Free activities in York

Having just had Christmas and New Year, I think I speak for many when I say my bank account took a beating. However, York has lots to offer when it comes to free (and cheap) things to do. I find it’s important to find time for yourself amongst a busy week of studying to relax and unwind, in order to keep focus on the bigger picture. It’s all too easy to be overcome with work and forget where you are.

Wrapping up warm and spending an afternoon walking the city walls is an excellent way to leave the stress of university behind for a few hours. The walls surround the city centre, provide fantastic views and offer historical information about York. At 3.5 kilometres long it can take 2 hours to walk them in their entirety or else you can just walk a section of them, exiting at one of the gateways. This is absolutely something you must do during your time here at York!

Although it is beautiful in the summer, there’s a lot to be said for taking a walk through the frosty Rowntree Park on a January morning. As a gift to the City of York by Rowntree’s in 1921, the park offers some picture-worthy views. Take a walk alongside the Ouse and wander around the well-kept gardens, this park offers a lovely stress free environment all year round. It’s also an ideal place to take reading or revision in the summer, pack a lunch and a picnic blanket and you’re set for the day.

The National Railway Museum is also free and a fun way to spend an afternoon, although you may not think it. There’s lots to see with over 200 years worth of history on show, but for me the stand out exhibit was the Royal Carriages. These lavish carriages offer a glimpse into the life of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII and definitely make the visit worth it!

The York Minster offers free entry to students (just bring your student card!) and again is something that you have to do during your time here in York. It is just as impressive on the inside as the outside and is definitely worth spending some time walking around. There’s lots to see and many events on throughout the year.

York also offers free walking tours. As York is steeped in history it is a fantastic way to learn more about the city you’re studying in. The Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York offer tours with no need to tip at the end of the tour. Leaving at a variety of times at Exhibition Square the tours often include visits to King’s Manor, the ruins of the North’s largest medieval abbey, St. Mary’s, Holy Trinity Goodramgate and more, ending at York’s oldest street, the Shambles.

Whilst all of these things are fun to do with friends to break up your busy schedule as a student, they’re also excellent ways to show off York to visiting family and friends, to really show York in the best light. York is a wonderful place to live and it’s very much worth making the most of your time here. It’s all to easy to forget that the wonderful city we live in attracts so many visitors all year round!

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Hi! I'm Alice, a third year Sociology student at the University of York.