So summer is finally here, and we’re all excited to get outside and explore some of the incredible sights our city has to offer. However, money’s a little tight right now and we’re all feeling the pinch, meaning we can’t always afford to go on big days out. Luckily, there’s plenty to get up to in York that doesn’t break the bank, and it’s pretty easy to spend a day out and about while keeping to a budget of just £20 or less.

To show just how far this budget can stretch, we’ve set out to plan a great day out without spending anything more than a £20 note. Check out this guide to learn more about some of the affordable attractions, businesses, and traders that make our city so great, or pick and choose your favourite spots to build your own affordable day out!

Check out some history and culture…

There’s no shortage of history and culture in York, in fact it’s this rich heritage that makes York one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. We’re so lucky to have so many incredible cultural institutions on our doorstep, and they’re the perfect way to start off our day trip on a budget!

York’s most famous landmark, York Minster, is one of the most remarkable cathedrals in the world, featuring masterful stone architecture and stained-glass windows dating back over seven centuries. If you’ve never explored the wonders hidden inside this historic site, then make sure to visit next time you find yourself in the city. There’s always plenty going on, with regular guided tours, an exciting museum, and even the opportunity to climb the 70-metre tower. While there is an entry fee of around £12 for visiting adults, if you live or study in York you can get in for free when you show proof of address, making this the perfect first spot for our £20 budget.

If that’s simply not enough culture for you, you can easily take a short stroll to find the impressive collections on display at York Art Gallery. Featuring a wide variety of exhibitions, showcasing work from all around the world, there’s always plenty to see here. Keep an eye out for the changing exhibitions to see one-off displays featuring renowned artists, or simply head down to explore the fascinating works in the permanent galleries. Thanks to the amazing work of the York Museums Trust, general admission to the gallery is completely free, but donations are always welcomed!

Hit up the local coffee shops…

After all that exploring, it’s probably time for a quick refreshment, and there’s nowhere better to rest our feet than one of the city’s cosy coffee shops. We’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the perfect place to enjoy a quick brew, so we’ve had to narrow it down to just a couple of our favourites.

Nice to See You is a real family-run spot on Goodramgate, featuring exceptional coffee and an extensive food menu inspired from dishes around the world, it’s cosy enough to while away an hour or two without having to break the bank. Just down the street, you’ll also find Coffee Culture offering up their own take on the perfect coffee, with a focus on high-quality single origin coffee beans and some tasty-looking bakes and bites.

If you’re after great views with your coffee, head to Perky Peacock in Barker Tower and find a spot by the window to unwind while overlooking the majestic riverside scene. And if chocolate’s more your thing, you’d be remiss not to check out the tasty creations from Brew & Brownie over on Museum Street.

Browse the best local businesses…

Even though we’re keeping to a tight budget of just £20, that doesn’t mean we can’t take some time to explore the incredible shops and businesses from around the city. There’s no harm in some simple browsing, or even grabbing yourself a little treat that doesn’t break the bank, but whatever you choose, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Wandering through the historic streets of the city, you’ll find all kinds of independent traders selling their wares to locals and tourists alike. Places such as Heima, an eco-design and homeware store, are always bustling with customers grabbing new bits and pieces to add a bit of scandi-cool to their homes. We also tend to make a beeline for Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop for some kitchen goodies, and maybe even The Great Yorkshire Sweet Shop if we’re craving a bit of sugar.

One of our very favourite shopping experiences in the city is exploring the vast collections of second-hand books on offer in one of York’s many bookshops. It’s easy to get lost inside the many rooms of The Minster Gate Bookshop and Fossgate Books, especially when there are endless titles to cast your eyes upon. With such varied collections of novels, play scripts, poetry and non-fiction, you’re almost bound to leave with something, the hardest part is deciding which book to take.

Finish off with a tasty deal…

What better way to round off a day in the city than grabbing some good grub that doesn’t empty your pockets. Using the last of our budget, we’re rounding off our day trip with a quick bite at some of York’s finest foodie hotspots. We’re always amazed by just how much you get for your money here, and we often feel like we’ve found an absolute bargain whenever we stop by any of these traders.

One of the most famous foodie spots in York, Shambles Kitchen has a reputation for great food and even greater value, slinging out their special sarnies for less than a ten pound note. The meaty creations on offer here have earned this street-food favourite a spot on many foodie lists, and has often been tipped as one of the best in the region. For something a tad more traditional, head to the aptly-named Good Food Shop to grab one of their delicious deli sandwiches for under a fiver, and maybe even grab some provisions to enjoy at home.

If variety is what you’re after, head down to Spark’s shipping container emporium and tuck into a wide range of culinary delights from the many resident kitchens. Including Sasa Greek Street Food, Rad Pizza Co, El Rayo Vegan Cantina, and many, many more, there’s plenty to choose from to keep everyone happy and well-fed. And if quick and simple is more your thing, head to the Krep Truck to experience a stalwart of York’s street food scene, with deliciously uncomplicated crêpes and galettes on the menu.

Photos: Spark, KREP, York Minster