Visit York Pass Review + Itinerary

I was really intrigued when I heard about the York Pass and wanted to try it out for our family of four. See if the York passis worth it, write a review and create our own dream itinerary for some action-packed days out in York.

If you are thinking about getting the York attraction pass well have a read, check out our pictures and calculations and see if it is worth it for you and your family.

The York Pass

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What Is The York Pass?

In a nutshell, the York pass is an all in one attractions ticket for the city of York. Kind of like when you go to Disney World and you buy a ticket for a bunch of different places and then go to all the ones that you are most interested in.

The York Pass is not unlimited to everything unfortunately but does have a good list of places where on your York pass day, you can visit, to really get good value for money.

Why Are We Doing The York Pass?

We love York, yet it feels like we just don’t visit it enough or do York justice. We grew up in the seaside town of Bridlington, we now live even closer to York but have only been twice in almost two years and wanted to change this.

We were on a day out in York recently and went to Hole In The Wand, The York Walls and had a walk to The Shambles, and had an amazing day and said we better get a York Pass and really learn about this beautiful city and have even more fun.

Because we wanted to do the York pass for more than 2 days we opted for half term and then we can have some school holiday fun with the kids too.

York 3 Day Pass

You may be wondering if you should get the one day York pass, York 2 day pass or the 3 day York pass.

We are opting for the 3 day pass because its CHEAPER the more days you have, you can see more, as there is so much to see in York and the surrounding areas and we want it to feel like we have taken in a lot of York.

You can do the same or you can opt for 1 or 2 days. I don’t want to feel like I am forcing you into the 3 days lol.

But before you do opt for the 3 days, we recommend you look through the York pass attractions list below and see if you can actually get value for money out of them.

York Pass Attractions List

Here is a list of the attractions included so that you can see if there is enough going on that you would like, before you decide between 1,2,3 day ticket.

  • Barley Hall
  • Beningbrough Hall & Gardens
  • Castle Howard 👍
  • City Cruises York
  • Clifford Tower
  • Dig
  • Fairfax House
  • Goddards
  • Golden Tours York 👍
  • Helmsley Walled Gardens
  • Jorvik Viking Centre 👍
  • Merchant Adventure’s Hall
  • National Centre Of Bids Of Prey
  • North Yorkshire Moors Railway 👍
  • Scampston Walled Gardens
  • Sightseeing Bus York
  • The Bar Convent
  • The Hilt
  • The York Dungeon 👍
  • Treasurer’s House
  • York Army Museum
  • York Castle Museum 👍
  • York Cocoa Works
  • York Cold War Bunker
  • York Mansion House
  • York Minster 👍
  • Yorkshire Air Force Museum
  • Yorkshire Museum
  • Van Gogh Experience

Note that I have put a thumbs up next to 7 of the York Pass attractions above. Those are all the attractions that are £15 or over and are the best options for you to get the most out of the pass.

Then those in bold are the ones we really want to do as part of our itinerary. Its nice to have a starting point and some firm ideas before you really get into planning what to do for your days in York.

Now these other few are what I call fillers. They are the cheap ones that are under £5 that are not listed above, that if you are nearby and have a free time slot then why not visit 😊

  • Bedern Hall
  • The City Walls Experience
  • The National Railway Museum – Train Ride
  • The Roman Baths

And now that you have looked through the list, is there enough to occupy yourself for 3 days or do you need less time?

How Much Is A York Pass?

The York pass price varies depending on a 1,2, or 3 day ticket. Its so much easier for me to explain with a screenshot.

York Pass Price List
Here is a screenshot showing the different prices for adults and children for a 1, 2, or 3 day York Pass.

Take a closer look and you can see that as a family of four, (2 adults and 2 kids) if you went for just one day it would cost you £188.00. This is still an excellent price because you could do 5 different things which would normally cost £200.00 and you have made a saving.

However, then compare two days. A 2 day pass is £240.00, so already you are making a saving, but you have to ask yourself, is there enough for you and your family for it to be worth it for 2 days?

Then for a 3 day pass (the option we are going with) it will cost us £290.00 though we do have a £20 discount but that might not be on their website when you choose to book.

If you do the maths (after the discount) that is £22.50 a day each for a 3 day pass, £27.50 a day each for 2 days, and £47 each for just one day.

