The Best Walks in York

CityDays’ guide to fantastic walks in York, the UK’s 2nd-most walkable city!


In 2023, York was named the UK’s 2nd most walkable city. The pedestrian-friendly streets of York coupled with its beauty make it the ideal place to take in some fresh air, get active and have some fun in the great outdoors.

History of Walks in York

Part of the reason that York is so walkable is due to its history. York was founded by walkers. The ninth Roman legion of 5,000 men marched from Lincoln to what they called Eboracum (York) in 71 AD. 

Even the Vikings, who famously favoured boats as their main method of transport, enjoyed walks in York: in 866, a Viking army marched from the Isle of Thanet near London to York where, victorious, they remained until the death of Eric Bloodaxe in 954.


Today, anyone arriving in York via the main road, the A64, is in fact travelling along pretty much the same route as the Roman pioneers some 2,000 years before them. 

These days of course, walks in York are less about pillaging, raiding or founding, and more about tracing the steps of the city’s unique history and revelling in its splendid beauty. The extensive network of well-trodden pavements and ‘snickelways’ can lead you back in time and all over the gorgeous city of York - you just need to know where to go.

The Best Walks in York

Quirks and Snickets

Length:  4.0 kilometres / 2.5 miles
Average time to complete: 2.5 - 3.5 hours
Key sights: York Minster, St Mary’s Abbey, Clifford’s Tower, Jorvik Viking Centre

York Monastery Ruins

Kicking off our guide to the best walks in York, the Quirks and Snickets trail curated by CityDays takes walkers around York’s most famous landmarks while never neglecting to surprise and delight partakers with shortcuts, quirky facts and hidden gems.

Players of the Quirks and Snickets trail complete the walk by solving clues, untangling riddles and interacting with their surroundings. A unique opportunity to absorb the history of York and take breaks in hand-picked pubs and cafés along the way, this inimitable adventure is one that everyone can enjoy.

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to York
  • Locals: we’ve given them places to recommend! 
  • Seeing Classic York Landmarks such as York Minster, St Mary’s Abbey, Clifford’s Tower & many, many more!
  • Exploring York’s hidden gems
  • Couples, families or solo!

A Fatal Feud

Length:  5.0 kilometres / 3.1 miles
Average time to complete: 2.5 - 3.5 hours
Key sights: Clifford’s Tower, River Ouse, The Shambles, York Chocolate Story, Red Tower

“Loved this puzzle that got us looking high and low, noticing the fabulous architecture and history of York.” (Jo. W, TripAdvisor)

Clifford's Tower York-2

One of our best-loved walks in York, A Fatal Feud is a murder-mystery trail inspired by a historic murder that takes players through the enigmatic snickelways of York. 

Walkers following this route will experience the next best thing to time travel as well as a detective adventure of their very own by sifting through clues that lead them through York and the suspects of a (real!) murder that occurred in 1491. 

With refreshment stops included (and a nice 20% discount at a traditional, apparently-haunted pub!) this is one of the walks in York that you just can’t miss.

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to York
  • Locals who want to rediscover their home city
  • Amateur sleuths who love a captivating storyline
  • Seeing Classic York Landmarks
  • Exploring York’s history in a fun way
  • Date nights for couples
  • A family/friends day out in York

York Mystery Picnic


Length:  3.7 kilometres / 2.3 miles
Average time to complete: 1.5 - 2.5 hours
Key sights: York Minster, Dean’s Park, The Shambles

Forget about booking tables or worrying about wearing your walking boots into restaurants by turning your walk in York into a gastronomic adventure!

The York Mystery Picnic is a treasure hunt that guides walkers around York’s best cafés, delightful delis and scrumptious bakeries. Starting at Exhibition Square, walkers solve fun puzzles and tantalising clues to take them to the best independent local businesses in York, collecting items that result in a treasure trove picnic!

Once you’ve walked up an appetite and collected your ingredients, settle down in the great outdoors to enjoy your well-earned al fresco meal. 

Dietary requirements: The York Mystery Picnic caters for meat eaters and vegetarians.

Perfect for:

  • Visitors to York
  • Locals looking for fun things to do in York
  • Couples looking for fun, unique date nights
  • Doing as a summer activity in York
  • Turning lunch into a treasure hunt!

The Drowned City

Length:  5.0 kilometres / 3.1 miles
Average time to complete: 2.5 - 3.5 hours
Key sights: Statue of Constantine, Tower Gardens, River Foss, Clifford’s Tower, Dean’s Park

“One of the best couple of hours I can recommend in York.” (David. M, TripAdvisor)

Statue of Constantine York-2

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the fate of a major city was suddenly in your hands? Now you can find out! 

Never before has your squad faced a quandary such as this: without you and your ability to crack the cryptic codes of York, the city will face ‘certain doom’. 

This intriguing tale-driven trail winds its way through York’s clandestine corners and introduces you to some of the city’s most spellbinding characters, including a Roman emperor, Norse monster and a Greek sea goddess. 

