York on a Budget

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York is a gem waiting to be explored without burning a hole in your pocket! So, we've got you covered with 20 budget-friendly things to do on your next visit. Some activities are free, while others offer free entry for kids, exclusive perks for pass holders, or certain memberships.

Now, before diving into this treasure trove of experiences, consider snagging the York Pass or the JORVIK Group Pastport. The York Pass grants access to over 25 attractions in and around the city. It’s a great deal if you're planning to hop around various spots in a day. 

Meanwhile, the JORVIK Group Pastport lets you into four attractions for a whole year, including JORVIK Viking Centre, Barley Hall, DIG: An Archaeological Adventure, and the City Walls Experience.

Let's kick off our budget-friendly adventure with some must-visit spots:

  1. National Railway Museum (Free entry)

This place is a treat for both adults and kids, showcasing over 300 years of railway history. Ride the Mallard Experience simulator and explore various locomotives. Open seven days a week, 10:00 – 17:00.

  1. York Castle Museum (Free for under 5s, York Pass)

Take a stroll down Kirkgate, a recreated Victorian street, and step into the past at York Castle Prison. The museum hosts intriguing seasonal events, ensuring every visit feels fresh.

  1. Clifford’s Tower (Free with York Pass, English Heritage Membership)

Refurbished in 2022, this tower unravels the history of the Middle Ages and treats you to breathtaking city views from its new roof deck.

  1. JORVIK Viking Centre (Free for under 5s, JORVIK Group Pastport, York Pass)

Immerse yourself in Viking life at this award-winning, immersive museum.

  1. Museum Gardens & Yorkshire Museum (Museum free for York residents & under 5s, York Pass)

Located close to the city centre and along the river Ouse, these gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll. The Yorkshire Museum within the gardens offers engaging exhibitions

  1. Merchant Adventurers' Hall (Free for under 16s with accompanying adult, York Pass)

Marvel at the stunning architecture of this 14th-century building while learning about York’s history.

  1. York Art Gallery (Free for under 5s, Free General Admission)

Explore various exhibitions and art displays, some of which might require additional payment for special showcases.

  1. Millennium Bridge River Ouse Walk and Rowntree Park

Take a scenic walk along the River Ouse, crossing the Millennium Bridge and wandering back along the river to Rowntree Park. With recent upgrades, this park offers ample green spaces and recreational facilities.

  1. The Shambles (Free for all)

Walk through this iconic medieval street, adorned with unique shops and charming timber-framed buildings.

  1. Shambles Market & Food Court

Browse diverse stalls offering everything from gifts to delicious global cuisines at the adjacent food court. Quicker and much cheaper than a café or restaurant. A great variety of tasty, affordable, and on-the-go street food options.

  1. City Walls Walk (Free)

A visit to York isn’t complete without strolling along these beautifully preserved walls. Open every day from 8:00 AM – Dusk.

  1. The Bar Convent (Free for under 5s, 6-15 £2.00, York Pass)

Explore the history of England’s oldest living convent and its underground significance during a time when Catholicism was a punishable offence.

  1. York Minster and Dean Park (Minster Free for York residents/students with proof of address, Free for under 18s with paying adult, York Pass)

While entry isn’t free, the iconic York Minster allows a return visit within 12 months and free entry for York Pass holders (with a pre-booked time slot). Ascending the Minster tower incurs an additional charge.

  1. The Treasurer’s House (Free for National Trust members)

This historic house, adjacent to York Minster, showcases a collection of remarkable artefacts and offers stunning views from its City Garden.

  1. York Army Museum (Free for under 5s, 5-18 £3.50, York Pass)

Delve into the stories of British Army soldiers from 1685 to the present day, conveniently located near attractions like JORVIK or Clifford’s Tower.

  1. DIG: York (Free for Under 3s, York Pass, JORVIK Group Pastsport)

Families will love this hands-on archaeological adventure featuring excavation pits filled with historical finds.

  1. Street Performances (Free)

Enjoy the lively street performers and buskers dotted around York. You might catch a performance near York’s Chocolate Story or musical tunes along Parliament Street and High Ousegate.

  1. Themed Festivals (Free)

Throughout the year, York hosts exciting events like the Viking Festival in winter and the Festival of Ideas in June, offering a range of free activities and talks.

  1. Free Walking Tours

Get acquainted with the city's layout and its history through free tours like the White Rose Tour or those organized by the Association of Voluntary Guides.

  1. York’s Christmas Market

Running from mid-November to December 24, this market brims with festive cheer, beautifully decorated stalls, and captivating Christmas events

So, there you have it—York’s treasures waiting to be explored on a budget. Whether it's immersing in history, enjoying scenic walks, or indulging in cultural experiences, York offers something for everyone without breaking the bank. So, go ahead, plan your trip, and dive into this charming city without worrying about your wallet!

Happy exploring!