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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 08 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Will Hide

This former Georgian prison is located on the original site of York Castle, built by William the Conqueror. It mixes historical re-creations with exhibitions on life – a seemingly haphazard collection of exhibits that combine to create a fascinating insight into the social history of York and beyond.

The highlight is Kirkgate, where visitors can experience life in Victorian Yorkshire by strolling down an almost life-size reconstruction of a Victorian Street. It’s an authentic re-creation, with cobbled streets and period shops based on real York businesses.

The building’s darker history is exhibited through the grim cells, one of which would have housed notorious highway robber Dick Turpin, before he was hanged on what is now York racecourse. Other notable exhibits include the toy museum, a World War I exhibit and a swinging Sixties exhibit.

It’s a great family attraction that brings history to life for even the most skeptical, eye-rolling child.

Logistics

Price from: £13
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

York is a compact city and wherever you’re staying it’s not going to take you more than 15 minutes to reach this museum on foot. The museum is around 25 minutes’ walk from the train station; the nearest car park is the Castle car park.

It gets extremely busy in school holidays, so it’s worth booking a ticket in advance. Entry tickets are valid for a year, so you don’t have to rush around to see everything on your first visit.

Access to York Castle Museum is included in the York Pass, which gives discounts and deals on attraction entry.

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, Wednesday to Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

York

Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Medieval, turreted gate with car passing underneath

York’s dramatic past – from Roman settlements to Viking invasions – has created one of Britain’s most beautiful historic cities, home to the world-famous York Minster and the most complete medieval walls in the country.