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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 04 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Will Hide

There has been a place of worship on the site of York Minster since the 7th century, and the current building – which took over 250 years to build and was finally finished in 1472 – is considered northern Europe’s finest Gothic cathedral.

Famous for its hand-carved, vaulted interiors and vividly beautiful medieval stained glass, this is a must-do even for those who wouldn’t normally include a church in their sightseeing rounds. Don’t miss the 600-year-old Great East Window, believed to be the biggest of its kind in the world, with 311 individual, unique glass panels.

Once you’ve explored the main nave and transepts, head downstairs to the undercroft, which includes the remains of a Roman barracks and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery.

You can book onto a ‘Hidden Minster’ tour with an expert guide, to see parts of the Minster normally closed to public access – such as a tour of the Chapter House roof or to see the skills of stonemasons whose job it is to repair the hundreds of medieval statues and gargoyles. You’ll hear untold stories about how parts of the Minster were built and the people who made it happen.

While you’re there 

If you’re feeling energetic enough, climb up the 275 steps to the top of the tower for the best view of York and surrounding areas. By the toilets, look up at the stone carvings high above you… you’ll find a rather cheeky one from a 14th-century stonemason of a monkey putting a carrot up a donkey’s bottom!

Price from: £12
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

York Minster is at the heart of the city – visible from almost every street in the centre.

Basic entry tickets come with add-ons, including the Hidden Minster tour and access to climb the tower, so you can choose how much of the Minster you want to see. Entry is included if you’ve bought a York Pass.

If you’d rather explore independently, it is worth investing in the guidebook, or you will miss many of its treasures.

When to do it

York Minster is open all year round, seven days a week, although check the website for times when it might be closed for religious services.

Hidden Minister tours usually run once a week on a Wednesday (check the website as times/days do change).

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Dean Court Hotel

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.1 miles]

A stone’s throw from York Minster, this trio of 19th-century townhouses has the best location in town, close to all of the city’s main attractions.

Official star rating:

The Fat Badger

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.2 miles]

A former 18th-century grocery store, this is a cosy, charming inn set next to one of the city’s medieval gateways.  

Official star rating:

Grays Court Hotel

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.2 miles]

A city centre hotel with a top-notch restaurant in an elegant 11th-century building, tucked away down a cobbled lane at the back of York Minster. 

Official star rating:

The Grand

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

The Grand lives up to its name, with a chic cocktail bar, one of the city’s best restaurants and a sleek, subterranean spa. 

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)

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.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Walk York’s Roman city walls

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

Walking York’s ancient city walls – the best-preserved in Britain – offers glimpses of the city’s rich history, with fortified towers, Roman gateways and a wonderful view of the medieval rooftops.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2 houra

National Railway Museum

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.9 miles]

Europe’s premier railway museum boasts every type of train from steam locomotives to the only bullet train outside Japan – a wet-weather winner for kids of all ages.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

The exterior and window display of the popular Betty's Cafe and Tea Rooms at night


York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.2 miles]

This iconic tearoom opened in 1937 and there’s a good reason people queue for two hours for afternoon tea here. Book online in advance to avoid the wait.

Best for ages: 10+ | Free

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Exterior of two-storey art gallery with a fountain and statue in front

York Art Gallery

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.2 miles]

A regional art gallery that punches well above its weight, you’ll find Victorian and contemporary artists displayed, including David Hockney and Grayson Perry. General admission is free.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Interior of museum showing a variety of displays about chocolate

York’s Chocolate Story

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

Five million KitKats are produced in York every day. You can’t tour the Nestlé factory, but here at St Helen’s Square you can find out all about the city’s sweet history and make your own chocolate.

Best for ages: 4+ | £15

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Small stall at the York Christmas Market

St. Nicholas Fair

York, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (UK)[0.3 miles]

One of the largest Christmas markets in the UK, the St. Nicholas Fair sees market stalls take over the city centre, transforming Parliament Square into a Christmas card worthy scene and offering festive shoppers the chance to stock up on gifts, arts and crafts. Daily, from mid-November-Christmas.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free | 5 weeks

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Round-ups that include this experience

101 World’s greatest historic buildings

Multiple countries

The great civilisations of the past have left a legacy of constructions that still stand out and inspire. Built without the wonders of 20th-century technology, many are also monumental feats of engineering; others offer such grace and beauty, that they’ll literally take your breath away.

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