York Weekend Break – 2-day itinerary for a romantic mini-break in York

This blog is a step by step itinerary for: 2 days in York for £842.20 (£494 for accommodation, £155 for activities, £156 for drinks and meals, £37.20 for parking) plus any extra you want to spend on shopping. Stay in The Malmaison (club room, dinner, bead and breakfast rate) Get the York Pass and do: the Cocoa works chocolate tasting, Van Gogh exhibition, boat cruise, York Dungeons, York Minster, hop on hop off bus, Jorvik, walk the city walls, browse the shambles, restaurants and bars.

Table of Contents

I know how tricky it can be to research and design the perfect romantic York weekend break itinerary. You need to think about logistics, and long activities last, how long it takes to get from one place to another, check reviews to find out what to do, where to leave the car, what to do with your bags – it’s tricky! And if isn’t done well, it can spoil some of the fun of your mini-break in York.

So, I’m going to plan your romantic break in York for you!

Why? Well, because I’m doing it for myself anyway, and I thought I may as well write it up to make it easier for you than it has been for me! If you read the whole guide, and then follow my step by step booking instructions, you’ll have your entire trip booked (accommodation, activities), complete with a schedule and directions. The total cost for your weekend will be £842.20 (£494 for accommodation, £155 for activities, £156 for drinks and meals, £37.20 for parking) plus any extra you want to spend on drinks and shopping.

>> Skip to the itinerary if you are happy to trust my justifications! <<


  • Let’s start by assuming you already know you want to go to York, I’m not wasting time in this article convincing you to go – we have enough work to do already.
  • This is a romantic break, so we will also assume you are travelling as a couple (2 adults) and happy to share a bed.
  • York weekend break included 2 nights accommodation – we arrived in the evening, then left late in the afternoon of the final day. So this would work for a weekend break in York – arrive Friday night and leave late Sunday afternoon but would work just as well for a mid-week break.

What will be covered in this guide

If you follow this guide exactly, you will have a fun-filled, but not too hectic, break-in York for a total of £842 (possibly more if you choose a weekend). And, if you follow the steps in the booking section, it will take you less than 1 hour from start to having everything booked. 

So, Let’s get started!

Who am I to give you travel advice?

I grew up living in a village just outside of York, so until I left to go to uni, York had always been my nearest city. After over a decade away I’ve recently moved back to this wonderful city – so I’m writing this guide to York accommodation as a local, but also as someone who has visited plenty of cities around the world, and experienced York as a tourist. I’m also a wedding photographer in York, so I spend a lot of time with loved-up couples who get married in York!

Why is York a perfect city break destination?

We all know York is awesome – you’ve either been and love it, or haven’t been yet but want to go. How do I know – well, you’re reading a blog about planning a weekend in York, aren’t you? That and I’m psychic. No, I’m not.

York is a small city with plenty to do

Although a small one, York is a city (and has been since time immemorial), so it’s big enough to have easy transport, lots of hotels, restaurants and plenty of things to do… but it’s small enough to be charming and relaxing – you can walk from one side of the city to the other in half an hour! York is a perfect UK destination for a romantic weekend getaway.

Pubs and restaurants

Because York is such a well-visited city, there are plenty of thriving restaurants and pubs. York is noted for its historic pubs. And as you can easily walk from one side of the city to the other in half an hour, you have the choice of all the finest restaurants, pubs and bars, within walking distance. 

Museums, art galleries, tours, experiences

Along with a plethora of places to drink and eat, there are so many attractions and experiences in the city centre. As it’s a tourism hotspot, there are always plenty of things to keep visitors entertained.

York has history

You don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate the beauty of York’s many historic buildings. If you want to have a stroll around the walls, gaze up at the Minster, window shop on the Shambles you can do so without knowing the history, and still appreciate the romance of old things (there’s something romantic about looking at old buildings together).

But York’s history is why these things are here, so if you want a brief overview read on.

A brief history of York

Founded by the Roman’s in about 71 AD it was originally named Eburacum, they built some walls and stayed for a few centuries.

