York Pass review – is it worth it in 2023?

When we decided to do our day trip to York, I knew that we wanted to make the most out of our day there and to that end we decided that York Passes would be a good investment.  

Our interest for the day was the historical sites and as you can imagine – there’s quite a few in York!  Admission to them all would really add up, especially when there’s 2 of us, even more so if you’re travelling as a family.  The York Pass made sense for us to get!

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If you’re wondering whether the York Pass is going to be worth it for your trip to York, or some of the wider Yorkshire attractions this post is for you!

Get in advance!

river ouse cruise in York

Get the York Pass in advance:

If you need to get the pass in advance I recommend Viator – they have a great cancellation policy if your plans change

So, with that in mind, here’s our York Pass review so you can judge for yourself if it’s right for you:

This post was written in 2019 and has been fully updated in April 2023

river ouse cruise in York

Our York Pass Review

Before diving in to how the pass works and what’s included, let’s look at my thoughts and the overall review of the York Pass.  

I’ll admit that we don’t often get passes like this as we’ll generally stick to the free things to do in whatever place we go or just stick to one attraction if paid.  

Almost all of the places of interest to us in York did have an admission price though and so if we wanted to see it all we soon realised we’d need to cough up!

What I thought would happen with the Pass would be that we’d be really rushing around to get the best and most out of the day and our money.  

This was especially so since it was winter and we were dealing with reduced opening times (see below for more info on this).  Actually, we found it a really relaxing way to enjoy the city which I found a bit surprising.

What also is great about passes like these, and we found similar when we had year long passes to English Heritage and National Trust membership, was that it allowed you to really enjoy the attraction without thinking about the amount that it cost to get in.

There are some very small places to visit that take very little time to walk round, unless you really want to do some in depth learning there, and if I was to pay individually I’d have been wondering about whether I got value for each place. 

With the pass that doesn’t even enter my mind, which again really makes for a nice and enjoyable day.

It was such a great day that I’m starting to wonder if I should get these passes more often when we travel!!

Overall I’d say that it was definitely worth the money, although it’s recommended to check what you’re interested in seeing before buying it.  

Most or the main attractions can be done in 1-2 hours so you can definitely fit a few sites in.  

We only went to York for a day and still managed so much!  If you’re in the Yorkshire area there’s also a lot to do that’s not even confined to the city too including the North Yorkshire Railway which takes you to Goathland – the real life Aidensfield from Heartbeat!

Cost of the York Pass in 2023

Here’s the current prices of the York Pass:

  • Adult 1 day – £55
  • Child 1 day – £35
  • Adult 2 day – £75
  • Child 2 day – £45
  • Adult 3 day – £90
  • Child 3 day – £55

You can purchase the pass online here

York pass review
You can now get the York Pass on your phone as well

Using the York Pass – how does it work?

If you’re not sure how the York Pass works then here’s a quick run down.  It’s basically a pass that allows you free entrance to around 40 attractions in and around the historic City of York.  

You can get a pass that covers 1, 2 or 3 days with varying costs depending on how long you get it for – there’s also a children’s pass available too.

  • You can purchase the passes in advance or pick them up from the Visit York Information centre (just down from the Minster) on the day.
  • The passes work on a calendar day basis which means if you opt for a 1 or 2 day pass, when you activate it, it’s for that day only.  Do bear this in mind and don’t activate it late in the day when you might not get the value.  
  • The 3 day pass still works like this but it’s for any 3 days in a 6 day period.  Passes are activated when you use them the first time in an attraction.

While it’s advertised as a pass to all the attractions it’s worth noting that there is a ‘purse value’ which means that it will provide entry up to a certain amount or the ‘purse value’.  What the purse value is depends on the type of pass you get (correct as at April 2023):

Adult passes:

  • 1 day pass – purse value of £90
  • 2 day pass – purse value of £180

Child passes:

  • 1 day pass – purse value of £60
  • 2 day pass – purse value of £120

While this does seem quite restrictive, it’s set at a level that makes it unlikely that you’ll exceed those amounts, it’s definitely worth bearing in mind when trying to figure out if the pass is worth it though.  

If you did plan to do more than your purse value you’d still save a load of money though and just have to pay for anything over and above.

When arriving at the attractions it’s really simple – you just show them your pass and they write down the number or scan it and you’ll get free admittance.    It’s all very easy to do and we had no issues whatsoever – the attractions are well used to dealing with the York Pass.  It’s not a Fast Track pass though – you’ll need to wait in line like everyone else.

Want to buy the York Pass in advance? – You can purchase in advance here.

the york dungeon

York Pass – what attractions are included?

