There is never a shortage of things to see and do, in the beautiful city of York in North Yorkshire. It is one of the most beautiful places in the UK and is packed with history, culture, and adventure. It is not difficult to see why people travel from all over the world to see for themselves the sights and sounds of this fabulous medieval city.
There is so much to see and experience in York, it can be difficult to know where to start, and the last thing you want is to miss anything! Thankfully there are many tours that you can join where you can see the most amazing attractions while learning about them, the history of the surrounding areas, and any interesting trivia that accompanies it.
There is also an excellent transport network to make getting around easier. Regular buses join all the major areas and points of interest. Super friendly cab drivers are only too happy to chauffeur you around and of course, there is the bustling train station that connects to all the other nearby towns and cities. It is such a great place to visit with family. If you click on a link in this piece, we may earn affiliate revenue.
In a hurry? Why not check out our Top Pick
#1 TOP PICK
- Explore best landmarks in the area
- 13 carefully selected stops around York
- Audio available in different languages
Check out our guide for the best tours in York. In no particular order …
Best River Cruises in York
? Tour Length – 45 minutes
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Address ? : King’s Staith, York YO1 9SN
Tour Information – What better way to get to know a new city than to enjoy a family-friendly, tranquil river cruise where you can observe all the finest sights and attractions from a slightly different perspective?
The River Ouse City Cruise offers an informative tour of York. The entertaining tour team passes on all sorts of fascinating facts and trivia as you meander down the river. The cruise departs from the Kings Staith landing and lasts approximately 45 minutes and goes ahead as long as the weather is kind and there are enough passengers to warrant the sailing.
During the cruise, the captain will keep you entertained with live commentary, and you will learn about York’s history of flooding and its early settlers, the Romans and Vikings. The boat features an enclosed and heated saloon, restrooms, and a fully stocked bar serving beers, wines, spirits, soft drinks, hot drinks and snacks. It is a perfect trip for the whole family and a great way to learn more about the history of York.
➥ Live Tour Guide
➥ Sip your favourite drink, available at the fully stocked bar on board
Top Bus Tours in York
? Tour Length – 1 hour and 15 minutes
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Address ? : Station Rd, Bus stop RE, York YO24 1AA
Tour Information – The city of York is well known to be the one of most haunted places on earth and so a ghost tour is a must for enthusiastic ghost hunters! The York Ghost Bus Tour is an hour and 15-minute theatrical sightseeing tour guaranteed to give you goosebumps!
Your creepy conductor will show you the city’s top sights and give you bone-chilling and humorous insights into some of the more gruesome events in York’s past.
During your bus ride, you will learn the eerie history of some of the most popular landmarks in the city including York Minster and the grave of the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin. Hop aboard…if you think you are brave enough! Although this tour is only supposed to be fun it may not suit those of a sensitive nature as you will hear a number of ghost stories and stories into the dark past of York.
➥ Enjoy a comedy horror sightseeing tour through York
➥ See the sights of one of England’s most haunted cities
? Tour Length – All Day – Hop On Hop Off
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Address ? : Exhibition Square, Bootham Tower, York YO1 7EW
Tour Information – The traditional hop-on-and-off bus tour is one of the best things to do to maximise your visit to York. It gives you and your family the chance to explore all the best landmarks in the area in a relaxed manner where you can spend as long as you want to at each stop.
The City Sightseeing York Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour stops at 13 carefully selected places around the city including Cliffords Tower, York Railway Station, and York’s Chocolate Story. The bus tour includes a multi-lingual tour description, and you are provided with headphones to listen to it as you ride along.
The audio is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Russian. There is a special more fun commentary focused on the younger riders and this is presented in English. This hop-on hop-off bus tour is the perfect way to see all the sights for all ages. It is especially great on a rainy day, the top will usually be closed in bad weather. It is especially great for young children as you can move between the sites while they rest their legs.
➥ Hop on and off at more than 13 tour stops along the route
➥ Enjoy panoramic views of York from the bus’ open-top deck
Great Walking Tours in York
? Tour Length – 2 Hours
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Address ? : Starts at Rail Station (Stop RF). York YO24 1AY
Tour Information – The two-hour-long Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour is an absolute must-do for all Harry Potter fans. You will experience some excellent costume reenactments as you navigate the streets made famous by the phenomena that were the Harry Potter books and films.
You will observe York’s Diagon Alley and get a chance for a selfie at the Hogwarts Express train platform. Your wizard expert guides will keep you entertained with Potter-themed film clips and games. Plus, you will have the opportunity to put your wizarding knowledge to the test against the other houses in the super fun trivia quizzes! At the end of the tour be sure to visit the Harry Potter shop where you can grab some genuine souvenirs to take home.
➥ Visit film locations
➥ Learn about the Harry Potter Universe
All Tours are also great Family Friendly Tours York
? Tour Length – 1 hour to 85 minutes
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Address ? : Meet at Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, York YO1 8BL
Tour Information – Step back in time and learn the fascinating yet dark tales of the witches of York. This Witches and History Old Town Walking Tour leads you to the world-famous Shambles, an ancient, cobbled street that today is picturesque and beautiful. However, it was once the location of some unpleasant events regarding the treatment of the city’s resident witches.
Follow in the footsteps of these historic characters from centuries gone by as you walk through York Minster, Petergate, and Stonegate. Your guide will fill you in on all the information, facts, and legends that took place and will be only too happy to answer any questions you have too. In addition to exploring the ancient, cobbled streets of York, you can also choose to visit the Potions Cauldron for an immersive potion-making experience.