The Vikings invaded in 866AD – they called the city Jorvik. They buried the Roman walls and erected a wooden fence on the top.

In 1068 William the Conqueror marched on the Viking city of York and built a couple of castles to stake his claim (Clifford’s tower is the only remaining part).

In 1212AD King John sold York to its people for £200 and three horses, now they could appoint their own mayor (and other things).

The wooden Viking fence around the city was eventually rebuilt with stone in the 13th/14th century (these are the current city walls). York Minster was built between 1220 and 1472. Around the 1400s many of the buildings still present in The Shambles were built. Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570.

Not much really happened then apart from a few royal visits until the railway line from Newcastle to London was built through York in 1839.

The rail revolution rejuvenated York – tourism boomed – the Theatre royal and York art gallery were top attractions.

In the 18th century, chocolate was made popular by the Quakers in York and three famous chocolate families (Terrys, Rowntrees, and Craven) had factories here. 

What is York famous for?

Due to its rich history, York is famous for:

  • Romans
  • Vikings
  • railways
  • chocolate
  • Guy Fawkes
  • York Minster
  • ghost tours
  • the Shambles
  • tourism

York has easy access to amazing countryside

After seeing the sights of York, you can easily extend your stay in Yorkshire by visiting the Yorkshire Dales, the North Yorkshire Moors, the seaside at Scarborough or Whitby. This could easily be done as a day trip from your York accommodation if you don’t have long. 


This blog post is more about what to do when you are in York, so I have been very brief with my accommodation coverage. If you would like to read my blog post about the best accommodation in York for couples, read it here.

My Choice: The Malmaison Hotel (Club room with dinner, bed and breakfast)

My summary of the best hotels in York

The Malmaison – Look beyond the ugly facade!

It may look ugly from the outside… but that’s part of the appeal!
Everyone from York knows at least one person who has worked in the Aviva building at some point – either when it was Aviva, or earlier as Norwich Union.
Well, that iconic building has been taken over and renovated by Malmaison into a luxury contemporary hotel.
The juxtaposition of the grey office block, contemporary, building of the Malmaison right next door to the victorian Grand Hotel (York’s only 5-star hotel), really highlights the hotel choice someone visiting York has. You can choose modern luxury or historic luxury.
If you choose The Malmaison you’ll be rewarded by the modern comforts of contemporary design, including a stunning rooftop bar, luxurious showers, facilities, and the most comfortable bed – and you will still be experiencing the history of York from the moment you step out of the door (the Minster and city walls are all in view) and the employment history of one of York’s ubiquitous workplaces!

Parking in York

I’m sure plenty of you will travel by train (trains are one of the things York is famous for). If you arrive at York train station, you will only need to walk for 7 minutes to reach the Malmaison, or only 2 minutes if you are staying at The Principal (which is the closest hotel to the station).

If you drive you will probably have the choice of parking at your hotel for a fee or choosing an alternative car park.

The NCP at Tanner Row is the closest to the Malmaison, and if you are willing to pay extra for convenience, then go for it.

  • Typical hotel car park fee: The Principal £15 per 24 hours, then £3 per hour after – paid for at a machine in the car park.
  • NCP Tanner Row: £24.50 for 24 hours if you pay on the day (£22.50 per 24hrs if paid on the app).
  • Marygate car park: £13.50 per day. Uses numberplate recognition and you pay at a machine before you drive away.

** Marygate car park is a 9-minute walk from the base of the Minster, so very central.

Marygate can get very full – if you park outside a parking bay you WILL get a parking ticket. This is £25. If you are unfortunate to get a ticket your car reg seems to be wiped from the parking system. You will need to pay for parking to get the barrier to open, but as your reg isn’t on the system, you will have the option to input it manually, and you can state what time you arrived. I’m not suggesting you input that you only arrived in the last hour, but it could be done.

