With picturesque cobbled streets and a range of historical landmarks, York is one of the most romantic locations in the UK and all of Europe for a city break or day out.
While just walking around its famous streets can be a great way to spend some time in the city, there are many romantic things to do in York for couples whether you’re having a break away in the city or looking for ideas of where to go on a date.
1. Have afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Room
One of the most popular tourist attractions in York is Betty’s Tea Room. Having been open since 1936, these tea rooms have long been a staple of the city and should be at the top of your itinerary.
Getting afternoon tea at Betty’s is a great thing to do in York for couples, and a perfect way to relax for a couple of hours.
You’ll have the chance to have a quintessentially English experience, with tea, scones, sandwiches, and cakes, all served in a traditionally-decorated tea room.
2. Go to York Minster
The most iconic landmark in the city centre is York Minster. This beautiful cathedral towers over much of York, even visible to visitors arriving by train, but it’s worth seeing up close.
When the sun catches it, York Minster is one of the most photographed places in the city, so it’s a great spot for a romantic stroll.
You can look around inside too, where there’s lots of history to discover.
3. Walk down The Shambles
Another popular location in York for couples to take a wander down and get a photo is The Shambles. This old street in the city centre is often packed with tourists, but get there early in the morning or later at night and you can have a romantic stroll along it when it’s at its most quiet and magical.
The timber-framed buildings date back to the fourteenth century and the overhanging upper floors provide a cosy feeling to this quaint street.
You can browse one of the small independent shops along The Shambles too, or take a detour off one of the adjoining alleys and grab lunch at the Shambles Market.
4. Have a picnic in the Museum Gardens
One of the romantic spots in York for a picnic is the York Museum Gardens. Located near the river, there are plenty of quiet areas to relax on a sunny day and put down a picnic blanket on the green grass.
Within the gardens, the medieval ruins of St Mary’s Abbey provide a picturesque backdrop for a romantic afternoon in York. The old city walls and the River Ouse border the gardens, helping it feel more secluded from the rest of the bustling city centre.
5. Visit the Jorvik Viking Centre
One of the most fun things to do in York for couples is to visit Jorvik Viking Centre, an interactive experience where you can step back in time to see what the city was like during the Viking era.
Taking a ride through the reconstructed streets of York is a surprisingly romantic thing to do, even if the smell is a bit off-putting!
It’s a fun date idea too, especially if you’re a history-lover. You can even try on some authentic Viking clothing together.
6. Take a stroll along the river
Because the city isn’t too sprawling and the centre is largely pedestrianised, there are plenty of great walks in York whether you’re after a casual wander or a more hearty hike.
For couples, the River Ouse offers some of the most romantic walks in York. From the city centre, you can head either up or down the river, depending on what sights you want to see.
Taking a stroll north takes you past the beautiful museum gardens and under the Scarborough Rail Bridge. South takes you through Rowntree Park (on the west side) and down to the Millenium Bridge.
7. Go shopping in the city centre
If you’re after a romantic day out in York, just spending some time in the city centre is a fun way to hang out as a couple.
Because much of the city within the old walls is pedestrianised, it’s easy to stroll around and discover for yourself what York has to offer.
As well as all the standard high street chains, you can find some great independent shops all around the historic streets.
8. Try a Yorkshire Pudding Wrap
If you’re exploring the city and are after a bite to eat, one of the best things to do in York as a couple is try a Yorkshire pudding wrap.
Head to the York Roast Co on Low Petergate where you can have the must-try delicacy that many people rave about.
With a whole roast dinner all held together in one tasty Yorkshire pudding wrap, it’s definitely worth tasting for yourself!
9. Get a view from Clifford’s Tower
One of the most romantic locations in York is Clifford’s Tower, a medieval stronghold built during the reign of William the Conqueror.
For a fee, you can enter the castle and climb right to the top in order to get great views of the city skyline, with other landmarks such as York Minster in the distance.
