Free Things To Do In York

12 Best Free Things To Do In York

8 Mins read

Looking for free things to do in York? If you plan to explore the wonderful city of York without breaking the bank, here I am to guide you. York is home to many free activities and things to do. So, the city offers something to everyone. 

From historical landmarks to amazing greenery parks to museums, plenty of great attractions reveal the city’s great history and culture. Without spending a penny, you can have a great day out in the city of York. This city is one of my favorite in the UK, most of the activities and attractions are very well-known to me.

In this blog, I will reveal the 12 best free things to do in York so that you can make the most of your visit. Further, you are not required to sacrifice your budget. 
Let’s dive into the deep!

Top 12 Free Things To Do In York

1. Visit The National Railway Museum

If you want to explore the past, present, and future scenarios of the railways, then you can visit the National Railway Museum in York, UK. The National Railway Museum showcases pieces of locomotive engineering as well as the history of the railway around the globe. You can get closer to the world’s fastest steam locomotive, the Mallard. Also, you can explore the incredible Japanese invention of the Bullet train.

I recommend you book the ticket before so that you can save a lot of time to get into. Tickets are usually available around 6 weeks in advance. Entry is free, but if you donate something that will be appreciated.

Address: Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ, UK

Ratings: 4.5

Opening Time: Wednesday -Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

2. Stroll Down The Shambles

The Shambles is one of the most popular free attractions in York. The Shambles is the most famous street and landmark in the city. It is a well-protected shopping street from the medieval era. The streets are very busy and thriving with visitors today. Today, you can not find any shop from that period but you can realize that the shops used to offer meat.

The design of the streets intentionally was narrow so that sunlight got off the meat to help keep it fresh. Today, you can find quirky shops, boutiques, and of course, some amazing places to have a great coffee. Visit the Shambles as early as possible so you can have an experience exploring the iconic medieval streets.

Address: York, England YO1 7LZ

Ratings: 4.5

Opening time: Up to 30 minutes to see the street but for shopping up to two hours

3. Walk Along The York City Walls

Take a walk along the York City walls, these walls built in the 13th century. These city walls are the longest town walls in England since the medieval period. These York City walls are 3.4 km long. You may take 2 hours to complete the stroll, but it can be more if you stop to take the views. Strolling around the city walls is a great free things to do in York as you can gather more details about the city.

You can see the most spectacular scenes from the walls of the city. So, it is the most great experience that you shouldn’t miss. The best time to walk the York City walls is just before sunset. In the soft light of dusk, the tourists become fewer and you can soak up the charm of York in the golden hour light.

Address: Bootham Bar, 2-4 High Petergate, York, YO1 7EH

Rating: 4.5

Opening Time: From 8 am until dusk

4. Unwind In York Museum Gardens

Are you wondering about what to do in York? As I have mentioned earlier, several amazing attractions and activities are there in York City. York Museum Gardens is such an amazing place to visit in York. Museum Gardens is a quiet oasis that is free to visit. This Museum Garden is hidden right in the City Centre. The Museum Gardens is the perfect place to escape the bustle and hustle of the city. 

If you want to unwind in nature, just pack a picnic for an extra treat. Museum Gardens were established in the 1830s and there is so much to see including the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. York Museum Gardens are famous for their fantastic collections of trees, perennials, plants, bulbs, and more. It is beautiful greenery nature no matter what the season. On a sunny day, the park becomes full of tourists, so you can visit in the end of the day to avoid crowds!

Address: Museum St, York YO1 7FR, UK

Ratings: 4.5

Opening time: 9 am to 6 pm

5. Visit Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church is a small, secluded church from the medieval period hidden in the city of York. Some of the amazing details of this church include beautiful saint-glass windows, unique box pews for worshippers, uneven floors, and more. 

The church is full of characters. Lights get entered through the glass windows and illuminate the honey-colored stones. Because of the BBC TV series, Gentleman Jack, the Trinity Church has grown in recognition. Today, you can find a blue plaque outside the church, dedicated to the woman who has been known as the first modern lesbian. 

As you step inside the church, it seems you are stepping back in time. So, you must not miss this hidden gem of York. 

Address: Holy Trinity Church, Gooframgate, York, YO1 7LF

Rating: 5

Opening hours: 10 am to 3 pm

6. York Cat Trail

York Cat Trail
Image- York Cat Trail

 York Cat Trail is one of the fun things to do in York. So, if you have children with you, you can consider visiting the York Cat trail. This self-guided tour will take you to the streets of the city to see 22 historic feline friends.

Cats have a significant role in York’s history. There are statues of cats placed on buildings for two centuries. York is strongly associated with this furry animal. There are presently 35 cat statues. The York Cat Trail focuses on the most central one. This trail is amazing for families and all age groupings. To make your York visit one of the most memorable ones, keep the York Cat trail in your to-do listings.