Shhh! Bonus tip for parking at Marygate

Another quirk of the Marygate car parking system is that if you stay overnight, it seems the system sometimes resets. So to be able to leave, you will need to manually enter your reg and when you arrived. Let’s say you arrive on Monday and are ready to leave on Wednesday – you should be paying at least £27 (2 full days parking). But if you were to manually enter that you arrived only 1 hour prior to leaving… you would pay £2.40.

I’m not suggesting you do this – I’m just making you aware of a quirk I discovered. Don’t rely on it though, it might have been fixed now, but if your reg plate isn’t recognised, be ready to take advantage if you want to!

(If I’ve managed to save you £25 in parking – feel free to repay the favour by booking accommodation through one of my links (I get a bit of commission)!

So, parking and accommodation decided on, let’s discuss the itinerary!

The York Pass

I spent quite a while deciding if the York pass (a tourist card which allows you entry to lots of York attractions) was worth it, and then whether I should get a 1 day or 2-day pass. In the end, I’m so glad I chose the 2-day pass – there are so many things I did that I wouldn’t have without it. I would only suggest getting the York Pass for one trip to York, probably your first (because we all know you’ll be back!).

One of the unexpected bonuses of having the York Pass was that it forced me to actually plan my trip and book entry to places. We visited York in the half-term holiday and everywhere we went there were queues of people being turned away because they hadn’t booked in advance. Even a week before (when I made my bookings) plenty of time slots were already full – so make sure you book in advance!

I’ll give more details about dates to avoid when booking your accommodation later.

AttractionNormal adult price (if you don’t have te york Pass)
The cocoa works£9.50
Van Gogh exhibition£13
York city boat cruise£11.25
York Dungeons£17.55
ASK Italian meal£9.25
York minster£12
Hop on hop off bus£16
Total for all 8 above£101.50 (a 2-day adult York pass = £65)
Regular entry prices per adult without the York Pass.

If you plan really well and don’t mind a hectic day, you can fit 7 activities in 1 day. If you follow my itinerary, you will do all of the 8 attractions above, but over 2 days – this would normally cost £101.50, but with the York Pass you will spend £65 (for an adult 2-day pass), which is a saving of £36 each with the York Pass

If you want a more leisurely experience, and want to see things that are not on the list (like walk the walls, window shop on the shambles etc, you may be better fitting 8 activities over 2 days (like we did).

Brief outline itinerary for 2 nights in York:

This itinerary assumes you stay at the Malmaison, arrive by car, and purchase the 2 day York Pass.
It can easily be modified to slightly different scenarios.
The total price for this trip will be approx £842 assuming you follow my booking steps.

First Night

  • Park at Marygate car park YO30 7DT
  • Check in from 3pm to Malmaison hotel
  • Dinner from 6pm in Chez Mal (included in your hotel package)
  • Drinks/ entertainment in the hotel’s Sora rooftop bar

Day One

  • Breakfast in chez Mal (hotel restaurant – included)
  • 9.30am Chocolate tour and tasting
  • 10.30-11am explore the Cliffords tower area
  • 11am Van Gogh Immersive Experience
  • 12.30pm lunch at ASK Italian
  • 1.40pm River cruise 
  • 2.45pm Walk the City walls and explore the Shambles 
  • 3.30-4.30pm The Barley Hall and time for a drink at Ye Olde Starre Inn
  • before 5pm bus tour
  • 5-7pm Dinner (you choose the restaurant!)
  • 8pm Ghost tour
  • 9.30pm Bed or bars!

Day two (final day)

  • Breakfast in chez Mal hotel restaurant
  • 10.30am Look around the Minster and climb the Minster tower
  • 12pm Jorvik
  • 1pm Lunch
  • 3pm York Dungeons
  • 4.30pm Leave York 🙁

<< If you like this itinerary and are ready to book – skip to the step-by-step booking guide now >>

Itinarary in more detail with reviews and justification

You can download a handy pdf with the full itinerary complete with timings and directions here.