In the evening, watching the sunset from Clifford’s Tower is one of the most romantic things to do in York for couples, and a great way to pass the time until heading off for a tasty meal.
10. Have a romantic dinner
There are plenty of great restaurants in York, including a large variety of independent establishments that provide the perfect setting for a memorable date night.
Whether you’re planning a date or want to have a romantic evening out, booking dinner at one of the many delicious eateries in York never fails to disappoint.
If you’re in need of a recommendation, try out Ambiente on Fossgate for the best tapas in the city.
11. Catch a film at City Screen Picturehouse
Located in what was once the Yorkshire Herald building right on the riverside, City Screen Picturehouse is the best location to watch a film in York.
While heading to the movies might not be the most original date idea, this cinema offers a more special experience with its wonderfully-designed renovated building and location by the River Ouse, close to plenty of bars and restaurants in the city centre.
Not only does City Screen Picturehouse show the latest releases, but it also has a cafe and bar overlooking the river that serves some great food and drink.
12. Get spooked at York Dungeon
For couples who don’t mind a little fright, head over to York Dungeon for something a bit different to do in the city.
Take a walk through the 10 different live shows that reenact 2000 years of York’s history and meet some famous historical characters along the way.
York Dungeon makes a great date idea that’s more unique, and it’s a great thing to do in York for couples.
You can book entry online ahead of your visit to guarantee a spot.
13. Try some sweet treats at York Chocolate Story
One of York’s most unique offerings is York Chocolate Story, a museum and experience where you can learn about the city’s chocolatey heritage.
You can also watch chocolatiers as they make hand-crafted chocolate which, most importantly, you can sample for yourself!
Guided tours last approximately 75 minutes, including time to taste some samples, and you can book online to secure a spot ahead of your visit.
If you have a sweet tooth, York Chocolate Story is one of the best things to do in York for couples.
14. Look around the National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum is among the best free things to do in York for couples, with lots to see and look around.
You don’t have to be an avid trainspotter to appreciate the Railway Museum. The range of locomotives on display that you can see and even go inside make it worth the visit.
The fact that entry is free makes it an amazing option for a date or a quiet afternoon together as a couple. It’s also one of the best things to do in York with kids.
15. Take a cruise along the river
The River Ouse flows through the centre of York and offers a great location for various boat trips up and down the waterway.
During the day, you can hop on a sightseeing cruise to see the city from a different perspective. For an even more romantic thing to do in York, you can also book an evening cruise to enjoy the sights with a glass of prosecco or other drinks and snacks from the onboard bar.
Book a York city cruise on the River Ouse for an entertaining way to see the city.
16. Have a day out at the seaside
A useful factor of York’s location is its proximity to the coast and its rail links, making it one of the best UK city breaks by train. Driving out to the seaside is straightforward, or you can get a train to one of the most popular coastal towns in Yorkshire like Scarborough and Whitby.
These are among the best day trips from York, offering new locations to explore and beautiful coastlines and beaches to see. One of the funnest things to do in Yorkshire for couples is seeing what this part of the country has to offer with its beautiful coastlines.
These are two of our favourite destinations to head to:
- Try some of the most romantic activities in Whitby or visit if you want a taste of a quintessential British seaside experience, including having fish and chips with hungry seagulls swooping overhead, and all with the atmospheric ruins of a monastery on the clifftops above the town.
- Discover the fun things to do in Scarborough for couples, like visiting the castle or playing in the amusement arcades along the seafront.
17. Look around the Christmas Market
If you’re looking to have a city break in winter, then one of the best things to do in York is to visit the Christmas Market that’s on throughout December and part of November.
Walking around the market on a great way to have a romantic time out on a cold wintery day, with the market looking very pretty when lit up by fairy lights.
Grab a hot chocolate (with added Bailey’s if you want!) to help keep warm and you can browse all the wooden stalls selling a range of produce and crafts you won’t find anywhere else.
From artisan cheese and meats to handcrafted knitwear, there’s an assortment of things to browse and buy, and it’s a great opportunity to buy all the Christmas presents you could want.