In other words, the more days you go, the cheaper it becomes. If you are looking for the cheapest York Pass, then it is the 3 day option.

Now it’s a case of matching up enough attractions that we like for that £22.50 a day option to be worth it!

How Does The York Pass Work?

The York pass works by giving you a pass that allows you access to the pass attractions list. You can then use the pass like a gift voucher for access into all the different places. You can visit as few or as many as you can manage within the time period.

Of course, you only have the days you paid for and not extra days, so its important that you have a plan of action ready to go.

Our York Attraction Pass Plan

We have now set a plan in motion. We have gone with a 3 day pass because we want to get the most out of York and the surrounding areas. In truth if there was a 4 day pass, we would have gladly gone with that.

We have made our outline of the places we would like to visit as part of the York visitor pass the most. Plus, we have looked at places that also cost the most to visit, because we want value for money.

After all, you don’t just want to be visiting the places that are less than £10 each as otherwise you might as well pay for the places separately and not just get the pass.

Then once you have a rough idea of where you want to go its time to pay for the pass and put the plan into action.

Our first outline of how to spend our days is as follows:

Day 1

Sightseeing Bus – Operates every 15 minutes and will be fun to get a good view of the city as well as using it to get to certain attractions.

Dig – I saw this and thought the kids would love it. I am pre-booked for 10.30am because I wanted it early enough to be able to do this and then go to our next activity.

Cocoa Works – We are booked in for day 1 at 12.30pm. I kind of find this confusing as The Chocolate Story used to be on the attraction pass and isn’t now and they sound similar. They only had two spaces left this one or an hour earlier so this was the only time we could do. From their website it looks like they are very limited in time slots for York Pass holders, vs other bookings which seems unfair.

York Minster – The kids have been to Beverley Minster so I know they will love York so this was an absolute must see on our list of things to do in York. Brilliant that no pre-booking is needed.

Clifford’s Tower – I was going to do this on day 2 but its one of the stops on the sightseeing bus which we are going today, so it felt perfect to aim this for day 1.

Jorvik Centre – Then for final part of our first day we have the last slot which is 5pm for the Jorvik Centre. I decided to do it this way, because the Jorvik often has a crazy queue outside and didn’t want it to be near a time slot for something else and then it could end up like a pack of cards when you end up late for one thing and everything else follows.

We are also focusing on a longer day for Day 1, and then when we are more tired on day 2 and 3 there is not as much pressure on us. 

The Queue For The Jorvik Centre
This is us when we are across the road at The Hole In Wand. Amazed by how big the queue is for the Jorvik Centre. I’m ready for this queue honest!

Day 2

The City Cruise – A must do for our day 2 and we have pre-booked for 11am. You have to be there at 10.45am (15 minutes before) so it gives us amble time to get there with us waiting for our park and ride.

Golden Tours – This is on our agenda today to see how it compares to the sightseeing bus. What I find interesting here is for 2 days in York City Centre we have access to two different hop on and hop off buses so we can use one for one day and the other for the second day.

York Castle Museum – Another must and something we have not done before. We have the castle museum booked for 1pm and are really looking forward to it.

York Army Museum – We have pre-booked the army museum and even though it is pre-booked it is just pre-booked for the day so you can turn up any time. This is brilliant because you can slot it in between some of your pre-booked events.

Barley Hall – This is our last of the day and is pre-booked for 4pm. Something different than the usual places on the list for our pass and looking at the info on their website reminds me of the houses from The Beamish Museum which we loved.   

Day 3

Okay we want a day away from York City Centre and to make use of the most expensive attractions on the ticket. Which is Castle Howard where you get access to both the house and the gardens and the steam railway and to visit Pickering train station from Harry Potter, head to Whitby and do the Captain Cook Museum and probably do the Whitby steps again.

Both are favourite options of ours and we are really struggling to decide. We have gone with Castle Howard because it includes the house and the garden, whilst we can do the steam train at a later date and then visit the other stops such as Goathland.

Planning Your York Pass Days Out

To be able to get good value for money into your York Pass and to fill up your days, there is a level of planning involved.

I must have spent about 5 evenings, sat on the recliner, TV on in the background, with my tablet out, scrolling through everywhere that was included and deciding where we wanted to go and didn’t want to go.

I have epilepsy so the Van Gough Museum didn’t seem like a good match.