First Evening

So, let’s assume you arrive in York late afternoon/ early evening. Check into your hotel and relax for a while. If you have a dinner package in your stay, you will eat at the hotel. Maybe even head up to the rooftop sky bar (Sora) to have a drink and soak up the amazing views.

I often feel torn when booking a nice hotel for a city break – I want to explore the city, but I chose a fancy hotel because I want to enjoy the luxury of it! This is why I have left the first evening of the stay relatively clear – it gives plenty of time for you to relax in the room, enjoy the fantastic shower, comfy bed, bathrobes and slippers, safe in the knowledge that you will be exploring the city thoroughly the next couple of days.

The first morning

Chez Mal (the restaurant hotel) serves breakfast from 6.30-10am on weekdays, and 8-11am on weekends. To make your first appointment at 9.30am, you’ll need to leave the hotel by about 9.10am, so aim to have breakfast before 8.30am.

If you choose not to have breakfast at the hotel, the route to York Cocoa works will pass 4 options for your breakfast (details below).

Route from Malmaison to York Cocoa Works (including breakfast options)

Turn right out of the hotel, then once you get to Micklegate turn left. You’ll then cross Castlegate bridge. There will be a Tesco Express on your right, with a Coopland’s bakery opposite it (if you want to grab a takeaway breakfast), or a little further on, just as you get to the pedestrianised zone, a cafe on the corner called Drift in which is popular for breakfast (wide range of options including full English, pancakes pastries etc). It opens at 8.30 am and you should expect to pay £6 – £13 for a breakfast with a hot drink.

For a vegan option, turn right in front of Drift In (onto Nessgate) and continue to Castlegate – you’ll find The Source. A lovley little vegan cafe who serve breakfast (expect to spend about £12 including a drink) – they don’t take bookings, and are open 9am-4pm (closed on Tuesday and Wednesday).

The chocolate tasting experience is within view of the Van Gogh experience

First activity: 9.30 am Chocolate tour and tasting at York Cocoa Works.

If you google York Cocoa works, be aware that there is a big new housing development by the same name – for the actual chocolate (not the housing) you want York Cocoa House on Castlegate. They make chocolate, have a shop, and a cafe, and they do little tasting tours. This costs £9.50 per adult (but is free with your York pass).

The first tour of the day is at 9.30am and the second at 11am.

The tour is mainly just an information talk – very little movement is required! As a group you’ll look at some machinery through a window from outside and the tour guide will teach you about how chocolate is made. Then you’ll sit inside and have a guided chocolate tasting. It lasts 1 hour and you can’t really leave early.

We really enjoyed this experience and learnt a lot about the different tastes of chocolate. 

Chocolate tasting at York Cocoa Works

10.30-11 am Free time – explore the Cliffords tower area

You now have 30 minutes before your next activity just a little further down Castlegate. You could wander further and see Clifford’s tower (you could walk to Clifford’s tower and back in 10 minutes), or look about some of the shops in Coppergate.

It might be a good opportunity to grab a coffee if you need one – there are plenty of little food vans in the Coppergate area.

Second booked activity: 11am Van Gogh Immersive Experience

This is a self-guided experience, so it doesn’t need to last the full hour. 

You’ll enter the main area of a church which is full of seating. There is a projection, with sounds and some talking, on the walls of the main church section and this is on a loop. It is your choice if you watch the full loop, or if you stay and watch for even longer. I think the projection was about 40 minutes. After this, we left the main hall and there are a few interactive parts, some artwork and information boards to read, and a shop at the end. The toilets are at the back of the church hall, and there is also a small replica of Van Gogh’s bedroom at the back of the main church hall.

We both enjoyed this experience and learned a lot about Van Gogh by experiencing his art rather than simply reading about his life.

Inside the Van Gogh experience.

Lunch time: ASK Italian about 12.20pm

From St Mary’s church to ASK Italian it is a 7-minute walk. You’ll be walking down York’s main shopping street Coney Street, and you’ll have time spare to pop in somewhere if you fancy as we’ve allowed 30 minutes for this walk.