18. Watch a show at Theatre Royal
For a romantic date night in York, an evening out at the theatre is always a classic option, and the Theatre Royal is the premier venue for just such occasions.
Located in a historic part of the city inbetween York Minster and the Museum Gardens, this theatre has been providing York with entertainment for hundreds of years, dating back to 1744.
At the Theatre Royal you’ll be able to see a range of shows, from Shakespeare plays and ballets to comedy nights and contemporary shows.
Make sure to check out the line up, because if you’re looking for things to do in York for couples there are few things more fun than seeing a performance at this spectacular theatre.
19. Visit Treasurer’s House
If you’re visiting York Minister, you don’t need to go far to find Treasurer’s House, tucked away just behind the cathedral.
Now under ownership of the National Trust, this historic residence was originally purchased by Frank Green in 1897 and transformed into a show home with an eclectic mix of antiques and art on display inside.
The Treasurer’s House is also one of the most romantic spots in York, with a cafe and picturesque gardens that offer views of York Minster while you sit and relax.
20. Look around Fairfax House
On Castlegate, just around the corner from Clifford’s Tower, is Fairfax House, a breathtaking Georgian townhouse that was once the home of a viscount.
Visitors can step inside and feel like they’re back in the past, and one of the more interesting things to do in York for couples is to wander the halls and rooms of this house and admire all lavishly-designed decor.
Built in the 18th century, the opulence on display at Fairfax House is indicative of what life was like for the affluent merchants of York in the era, so don’t pass up on an opportunity to see it for yourself!
21. Ride along on a Ghost Bus tour
Along with York Dungeon, another great option for couples who want to get a little spooked is to join a Ghost Bus tour.
Hop on board and a creepy conductor will guide your way through the streets of York as you pass some of the city’s major sights, like Clifford’s Tower and York Minster, and learn the dark side of their history.
The actors on board the Ghost bus create a spooky experience and help bring to life the bone-chilling history of York, including tales of the ghosts that haunt it.
The bus tour is also full of laughs as well as scares, being a comedy horror ride that’s sure to make for a memorable date night in York – book today!
The most romantic places to eat in York
York has an abundance of fantastic restaurants and other places to eat if you’re looking for somewhere to share a romantic meal together. Here are some of our top picks:
One of the best cuisines to enjoy as part of a romantic meal out is tapas, as you can share lots of small dishes together and discuss the variety of flavours that they each contain.
In York, Ambiente on Fossgate is one of the best places for tapas and one of our top picks for places to eat in the city.
Amongst their varied menu, we’d recommend their deliciously salty padron peppers. Washing it down with sangria makes for a perfect meal.
La Vecchia Scuola
For couples who enjoy Italian food, La Vecchia Scuola offers a great choice for a romantic meal out in York.
Located in a 300-year-old Georgian building with views out to a beautiful garden, the restaurant has the perfect setting for a memorable lunch or dinner, no matter what you choose to eat.
The Star Inn The City
Located near the picturesque Museum Gardens, The Star Inn The City restaurant offers stunning views of the River Ouse from its riverside terrace.
The restaurant serves a selection of seasonal dishes using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, from lamb loin to scallops.
The Ivy St. Helen’s Square
This restaurant chain never disappoints, wherever you are around the UK, and The Ivy in St Helen’s Square is always a great option for a romantic meal out.
Located right in the city centre, and boasting elegant decor, you’re perfectly situated to discover some of the other fun things to do in York for couples after your meal.
The Blue Barbakan
The Blue Barbakan is an independent eatery which is the best option in the city if you’re looking to try Polish cuisine.
Along with a variety of other European styles, it’s a great spot to try out something a bit different. We recommend the pierogi for starters!
The Whippet Inn
If you and your partner appreciate a good steak, The Whippet Inn is one of the best choices of places to eat in York.
This cosy steakhouse specialises in serving only the best high-quality meat cooked to perfection. Situated in a Grade-II listed building, the restaurant is full of character too.
