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York is regularly named one of the best places to live and visit in the UK. With a population of 200,000, it’s big enough to feel lively but small enough to feel like home.

If you're coming to an Open Day, be sure to explore the city while you're here.

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Take the tour

Explore York in your own time with our self-guided campus and city tours.

Become inspired by your surroundings

Choosing to study at York means your learning will go beyond our campus. The city is home to pioneers in the arts and media, leaders of social reform, industry innovators and a heritage hub.

  • For 2,000 years, York has served as a melting pot for people of different cultures and traditions, from the Romans and Vikings to our current cosmopolitan city.
  • York’s architectural heritage makes it one of the best places to develop your knowledge of the archaeology and conservation of buildings.
  • York has a long history of industry. The city played a key role in the development of the UK's railways and was a 19th-century centre for chocolatiers and confectioners.
  • York is a City of Sanctuary, meaning we actively work with refugee families by providing shelter and accommodation. We are also the UK’s first Human Rights City, championing a vibrant, diverse, fair and safe city.
  • York has impressive infrastructure and a thriving community of over 7,500 science-based businesses.

Hot spots and hidden gems

These top picks, suggested by students and staff, will give you a good idea of city living in York.

Green spaces

York is one of the UK's most cycle-friendly cities and with plenty of cycle lanes and paths, it is easy to explore on foot or by bike.

  • The , gardens, and gardens are idyllic settings for a spot of relaxation and reflection. You could also take a scenic riverside stroll or walk along the ancient City Walls.
  • Rowntree Park is the perfect place for a picnic by the river, and you can savour a '99' from the solar-powered ice cream boat nearby!
  • Next to campus you'll find Walmgate Stray - a perfect summer spot for students and an outdoor practice space for many of our student societies.
  • You can also cycle the Solar System, a 6 mile cycle route with to-scale models of the planets.

Live music

From quirky pubs to popular clubs, York has a diverse mix of venues that showcase aspiring musicians and established acts. Venues across the city showcase everything from national names to local talent.

  • Listen or play! There are acoustic and open mic nights happening most days of the week in York, including Sunday nights at , Wednesday nights at , and .
  • If it's local artists and DIY/punk bands you're after, is the place to be. Similar bands often perform at other small venues in the city such as .
  • Practice your jazz hands at , with live jams on Wednesdays and Sundays, which are usually free!
  • For grassroots music, tribute acts and more, try .
  • If you're into roots, reggae, dance hall and dub, check out the nights at , a community venue with other regular, independent gigs and events.
  • The biggest venue in the city, , puts on mainstream and nationally acclaimed artists.
  • And you're only 20 minutes away from Leeds (by train) which has a number of larger venues including the and the .
York has a vibrant nightlife that includes nightclubs, bars, live music, comedy and theatre. There's something for everyone.


A long-standing urban legend says there's a pub for every day of the year in York. While that might not be quite true, there is a high density of pubs and bars in the compact city centre, including traditional pubs, cosy bars, indie lounges and popular clubs.

  • The  are teamed up with York Parties to support during semester time.
  • If you're into real ale and craft beers you'll be spoilt for choice in York at pubs such as the , and . You can even quaff a horn of mead to the strains of heavy metal at the Viking-themed bar, .
  • For a cocktail or a mocktail, , , and are all well-known spots.
  • You can also hop on a train to Leeds (20 minutes) or Manchester and Newcastle (90 minutes) for a taste of the nightlife in a bigger city.

Purple Flag accreditation

The Association of Town and City Management have recognised York as a safe, entertaining and thriving destination after dark (2022).

Eating out

York is a true foodie heaven. The city boasts a thriving food scene with independent restaurants and quirky coffee shops on every corner. With eateries for halal and vegan diners, you’ll find first-rate restaurants and cafes to suit.

  • Visiting at least once is a must as a student in York. The tea rooms and their spectacular interiors are a great choice for when your parents or family come to visit.
  • has turned old shipping containers into a community venue full of amazing local street food retailers, with regular events like gigs, quizzes and arts-and-crafts drop-ins.
  • Get your chocolate and caffeine fix at , known for its tasty brunches, pretty pancakes and delicious pastries. You could also try one of the many other cosy cafes York has to offer including , or .
  • Get a view of the Minster from the roof terrace at over brunch or lunch with friends.
  • Taste authentic flavours from around the world - try traditional Nepalese cuisine at the , North African street food at or Thai-style tapas at .
  • For a tasty curry (including Halal options) you could try or check out Indian street food from at Shambles Market, among many others.
  • Sample some authentic Italian food at , or . The gelatos at are also hard to resist on a sunny day.
  • For vegetarian and vegan food try for their organic sharing platters.

For more information, see (visityork.org).

Festivals: citywide culture and national celebrations

York’s lively cultural scene offers lots to get involved with. With a major event happening every month, there is always something unique and exciting to discover in York. Whatever your interests, you’ll find plenty of entertaining cultural events to enjoy.