Now, it may seem a little odd to eat at ASK Italian when there are so many independent restaurants in York. 

The first reason is your York Pass includes a free main course at ASK Italian. You’ll get a choice of 3 pasta meals and 3 pizzas. These are the cheapest items on the menu but are all very tasty. You can add extras like sides, drinks and desserts (which you will need to pay for), but you cannot upgrade your main meal to another option.

The meals with the dots next to them are free with the York Pass

The second reason this restaurant made it to our itinerary is the building itself. ASK Italian is located in the Grand Assembly rooms, and it really is a magnificent space to eat in.

ASK Italian is inside the Grand Assembly rooms in York

1.40pm River cruise 

Queue up on the river edge just next to Lendal Bridge – it’s well signposted, about 5 minutes before departure. (Turn left out of ASK, then left at the crossroads and continue on Museum street for a couple of minutes, and then take the cobbled road heading down towards the river on the right-hand side of Lendal bridge – it’s a 4-minute walk in total.) 

The river cruise isn’t award-winning. You can’t really see a lot from the river, and the captain has an odd, and quite old fashioned sense of humour (jokes about his ex-wife feature quite often) – but, it is always a bit romantic sitting on a boat together, and the river Ouse is a very important part of York, so I definitely think it’s worthwhile. You might be lucky and get a different captain!

Queue for the river cruise near Lendal Bridge, near The Starr Inn the city at the bottom of Museum Gardens.

Walk the City Walls and Explore the Shambles 2.45-3.30pm (rough times)

After the boat, walk 5 minutes north (back up Museum street in the direction of the Minster, then turn left onto St Leonards Place and continue to the fountains) and you’ll arrive at Exhibition Square. Across the road (looking toward the Minster) you’ll see Bootham Bar. Walk up the steps on the right-hand side to get up onto the city walls here. 

(If you fancy a coffee, there is a small place called Bean and Gone before you go up the steps – be sure to ask to see the original Roman walls while in there – it’s the only place you can see it!)

Take a leisurely walk along the walls. You’ll see the Minster, walk past Gray’s Court (the oldest inhabited house in Britain) and eventually leave the walls at Monk Bar.

From Monk Bar, wander through the streets of York until you get to the Shambles (ask anyone for directions if you feel lost!).

Spend some time on Europe’s best-preserved Medieval street – notice the hooks outside each shop – at one point the Shambles used to be a street of butchers shops.

While you’re in the area, you may as well visit Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate – York’s smallest street which also has York’s longest street name. It’s a small street just next to the Shambles. (At the end of the Shambles furthest from the Minster, it’s on the right (if you are facing the Minister).

3.30-4.30pm-ish Check out the Barley Hall and time for a drink

From the Shambles if you head up Swinegate you’ll pass various bars and restaurants if you fancy a break for a drink.

Continue up Swinegate towards an old white building at the end. Duck down here and walk through the passageway signed “Coffee Yard”. Here you’ll have a nice view into the Barley Hall.

View into The Barley Hall from the alleyway

(The York Pass allows you free entry into The Barley Hall if you fancy a closer look – but it closes at 3pm/4pm, so do it before the Shambles).

Continue through the Coffee Yard (notice one of York’s historic cats above the blue window) and you’ll end up on Stonegate. 

With your back to the alleyway, you’ll have the Evil Eye cocktail lounge ahead, or Ye Old Starre Inn (York’s oldest licenced Inn) to the left.

5pm Bus Tour

If you fancy getting to know York a bit more from the outside of the city walls, head back to Exhibition square and catch a sightseeing hop on hop off bus. The full circuit takes 1 hour, but the last few buses only go as far as Clifford’s Tower.

The last full circuit bus sets off at 4.28pm, and about 5.20pm for the last bus at all. It is very informative and a great way to learn a lot about York quite quickly (much better commentary than the river cruise!)!

The full circuit lasts for 1 hour – after Cliffords Tower it heads further out of town and goes past the racecourse and train station. It can be quite a lot of information to take in, so doing the shorter route (ending at Cliffords Tower) would probably be best if you don’t want to be overwhelmed with info (or sit in traffic)!

