views of York from atop Clifford's Tower (also known as the King's Tower), which is the remaining ruins of what was once a Norman castle. Only the keep remains of the once-magnificent structure. The building stood for more than a century, but it was burned down in 1190, in a tragic, violent riot that ended in the massacre of 150 people. The building was rebuilt by Henry III, but deteriorated slowly in the wake of gale storms, fires and even human greed (the castle's infamous castle keep, Robert Redhead, sold off some of the stone for his personal profit). The North York Moors are also visible off in the distance, while medieval churches and other historical buildings stand in the foreground. 

Stop at Shambles

Shambles, York


Famous for being the oldest medieval street in the world, Shambles is the most photographed spot in York, which will come as no surprise to residents and visitors alike. The original Shambles Street was home to an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market. The name now refers to a network of streets in the area. Timber-framed buildings, dating back to the 14th century, overlook the famously narrow street. One of visitors' favorite stops is at Shambles Kitchen, a restaurant known for its hearty fare. If fans of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter find this area uncannily familiar, that's because Shambles was Rowling's inspiration for Diagon Alley, a fixture in her fantastical world.

Ruminate at the Rustique

28 Castlegate


Rustique offers rustic French cuisine at the heart of York. With a vibrant and upbeat bistro vibe, the restaurant prides itself in its traditional dishes that utilize locally sourced foods. Centrally located near the opera house, a shopping center, churches, museums and Clifford's Tower, Rustique serves as a great segue between activities. 

Get a Sugar High at York's Chocolate Story

Kings Square


If you've got 90 minutes to spare, you can learn all about the 3,000 years that comprise the history of chocolate, find out more about the art of the chocolatier and take home chocolate treats to enjoy with those at home. York's Chocolate Story is the premiere center for sating your love of chocolate while telling the whimsical story of how chocolate shaped the city of York. While you're ruminating on the sensational sights, sounds, and flavors of the place, you might just find you want to extend your York stay indefinitely.

Bloody Tour of York

St. William's College


Join Mad Alice, a figure of local folklore, and your award-winning tour guide, as she leads you through the cities of York on a Bloody Tour of York, which covers a 2,000-year span of macabre and extraordinary history. The haunting history incorporates invasions by the Vikings and the Romans, the Black Plague, the infamous Guy Fawkes and why he really blew up the houses of Parliament, Highwayman Dick Turpin and Sainted-Martyr Margaret Clitherow. These ghastly tales of torture and intrigue offer insight into why York has been called the most haunted city in England. 

With so many things to see, do and taste, it can seem impossible to do the city of York justice in less than 48 hours. Rest assured than any choice you make is sure to end in magical experiences and memories you won't soon forget. For those on a quick tour of the area, the suggestions outlined above offer a great survey of historical and charming York.