Photo: York Minster
Encircled within its medieval walls, York is an outstanding destination in itself, with museums from the funky (Jorvik) to the traditional (Castle Museum) to the bizarre (York Dungeon), and fabulous historic buildings from the magnificent York Minster to the humble Shambles.
A larger-than-life setting for larger-than-life modern art – it’s no wonder that people come here in their droves to explore the sculptures placed against such a beautiful natural backdrop. It’s about as far away from stuffy and dusty as you can get.
This wildlife park has visitors flocking to it from all over the UK. Amazing animals are spread over some 70 landscaped acres, including giraffes and smaller creatures you can walk among, such as lemurs and wallabys. The big cats – lions, tigers and leopards – are a huge draw, as is Victor, the park’s first polar bear.
One of Yorkshire’s favourite stately homes, perhaps in part due to its exposure through TV and film versions of Brideshead Revisited, Castle Howard is undeniably grand in its own right and set in beautifully landscaped grounds.
This is the northern outpost of the national collection of arms, armour and artillery, with displays over six galleries ranging from medieval tournament combat battleware to historic Oriental armour and weapons. Enactments take place outside, and there are lots of events throughout the year.
This modest shrine to three extraordinarily talented Victorian writer sisters is still one of Yorkshire’s great attractions, perhaps because of its touching authenticity – that really is the sofa where Emily died, the dress Charlotte wore, those are the spectacles that their father Patrick wore, their writing on those tiny little books, their etchings on the nursery walls. Their books are still familiar and widely known today, constantly filmed and reworked for the next generation.
7. The Deep
The underwater tunnels of this amazing aquarium allow you to see around 1,000 different species of fish, themed into sections such as a tropical lagoon, Slime! and Endless Oceans. Walk through the Kingdom of the Ice, learn about the life cycle of the jellyfish, and watch sharks and rays all around you.
Probably the finest heritage railway in the country, this is a ride back in time not to be missed. Whether you’re being hauled behind a powerful steam engine such as the Yorkshire-built Sir Nigel Gresley or a classic diesel locomotive, the NYMR travels through beautiful scenery, reflecting years of hard work by local enthusiasts. It even calls in at Heartbeat and Harry Potter destinations along the way.
9. Yorkshire’s ruined abbeys
Yorkshire is full of fascinating ruined abbeys. Fountains is surely the most beautiful; Bolton or Rievaulx, the most complete; Whitby, the most dramatic; Jervaulx, the most tranquil; Roche the furthest south.
The world’s largest railway museum, packed with gleaming preserved locomotives, restored rolling stock, station signs, nameplates, signals and more. The museum hosts a range of special events throughout the year. Spotters will especially enjoy seeing Mallard and the Japanese Bullet Train.
Fancy corkscrewing horizontally through the air, like a caped superhero? If you do, you’ll love the new Hero ride at Yorkshire’s biggest theme park. There are gentler rides and roller coasters that all the family can enjoy, plus a host of African animals and farmyard creatures.
12. Eden Camp
This multi-award-winning museum is dedicated to understanding the hardships of day-to-day life during World War II. While social history is to the fore, there are lots of historic vehicles and even military aircraft on show. If you’re lucky, you’ll overhear veteran visitors reminiscing while you explore.
There's so much to see and do in Hull that it's hard to know where to start. The Deep is a welcome addition to the roster of attractions, which also include the Maritime Museum, Wilberforce House, Ferens Arts Gallery and Streetlife, the museum of transport. Hull was the UK City of Culture for 2017.