6-7.30pm Dinner time!

If you get off the bus at Cliffords Tower, or if you are still drinking at Stonegate – both of these areas have plenty of restaurants to choose from.

Near Clifford’s tower area there is French restaurant Rustique or head over the river via Picadilly to Spark (about a 4-minute walk). Spark is closed on Monday – it’s a social enterprise with loads of little independent street food type eateries.

From Stonegate, you have the Ivy in one direction, and Forest the opposite way (towards the Minster), or down Back Swinegate or Little Stonebow there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.

8pm Ghost Tour

You haven’t experienced York if you haven’t heard about some of the many stories about haunted buildings. If you’ve not already had enough of walking through the streets of York, join a ghost tour. 

There are so many excellent ghost tours around York, but this one seems to have the best reviews.

Generally, a few people tend to leave the tour before the end (they do last up to 90 minutes), and still have a great time, so don’t feel bad if you don’t manage the whole length!

The Original Ghost Walk of York meets at 8pm outside The King’s Arms pub and is £7.50 for adults. 

9pm onwards Back to the hotel for bed, or continue drinking in York’s bars

Head back to the hotel and you’ll be sure to pass a few bars if you don’t fancy stopping yet. Micklegate run is york’s most famous pub crawl, and it’s only 3 minutes from the Malmaison hotel.

Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel, and check out about 10 am (11 am latest)

You can have a later breakfast, and a lie in this morning if you wish! 

You’ll need to be packed up and checked out of the hotel by 11 am at the latest. If you want to make the most of your time in the hotel I’d recommend skipping one of the activities below, maybe the Jorvik Centre.

If a lie in doesn’t appeal, and you are happy to check out of the hotel by 10 am, let’s get going!

Take your bags to your car at Marygate car park (a 10-minute walk from the hotel over the bridge, and along the river Ouse). Then walk to the Minster through Museum Gardens – the whole walk from hotel to Minster, including bag drop, should take about 20 minutes.

Activity 1: The Minster and Tower 10.30 am

Due to a quirk in the booking system (which we’ll go into later), you’ll need to book an arrival slot at the Minster 15 minutes before the tower trip. How long you will want to spend in the Minster is entirely up to you. Walk around it at your own pace.

The tower trip is 45 minutes. They allow about 10 minutes for you to get up, then you can be at the top for about 20 minutes, and then about 15 minutes to climb down.

Of all the things I did in York, the trip up to the Minster tower was my favourite. I really don’t like heights, so I was a little wary at first, but it really is spectacular to be so high up. Doing the tower on the last day is great because you’ll recognise so many places that you’ve been to below. 

There are 275 steps up, and then the same 250 steps back down, and although a little tiring, perfectly manageable by able-bodied people.

If you wanted to speed this activity up (maybe you checked out a little late) you could arrive at the Minster 5 minutes before your tower tour is due, take a brisk stroll through the Minster, gazing up as you go, and arrive at the tower trip meeting point on time. Once up, after looking at the views for about 10 minutes you could descend and spend 5-10 minutes walking back through the Minster. You could probably fit the Minster and tower into a minimum of 45 minutes if you were on a really tight schedule (this would be better than totally missing it out because it really is spectacular).

View from the top of York Minster

Activity 2 from 12 pm Jorvik Viking Centre

Jorvik Viking Centre is about a 10-minute walk from the Minster, back in the Coppergate shopping centre area of town. There is usually a person dressed in Viking clothing outside, so you can’t miss it!

There is so much history and detail about Viking York here – you’ll get a break from walking too as there is a small chair type ride through a Viking village.

You can do the whole thing in an hour.

1pm Lunchtime

3pm York Dungeons, or take your pick!

York Dungeons is very entertaining, but if actors jumping out and scaring you, and listening to theatrical stories, isn’t really your cup of tea, you could use this time to visit some of the other York Pass attractions.

