The Student Guide: 6 Things To Do in York | [Updated 2022]

You won’t be short of things to do as a student in York, especially if you are living in student accommodation in York which is located within the city’s ancient walls.

If it’s pubs and clubs you are looking for, you’ll find plenty of advice on where to find them elsewhere.  But what else is there to do in York – to explore and broaden your mind? 

Here are some ideas to make the most of your time here, widen your horizons, discover the real city – and perhaps see life in a new light.

And a health warning – some of it includes walking and the great outdoors!  But first…


1. The National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum is a great place to visit for students in York as its free, its big and it has cafes! If you think trains are boring, think again.  It’s not all trainspotters in anoraks. 

Close up and personal, the sheer scale of the engines will take your breath away and there is so much else to see too! Open your mind, let off steam (get it, steam).  Travel back in time and set aside half a day to explore this great museum – you will not regret it! 


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tomoko-Hi (@granny_tomoko)

Address: Leeman Rd, York YO26 4XJ

2. A York Ghost Walk

Gather some friends together.  If you go in winter, wrap up warm – because the weather and the spine-chilling stories will together make you shiver to your very core.

York is one of the most haunted cities in the world.  Take a famous evening ghost walk where you will be guided along narrow passageways and dark streets to investigate bloodcurdling tales of scandal and death.  Hopefully you will live to tell the tale.

There are plenty to choose from – and if the idea of walking makes you shudder, there is always the alternative of a ghost tour on a 1960s Routemaster bus – another ghost from the past.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Alan Thomson (@theemrtea)

3. The National Centre For Early Music

Literally, just across the road from the impressive Abode student accommodation, is the NCEM – the national centre for early music (not to be confused with ELC – The Early Learning Centre – which is something different). It is world-renowned. 

Don’t be put off by its rather worthy sounding name. 

Yes – it is there to promote early western music – from 1250 to 1800 – but it does much more than that.  Check out the programme to see just what world-class talent is on show. 

Get down there and experience brilliantly inspiring music to stretch your mind, in intimate surroundings.  And here’s the great ticketing bit.  Instead of giving discounts to pensioners, they have to pay full price while students and people aged under 35 get in for next to nothing.  How brilliant is that!


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by NCEM (@nationalcentreforearlymusic)

Address: St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL

4. Open Mic

Yes – this one involves drinking, but only as an aside to the main event.  York is awash with open-mic venues showcasing some incredible musical talent, home grown and from further afield.  So buy yourself half a pint of Yorkshire’s finest bitter, sit back and be entertained. Or better still, have a go yourself. 

Most venues have a spare guitar (one even has a resident piano) and performers often get a free pint for their efforts.  Of course, audiences have to suffer the occasional dud, but that’s part of the fun of it. 

Mostly you will be blown away by the sheer breadth and depth of undiscovered talent on offer in York.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Last Drop Inn (@thelastdropinnyork)

5. Explore the Alleyways & Snickelways of York

York has is riddled with mysterious alleyways and secret passages or better known as “snickelways”. These are of course, only accessible by foot.

A self-guided Snickelways walk weaves you through York’s rich history and takes you into places most people simply miss about this fascinating city. 

You can just download the map from Mark Jones’ 1983 book for free.  But we suggest you club together with friends and splash out on buying the whole book (all of a quid each if six of you chip in) – A Walk around the Snickelways of York – and use it as your wonderfully informative guide.  

The medieval history shines through at the snickelways of York and make for some amazing insta pictures!


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Paul Hildreth (@pmhildreth)

6. The Museum Gardens

On a busy summer’s day, there is nothing better than people watching.  You can do it amongst the buskers in St Sampson’s Square or King’s Square. But there’s no nicer place to watch the world go by than in York’s The Museum Gardens. 

It was good enough for Henry VIII and his entourage to set up temporary home when they came to subdue recalcitrant northerners in 1541.  (In case you were worried, visitors tend to be friendlier these days.)

Relax against the backdrop of the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey with the bustle of the river on one side and the remnants of the city walls on another. 

It’s free – and glorious, and there’s ice cream (we LOVE  a Mr Whippy). 


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by York Museum Gardens (@yorkmuseumgardens)

Address: Museum St, York YO1 7FR

Have we introduced you to some fascinating places in York to visit? We sure hope we have! If you’re moving into student accommodation in the city come September then we hope you have the best experience. 

You should check out our blog on 8 Delicious Italian Restaurants In York You Need To Try next, after all, who doesn’t love pizza and pasta?! 

Table of Contents