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York Pass Review – Is It Worth It?

by Helen
Helen standing on the steps leading up to Clifford's Tower

I didn’t buy a York Pass on my recent trip to York and I still had a wonderful time. So, this leaves me asking the question: The York Pass – is it worth it? Join me as I debate whether or not the York Pass is worth the money.

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

WHAT IS THE YORK PASS?

The York Pass allows you free entry into up to 50 attractions in York and beyond. You can also show your card to get discounts in certain restaurants and on various tours throughout the city.

WHY DIDN’T I BUY THE YORK PASS?

I’m not usually one for buying tourist passes and so on our recent trip to York, I didn’t actually even consider buying the York Pass. It’s only after I returned home and started writing up my trip to York that I started to wonder if the York Pass might have been worth it.

We were in York for around 3.5 days and we certainly didn’t struggle to fill our time despite not going to all the paid museums and attractions around the city (we only went to The Jorvik Viking Centre and York Minster). There are so many things to do in York and so many amazing coffee shops and parks to visit that I really don’t feel like I missed out.

Having said that, I think it very much depends on when you visit York and what the weather is like during your stay. We visited York in early spring and, as we were lucky enough to have sunny weather, we spent a great deal of time outdoors. We really enjoyed walking around the city soaking in that special historic York atmosphere, but if the weather had been wet and windy, it’s likely we would have welcomed a few more indoor activities into our York itinerary.

displays of Viking York seen whilst on the time cart ride in the Jorvik Viking Museum
Travelling through Viking York on a time cart at Jorvik Viking Centre.
I paid on the door to enter this attraction.

The York Pass – How Does it Work?

There are 2 different types of York Pass.

  1. York City Pass (Adult £45, Child £30) – this pass is valid for one day and grants you access to up to 25 York attractions in the city centre.
  2. York & Beyond Explorer Pass – this pass is valid for a choice of 2 (Adult £65, Child £35), 3 (Adult £75, Child £40) or 6 (Adult £130, Child £70) days and grants you access to over 50 attractions both in York and beyond.

Each pass is subject to a “purse value.” Basically, this means that although the York Pass allows you free entry into attractions, there is a capped amount on each card that you can’t exceed.

Looking at the purse values, they are pretty generous and if you were to actually spend a decent amount of time in each of the attractions you visit, it would be difficult to exceed the limit anyway.

Where can I buy the York Pass

You can either buy the York Pass online and download it to your phone immediately, or you can collect a physical version from the York Tourist Office when you arrive in York.

Alternatively, you can just buy the York Pass on arrival in York from the York Tourist Office.

However you choose to buy your York Pass, the pass won’t activate until you visit your first attraction. This means that you can buy the York Pass in advance (its valid for up to 24 months from the date of purchase) and only activate it when you’re good and ready.

All the attractions that accept the York Pass are well used to activating and scanning passes. At both the attractions we visited (Jorvik Viking Centre and York Minster) we were asked at the pay desk whether or not we had a York Pass.

York Pass Attractions

There is a list of all the attractions you can visit on the York Pass website. Rather than bore you with a long list here (and so that you’re sure to be getting the most up to date information), you should visit the official website to find out if the attractions you’re interested in are included.

view of York Minster against blue skies from the ground up
Visit York Minster with the York Pass

Will I save money with the York Pass?

Perhaps!

Like with anything you buy, you have to use it in order to get any value from it.

Without a doubt, you can save money with the York Pass, but buying it doesn’t guarantee that you will save money.

Take our York itinerary, for example. We visited the Jorvik Viking Centre which cost us £12.50 each and York Minster which was £11.50 each. In total, that comes to £24 each which is considerably less than the £45 cost of one York City Pass.

But that’s just us.

We like to spend time wandering, getting lost in a place and trying out new coffee shops and craft beers whilst also seeing the sights. We enjoy walking tours and being outside. We love browsing independent shops and finding the little quirks that make a place truly unique. I do like to visit a museum or two, but I don’t want to spend an entire day on a museum or gallery crawl.

I’m not for one minute suggesting there’s anything wrong with doing that at all! It’s just not how we like to travel.

My point is this: whether you will save money or not will very much depend on what you enjoy doing. If you want to go to multiple museums and official attractions, then there’s a likelihood that yes, you will save some money with the York Pass.