Plus, we needed to consider what time to leave home at, as it’s a 55 minute drive to York + waiting time for the park and ride.

Once I had a plan of which places, I wanted to visit I started a Google Doc and created an outline for our days.

York Pass Itinerary
This is a screenshot of my Google Doc that I quickly set up. What I love about Google Drive is that I can access it from my laptop, phone or tablet. For when we are in York I can quickly access it to see where we are going next.

Then we paid for our 3 day York pass and went back through our preferred places and booked them all one by one. Then saved all the email notifications and we were then done and dusted and just had to pack our rucksacks for the day so we had plenty of water and we were all set.

Organising Your York Pass
I also created a York Pass folder so that I have all the emails in one place so that they don’t get mixed up with my other emails. I also have the York passes in here as well as printed out for taking with us as well.

Well, that was our plan, and, in the end, we ended up doing the itinerary that you see below. We have split the days up and if you follow the links you see, this will take you to the individual posts we wrote about each place.

York Pass Itinerary Day 1

DIGWe visited the DIG as our first adventure on Day 1. We had a reserved booking slot for 10.30am and arrived slightly early and then was ready to go when it was our turn. We loved the experience of DIG, and it was one of our favourites from everything we did over the 3 days. We asked Jorge at the end of the York Passes and he named DIG as his favourite.

You have a talk first which is very interesting and makes you think a lot about yourself and what rubbish we produce. Then the kids get to have a good dig and see what they can find, this is then finished with a walk around the mini museum they have.

But what surprises people the most is that DIG is inside an old church.

DIG York
This is what DIG looks like when you arrive. The church look will surprise many people that are visiting the attraction.
From Horn To Mug At DIG
The kids loved it when we were sat down getting our talk and learned how the mug happened and how a horn became a mug to drink from.

Cocoa Works – This was our second stop of the day and after getting confused over its location, we had lost over an hour of our day and had to reschedule our trip to this place. They were very good about moving us from 12.30pm to 2pm.

At Cocoa Works you get a brief tour of the windows of where the chocolate is made here, then you get even more information about the chocolate once inside. Then you get what everyone is waiting for and that is the taste test.

This is no good if you don’t like dark chocolate (I do, but Dom and kids not so much) and then you start with the darkest options and then work your way down to milk chocolate and eventually the white chocolate.

Then you can visit the shop and buy the chocolate you want. We picked up some white hot chocolate powder to take with us for our trip to Primrose Valley.

Cocoa Pods At Cocoa Works
These are the cocoa pods that were passed around to show how big the pods were and how they removed the cocoa powder from the pods.
Cocoa Works Choc Samples
These were the chocolate samples we got to try. For the money (it would be £50 for a family of 4) really not a lot you get for your money. This sample kit was also shared between two people.

Sightseeing Bus – Before going to the cocoa works we tried out the Red sightseeing bus. It was brilliant and you could hop on and off as much as you wanted in a 24 hour time slot.

We recommend that you do the full route and then use it as your quick transport to hop on and off for your various attractions. The full circuit lasts just over an hour and the tour guide on it was brilliant.

Plus, you can also use the sightseeing bus to get some good pictures of York and learn more about York. 

Sightseeing Bus Tour
This was the lovely lady on the sightseeing bus. She really knew her stuff and gave us a wonderful tour around York City Centre. We also got some brilliant pictures of York Minster as we were being driven around. Plus, you got to see where everything was so you knew where you were going.

York Minster – It was then 3pm and we wanted to do the York Minster that day. As it was closing at 4pm it had to be done now if we were going to fit it in on the same day.

When you go inside York Minster you will love how beautiful it is and it feels very much like everyone is there to take photos and maybe light a candle and it can be difficult to get pictures of things when everyone is in there doing the same.

Inside York Minster
The inside of the minster is so beautiful. I must have taken 100 photos whilst walking around. Though the kids did look rather bored and were looking for something more interesting.

Jorvik – We then finished our York visitor pass with the Jorvik Centre and now VERY IMPORTANT make sure you do this as the attraction is closing for the day because it is much quieter and you will not be stuck queuing for an hour. We were the only ones in the line when we arrived compared to the 50+ people we have seen every other time we have walked past it. We got the 5pm slot and when you go to pre-book look at the last available option and book that.

