Things to do in York | A Magical 48 Hours in York

things to do in york

Things to do in York | A Magical 48 Hours in York – we have been spending a lot of time travelling around the UK this summer. Myself, my husband and our teenage daughter opted to take some UK trips this month as we are on a mission to save funds for our house renovation. We travelled to Bridlington and wrote all about it and then made our way to York. If you are looking for some tips, activities and info on things to do in York then we’ve got you covered below.

Disclaimer: Article contains gifted press trips, complimentary stays and more. All opinions are our own and we have full creative rights over content.

This was our first time visiting York so we were keen to fit as much into our short 48 hours trip as we possibly could. One thing we knew is that we wanted to base ourselves close to the city centre and within walking distance to as much as possible.

Where to stay in York

We found the perfect place to stay for our short break to York was the Premier Inn York City (blossom street south) we’ve always used Premier Inn before if we are going to be doing a lot of exploring in a city. The locations are always brilliant and the rooms are clean and spacious.


The Premier Inn York City Blossom Street South was the best location we could have asked for. It is within walking distance to all of the major sights and attractions that you’ll want to take in when visiting York. The family rooms are lovely and the atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and welcoming.

premier inn rooms

There were plenty of plug sockets for charging your electricals, good size TV’s for cosying up in the evenings and tea/coffee facilities of course. We all slept so well and will definitely be returning on future York visits.

york premier inn

There is a restaurant directly next door where you can book your buffet breakfasts to fuel yourself up for the day of exploring that lies ahead of you so I would highly recommend adding this on if you have a busy itinerary planned.

premier inn breakfast

We found it so easy to pop down in the morning and help ourselves to exactly what we fancied each day. To find out more information about Premier Inn and their locations visit:

things to do in york

Things to do in York

We managed to make our way around a good number of attractions in York and with the use of the York City Pass we made some amazing savings. You simply purchase your York Pass online here: for your selected amount of days. This then gains you free entry to 25 city attractions. If (like us) you know you are planning on taking in a lot of these then this card will bag you some fantastic savings.

things to do in york

You can also pick up a York and beyond pass for even more activities included. We used a similar city card in our Amsterdam travel feature and also had great experiences with it so these type of cards really are worth picking up when you are planning your trip.

train museum york

National Railway Museum

Our first stop on day one was the fantastic National Railway Museum. This is a vast, interactive space where you can get up-close to some of the world’s most amazing trains and railway memorabilia. This was a fantastic family day out, enjoyed by all.

things to do in york

The main area is set out like a railway station. You can wander around at your leisure and step inside some of the trains on show. We loved exploring inside some of these, it felt like stepping back in time in some of them!

railway museum

One of my favourite parts of the day was getting to see the free exhibition ‘One Billion Journeys’ by Wang Fuchun which showcases 40 years of photography on-board China’s railways. This was so interesting and the photography was beautiful and thought provoking.

rail museum york

There is so much to do here so you really must stop by if you are visiting York. Full information can be found here: where you can find out everything you need to know before your visit.


JORVIK Viking Centre

For the last 35 years, JORVIK Viking Centre has been one of the most popular visitor attractions in the country, having welcomed over 19 million visitors – the children that visited when it opened are now starting to return with their grandchildren! Although the displays have been updated – the current incarnation of JORVIK Viking Centre represents the third time it has been redesigned – the essence of JORVIK remains the same.

Jorvik centre
Visitors experience an accurate recreation of part of the Viking city of Jorvik in the exact place where it was uncovered in the late 1970s. The displays are all based on archaeological evidence excavated on this site – from the moss growing on the roof of the blacksmith’s house, to the woman with a crutch crossing the street, and even the smells of the cesspits – which revealed some of the best-preserved Viking remains in the world.

jorvik centre

This is an absolute must see when visiting York. Not only is the JORVIK Viking Centre highly educational for all ages, it is genuinely a fun and interactive experience that you’ll find yourself completely captivated by! So much effort and attention to detail has gone into creating this experience. The staff are all really kind and approachable whether they are playing a role as part of the experience or otherwise. A fantastic experience! Details can be found here:

Van Gogh Expo york

The Van Gogh Expo

If you are a fan of Van Gogh’s work then you should definitely check out the Van Gogh Expo in York. It is conveniently located in the same area as the Jorvik centre, making it simple to do both in succession.

