York On A Rainy Day: 11 Things to Do
Located in West Yorkshire in the north of England, York is one of the most well-visited UK cities by tourists. When you consider everything it has to offer, it's not hard to see why. Originally a significant Roman town, York has been through Viking occupation, the medieval period, and been at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, giving it a wealth of historic attractions and interesting museums that make it well worth visiting.
However, you'll know the city is in the north of England the minute the rain starts to fall. York receives its fair share of rain throughout the year, and rainy days are never far away even in the height of summer.
Luckily, there's so much to do in York on a rainy day that you won't mind when the heavens open. Check out some of these indoor activities when you visit York, and you won't have to worry about what to do no matter what the weather decides to throw you.
And don't forget to drop off your bags at a secure luggage locker in York. You'll have a much easier time getting around in the rain if you're not carrying all your bags with you. All you need is an umbrella and this list of the best things to do in York on a rainy day.
One of the most iconic buildings in York, and one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, York Minster is an absolute must-see on any trip to the city. The minster is free to enter, although there are charges for the lift to the top of the tower, special exhibitions, and guided tours.
Heading inside the minster, you'll be blown away by the size of the building and the intricate details of the stained glass windows and stone carvings. Even if you're not religious, it's hard not to be impressed by this awe-inspiring building.
Spend a few hours exploring York Minster, and when you're done, pop into one of the many cafes and restaurants in the area for a warming cup of tea or coffee.
For another dose of history, head to Clifford's Tower. This castle keep is all that remains of York Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Climb to the top of Clifford's Tower for panoramic views over the city, before heading inside to learn about the castle's bloody history. In 1190, around 150 Jews took refuge in the castle after being attacked by a mob, and when the castle was besieged by the mob, they committed mass suicide rather than be captured.
These days, Clifford's Tower is a peaceful spot in the city and the perfect place to take shelter from the rain.
York Art Gallery
For a cultural afternoon, pay a visit to York Art Gallery. This gallery has an excellent collection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics, as well as temporary exhibitions throughout the year, and is one of the top art galleries in the region.
Entry to the gallery is free, although there may be charges for special exhibitions. After working up an appetite looking at all the art, stop by the on-site cafe for a light lunch or afternoon snack.
Jorvik Viking Centre
York was once occupied by the Vikings, and you can learn all about this period of history at the Jorvik Viking Centre. This interactive museum is great for kids and adults alike, and gives you a fascinating insight into what life was like in Viking-era York.
At the Jorvik Viking Centre, you'll hop on a 'time capsule' ride that takes you through a replica of a Viking street scene, before exploring the exhibitions at your own pace. You'll see Viking clothes and jewellery, as well as everyday objects like pots and pans. You'll not only see the sights and hear the sounds of Viking York, but you'll also be able to smell the smells and take in the unique atmosphere of the vanished past.
With so much to see and do, the Jorvik Viking Centre is one of the best rainy day activities in York. It's also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, so it's a good idea to book tickets in advance.
York Castle Museum
Another of the most popular tourist attractions in York, York Castle Museum is the perfect place to visit on a rainy day. This museum is housed in a former prison, and tells the stories of those who were incarcerated there over the centuries.
The museum has a range of exhibits on topics such as crime and punishment, Victorian life, and World War Two. You'll also see some fascinating objects on display, including death masks and executioner's swords.
A highlight of this fascinating museum is the recreated Victorian Street that is home to replicas of real businesses that existed in the late 19th and early 20th century in York. Costumed performers bring this period to life, and you can shop for unique items and enjoy some of the best shopping in York in this interactive attraction. York Castle Museum brings the historic city to life, and until somebody invents a time machine, it's probably about the closest thing you'll get to stepping back to an earlier period in history.
York's Chocolate Story
York isn't exactly short of museums. And while museums and art galleries are great places to escape the rain, they aren't always a big hit with families. However, York's Chocolate Story bucks that trend. This chocolate shop turned museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and is a great option for a rainy day activity.
At York's Chocolate Story, you'll learn about the history of chocolate making in York, as well as getting to see how chocolate is made. You'll also get to taste some delicious chocolate, of course! The kids will love the interactive exhibits, and there's even a playground on-site to burn off any excess energy.
