York is a beautifully preserved historic city that has earned its place as one of the UK's top tourist attractions. With sites like the National Railway Museum, York Minster - one of the largest cathedrals in northern Europe - and The Shambles, the most famous of York's charming cobblestone streets, visiting this ancient city is almost like taking a trip back in time. The perfect destination for history lovers, the city also offers some great dining options and some interesting shopping in the cobbled streets of York city center.
But as a northern city, York gets four distinct seasons, and each has something different to offer. So when's the best time to visit York? Well, that's going to depend on what you want to do in the city. If you want the best weather possible, the hottest months of summer might be what you're after. But if you prefer cultural activities in this historic city, you can skip the busy summer months and brave the cooler weather of fall or even winter.
In this year-round city, there's always a good reason to visit. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage and get ready to enjoy York, no matter what season you visit.
Summer in York
York is no stranger to bad weather. The Romans who founded the city back in 71 A.D. might, as cold winds blew around their ankles, have wondered why they left the Mediterranean to visit the city. Therefore, if you're a fan of warm weather, summer is going to be the best time to visit York. The average monthly temperatures hover around a balmy 17 degrees Celsius in July and August, making it the perfect time to explore York's many atmospheric streets without having to worry too much about what you're wearing.
Fog is common in spring and very early summer, so you'll need to plan to visit later in the year to enjoy the best of the York weather. The average temperature rarely gets particularly oppressive even in the height of summer, so you'll enjoy some very pleasant weather conditions if you visit York during the summer.
But while the weather might be good, summer is also the busiest time of year in York. The city swells with tourists, so if you don't like big crowds, you might want to consider avoiding the city center and instead visiting some of York's quieter attractions, such as the Yorkshire Museum, Clifford's Tower, or the city walls.
Since summer in York is so popular, this is also the time you'll find the highest prices. For all its historic charm, York is still a fairly small city, and so the availability of hotel rooms can be a problem during the peak season. It's better to book early if you're planning on visiting during this popular time.
Remember too that York is about as far north as England gets. So while summer has the best average high temperature of the year, you can't assume you're immune to some inclement weather. In fact, June is the rainiest month of the year in York, with 3 inches (77 mm) falling in this month on average. Therefore, if visiting in the summer, you'll need to pack a little bit of everything. Shorts and T-shirts are a good idea for the warmer days, but a rain jacket and umbrella are also essential.
Fall in York
Fall is a great time to visit York. The weather is cooler than summer, but still pleasant enough to walk around the city and enjoy all it has to offer. Average temperatures in September and October hover around a still-pleasant 13 degrees Celsius, making it an ideal time of year for exploring the city.
What's more, the leaves start to change color in October, making York even more beautiful than usual. And while the crowds have thinned out since summer, there are still plenty of tourists around so you won't feel like you're the only one visiting the city.
One downside of fall, however, is that days are shorter. So if you're planning on doing some sightseeing, you'll need to make sure you get an early start. The sun sets as early as 5:30 pm in November, so you'll need to make the most of the daylight hours.
The fall season in York is also a great time to enjoy cultural activities. The York Food and Drink Festival takes place in September, while the Yorkshire Film Festival is held in October.
Chances are good you'll see some rain during fall in York, but surprisingly, not as much as you will in the summer when the city gets the most precipitation. Still, you should certainly come prepared with a good jacket and some walking shoes that will keep out the water. York weather can be very changeable, and that's especially true in autumn. You may find you need to pack for all four seasons if you're visiting at this time.
In September, the average high temperature is around 63°F (17°C), but by November, the average temperature drops to only 44°F (7°C), and even the average high temperature is only 40°F (9°C). This isn't the time to go sunbathing. However, it is an excellent time to explore some of the city's famous historical attractions like York Castle and the Jorvik Viking Center, where you can explore Viking life in this northern city. You could also head to York Racecourse to enjoy a flutter on the horses, since races run until October.
Winter in York
Despite its northerly location, winter is actually a great time to visit York. The city doesn't see as much snow as other parts of England, so you won't have to worry about being snowed in. And while it can be cold, the average temperature in December is a relatively mild 5 degrees Celsius. December is the month with the highest average humidity, though, so it will feel that much colder during the winter months. For that reason, it's a good idea to dress for the cold, with a winter coat and sturdy shoes to keep out the worst of the weather, and even a hat and gloves if you're particularly susceptible to the cold.
