York Minster Culture & history

Our most recommended York Minster Culture & history

York: The Dark Chronicles of York Guided Walking Tour

1. York: The Dark Chronicles of York Guided Walking Tour

Unearth the grim stories and the untold truths of York's dark past on this walking tour. Join your guide to explore secrets long forgotten, and journey back almost 2000 years to the roots of Eboracum. See York Minster and Shambles Market from a new perspective. Learn what happened to the criminals of this city, what happened to the innocent, and what really happens in the shadows of York's mysterious alleyways and streets. Meet your guide outside The Hilt on Goodramgate and travel through the city, passing by iconic landmarks such as Shambles Market and York Minster. You will also discover lesser-known spots such as St. Andrewgate street.

York: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

2. York: City Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

Contained within a ring of medieval stone walls, York concentrates 2000 years of history into a remarkably small area. This ninety-minute tour begins at Bootham Bar, the city’s northern entrance, from which every period of York’s development is visible, from Roman times to the present day. You’ll then enter the tranquil, green oasis of the Museum Gardens - a Victorian botanic garden which contains an 18th Century observatory, the remains of a Roman fortress and the spectacular ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. From here it is a short walk to the Minster - the largest medieval gothic cathedral in the country - which has dominated the city’s skyline for over 900 years. The Minster lies at the heart of a warren of ancient streets whose layout is Viking in origin. You’ll hear tales of Viking invasion while delving deep into the maze of secret passages known as ‘Snickelways’; passing an unhappy mermaid and a little red devil as well as catching a glimpse of a 15th Century banqueting hall. Finally you’ll emerge into the Shambles,York’s best-known cobbled street - once a row of butchers, now instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans as the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

York: Private Bespoke History Walking Tour

3. York: Private Bespoke History Walking Tour

Walk through the streets of York which feels like taking a tour through the history of England. The Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans all remade the city to their own purposes. The Tudors and the Stuarts made themselves at home here. The Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War left their mark as well. Experience the history of one of the most fascinating cities in Britain. For 2,000 years, York has been at the heart of the nation’s affairs. Listen to your guide that will bring its history to life as you are walking through lush parks and narrow lanes, pass grand churches, and palaces to ruined castles and abbeys. Enjoy this tour that offers a private experience for larger groups or families who would prefer the personal touch. The tour takes in all the main sights of the city and provides an in-depth look at the history behind them. Your guide will happily customize the tour to your requirements, depending on what you would like to see.  Receive the services of your own personal professional guide and benefit from their local knowledge.

3-day Yorkshire Dales and Peak District Tour from Manchester

4. 3-day Yorkshire Dales and Peak District Tour from Manchester

Day 1: Travel to the Peak District. In the late morning, you will arrive in Castleton. This quaint old town attracts travelers from all over the world for its quintessential English charm. Nearby, there are caves, a beautiful view up a valley, and an insightful information center. Venture to the beautiful valley at Monsal Head. There’s an old rail line viaduct that emerges from the green hills. It’s a gorgeous structure with an impressive history. If you’re hungry, then you’re in luck, because you’re stopping for lunch in Bakewell. Not only is this town delicious to look at, but it’s also the home of one of England’s most famous desserts, the Bakewell Pudding. After savoring every last crumb, head over to Chatsworth House. This luxurious stately home is incredible; you can admire the architecture, get lost in a massive maze, or praise precious art. Finally, head off in the early evening to your overnight stop in York. Day 2: Full-day Tour of York Spend your morning in York. Visit a chocolate museum, find out about the Vikings, or just stroll around the ancient walls. Around midday, leave York and head to Goathland. This town was used in the Harry Potter movies and is situated in one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the UK. Your next stop is Whitby. This is the type of town everyone dreams of retiring in. There’s a beautifully-located, ruined abbey; old stone steps curving around viewpoints; and a lovely little beach to play about on. After exploring all the nooks and crannies of Whitby, travel to Robin Hood’s Bay. They doubt if the real Robin Hood ever came here, but there are still plenty of smugglers tales dotted around this remarkable harbor village. Finally, arrive back in York in the early evening. Day 3: Touring, Lunch, and Returning to Manchester Take the road to Fountains Abbey. This is one of the largest ruined abbeys in England and part of an important UNESCO Heritage site. Then find yourself surrounded by some of England’s most lovely waterfalls at AysgarthEnjoy a delicious lunch of Wensleydale's famous cheese and crackers. After lunch, travel past the epic Ribblehead railway viaduct before having a short snoop around the old castle-topped town of Clitheroe. In the evening, arrive in Manchester.

York: Private Guided Walking Tour

5. York: Private Guided Walking Tour

The story of York is the story of England in wood, stone and chocolate. Constantine the Great became emperor here. Viking raiders left their chaotic street plan. Quaker confectioners invented the KitKat. No wonder it can be hard to know where to begin. How about the spot where it is possible to take in 2000 years of history simply by turning in a circle? And you don't have to walk much further to see how York was shaped by Romans, Normans and Tudors; as it is all laid out within the grounds of a Victorian botanic garden. Only in York can you be transported from a legionary fortress to a ruined abbey and a medieval hospital by crossing a lawn. Who needs a Tardis?  Ever wondered why the Minster is known as a Minster rather than a cathedral? Puzzled why all the streets in York are called Gates (and all the gates are called Bars)? This entertaining and informative walk provides the answers while taking in all the key sights including the Minster, the medieval walls and the Shambles - the precariously crooked street that provided the inspiration for Diagon Alley. A true highlight, in every sense, is the elevated walkway running around the city wall (don't worry, there are safety railings, but this part is not obligatory if you suffer from vertigo). The route will also veer off the beaten path and into the maze of ancient cut-throughs and back-passages known locally as ’Snickelways’. These tiny, winding streets are the life-blood of the city and the side of York you would never be able to experience from an open-topped bus.

Other Sightseeing Options in York Minster

Want to discover all there is to do in York Minster? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about York Minster

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 57 reviews

Great night with our tour guide, Ellie who was knowledgeable, friendly and created a great atmosphere on the tour. It was a nice sized group, compared to other tours we passed, and the smaller setting allowed it to be more personal and interesting! Good contrast of humour, seriousness and facts! Would definitely recommend.

We have visited York before but this is the first time we have had a guide and it was definitely worth it! We learnt a lot more about the history and saw things that we hadn't noticed on previous visits. Sarah was very knowledgeable and friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed our tour. Thank you Sarah.

The guide, Finn, was ever so engaging, charismatic and he managed to keep a fairly large group with children curious until the very end. Not to mention it was a wet and cold night! He's a great story teller! Thank you so much, Finn!

Cecil lead a reasonably paced trip through the city of York and provided lots of interesting information. There was some mild rain, but it did not impact the tour. Very informative and great exercise!

An excellent tour! Sarah really brought to life the history of York. The smaller sizes of the tour gave us the opportunity to ask lots of questions.