The Drowned City trail turns a walk into an interactive and intriguing story that unfolds in real-time before your eyes. Work together to solve cryptic clues, untangle puzzles and iron out riddles while racking up your step count - all while taking in York’s most glorious sights.

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to York
  • Locals looking for fun things to do in York
  • Kids, adults and anyone with an imagination!
  • Couples on the lookout for an alternative date night 
  • As a fun outdoor activity in York

Free Walks in York

The York Cat Trail

Length:  4.0 kilometres / 2.5 miles
Average time to complete: 1.5 - 2.5 hours (Depending on how many cats you aim to see!)
Key sights: The Shambles, Fossgate, Museum Gardens

York Cat Statue Windowsill
- Daniel Staud ©Norse_Ninja

“Even the smallest feline is a masterpiece of nature.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

The world might be split into dog people and cat people, but York is a city that is far from on the fence. In fact, York’s allegiance with cats might date back as far as medieval times, when residents would place cat statues outside of their homes to bring good luck - and ward off the plague.

Turn one of your walks in York into a mini treasure hunt by aiming to spot all 22 cat statues dotted all around the city. If you’re pressed for time or worried about little legs getting tired, limit the walk to The Shambles where 8 of the cats can be found. 

Perfect for:

  • First time and returning visitors to York
  • Families with young children
  • Making shopping more fun
  • Taking alternative photos of York

Find out more about the York Cat Trail here.

The York City Walls Trail

Length:  4.1 kilometres / 2.6 miles
Average time to complete: 2+ hours
Key sights: Museum Gardens, Richard III Museum, St Mary’s Abbey

York City Walls-2

At 700 years old, the York City Walls are the most complete example of medieval walls in England - making them the perfect venue for walks in York. 

The York City Walls trail can be joined at any of its four checkpoints, which are also the main gates to the city: Bootham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. There’s an argument for joining the trail at each, but rest assured that whichever you pick, you’ll be met with stunning views and fantastic historical trivia along the way. 

Accessibility: Note that if you have mobility issues or you’re planning on taking a pushchair, there is a ground level route to accommodate you.

Perfect for:

  • First time visitors to York
  • Adults, kids, families, couples
  • Walking in the footsteps of history
  • Absorbing views of York from all angles
  • People arriving in York by train (it’s the first thing you see when you step out of the station!)

Short Walks in York

Fishergate Footprints

Length: 1.6 - 3.2 miles (2.5 km - 5.1 km)
Average time to complete: Variable, the shortest trail takes just 15 minutes
Key sights: York Cemetery, Fenby Field, Low Moor Allotments, Danesmead Wood

In 2019, locals of Fishergate, a street and area just south of the York city centre, created 9 new trails to showcase York’s local wildlife and history. 

Each of the trails was developed by the community for their community; maps of the walks feature personal anecdotes provided by older locals and parts of the trail are used by schoolchildren for birdwatching.

Find out more here.


York River Walk

Length: 2 miles (3.5 km)
Average time to complete: Variable
Key sights: Rowntree Park, York Millennium Bridge, York Castle

While you might not have enough time to complete the whole trail, a stroll along the River Ouse is absolutely worth your while.

Loved by tourists and locals alike, the York River Walk trail is one of the best circular walks in York to squeeze in before departing the city by bus or train (the route zigzags across bridges and finishes on the western side near to the railway and bus stations).

Find out more here.


York War Memorial Gardens Walk

Length: 54 yards (500 m)
Average time to complete: Under 10 mins
Key sights: Edward Lutyens’ War Memorial, Cholera Victims Plaque

If you’re especially pressed for time, opt for a stroll through York War Memorial Gardens.

Just a stone’s throw away from York Railway Station, the memorial garden contains a large war memorial to commemorate the soldiers of WWI and other intriguing monuments besides. Keep an eye out for the Cholera Memorial, a plaque dedicated to the 185 Victorian residents of York who lost their lives to the disease. 

There is a paved route that takes walkers around the main monuments, and you’ll find benches here and there where you can take a well-earned break after completing all your walks in York. 

Walk The Best Walks in York

So there you have it - the best walks in York that everyone can enjoy!

Whichever route you end up taking, you can be sure that you’ll be exploring the marvellous city of York in the best way possible. Not to mention doing your bit for the environment, your health and happiness! 

Whether it’s a historic walk through York or a ramble through the Shambles you’re after, CityDays have something for you. 

It takes less than two minutes to book your walking adventure with us. Simply click the ‘book tickets’ button at the top of our page, or follow the links in the article above.

City of York White Rose Emblem-2

Don’t forget, with CityDays, you’re in charge! 

You pick the day, time, who you play with and how you receive your messages. If you get stuck, you can always ask for a handy hint. 

Answers to any questions you have can be found on our FAQ page or contact us to talk about a walking tour for corporate team building in York. 

Finally, don’t forget you’ll find us in cities all over the world. Wherever you are, we’ve got places to take you!

Psst: Going on any of our walks in York means you can also participate in one of our monthly challenges where you could win cash prizes each month!