Still, winter is a great time to enjoy some of York's best attractions, such as the Christmas markets or ice skating at Tower Gardens. And since there are fewer tourists around, you'll be able to appreciate the city's beauty without the crowds.
A perennial highlight of the festive season, York's best Christmas market is located in the historic city center. With over 80 chalets selling everything from Christmas decorations to delicious food and drink, it's the perfect place to get into the festive spirit. The market is usually open from the end of November until Christmas Eve. Seeing the Christmas lights illuminating the medieval walls and the ancient buildings of the city center is an unforgettable experience. And if you're traveling with the family, there's no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than browsing the stalls and enjoying seasonal treats together.
Another great winter activity is ice skating at Tower Gardens. This outdoor rink is open from late November until early January, and it's the perfect place to enjoy some winter fun with friends or family. If you're feeling brave, you can even try your hand at ice hockey. However, if you've never skated before, you might be glad of a heavy coat to provide some padding when you inevitably take a fall.
Because York has such great appeal during Christmas time, you will find that prices for accommodation jump during this period. However, outside of that, winter is the time when you'll find some of the best deals on hotel rooms in York. Plus, without the crowds of summer, you'll be able to explore the city's many tourist attractions at your own pace. This is the best time to visit York if you want to save some money and are happy doing some of the city's many interesting indoor attractions. Having fewer crowds makes York even more atmospheric, so it may well be worth braving the cold and visiting during the low season.
Spring in York
After a long, cold winter, spring is a welcome relief. The weather starts to warm up in March, with average temperatures of 9 degrees Celsius, and by May, the average temperature is a pleasant 17 degrees Celsius. This is a great time to visit York, as the days are getting longer and you can enjoy all the city has to offer without the summer crowds.
One downside of spring, however, is that it can be quite rainy. In fact, April is one of the rainiest months of the year in York, with an average of 3 inches (77 mm) of rainfall. So, it's a good idea to pack an umbrella and some rain gear if you're visiting during this time of year.
Despite the rain, spring is a great time to visit York. The city comes alive as the days get longer and warmer, and there are plenty of events and activities to enjoy. One highlight is the RHS Flower Show, which is held in early May. This popular event attracts visitors from all over the country, and it's a great opportunity to see some of York's best gardens in bloom. If you're not a fan of flowers, don't worry – there's also a fantastic food market, with over 60 stalls selling everything from local produce to international delicacies.
Another great event is the York Races, which take place throughout the spring and summer. This is a great opportunity to experience some of the city's rich racing heritage, and you can even place a bet on your favorite horse. The races are usually held on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from April until September.
If nothing else, all that rain makes the flowers grow. Seeing the blossoms come out in York makes the city more beautiful than ever, and it's a thrill to see new life return to the ancient streets. While York weather can certainly be unpredictable, you can usually expect to catch at least a few pleasant days in spring that are great for exploring. And if the weather does take a turn toward the cold and wet, you can always take shelter in one of the city's many pubs and enjoy traditional British hospitality while you wait for the sun to shine.
As is the case in fall, spring sees cheaper hotel prices, making this the best time to visit York if you want to save some money but still enjoy some time outside.
When is the best time to visit York for you?
If a vacation to you means enjoying warm weather in shorts and T-shirts, summer is really the only time to visit York. The city rarely gets all that hot — this isn't Cancún, after all — but summer brings long, warm days that are ideal for spending in a pub beer garden or hitting the hiking trails around York.
But York is better known for its historic interest than its outdoor activities. Exploring museums and monuments can be done in any weather, and so the shoulder seasons of fall and spring with their cheaper prices and smaller crowds are often the best time to book a cultural trip to the city. Then again, if you're a fan of Christmas, don't forget about winter in York. The weather might not be great, but it won't be too frigid, and you'll be able to enjoy the Christmas markets and incredible atmosphere of the city during the festive season.
Ultimately, whenever you choose to visit York, you'll find plenty to enjoy. Just remember to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage so that you're not carrying more than you need to. You'll need to prepare for all possibilities with the York weather, but that doesn't mean you need to carry your whole wardrobe on your back.