Enter the secret room and get lost in a magical world as special effects take you on a quest to make the perfect potion. This tour has a 1-1 ½ hour duration and is suitable for most visitors although may be a little scary in places for those of a sensitive nature.
➥ Get goosebumps as you discover the spooky and wicked history of medieval York
➥ Explore the dimly-lit alleys of York’s old town on a witchcraft-themed tour
? Tour Length – 1 hour and 30 minutes
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Address ? : York Centre
Tour Information – The City Highlights Small-Group Walking Tour has a ninety-minute duration and begins at Yorks Bootham Bar. You will meet at the central library and your allotted guide will have a board with the names of all the participants.
You will walk from here to the beautiful Museum Gardens, St Mary’s Abbey, the York Minster, and of course the world-famous ancient street, The Shambles. Your guide will fill you in on a whole variety of stories, tales, and legends about each landmark that you pass, and will, of course, be more than happy to answer your questions.
The pace of the tour is comfortable so will suit most ages and levels of fitness. In fact, family groups are particularly warmly welcomed by the team.
➥ Discover a Roman fortress and ruined abbey within a Victorian botanic garden
➥ Wander through the Shambles – the original Diagon Alley and more.
? Tour Length – Valid for 1 day – Check availability to see starting times
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Address ? : York Centre
Tour Information – The York Chronicles History Walking Tour is the tour for serious history enthusiasts or just those who want to be educated about the times gone by in York. You will walk in the footsteps of Roman Emperors, learn all about what happened when the Vikings invaded, and admire the venue of the Royal Wedding.
You will also learn all about the economic influences that came out of York and how they helped to mould the country. Using historical facts, as well as some myths and legends you’ll discover the story of York and all those who went before.
The tour concludes at All Saints Pavement Church with its famous lantern tower, where you will receive insight into one of the more unique church services in Britain. This educational tour is suitable for all ages and fitness levels and is a particularly great way to educate older kids in an interactive way. A private tour can be booked.
➥ Walk in the footsteps of Romans, Vikings, Kings and Queens
➥ All key locations covered. Minster, Shambles, Bar Walls
? Tour Length – 2 hours and 30 minutes
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Address ? : Walmgate, York YO1 9TT
Tour Information – How about a tour with a difference, from the back of a bicycle? The Guided Cycling Tour of York is a great way to explore the city and see some of the best places all whilst keeping fit and being educated by the fun and knowledgeable tour guide.
You will follow your guide as they lead you off the beaten track to fascinating historic places that you won’t see on a typical bus or walking tour. The pace is safe and leisurely, and you will stay on cycle paths and designated lanes for most of the ride making this suitable for most cycling experiences and fitness levels.
Do note that the minimum age for riders is 12 years, and 12 to 16-year-olds must be accompanied by a responsible adult. The tour duration is approximately two hours. The tour is based on facts although it is designed to be a good-humoured look at the fascinating and sometimes dark and grisly past of York. A Bike tour is more suited to families with older children and is a good option for a more adventurous day out.
➥ Learn about the history with a good-humoured look at the fascinating and often grisly past of York
➥ Cycle along river paths, parks and quiet back streets of the city with frequent stops
? Tour Length – 1 hour (approx)
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Address ? : Shambles, York YO1 8BL
Tour Information – The Wizard Tour of York is a multi-award-winning attraction. This tour can be enjoyed by all ages although it is particularly aimed at younger kids aged five to ten years old. You will experience awe-inspiring magic, slapstick comedy, and a little snippet of educational local area history too all while exploring some of central York.
You will assist the magician while he hunts for magical creatures on the walking wizard tour. There is nothing scary or spooky, just fun and laughter for everyone. Little ones will love the wizard wand kits with which they can practice their own magic and of course, become a trainee witch or wizard.
The Wizard Walk begins at the bottom of York’s iconic Shambles opposite The Golden Fleece pub. It finishes back at the top of The Shambles near King’s Square. The tour takes approximately one hour and is a great addition to a family day out in York.
➥ Enjoy a mix of magic, comedy, and history as you walk around York
➥ A great family-friendly activity that’s perfect for kids aged 5–10 years
? Tour Length – 1 day
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Address ? The activity booklet can be collected from Shared Earth, 1 Minster Gates, York YO1 7HL, at any time between 10:00 AM and 5:00PM on the designated activity date when showing your payment receipt to the staff.
Tour Information – Join the adventure and turn the streets of York into a giant outdoor escape room with this self-guided mystery treasure hunt. Solve clues and unravel the mystery of The Gunpowder Snitch as you explore York. Your challenge is to track down hidden objects, decode symbols, and uncover hidden messages, as you eliminate suspects and gradually unpick the crime.
Make it to the end and you’ll be struck by an amazing ‘wow’ moment when the case is solved and the villain is revealed before your eyes! Simply grab your Mystery Guide™, head to the start, and set off at a time that suits you.
This is basically your own guided tour around a lot of York city centre. It is a relatively small city so it is perfect for exploring on a family trip and you can take the trail at your own pace while having a unique insight into the history of York. This is especially relevant as Guy Fawkes was born in the historic city of York
➥ 1 x Mystery Guide™ is provided for every two people. A Mystery Guide™ is a glossy 40-page illustrated activity book, that leads you on an immersive ‘whodunnit’ adventure around the city of York.
➥ Bring a Pen
Please conduct your own research through reviews and the tour websites with regard to the listings above. The above information is for reference only.