Inside the Jorvik you will be wowed with all its amazing material of the Viking era. There is glass you walk over first, then you hop on the train which shares the history of the Vikings as you go around. Then you have a walk around and discover more things before you can get a viking coin.

Toilet Time Of The Vikings At Jorvik
The last stop of the day was the Jorvik Centre which is everything Viking and Roman of York. I love the way they described the toilets of this era and how this man doesn’t look pleased that everyone is watching him on the toilet!

And that was our day 1 of our York city pass. We were disappointed in ourselves that we got lost and could have fitted in something else on the same day, but at least we were back the next day!

York Pass Itinerary Day 2

York City Cruises – We started Day 2 of our York passes with a river cruise on the rive ouse. It was fun to see everything going on along the river and it was a chance to relax as when you are spending the day on your feet with kids going around museums it’s a nice break.

There is someone talking telling you about the York history and pointing things out to photo. But we felt we got better photo opportunities on the sightseeing bus.

It lasted just short of an hour, and you had the upstairs with no roof (it was cold when we went), the downstairs and a bar open for drinks and a much needed hot chocolate to warm us up!

York City Cruise
This was the boat that we went on during our York City Cruise. It was a nice break, though not as interesting as the sightseeing bus. But if you are on the York pass still worth trying out to see if you like it.

Clifford’s Tower – Then our York passes headed over to Clifford’s Tower and we admired the amazing views from above. I mean wow, it is just amazing and also another chance to get a great view of the York Minster and the other highlights of York.

You could get lost up here for an hour taking selfies and admiring the views. And we were probably here for about 45 minutes and there is a lot of stairs to go up and down so no good if you are not good on steps.   

Cliffords Tower
When you go to Cliffords Tower this is what you see as you wait. There is no chance of you getting lost here.
The View From The Top At Cliffords Tower
You must visit Clifford’s Tower just for the amazing views over York. I cant think of a better place to be for the view. This is just one of the many pictures I took during our visit.

York Castle Museum – The York Castle Museum on the York Pass has to be Me & Dom’s personal favourite. It was so big and so much to do and we felt like we got lost inside. There is a Victorian era street with real smells, a toy area where the kids even did a sooty and sweep show for me, we played hungry hippos we saw the cells of Dick Turpin and learned a lot about the York history.

When we asked the kids what they loved the most from everything we did on the York family pass, Sofia said that York Castle Museum was her favourite. I reckon its because she got the chance to play with so many toys as we walked around!

York Castle Museum School
Sofia and Jorge loved the old fashioned classroom and even read what the kids would have read during that era. It was just so informative and really got the kids thinking as they were learning.

Golden Tours – Then we had to make a decision it was 3.35pm and we could either go to Barley Hall like we had planned or jump on the Golden Tours and compare it to the red sightseeing bus that we had done the day before.

To our regret, we chose the Golden Tours. There was no guide, and it was pre-recorded with just the bus conductor. We also didn’t get a full service as even though it said last full service was 4.15pm it arrived at 4pm and we only got just under half of the service.

When we looked at it was £5 more than the red bus and you got a guide on the red bus, it makes me realise that they are not on a level with each other.

That completed our two days doing the York city pass attractions and our next day would be an easier day at Castle Howard and would be nice that we didn’t have to rush about as much.

York Pass Itinerary Day 3

Castle Howard – For our day 3 we kept the visit York pass simple with a day trip to Castle Howard. We loved that you got a full day of the house and gardens for the price and it wasn’t a reduced service.

We did the house first (good bribery with kids be good in the house then you can have the playground lol) and it was a great wonder around and our first trip there since we did Christmas at Castle Howard.

After a good look around, we then took the kids to the café by the lake, then the playground for them to get rid of some of the I’m bored energy. The playground is quite big even on a busy day and they all had a great time. 

Then we went on the land train that they have, headed to the butchers to get some sausages for our camping trip and then headed home.

The Land Train At Castle Howard
This was the train that they have at Castle Howard. It takes you from the entrance to the house to the playground and a lifesaver when you have done a lot of walking or have small kids.

And that was our 3 day York pass and we now needed to figure out if the York pass is worth it and what the York pass value was for us.

Eating On The York Pass

This wasn’t a problem at Castle Howard but when you are on the other days and have to quickly go from one attraction to another, you simply don’t have time for a nice lunch.

Normally in York it would be more slow paced with a picnic in the park or a trip to Betty’s Tearooms but instead it’s a quick snack when you can fit it in.