With so many things to see and do, York's Chocolate Story is the perfect place to spend a rainy day in York. And if you want to prolong your visit, you can always enjoy a spot of shopping in the on-site store! Don't forget to try at least one of the many varieties of hot chocolate on offer here. You'll be amazed just how much can be done with this versatile ingredient, and you probably won't be able to resist bringing a few samples home with you too.
The Yorkshire Museum is one of the best museums in York, and is a great option for a rainy day activity. This museum is home to a wide range of exhibits on topics such as Roman history, Viking history, and the natural history of Yorkshire.
The rain may stop you from enjoying the impressive museum gardens, but the collection site is worth the visit by itself. The museum has an excellent collection of Roman artifacts, including mosaics, tombstones, and even a full-size replica of a Roman chariot. You'll also see Viking weapons and jewellery, as well as Anglo-Saxon treasures. The natural history exhibits are also fascinating, and you can learn all about the plants and animals that call Yorkshire home.
Yorkshire is one of the most proudly independent and distinct regions of the UK, and its rich history is a big reason for that. After an hour or two spent wandering the galleries of this museum, you'll have a better understanding of what makes Yorkshire so unique, and why locals refer to it as God's Own Country.
National Railway Museum
Not only is this one of York's most popular attractions, but it's also completely free to visit. Located in the city's train station, you may find yourself passing right by this museum as you arrive in the city. But it would be a shame not to go inside and see what it has to offer.
The National Railway Museum houses important objects in the history of transportation, including Stephenson's Rocket, which changed the course of history. It also houses a Japanese bullet train, one of the only ones on display outside of Japan itself. You can also enjoy afternoon tea in a re-created Victorian railway carriage, and younger children will love the miniature railway and the virtual reality simulations in this interactive museum. Easily reached by a road train from York Minster, the National Railway Museum is a surprisingly entertaining place even for people who thought they had no interest in trains whatsoever. And since it won't cost you anything to visit, it's definitely worth adding to your York itinerary, especially on a rainy day.
York Mansion House
The official residence of the Lord Mayor of York, this grand building is open to the public for tours on select days throughout the year. While you can't go inside on a rainy day, you can still appreciate the exterior of this beautiful building.
Built in 1732, the Mansion House was designed to impress. And it does just that, with its grand facade and impressive interior. Visitors can learn all about the history of the building and the people who have lived here, as well as get a glimpse into what life is like for the current Lord Mayor.
If you're interested in architecture or local history, then a visit to York Mansion House is a must. Even if it's raining, you can still enjoy the exterior of this beautiful building. Just be sure to check the opening times before you visit, as tours are only offered on certain days.
Web Adventure Park
This is one of York's most unique attractions, and it's perfect for a rainy day activity. The Web Adventure Park is an indoor climbing center that offers a variety of challenges for all ages and abilities.
There are over 100 different routes to choose from, so you can take your time and find one that suits your ability level. And if you're feeling really brave, you can even try the high ropes course.
The Web Adventure Park is a great way to get active on a rainy day, and it's also a lot of fun. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced climber, you'll find something to challenge you here. And if you have younger children, they'll love the kids' climbing area.
If your kids are fascinated by the history on display at York, take them to see how archaeology gets done at DIG. This unique attraction, created by the company behind Jorvik Viking Centre, boasts four excavation pits where kids can try their hand at uncovering real artifacts.
DIG also has a hands-on museum where kids can learn about ancient life, and there are plenty of fun activities to keep them entertained. And if the weather is really bad, you can always take refuge in the on-site cafe.
Whether your kids are budding archaeologists or just looking for something to do on a rainy day, DIG is the perfect place to take them. It's educational and entertaining, and they're sure to love it.
No matter when you visit Yorkshire, you should probably be prepared to encounter some rain. Luckily, so many of York's attractions are indoors that you may not miss good weather at all. With so many incredible museums and historic attractions to offer that focus on interactive fun as well as education, it won't be hard to stay occupied in this ancient city. And with your belongings safely stored in a York luggage locker, you'll be able to make the most even of a wet day while you explore this popular location.