For a unique dining experience, Skosh is worth a visit. This small plates restaurant on Micklegate offers creative and flavourful dishes influenced by global cuisines, with some unique options to choose from like Orkney crab.
The intimate setting and open kitchen allow you to watch the chefs at work, which can be a lot of fun.
How to get to York
If you’re planning a visit to this part of the country and want to explore all the many amazing things to do in York for couples, you’ll need to decide how to get there first.
For those within the UK, York is well-served by rail links to different parts of the country, and it’s easy to drive to. If you’re traveling from abroad, there are a couple of options for airports nearby.
For more information, here’s a breakdown of ways to get to York:
- By train: York is well-connected by train, and it has a major railway station located in the city center. There are direct train services from various cities across the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Birmingham. Travelling from Kings Cross station in London to York takes only 2 hours.
- By car: If you prefer to drive, York is easily accessible by car. It’s located not far off the A1, which is a main route running south to north through the country and connects London to Edinburgh. The city has multiple car parks available in the city, but if you’re just visiting for the day you might find it easiest to use a park and ride service.
- By bus: National and regional bus services operate to and from York, providing an affordable option for travel. There are direct bus connections from various cities and towns in the UK. Most busses will stop outside the railway station in York, so you can easily catch a local service to another part of the city.
- By air: If you’re traveling from internationally (or from a distant part of the UK), the nearest major airport to York is Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA). From their, you can either take a taxi to York, which is approximately a one-hour journey, or hop on the 757 bus. Alternatively, Manchester Airport (MAN) is another option that many international visitors use when planning a trip to York, as it offers a wider range of international flights.
How to get around York
Getting around York is relatively easy, as the city is compact and most of the best things to do in York for couples are located around the city centre. Here are the main modes of transport for navigating York:
- Walking: York is a pedestrian-friendly city, and many of its popular attractions, shops, and restaurants are within walking distance of each other. The city center is relatively compact, making it enjoyable to explore on foot, and you can spend time following some of the popular walks in York if you want to see different parts of the city.
- Public transport: York has an efficient public transportation system that includes buses and park-and-ride services. The buses cover the entire city and surrounding areas, providing convenient transportation options for getting around. You can purchase tickets directly from the bus driver or use contactless payment methods.
- Cycling: York is also a bike-friendly city with dedicated cycling lanes and paths, including an old railway line that lets you bypass the traffic around the centre of the city.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available in York and can be hailed from designated taxi ranks or booked in advance. Alternatively, Uber operates in York if you prefer to use an app to hail a ride.
- Sightseeing buses: For those looking for a more touristy experience, or if you’d like a guided tour of the city on the go, you can ride on one of the sightseeing buses in York. These open-top buses provide a comprehensive tour of the city’s major landmarks and attractions, allowing you to hop on and off at various stops.
Things to do in York for couples FAQs
Are there any historical sites in York that couples can visit?
York is renowned for its rich history, and couples can have a lot of fun visiting famous historical sites like York Minster in the centre of the city, which is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe.
Clifford’s Tower is another top spot to head to, especially as you can get great views of the city. Right next to it is York Castle Museum, where you can walk down recreated historical streets.
Taking a stroll down the Shambles, a medieval street with timber-framed buildings, is also one of the most popular things to do in York for couples, so don’t miss out!
What are some unique experiences in York for couples?
York offers various unique experiences for couples, such as ghost walks that take you through the city’s historic streets and allow you to discover the hidden secrets of York’s dark past.
Arguably, the most unique thing to do in York is visit York’s Chocolate Story, where you can enjoy learning about York’s deliciously chocolatey and take part in yummy tastings.
Where are the most scenic locations near York that couples can visit?
York is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK, and you don’t need to go too far out from the city to find scenic spots that are perfect for couples to visit.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is within reach and is a great place for a day trip, offering breathtaking landscapes, hiking trails, and picturesque villages. The North York Moors National Park is another beautiful option, with stunning views and many opportunities for romantic walks.