Ice cream In York
Of course, there was plenty of ice cream and then some more ice cream. The kids loved all the places that sold the ice cream but OMG it wasn’t cheap!
Chips and Scraps In York
On day 1 our main meal was our Yorkshire favourite of chips and scraps. Cheap as chips (lol) and two large portions was plenty for the four of us. They were also rather nice too.
Greek Chicken Gyro Box York
Our other favourite was a Greek food van that was perfectly positioned. It was adjacent to both the Hole In The Wand and the Jorvik Centre. The kids had a sharing box with all the ingredients that go into a chicken gyro. I had the halloumi option and it was so yummy!

Is The York Pass Worth It?

I know in truth this is all you want to know. Is the York pass worth it and did I feel like I got good value for money.

Well, the answer is YES but only if you get a 3 day pass, as for a 1 day pass it would be cheaper to pay for the attractions individually.

Let me explain.

York Pass Day 1 Attractions

  • Sightseeing Bus £35 
  • Dig £28.50  
  • Cocoa works £30(Was £50 when we visited)
  • York Minster £32
  • Jorvik Centre £43.00
  • Total Cost Day 1 = £168.50

York Pass Day 2 Attractions

  • City Cruises £41
  • Golden Tours £40
  • York Castle Museum £39
  • Clifford’s Tower £25.90
  • Total Cost Day 2 = £145.90

York Pass Day 3 Attractions

  • Castle Howard £72
  • Total Cost Day 3 = £72

Grand total £386.40

From a financial point of view, we would have paid £386.40 to visit these places without a York Pass. Yet with our York Pass they cost us £270.00. This meant that we saved £116.40 or if you are more about percentages then think that with a York Pass it became 30% cheaper.

Well, worth it, but only if you like enough of the different places in York for it to be worthwhile to you.

But its also about being money savvy, as there are loads of activities included that are not worth a lot therefore, you would on a loss.

I recommend you investigate what is included and make a plan of action before buying your pass like we have done.

For regrets, we regret getting lost (obviously), doing the cocoa works as we felt it didn’t offer value for money just a pre-sell for buying their chocolates, and the golden tour bus. 

If we were to name our five favourites on the visit York pass it would be DIG, York Castle Museum, the red Sightseeing Bus, Castle Howard and The Jorvik Centre.

York City Pass Top Tips

The most important thing with a York City Pass is value for money and for it to be worth it. There is no point spending your day going to places that cost less than £5 each to get in. Aim for the high ticket items best you can such as The North York Moors Railway, Jovik Centre, Castle Howard and York Dungeons.

Have a backup plan. There are a lot of things you can do for your pass that don’t need pre-booking and that you can use as time fillers in between events. Such as The Roman Bath or York Minster.

Anything with a big queue do last. That way you are not having it go into the next attraction you have planned and hold you up. We planned it this way, with our trip to The Jorvik Centre.

Check out the York Pass Map as it will show you how close the attractions are to each other and then you can do those close together after each other, rather than having to power walk from one end of the city to the other.

A lot of places on the pass system are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during term time. If going during this time check opening times online before booking the pass or look at a Wednesday – Friday pass.

York Pass Visitor Information

  • How long is a York Pass valid for? The York pass is valid for the amount of days you booked from the point of using it for the first time. I.e. if you buy a 2 day York pass and start your first attraction at 9am on Monday morning, then it is valid until the end of Tuesday.
  • Do you have to book attractions in York? Not all attractions will require a pre-book but York is very busy and we highly recommend booking any that will let you book ahead.
  • York pass cost. The cost for a York pass varies for the amount of days you want. From £59 an adult for 1 day, £75 for 2 days, or £90 for 3 days. Plus, it is cheaper for the kids. We got our 3 day York attractions pass for £270 for our family of four.

Pin York City Pass For Later!

Well, that’s a wrap, do you have any questions then do ask below and if you want to refer back, to this later for planning your day out in York then don’t forget to pin it to your travel board or days out board on Pinterest.

Our Day Out Using The York Pass

3 Day York Pass
About the author

Run by Sam, Dom, Kyle, Sofia & Jorge it documents our family’s love for eating out, day trips, road trips and great holidays.

We just love a trip, we love to travel, and here we will show you with a little planning, how to have a great adventure and create new memories along the way!

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