  • A city-wide celebration of our rich Norse heritage, sees York transported back to the Middle Ages with living history encampments, markets, workshops, talks and dramatic combat performances.
  • For film fans the is an annual celebration of independent film from around the world. Featuring emerging talent and established filmmakers, you can even yourself.
  • With inspiring speakers from all over the world, exhibitions, theatre, music, films and family-friendly activities, offers a huge range of events at venues across campus and the city.
  • There's something particularly magical about York at Christmas. Soak up the festive spirit at and find unique crafted gifts, or get cosy at a pop-up alpine bar with a warming mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.
  • The annual celebrations paint the town all the colours of the rainbow with a parade and musical performances to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Nearby Leeds is well known for big music festivals such as , and . Each year, they also host , the UK’s largest annual arts and light festival allowing you to explore art in the dark.

Art, cinema and comedy

There are plenty of options to soak up some media and arts culture in York! A haven for art lovers, film buffs and theatre fanatics, York is also a UNESCO City of Media Arts.

  • has a great collection showcasing 16th-century masters through to modern art, or for something more cutting-edge, try the .
  • Theatre-goers can enjoy productions at or the , while film fans will love our array of cinemas across the city including the cosy, riverside .
  • For comedy, check out for well-known names and for local talent. Also try out for regular live comedy events.
  • York's streets are filled with entertainers and buskers like , or violinist , who was a supporting artist for David Bowie and Bob Dylan.
  • run art related events, exhibitions and installations around York.
  • is converting a reclaimed river barge into a quirky arts venue, showcasing music, comedy, poetry and more.

Discover more about culture and entertainment on campus.

Shopping: superb independents and chain favourites

York’s iconic medieval streets are lined with the major fashion retail chains, independent stores and market stalls, so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Explore the world-famous , York's very own Diagon Alley and one of the best preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe. From ghost merchants to Greek food, this charming cobbled street offers you a unique shopping experience. Around two-thirds of York’s businesses are independent, so you can find one-of-a-kind bargains while supporting the local economy.

  • Music fans can build their vinyl collection and swap music intel at or at , a cafe bar and record store.
  • There are several quirky clothing stores such as and to keep you kitted-out throughout the seasons.
  • York is a city filled with excellent indie bookshops like or .
  • in the heart of the city is the bustling home of York’s largest group of independent traders.
  • There are plenty of Harry Potter-themed shops, including .
  • Buying gifts or indulging in local products is an absolute pleasure in York, where there are intriguing speciality stores like , and .
  • Or catch the regular bus up to the for discounted prices on designer products.

Read more about .

Museums and attractions

York offers museums and galleries galore - from Vikings to trains and ghosts to chocolate. When you start your studies, you can get a for discounted (and sometimes free) entry to many York attractions.

  • You can't miss the - the grand and Gothic highlight of the city.
  • For a haunting experience check out , hop on a ghost bus tour or dare to do a ghost walk.
  • Come face-to-face with a Viking and take a tour of the sights, sounds and smells of 10th-century York at .
  • You don't have to be a trainspotter to enjoy the . Their impressive collection tells the story of 300 years of railway history.
  • - take a tour through York's history of chocolate and learn how to make it and taste it like an expert.
  • Explore or the to take in the history of the streets of York and Yorkshire. When visiting the Castle Museum, don't forget to take a look at , with stunning views over our ancient city.

For more information, see

Getting around

You can travel between campus and the city centre using our regular bus service, which takes between 15 and 30 minutes. You can also cycle which takes about 15 minutes and by foot it's around 30 minutes.

Lots of York students use bikes. There are plenty of cycle paths and bike lanes, and not many hills! There is also a riverside route between the University and York railway station, which is a cycle-safe route into the city and takes about 20 minutes. You can buy a second-hand bike on campus or from many cycle shops in the city. Our on-campus Bike Doctor offers free bike safety checks once a month, and there are lots of places to lock up.

Gold Award

from Cycling UK for being a cycle-friendly employer and campus.

image showing the town of Whitby including the abbey and the river
The Yorkshire coastline encompasses some of the UK's most rugged and charming countryside.

Beyond York

York is in the heart of the UK with direct rail networks, connecting you with other major cities, and friends at other universities.

York is also a great base from which to explore the stunning scenery of Yorkshire. We’re surrounded by beautiful countryside, with castles, outdoor adventure activities and natural beauty.

  • We have two of the country’s most beautiful national parks right on our doorstep – the and the .
  • You're only an hour away from a stroll on the beach. There's sunny Scarborough, a charming seaside town where you'll find amazing fish and chips. There's also the bustling harbour of Whitby, overlooked by the Gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey - the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. You can even experience their annual !

Nowhere in northern England says 'medieval' quite like York, a city of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth.

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Why our students love York

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Culture on campus

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