Although based on the historic stories of York, the dungeons aren’t an educational experience. I really enjoyed it, though I felt it went on a bit longer than it could have – there is no way to leave early, you travel through various rooms as a group. My husband wasn’t as impressed with this place. 

If you are concerned about coronavirus, this place isn’t the best – you will spend 90 minutes in close proximity, often in small places with no ventilation, with the whole group – and plenty of people in our group weren’t wearing masks. 

4.30pm Time to leave

I’m not forcing you to go, but I’m assuming it’s about time you were heading home, so this is the end of the itinerary.

Summary of price (total combined price for 2 adults)

Accommodation: £494
2 nights in the Malmaison hotel (club room with breakfast both mornings, and 1 evening meal) = £494

Food and drink: £156 to take with you
Enough for 1 evening meal (£50), 1 lunch (£46), as many drinks as you want (£60). (breakfasts both mornings and 1 evening meal is included in your hotel price, the first lunch is free with your York pass)

Activities and York Pass: £155
York pass for 2 days for 2 adults = £130 (this is full price, sometimes they do have a discount)
Extra to go to the top of the Minster = £10
Ghost tour for 2 adults = £15

Parking: £37.20
50 hours in Marygate car park (assuming arrive at about 3pm and leave at about 4.30pm) = £37.20 (assuming the machine doesn’t let you enter your own time… then it might be only £2.40 😉 )

Spending money: I can’t guess this!

Step by Step booking

You have approved the itinerary, accepted the price, and are happy with the choice of hotel – now it’s time to get everything booked!

Dates to avoid!

Not everyone has the choice of what dates to book their trip to York, but if you do, have a look at this table of events in York. It can get really busy, so if possible, it’s always best to avoid school holidays and major events… unless you want to take part!

JanuarySchools are back from 4th Jan
York Residents Festival – AVOID! Most of the attractions are free for local residents, so everywhere is packed! (29th and 30th Jan 2022)
FebruaryYork Ice Trail (5th and 6th Feb 2022) – a nice event, but it gets super busy, so for your first trip to York, I’d avoid this.
School half term hols 19th to 27th Feb (this is also the week of the Jorvik Viking festival)
MarchSeems safe – I don’t know of any big events this month
AprilSchool Easter holidays 9th – 24th April
MayYork Races – 11th-13th May 2022 and 21st-22nd May
School holidays – 28th May-5th June (also Eboracum Roman festival, and a food festival during this holiday)
JuneYork Races – 10th-11th June 2022
York Food Taster festival – 10th-12th June 2022
JulyYork Races – 8th-9th July 2022 and 22nd-23rd July
School summer holidays – from 21st July 2022
AugustYork Races – 17th-20th August 2022
School summer holidays – all month
SeptemberSchool summer holidays – end 4th September 2022
York Races – 4th September 2022
Heritage open days – 9th-18th September 2022
York Food Festival – TBC September 2022
OctoberYork Races – 7th-8th October 2022
Yorkshire Marathon – 16th October 2022 (goes through York)
School holidays – 22nd-30th October 2022
NovemberSt Nicholas Fair (York Christmas Market) from Late November
DecemberSchool holidays – from 17th December 2022
Choose the dates for your trip to York wisely!

Are you ready to book?

From this point to having everything totally booked you will need approximately X minutes.
You will also need £649 of funds in your bank (the remaining £193 is money you’ll need during your actual visit to York)!
I suggest booking everything using the same email address, one you can access on your phone while in York (it is possible to print everything)

Step 1: Book your accommodation (Takes less than 4 minutes)

  • Click “book a room” in the sticky banner at the bottom of the page.
  • Enter your dates and “Check availability”
  • In the results, scroll down to Club Room and click “show room rates”.
  • You should have the option of “Dinner, Bed and Breakfast”. Select rate.
  • Check the details are correct, then fill in your contact deails and confirm booking.
  • Enter your card payment details.