Address: Throughout York

Rating: 5

Opening hours: 11 am to 5 pm

7. Visit York Art Gallery

The collections of the York Art Gallery are characterized from the 14th century to contemporary paintings. The gallery features drawings, prints, watercolors, ceramics, and more. The highlights of the paintings include 14th-century Italian panels as well as 17th-century Dutch masterpieces. also 20th-century works by LS Lowry and David Hockney.

Here, you can also find the most extensive and representative collections of British Studio Ceramics. Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply like a stroll around the York Art Gallery, here is something for everyone. You can easily spend one or two hours appreciating the artwork!

Address: York Art Gallery, Exhibition Square, York, YO1 7EW

Rating: 4

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

8. Window Shopping At York Designer Outlet

York Designer Outlet is situated just outside York City, and this visit is not going to be a free one if you like to have some retail therapy. However, you can fancy a spot of window shopping, and it will be one of the most amazing ones. If you are in york at any rainy day, just go ahead with these fun things to do in York.

Here, you can find 120 different stores with discounted prices offering big brand names. several food outlets are also here where you can have a bite during the shopping. The discounted outlets offer some of the great designer items at a fraction of the original price. So, you can treat yourself to something for sure!

Address: York Designer Outlet, St. Nicolas Ave, York, YO19 4TA

Rating: 4

Opening time: 9.30 am to 8 pm

9. Visit Rowntree Park

Rowntree Park is located on the south side of York city center. You need to have a walk for 15 minutes from the Centre along the River Ouse to reach Rowntree Park. Rowntree Park has plenty of amazing things to all age groups. 

It is a 10-hectare greenery site with play parks, tennis courts, basketball courts, wildlife walks, duck ponds, trails, and cafe, and a library. The park was opened in 1921  and it was York’s first municipal park. On the banks of the River Ouse, this park is well-kept with a small lake. The lake is home to various amazing ducks and geese. So, if you are a nature lover, or just want to have a leisurely day out with family, it will be worth visiting Rowtree Park, York.

Address: Terry Ave, York YO23 1JQ, UK

Rating: 4.5

Opening Time:  Monday -Friday: 8 am to 8 pm
                        Saturday and Sunday: 9 am to 8 pm

10. Discover The Ruins Of St. Mary’s Abbey

The ruins of the St. Mary’s Abbey lie in the picturesque surroundings of York Museum Gardens. It was built in 1088 and it used to be one of the most prosperous abbeys in Northern England. However, today, the building has become ruined, but still, it is a remarkable sight.

Plenty of visitors gather together to see the building sit among the ruins. Visitors can see the walls of the nave and the crossing of the Abbey Church. visitors only can see the remains of all of these. The crossing is the space where the monks prayed and sang. Tourists can also see the cloisters where the monks washed their clothes, contemplated, and were permitted to speak.

It is an amazing backdrop of the picturesque York Museum Gardens and is worth visiting.  

Address: St. Mary’s Abbey, York Museum Gardens, York, YO1 7FR

Rating: 4.5

Opening Time: All the time

11. Howardian Hills National Landscape

 Howardian Hills National Landscape
Image- Jackie Church

The Howardian Hills National Landscapes is one of the great free things to do in York. This National Landscape covers 204 sq km of the North Yorkshire countryside. It is a unique and captivating nature-filled area with scenic villages, historic country houses with iconic designed parklands. Also, this area is covered with its well-wooded rolling countryside, and it is well known for offering outstanding natural beauty.

Howardian Hills was nationally recognized in the late 1940s. You can have a relaxing and leisurely stroll with your team across the Howardian Hills. There are different walk routes in this area. So, to explore the extraordinary charm of landscapes, monuments, greenery, nature, and lakes, just consider taking a stroll across Howardian Hills.

Address: The Old Vicarage, Bondgate, Helmsley, York, YO62 5BP

Rating: 4.2

Opening hours: Open all the time

12. Watch Street Performers

One of the fun things to do in York is watching the street performers. You can find them mainly on weekends as well as holidays. You can find them around King’s Square. During the performances of the street performers, audiences’s participation is a must. Watching them is really good fun and enjoyable!

Moreover, some of the stunts and tricks that street performers do are so impressive. You can easily spend half an hour or more here!

Address: King’s Square, York, UK


Do you have any idea about free things to do in York? Here, in this guide, I have compiled a list of the 12 best free things to do in York. Hopefully, this guide will show you the path from where to start.

So, if you are looking for amazing things to do in York without spending a penny, just pick the spots from my guide. All the mentioned spots will offer you great fun, so make this weekend enjoyable and memorable one while on a budget. 

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About author
Niki Goraai's dedication to her craft, coupled with her passion for all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, continues to captivate and inspire her audience, making her a leading authority in the UK's vibrant fashion and lifestyle scene.
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