Love the idea of the York Pass?
Click here if you want free admission to York’s attractions for one day only.
Click here if you want free admission for multiple days!

How can I get the most out of the York Pass?

Use it for the more expensive attractions.

At an average of cost of £8.43 (I actually worked this out!)  for each attraction in the centre of York, you’d have to visit around 5 attractions a day to make sure you get your money’s worth from the York Pass.

Be careful here though.

Attractions in the centre of York range from a cost of £3.50 up to £16.95. Make sure you use your York Pass to gain entry to the higher priced attractions (up to the allocated purse value of your pass) rather than use it for the cheaper attractions.

You’d have to go to more than 5 of the cheaper attractions in a day to ensure you break even on the cost of a York Pass. In my opinion, it would be too much of a rush trying to get from one place to the next, and I doubt it would make for a very enjoyable experience.

View an example itinerary using the York City Pass.

Start early

If you’ve got to fit 5 or more attractions into one day, you need to start the day early! It goes without saying that you’ll get more value from your York Pass if you allow yourself more hours in the day to use it.

Also, check the opening hours of the attractions you want to visit. Some of the attractions close early in the winter months (or don’t open at all!) so make sure you can still fit everything in.

Make use of the “free” supplements

Each York Pass comes with a free pocket sized or digital guidebook which includes brief descriptions of each attraction, a map of York and a selection of offers. Make use of these offers if you can – you’ve paid for them!

Plan your travel

This point is aimed more at those who are wanting to buy a multi-day York and Beyond Explorer Pass.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is little need for a car in York and many people choose to arrive via train for this reason. If this applies to you and you are thinking of buying the York and Beyond Explorer Pass, just make sure that you can easily get to all of the attractions you want to visit outside of York by public transport.

It’s worth noting that the York Pass does not include public transport (except for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, if you can really count this incredible experience on a steam train as public transport!) so any travel would come at an additional cost. The free guidebook does, however, contain discount vouchers for Europcar hire and Streamline taxis.

If you need any advice about public transport, you can drop into the Visit York Information Centre or give them a call on 01904 555670.

On average, you need to visit at least two of the attractions outside of York in one day to make the York and Beyond Explorer Pass worth your while.

The York Pass vs The Jorvik Group Pastport

Although I’d heard about the York Pass prior to my trip to York, I hadn’t heard about The Jorvik Group Pastport.

The Jorvik Group includes five of York’s city centre attractions: The Jorvik Viking Centre, Barley Hall, DIG, Henry VII Experience and Richard III Experience.

The Jorvik Group Pastport costs £20 for an adult and is valid for up to 12 months from the date of purchase. This gets you free entry to all 5 Jorvik Group attractions and fast track entry in the Jorvik Viking Centre. If you were to pay for each of these 5 attractions individually, it would cost you £33.

If these were the only attractions you were wanting to visit, it is actually considerably cheaper to buy the Jorvik Group Pastport at £20 than it is to buy the York City Pass at £45. As you have 12 months to make use of the Pastport, you also don’t have to cram all the attractions into one day.

The York Pass – Is it worth it?

So, we’ve reached crunch time. The York Pass – is it worth it?

My answer?

Well, sorry to those who want a concrete black or white response here, but my answer sits firmly in the grey area.

It really just depends.

For me, visiting York in the spring sunshine, it wouldn’t have been worth it and I have no regrets about not investing in a York Pass on my recent trip to York.

Sure, you can make some fantastic savings if you plan wisely, but spending an entire day or more visiting multiple museums and attractions is not for me.

If however, that sounds like your idea of heaven, then it might be that the York Pass will prove to be your most valuable asset on your trip to York!

My advice?

Plan your itinerary first and then see if the York Pass can enhance your experience. If it can, then your answer to the question: “the York Pass – is it worth it?” will likely be a resounding “YES!”

Want to know more about things to do in York (including lots of free activities)? Check out my ULTIMATE guide to York!

The York Pass – Is it worth it? What do you think? Get in touch and let me know!

The York Pass: Is it worth it? Wondering if you can save money with the York Pass? Join me as I explore whether or not the York Pass is worth the money #yorkpass #york #yorkshire
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