Step 2: Buy your York Pass (takes less than 3 minutes)

  • If there are any discount codes available they will be displayed at the top of the page like in this screenshot. You need to enter this code in manually. The prices in this blog post assume there is no discount code available. The discount code will be applied per pass, not per basket, so you don’t need to split your purchase to multiple transactions.
  • Add a quantity of 2 in the “2-day adult pass” box and proceed to checkout.
  • Apply your code if there is one, and proceed to checkout again.
  • On the final page you will need to select which month you plan to use your pass in, and fill in your details.
  • From placing my order, it took 4 minutes until I received the confirmation email.

Step 3: Book onto your attractions

To book most of these attractions you will need to know your “York Pass” code. You will find this in the attachments of your York Pass confirmation email. The attachment titled “MobilePasses…” will have a “unique code” on it, this is the code you’ll need.

Book York Cocoa Works (less than 3 minutes to book)

  • Click here for the York Manufactory Tasting Journey booking page
  • Scroll down the page and increase the number of adult participants to 2
  • Select your date (this is the day after you arrive in York) and choose the 9.30 am time slot
  • Click checkout
  • On the pop up you will need to fill in the box asking “Do you have a York Pass” with Yes and both of your codes.
  • You will also need to enter YORKPASS into the promo code section and apply, then continue and fill in your details
  • You will be emailed confirmation with your ticket – mine went to junk.
This shows the two sections you need to fill in highlighted yellow to apply the YorkPass discount for York cocoa Works.

Book Van Gogh experience (less than 2 minutes to book)

Book your river cruise (must be done by phone or email – cannot do this online) (7 minutes to book)

  • Phone 01904 628 324 during work hours. My call lasted 7 minutes in total (including a wait)
  • This is their website for info
  • Book the 1.40pm river cruise from Lendal bridge Landing on the day after you arrive in York (the same day as the chocolate and the Van Gogh experience)
  • You will need to provide your email address, phone number, and York Pass code when booking on the phone.
  • They will email and text confirmation instantly

Book your ghost tour (Less than 2 minutes to book)

  • This is not included with the York pass and will need to be paid for separately (£7.50 each).
  • You can book on the phone: 07825 618123
  • Or, click this link to book online.
  • Close the first pop-up, then scroll down the page a little until you see the “Book Now” button as shown in this screenshot below.
  • Follow the simple instructions to book at 8pm the day after you arrive in York (the same day as the chocolate tasting, Van Gogh, and boat cruise)

Book your York Minster trip (not long if you are lucky, but it can go wrong and take longer, allow 10 minutes to book this!)

  • Be careful because this one can be tricky – their website is a bit buggy!
  • At the moment, due to Covid restrictions, you can not climb the tower. This is a real shame because the tower was my favourite part of my whole trip to York.
  • When they do re-open, you should be able to book your Minster and Tower trip on this page.
  • Book entry to the Minster about 10.30am on your final day, and the tower trip about 10.45am, or the soonest available after arrival.
  • You will need to select an entry to the Minster 15 minutes before your tower trip (but in reality you can arrive at the Minster and go straight to the tower waiting area 5 minutes before your tower booking time).
  • The website seems to remember your choice, so it can be difficult to start again if you select the wrong date and time. If this happens, try using an incognito browser window.
  • It will make you select Minster entry time first.

Book Jorvik

Book York Dungeons

Step 4: Make your reservations

Chez mal for dinner
Sora bar for drinks
ASK italian

Step 5: Present your trip as a gift!

How to get to York for your weekend break

Transport to the city

I suggest you arrive and leave by train. The train station is only a 10-minute walk from the Minster and there are always plenty of taxis waiting at the covered taxi rank at the entrance to the station. 

Travelling around York

If you plan to spend your break in York city centre, I would suggest walking everywhere. There is plenty to do without needing to leave the city, and you can easily walk from one side of the city to the other in half an hour. It’s a lovely small city, so there should be no need to get a bus or hire bikes etc. With large parts of the city being pedestrianised, walking is the most appropriate way to get around.

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