Van Gogh expo

Enter into a huge room where images of Van Gogh’s art are projected onto the walls. Pull up a chair and watch as they appear on the walls of the room before you. A relaxing experience after a long day of walking around the city!

van gogh expo

Details can be found here: where you can choose your preferred date and time for booking. We chose to visit during the middle of the afternoon and whilst there were quite a lot of people there, it was never too over-crowded.

York chocolate story

York Chocolate Story

Take a tour through the history of chocolate at the York Chocolate Story. This deliciously interactive experience lets you learn about chocolate, taste some yummy samples along the way and even make your own chocolate lolly at the end of the experience. A fantastic way to spend an hour or so and one of our favourite things to do in York. Entry is free with the York Pass or find out full details here:

things to do in york

The Shambles

As far as things to do in York go, a visit to The Shambles should be at the top on your list. This beautiful cobbled street is said to be where J.K Rowling gained her inspiration for ‘Diagon Alley’ in the Harry Potter books. You can certainly see why!

the shambles

There are Harry Potter references everywhere you look and a series of amazing shops. You can make your way along to the bottom of the street for some of the best food and drink at The Shambles markets and food courts too. These were so good that you’ll have to watch out for our York Food Feature coming soon!

things to do in york

The Shop That Must Not Be Named has some really amazing Harry Potter displays as well as some exclusive products. It does get super busy at peak times though so bear this in mind when planning your visit!

things to do in york

You can wander the streets and take in a spot of shopping or pick up some tasty treats to take home with you from a wide range of boutique stores and independent suppliers. There really is something for everyone.

things to do in york

For the truly Harry Potter obsessed who are looking for things to do in York, you can even make your own ‘potion’ drink at the fantastic Potions Cauldron in The Shambles. My teenage daughter had fun making a delicious ‘Power of a Wizard’ potion drink. This went down a treat on a hot day!

things to do in york

Take A River Cruise

Included with the York Pass is a river cruise. Simply hop on a boat and take a leisurely ride along the river Ouse. This is a great way to see some of the local landmarks and to chill out with friends and family. If the weather is nice then sit up on the top deck and catch some rays!

York walls

The York Walls

You should definitely walk some of the York Walls when you visit the city. We had a very handy access point right next to our hotel and found walking along the footpaths by the walls such a lovely way to get around York. The scenery is beautiful and with lovely views of the Minster too, you can’t go wrong if you are looking for things to do in York at any time of the year.

york roast co

Don’t forget to grab a Yorkshire pudding during your stay! The York Roast Co is an amazing place to pick up a tasty roast dinner in one of their delicious Yorkshire Pudding wraps. They wrap it specially for you to eat on the go if you are taking yours away with you. The perfect delicious fuel for all of your York adventures! This and more of our York food finds to come soon.

Hopefully this article has helped you find some things to do in York? If you need more inspiration head over to our Instagram @lifestylelinked for more images and vidoes or visit: for lots more information about this beautiful, magical city.

Disclaimer: please note that some items featured across this website have been provided on a review basis and affiliate links are present. All opinions are our own and we have full creative control over the content. Find out more in our privacy policy. All images taken by us remain copyright and Rebecca Bowden. Any other images remain copyright to their original owner and we do not claim any rights. Please contact us before using our images elsewhere.

things to do in York

More from Becky
Carnaby to launch Christmas installations with a party
Carnaby is pulling out all the stops to throw the biggest Christmas...
Read More

Leave us your comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.