There are around 40 attractions included in the York Pass so you’re really spoilt for choice.  As expected in such a city full of history as York is, there’s plenty to do with heritage and history in mind, but there’s also art galleries, breweries, sightseeing buses and chocolate attractions too.  

There’s also plenty that kids will enjoy – we didn’t take our kids this time (and they’re getting a bit old for the kid orientated attractions anyway) but I think they’d have loved it there.

Here are some of the attractions included in the York Pass:

Attractions within the city of York

  • The Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre – England’s oldest convent
  • Barley Hall – a restored medieval house
  • City Cruises York – Sightseeing river cruise
  • Clifford’s Tower – remains of York Castle
  • Dig – archaeology attraction
  • Fairfax House – Georgian townhouse
  • Goddards House and Garden – home of the Terry family (chocolate orange anyone?)
  • The City Walls experience – at Micklegate Bar
  • Jorvik – recreated Viking settlement and museum
  • The Mansion House – home of the Lord Mayor of York
  • Merchant Adventurers Hall – medieval guildhall
  • Road train – takes you to the National railway Museum (which is free admission)
  • The Roman Bath – roman bathouse remains under a pub!
  • Treasurer’s House – beautiful house near the Minster and gorgeous gardens
  • York Army Museum – military history museum covering Royal Dragoon Guards and and the Yorkshire Regiment
  • York Castle Museum – 400 years of York’s past
  • York’s Cocoa Story – history of the city’s connection to chocolate.  And tasting.  Oh yes.
  • York city sightseeing bus – hop on hop off bus
  • York Cold War Bunker – Britain in the cold war
  • York Dungeon – interactive and fun attraction for older kids and adults
  • York Minster – 800 year old cathedral
  • Van Gogh Immersive Experience
  • Golden Tours Hop on Hop off bus
  • The Hilt Axe Throwing

On the outskirts of York

  • Beninborough hall, gallery and gardens
  • Captain Cook museum – Whitby
  • Castle Howard – 300 year old stately home
  • Helmsley Walled Garden
  • National Centre for Birds of Prey
  • North Yorkshire Moors Railway – heritage railway with steam and historic diesel trains
  • Scampston Walled Garden
  • Yorkshire Arboretum
  • Yorkshire Allied Air Forces Museum

The York Pass also gives discounts on many things such as walking tours, lots of places to eat and have a drink and also some shopping.

Is the York Pass worth it?

If you’re wondering about whether it would make financial sense to get a York Pass, here’s what the people at Visit York have recommended for a 3 day trip – not overly full of things to do, but with a decent saving (the three day pass is currently £90 per adult) and covering a lot of what many people want to see in York:

York pass 3 day itinerary
The prices are a little out of date now, but gives a good overview of the savings

For our day trip we crammed a lot in so we could review it all for you.  A 1 day pass is around £55 per adult and we did the following:

  • York Minster – £16
  • York Cocoa Works – £9.50
  • Roman Bath House – £3.50
  • Cliffords Tower – £9.00
  • Jorvik – £15
  • The Dungeons – £21

Would have been £74 altogether if we’d paid separately! So the York Pass is definitely worth it.

York Pass Review – should you get a 1, 2 or 3 day pass?

Only got a day to explore? – Check our guide on what to do on a day trip to York

So, obviously the answer to this will depend on how much time you have to spare in the city or surrounding region.  If you are there for a weekend you might feel that one day of doing the paid attractions will be fine and you can spend the rest of the time shopping and enjoying the free activities and museums in the city.

If, on the other hand, you want to leisurely explore the attractions and not cram them in I’d recommend either the 2 or 3 day pass.

If you are going to be exploring Yorkshire or have longer to spend in the area then it’s a great idea to get the 3 day pass because it doesn’t need to be used up on consecutive days and can be well worth it.

Is a York Pass in winter worth it? Our thoughts:

We visited York in winter which was amazing in some ways but not so good in others.

It was much quieter in the winter which meant a lot less queues than you might get in the summer months and this meant we had more time for exploring the city at a leisurely pace.

The main thing you’ll need to bear in mind is that the opening hours of some attractions will be reduced (many closing at 4pm rather than 5pm) and some aren’t open or running at all.  

I’d have liked to have reviewed the sightseeing bus as many find them helpful but they don’t run in January.  If you’re planning to come in winter do check the York Pass site to see what’s open so you’re not disappointed.

Disclaimer – we had planned to buy the passes ourselves but in the end were hosted by Visit York who provided us with the passes in return for a review of them.  Our opinions are our own and not influenced by this. 

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Why you should get a York Pass for your England city break. It's great for a day trip, a weekend break or even a week long stay and it even incorporates some attractions around Yorkshire too. History lovers will adore it and kids will also love what's on offer #uktravel #englandtravel
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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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